A lot of the people I know grew up with Megaman, and nowadays, getting a new game has proved more difficult than it would normally be. There was a time when a new Megaman game was coming out every consecutive year, but now--well, I think the closest thing we've gotten is Street Fighter X Megaman, which was only a fan game that Capcom officially approved. Sure, there's Keiji Inafune's new project Mighty No. 9, but that's still being delayed--so at this point, there's no way to play it. But here's the thing, classic Megaman fans--there already are two new classic Megaman games. But I wouldn't blame you for missing out on them, because they were released under a rather unassuming name--Gunman Clive and Gunman Clive 2. If Megaman and Contra had a lovechild that was raised on Westerns, Gunman Clive would be that game series, and yet almost nobody has talked about it. So I think it's time I remedied that.
Gunman Clive is a rather unassuming game at first--developed by Swedish indie studio Horberg Productions, it was first released as a mobile game for Android in April 2012, with the IOS version following a few weeks later. It took until a year later for the first game to be ported to the 3DS, which is the version I played--and it seems to be the console Gunman Clive found his home on, as the sequel, Gunman Clive 2, was released for the 3DS in January of 2015. The plot seems fairly straightforward, too--in the year 18XX, a group of bandits have kidnapped Mayor Johnson's daughter, and it's up to the lone gunman Clive to track them down and rescue her, armed with his trusty pistol. Standard stuff for an 8-bit platformer, but Gunman Clive is more than meets the eye. You'll start off on running through the west or riding down an abandoned mine, but then suddenly you'll find yourself in places you never expected a cowboy to go--a factory where gravity is constantly shifting, an aerial dogfight or two, and even into space.
As for the gameplay--well, first of all, the comparisons to Megaman are pretty obvious. Clive can only shoot three bullets at a time, like Megaman. He can only shoot straight, like Megaman. But unlike Megaman, Clive can also duck. Though you are stuck with that gun throughout the game, you can occasionally pick up power-ups like a spread gun that allows you to fire three bullets in an arc at once (see why I mentioned Contra?) explosive bullets, or a laser gun, though I never found the last one. However, these power-ups go away if you take a single hit. But still, the spread gun especially is useful for taking down bosses. Oh, and speaking of taking hits, you have a life bar which you can restore by collecting cake that enemies drop. But like Megaman, almost every enemy has a projectile attack, so you need to be on your guard. Most of them are bandits that shoot at you or throw bombs at you, but some are more like Megaman enemies--gun turrets, animals that pounce on you--hell, there are even pelicans that drop bombs on you! About the only enemy that doesn't attack you directly is the duck, which we'll come back to later. The major difference, though, is that Gunman Clive's progression is very linear. You advance on one path from one stage to the next, though that path is a pretty difficult one. Seriously, the platforming in these games is up there with Megaman 9 in terms of capturing that classic Nintendo hardness. There are even ways you can die instantly--falling down a bottomless pit, hitting spikes, or getting crushed--but when you get to the end of the level, it is SO worth it. It hits the right balance of challenging yet fair that makes you want to keep going, which is what makes a good old-school Megaman game.
Presentation is where things get interesting--the entire game is done in this strange sketchy art style with a brown Western background. This makes it easy to figure out how to beat bosses--just shoot the part of them that's colored differently. Though like I said, they're shooting at you the whole time, so that's easier said than done. There's little to no text or dialogue, which saved the localization team a lot, I'll wager. However, the music is AWESOME. Seriously, its score sounds like that from an actual Western, and every piece works perfectly. Gunman Clive's soundtrack could stand up with The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly's, and that's not something any movie buff says lightly.
But I haven't gotten to the best part yet--both of these games are under 5 bucks on the 3DS e-shop. And let me tell you, they are far more than worth the price tag. Classic Megaman fans will enjoy them for giving them a piece of what they've been missing all these years, and if you're a fan of Nintendo Hard platformers, you'll enjoy the presentation and soundtrack just as much. And once you beat the game, you unlock the ability to play as Ms. Johnson, who has a larger hitbox and is slower, but also has a skirt that can slow her descent when jumping...or, oddly enough, as the duck. Yeah, this is the only run-and-gun game I know of where you unlock the ability to play through the game as a character that can't attack. If you're curious, yes, I did play through the whole first game as the duck, and it was quite interesting. No bosses, but there were still plenty of hazards to dodge that kept things intense. Beating Gunman Clive 2 gives you the same options, except in this case you also unlock another character, Chieftain Bob--a Native American chief whose only weapon is a short-ranged spear. If anything, I think going up against a bunch of bad guys with projectile weapons with a melee weapon would be even harder than going through the game as the defenseless but agile duck--but in this case I'm not willing to try. Oh, and I forgot to mention that there are different difficulties, but they only really change how much damage you take and where you respawn at.
Overall, Gunman Clive is an interesting series that you may have missed out on unfairly. If you're looking for a new Megaman game, or just want a platformer that'll challenge your gamer skills, you could do a lot worse than Gunman Clive 1 and 2--especially for their price tag. If you have a 3DS, I highly recommend getting both.