Battle Fire Engulfed Terror Island
game Cover
game cartridge
©1992 Tamtex
©1992 IREM Corp.
Developed by Bits
Release: 1992-11-27 (¥8300)
Cartridge SHVC-GU
Platform/Action game

American Version
Released in America as

Gunforce is a side scrolling action shooter developed by Bits and published by Irem, and it is the conversion of the arcade game of the same name originally released in 1991. In the year 2000, a mysterious alien organization and its growing army starts to invade others countries and to incapacitate their computer networks, thus compromising their ability to launch their own counteroffensives. As a last resort, the allied forces decide to dispatch an elite commando team called the 'GunForce'. Their mission is simple - take down the enemy command and communications centers and to ultimately destroy their massive sea fortress. Each soldier can shoot in eight different directions and is equipped with a basic rifle gun that they can later upgrade into more deadly weapons. The power-ups, usually left behind by defeated enemies or hidden inside crates, range from an Automatic Weapon, a Bazooka, a Flamethrower and a Laser. But each special weapon comes with a significant limitation - ammunition. Although the default gun grants the player unlimited ammo, all the others have a set amount of bullets. Furthermore, the soldiers can use a broad selection of vehicles scattered around each level (such as jeeps, turrets, helicopters or armored biped walkers) and devastate the enemy with far superior firepower. Additionally, Gunforce features a bit of a twist on the traditional Run'n Gun formula - enemies don't kill outright on contact (as they usually do in myriad of other action games), but only their bullets or vehicles do. Gunforce consists of five levels and also features a two simultaneous player mode.
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GunForce - arcade The arcade game GunForce (aka Gunforce - Battle Fire Engulfed Terror Island) was originally released by Irem in 1991 (picture on the right). It was later converted to the Super Famicom (version tested here) by British game developer Bits Studio Ltd (responsible of several other Irem ports such as Ninja Spirit (Game Boy), RType DX (Game Boy Color) or Zoom's Genocide 2 for the Super Famicom). But Irem didn't stop there and a sequel to Gunforce followed in 1994 - the game, called GeoStorm in Japan (and GunForce 2 in the rest of the world) took all the best ideas from the original game and mashed them together to create an incredibly satisfying and fun run'n gun. GeoStorm also has an GeoStorm - arcade obvious Metal Slug-esque feel to it (picture on the left) - well, the brilliant staff from Nazca Corporation (the Neo Geo developer responsible for the Metal Slug series) was apparently a group of Irem ex-employees who decided to leave the company in 1994 (right after the release of GeoStorm). Then SNK absorbed the small developer after the success of titles such as Neo Turf Masters and the now classic Metal Slug. It is hard to know what happened to the artists and developers behind GunForce, GeoStorm and Metal Slug - they apparently continued to make games for SNK, including the excellent Metal Slug sequels...

This port of GunForce isn't a perfect conversion of the original arcade game. Controls are not as responsive and the game suffers of notable slowdowns. Some vehicles also didn't make the cut and the forth level (which featured a playable tank and the enemy command base) was entirely omitted. Finally, the ending is slightly shorter - in the arcade game, the player can be seen exiting the enemy base, whereas the Super Famicom version's end sequence starts right after the final boss.

Teaser text from the American version:
High-Tech Tactics save Earth
Enemy commandos are unleashing a diabolical plan to destroy Earth. The stakes have never been higher. The enemy has never been tougher. The destiny of every country on Earth hangs in the balance, and a call has gone out for a multi-national force of battle hardened fighters. This is the GunForce. They come from every corner of Earth. And they bring with them the ultimate fighting skills. But now they will face an enemy of cosmic strength and strategy. And they will be tested to the limit as they fight high-tech fighters through five challenging, action-packed levels of the Universe. So fire up for adventure, and start kicking commandos with the hottest new hit from Irem.

Game Staff (Copied from the end credits) :

A Bits Production

Written by
Tony Smith
Assisted by
David Quinn

Graphics by
Tahir Rashid
Martin Wheeler
Sound by
Martin Simpson

Produced by
Fouad Katan
Special Thanks to
0YVind Aashein
Alan Barton

©Irem Corp. 1992


GunForce manual
Click on picture to enlarge


Add your Pov here !

I have to admit - the original GunForce arcade game was an average run'n gun with a mixed bag of problems and enjoyable features. Although it was Irem's answer to Konami's hugely popular Contra, the game never managed to get off the ground and it faded into obscurity. A Super Famicom port could have indeed breathe new life into the game. But it didn't. GunForce is riddled with design mistakes - the hit detection is poor, getting in and out of the vehicles is often a toilsome task and jumps are unnervingly floaty. Another annoying thing in the game is that the jump and shoot buttons are mixed up - I mean, this may seem purely subjective, but it feels a lot more comfortable to shoot with Y and jump with B than the other way around (and most games used this configuration). So what about the game itself ? Well, to its credit, GunForce has its share of charms and riding large vehicles that often take most of the screen is a blast. But all of this fun is sadly tarnished by incredibly monotonous and easy levels, and disappointing final bosses (which are in the shape of static buildings that attempt little more than to inconvenience you). All in all, GunForce feels rushed and it is another missed opportunity. It is a shame, given that the Super Famicom's hardware is capable of hefting so much around if properly used...

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