Assault Gunners HD Edition Review - An Unimpressive Port

Assault Gunners HD Edition is a bland, ugly, and repetitive action game, made even worse by its careless port of the six year old Japanese exclusive.

In Assault Gunners HD Edition, the player takes control of a gigantic customizable mech as Earth and Mars are threatened by a terrorist organization. With 35 missions included, each taking three to five minutes to complete, you must trudge through hundreds of enemies with a squad of four. With each victory, development points are earned, allowing the player to purchase a plethora of upgrades for their weapons and armor.

The details of Assault Gunners HD Edition seem promising, but a large number of problems plague the experience.

Terrible Port

Starting Assault Gunners HD Edition for the first time, I was greeted by a terribly designed menu informing me of the few graphical options available. As I launched the game, the title screen was zoomed in, and any text was difficult to read because of this. When I began my first mission, my mech was stuck and panned up at the sky; I couldn’t move the game camera at all. I quit the game and retried, but it was still impossible to aim.

Worried that it would remain unplayable, I grabbed a controller and tried to continue from there. Even though I could aim with it, the camera speed was painfully slow. After playing a few missions, I returned to the settings menu in frustration. While rigorously testing as much as I could, the problem became clear: for some mysterious reason, the game doesn’t work in borderless fullscreen. Once I launched the game in windowed mode, everything functioned as it should have, but even then, the game controls are mapped poorly.

Zoomed in Main Menu

Frustrating Controls

The biggest issue with the game’s control scheme is that menu options are not selectable with a mouse. The player has to use the arrow keys to go up or down, and the “F” key proceeds while the “C” key returns. These primitive controls make it incredibly inconvenient for the player, as they have to go from panning the camera with the mouse to removing their hand to select menu options.

Another obstacle is that none of the controls show up on the screen. They’re still categorized based on controller bindings, so while switching to a different weapon is actually the “3” key, it’s shown as the “Y” key.

Additionally, the base key bindings are awful, but this is not a big deal since they’re all changeable. Regardless, the original keys lack consistency. Having two weapons set as “2” and “3” while the other two are “F” and “C” seems ridiculous. It would be much less confusing if they were just “1” - “4,” especially since the game doesn’t display which key is which.

No Subtitles

Even though Assault Gunners HD Edition’s steam page claims there are subtitles in English, this is mostly untrue. The only subtitled bits of dialogue are the messages from the commander who provides mission details. Casual remarks, story bits, and every line from the antagonist are not subtitled. When playing this game, it’s impossible for the player to understand anything going on unless they pay careful attention to the mission briefings.

The Gameplay

Unfortunately, the base game of Assault Gunners is as unimpressive as its port. It’s a mindless bullet-hell, but not one that provides a genuine challenge or enough mayhem to be satisfying. It tries its best to be chaotic and explosive with a large number of enemies, but only a few missions have enough to warrant a good time. Even Inferno Mode—the games equivalent of horde—is vastly underwhelming with the lack of enemies on screen at once.

Instead, Assault Gunners will have you wandering around searching for things to shoot as if tediously seeking the next objective is fun, especially when all you want to do is fight. Even then, the game consists of generic weaponry and predictable enemy types. Every attack and movement feels sluggish and unvaried, making it difficult to enjoy most encounters. The combat has no style, and when a game is this easy, it should pack a punch.

This is one of Assault Gunners’ huge issues; it’s incredibly easy, and the small sparks of difficulty are artificial. This is because the title focuses on having the player absolutely obliterate hundreds of enemies in a single mission. Difficulty is its last concern, but there are occasional bursts of struggle within the Ghost boss fights. Ghost is the main antagonist, and she’s tough to deal with, but not for any respectable reason.

The problem is that there is an obnoxious invisible wall that surrounds every object and most maps in an inescapable box. While fighting Ghost, the player will believe they have the space to move around, but they’re actually getting cornered into an invisible wall. The only way to prevent this is to look at the map constantly. Most games get around this issue by playing a forcefield-esque animation whenever you get near the invisible wall, but Assault Gunners doesn’t bother.

The other setback is the lack of upwards mobility. Movement feels incredibly claustrophobic thanks to a terribly designed flight ability. When getting trapped by enemies, you should be able to fly upwards, but it doesn’t work as well as it should. More than half of the time it doesn’t even activate, and when it does, it goes up so slowly that you’re an easy target for every enemy.

It doesn’t help that the game is incredibly short, taking a measly two hours to complete. While each mission is usually three to five minutes long, the final levels only took 30 seconds to a minute to complete.

Assault Gunners Customization Screen

Thankfully, there are some bonus missions, but these are sometimes way too much of a hassle to unlock. The player can do this by revisiting a mission they’ve already completed and fulfilling all possible conditions. The headache here is that this is based on luck. If the game doesn’t drop the one item required to unlock this bonus mission, the player will have to continuously retry. There’s no point in replaying the same mission four or five times just to unlock an unsurprisingly similar bonus mission.

The only likable aspect of Assault Gunners’ gameplay is the customization. It’s entertaining to select different pieces for the mech and try each of them accordingly, such as the artillery cannon or the heavy machine gun, which are the only stylish additions.

However, this upgrade system thrives on item drops, and the only way you can get these are by killing enemies and destroying crates. When a squad member kills an enemy, no items are dropped. This makes teammates genuinely useless. Not only do they die immediately, but now their involvement is detrimental in every way imaginable.

Verdict

Assault Gunners HD Edition is a dreadfully ported mess, made even worse by uninspired gameplay. The excess of issues that plague the title make it difficult to play through, but it does have a few saving graces that make it bearable. With a decent customization system and a couple of satisfying missions, the game could certainly appeal to hardcore fans of the mecha genre.

Score

Good Bad
Fun Customization Combat Lacks Style
Some Entertaining Missions Mostly Terrible Missions
Select Weapons Are Satisfying Awful Controls
Poorly Optimized
Broken Port
Minimal Subtitles
Useless Squad

- 4/10 -