Review: Gunblade NY & L.A. Machineguns Arcade Hits Pack

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I grew up playing light gun shooters in the arcades, and games like Time Crisis, Virtua Cop and Revolution X (yes, the one with Aerosmith in it) were definite favorites of mine. Of all the light gun games I played, though, I don’t recall ever playing — or even seeing cabinets for — Gunblade NY or LA Machineguns, two mid- to late-90s arcade shoot-‘em-ups from Sega. Two games that Sega kindly bundled up in a twin-pack of light gun shooter awesomeness for the Wii. I’m so thrilled to finally be able to play them, and you should be too.

The Gunblade NY & LA Machineguns Arcade Hits Pack has you defending cities of the United States from an android invasion. Armed with a Wii Zapper, you hop aboard a helicopter gunship (Gunblade) and a hover bike (Machineguns) and fly along on rails popping hot lead into robotic terrorists as they zig and zag through the air attempting to get a bead on you. You point, you shoot, you kill a ton of robots and save the world.

The two games are very similar in how they play, but there are subtle variables that give each a distinct personality. The neat thing about Gunblade NY is its amorphous rail structure. Every time you play through the game, your path takes on a different route depending on how quickly you’re able to kill the enemies that pop up on the screen and how they move. Your android foes in this game bounce around like psychotic monkeys hopped up on caffeine-laced bananas as you try to shoot them, and because of that the camera is constantly moving around to keep up and the rail paths change accordingly. At times the camera can be a little too spastic, but for the most part it does its job to create a frenzied, unpredictable pacing.

LA Machineguns is more of a rigid rail shooter with enemies that aren’t as hyperactive and a structure that doesn’t really change much on return visits. But the stages are longer, and also more varied, placing you on the front lines against the robot invaders in iconic west coast locales like LA, Yosemite, the Las Vegas strip and Alcatraz. The paths may never be the same in Gunblade, but the environments are all set in NYC, so there isn’t as much visual stimulation, and after repeated plays the levels all just kind of blur together.

Speaking of visuals, Sega plays the nostalgia card well with this arcade combo pack by leaving the graphics (and audio) in their original state. I never played these games in the arcades, but from what I can tell these are highly authentic ports. The graphics are appropriately chunky and aliased, the frame rate remains fast and steady throughout, and the cheesy chiptune music and sound effects further help to bring the arcade gaming atmosphere into your living room.

Sega did toss a few new things in, though. The two games are unified by a ranking system, and as you replay both campaigns over and over, you earn rank promotions and unlock swappable weapon power-ups to use on future replays. Both games also feature multiple difficulty levels, Local, Regional and Worldwide leaderboards for high score comparisons, and cooperative play for two players.

These games are such a blast to play, but I’m afraid even in a budget value pack they don’t have enough staying power to demand a purchase outright, particularly on a platform bursting with great light gun games. All rail shooters live and die on their ability to hook you into playing “just one more game” as you compulsively attempt to outdo your previous high score. These games have that attraction for a while, but within maybe two hours I’d already been able to replay both games a handful of times each, and after that I wasn’t finding enough of a draw to continue playing.

Between Ghost Squad, House of the Dead: Overkill and House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return, Sega has proven to be a strong advocate for light gun games on the Wii, and the Gunblade NY & LA Machineguns Arcade Hits Pack only furthers the cause (now all we need is a Virtua Cop bundle, so make it happen, Sega!). It doesn’t have the long-term appeal that I look for in a great light gun shooter, but if you’re a fan of the genre it is well worth a look.

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Pros:
+ Two fun light gun shooters in one
+ Accurate point-and-shoot controls
+ Authentic arcade graphics and sounds

Cons:
– Not enough of a draw to keep you coming back for more

Game Info:
Platform: Wii
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega
Release Date: 8/30/2010
Genre: Light Gun Shooter
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1-2
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!