Gunbird (or Mobile Light Force in some western ports), is the first game in the Gunbird series and the second game that was developed by Psikyo. The game has been ported to multiple platforms across the years, including the Saturn, the PSX, and also modern devices like Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam. Internationally, on 2003, it received a now infamous port on the PSX with the title Mobile Light Force, accompanied with a legendary bad cover that looks more like a Charlie Angels tie-in game than Gunbird. While it does play fine, the cover has to this day still confused people what the name of this game even is. It's Gunbird, no questions asked, but the cover has to be seen to be believed (Seriously, google it, you will wonder how did it get past Quality Assurance)
The game puts the player in a mix-and-match setting taking inspiration from Steampunk, Medieval, and Treasure Hunting tropes and designs, with a search for the McGuffin as the main plot. The game doesn't take itself very seriously and leans toward the tropes from the genres it takes from.
Gunbird is vertically scrolling shooter with 8-way movement and two buttons. There are four levels of shot power-up: at full power. When the player is hit, the power level will drop down to minimum, but a power item will drop. By holding down the fire button, your character will stop shooting and begin charging their Charge Attack, which varies from character to character. There is no Melee Charge Attack like in Gunbird 2. Unlike later Psikyo titles, this Charge Attacks take much longer to finish charging on average, forcing the player to find spots where they can be used safely.
This game features a hidden ammo count. While on Level 4, if you shoot too much, you'll drop down to level 3, which is a significant decrease in power to all characters, some more than others (Marion and Tetsu being the most obvious cases). Because of this, make sure you grab power ups you see, even if at max level, and try to conserve more ammo by knowing the places you can use charge shot instead.
For each life, a player will have access to 2 bombs, with a maximum number of 6, which the player can get to by collecting the bomb icons some enemies drop. Bombs act like your average screen nuke. Some characters become inmeditealy invulnerable when pressing the bomb button, making them especially good as a defensive mechanic in those instances.
Some enemies won't cause a Miss on contact, but will instead drop down a shot level, or a bomb if the player was already at minimum power.
Each game loop consists of seven stages, with the first three stages being randomly chosen from a possible four. After defeating the last boss the player automatically enters a second loop. The second loop features remixed enemy and bullet patterns which are much more difficult.
The player starts with 3 total lives. There is one extend at 400,000 points. Both can be changed on the Dipswitches menu.
Note: Character stats are rough guesstimates until more concrete data is found. Research needed. Also, the "Damage" section doesn't count the highest damage a character can do, but rather, a combination of close, mid, and long range, and how many enemies are they able to hit at once. Their bomb also adds to this. Shotgunning drastically increases attack damage, so every character is incentivized to do it if they can
Ash is an all-rounder with great movement. His charge and main shot deal good damage up close, and his sub shot has a decent enough spread when shot from afar. He has the fastest movement in the game, which is very useful to players that know what dodges become available to him, and makes it easy to kill Zako. While he has a high skill ceiling, he is also easy to play, without many weaknesses aside from slow charge shots and weak bomb which can be annoying in bosses.
Marion is a beginner-friendly character, with a Main and Sub shot that have great coverage to hit all enemies on the screen, which allows the player to focus on dodging, while also having good single target damage with her charge shot. Her homing and invulnerable bomb makes her very recommended to players new to the game or the genre as a whole. However, her damage without charge is really low, and more experienced players may become frustrated due to her low damage making it harder to kill enemies as easily as they can with other shot-types. Having said that, if Marion is close to the opponent, the stars will spawn much faster, making her damage actually very strong if she is in Shotgunning range, although very poor if she is forced to stay at the bottom of the screen. She is very forgiving, and when used by players that know when and how to abuse her shotgun, she is probably the best character for Survival.
Valnus is a fairly balanced character, with good screen coverage and an invincible bomb. While he is slow, his sub shots can pierce enemies that can be useful for damaging rows of enemies or multiple boss parts at a time. His charge attack has small range but fairly fast activation time. His slow nature an unimpressive damage can make it hard to fight bosses however. A decent pick for all skill levels, and a great one for Mecha fans.
Yuan-Nang is a high risk, high reward character. Her charge shot is by far the fastest of the cast, but also the tiniest and least long-lasting. This makes her gameplay all about charging her attack, releasing and weaving through bullets in the top side of the screen while speed-killing every large enemy. Her charge attack also cancels out enemy bullets, making some patterns way easier to dodge. She is best used by players that already know bullet patterns of enemies, and want to try a more aggressive, mobile play-style, but due to her charge attack properties, she is also one of the best characters for beginners.
Tetsu is all about raw fire power. His normal and charge shot deal very high damage, but his movement is slow, and his bomb is neither invulnerable nor reaches enemies fast enough to be used on reaction to bad spots. He can deal very good damage and speed kill enemies while as far away as he can, while also having the best point blank damage next to Marion, and his bomb does deal very good damage, even if it's a bit sluggish. All of this makes him the most damaging character on average. If all you want is pure strenght, give him a try, although, just like Yuan-Nang, he is best reserved by players that already know enemy patterns.
|Power Up |
Increases your shot power (max power after the 3rd item). With max power, grabbing a new one will increase score by 2.000 points
Increases your bomb stock by 1. With all bombs stocked, grabbing a new one will increase the score by 10.000 points
|Gold Coin |
200 point score item.
After clearing 7 stages and defeating the last boss, the player automatically enters a second loop. The second loop features significantly denser bullet patterns. Stage 2-1 takes place in the stage that was not selected in the first loop.
Scoring is fairly simple. There are no life or bomb bonuses at the end of the game, and coins are always only worth 200 points, so most will be basic milking. Due to this reason, a lot of players playing for score will deliberately suicide their two starting lives to get 2 free power-ups. Bombs give a huge 10k bonus if you grab one while at max stock. Conserving ammo (See Here) is also important to grab the power up bonus when at max level. Many enemies and bosses will have multiple parts that give points when broken, and a lot of sections will spawn more enemies if you kill all the existing enemies very fast. Due to good damage and spread when abusing shotgun and good charge shot that makes breaking parts, killing more Zako on average for more points, and conserving ammo easier, Valnus and Marion are the most common choices when playing for score.