Game Info
Playstation 2
Red Entertainment
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood, Violence
The Good

• Stylish and very fun to play
• Great art and character design
• Good music that fits the mood
• The price is right (20 dollars)

The Bad

• Can get repetitive
• Very short game


Few games have been known purely as an action game. With so many genres meshing together, it's sometimes fun to just pop in an action game and not having to worry about finding some hidden key to open a door and finding a magical crest. Instead, Gungrave offers straight-up action any time you want it. Just imagine Robert Rodriguez's film Desperado, throw in a little bit of Matrix "Bullet-time", some Cowboy Bebop-esque jazz music, and you've got the recipe for Gungrave.

The game starts by introducing you to an undead killing machine known as 'Death: Beyond the Grave' (his closer friends call him Grave for short). It seems that an evil crime syndicate is selling a brand-new narcotic that just hit the streets called SEED. It's Grave's job to stop this Syndicate by killing off every last one of the thugs. Along the way, several of your friends are captured and some interesting revelations occur that deal with Grave's personal life. The story is satisfying and doesn't get in the way of gameplay.

The music is just as I first described. Done by Tsuneo Imahori, the same guy who lends his talents to the anime Trigun, it shares some similarities to the stuff in Trigun, but it has a more Jazzy vibe more akin to Cowboy Bebop. It sets off the cool vibe that sets the impeccable ambiance of this game. The background music isn't much of a worry, since all you'll hear is your twin-pistols blazing, killing everybody in sight. The sound-effects are also equally satisfying. Fortunately, Sega decided to leave the original voice work in, so you'll be reading subtitles. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing - It's your call. Still, I have no qualms in the particular section

The graphics are gorgeous. Done in regular anime fashion, the character models are creative and very well thought out. The stunning art is all thanks to the talents of Yasuhiro Naito (also commonly spelled 'Nightow'), an anime legend who also created the hit series Trigun. The game run very smoothly, the particle effects seem rather exaggerated, but hey - this game isn't meant to be realistic.

The gameplay takes us back to the days of 16 bit side-scrolling 2D shooters where you dispatched hordes of enemies before reaching your destination. The game involves a lot of shooting, but it also rewards you if you make an effort to add some nifty, stylish combos or poses. At the end of each stage you have a boss - while they aren't all too hard to defeat, it's fun to do a signature at the end of each battle. If you have one demolition shot left at the end of the battle, then you can perform a move similar to the fatalities found in the Mortal Kombat series. It's not only easy on the eyes, but it also boosts your score at the end of the level.

In addition to your twin-pistols (called ''Cerberos'') you can also earn special attacks called demolition shots. You can only have one demolition shot equipped at a time, but they take massive amounts from your enemies, and bestow plenty of eye-candy in the process. There are a total of 4 different demolition shots you can earn - each one with it's own strengths or weaknesses depending on the situation you're in, so make the best of you demolition shots and try not to waste them. They'll be your best friend throughout the game.

The controls in this game are tight and responsive and the control-scheme is perfect. It will take a while to learn exactly how to dash to avoid incoming fire, but it's essential for surviving the later stages, so it's better to practice this tactic early on in the game. Aside from the dashing, you also have one button to shoot your gun, and another for your demolition shot. The shoulder buttons control secondary commands like a quick 180 degree turn and a lock-on feature (which is pretty unreliable and downright useless).

So is this game worth owning? Well, if you have fond memories of games like Gunstar Heroes, or Contra - you should check this game out. And with the new, affordable price-tag (this game is easily found for 20 dollars), it's worth picking up despite it being so damn short. So get it before it's gone.

- - GrandLethal

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