Today’s topic : Gungrave.
What does one get when they combine SEGA, Red Entertainment, Fujishima Kosuke and Nightow Yasuhiro? Gungrave, one of the greatest revenge action games and one of the forefathers of the Stylish Action sub-genre, along with Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden of 2004 and Shinobi of 2002.Compared to the previous two, Gungrave featured an emphasis on gun play and mostly Gun Kata, a style of gun play that’s used in action movies and the Trigun series, that involves the characters making acurate shots while changing stances for optimal acuracy combined with swiftness to avoid attacks, kinda like the Gunslinger Style of Dante from Devil May Cry 3 and 4, not to mention that where Devil May Cry values melee attacks more and uses guns as a means to extend combos, at least outside of the Gunslinger style, reverses this and has the melee take a back seat to the gameplay. It plays a more important role in the next Gungrave game, though.
The Gungrave series were developed by a colaboration between SEGA, Red Entertainment, Fujishima Kosuke and Nightow Yasuhiro, produced and published by SEGA. The games came out in 2002 and 2004 for the Playstation 2 and got ported to the west in 2002 and 2005 respectively.
The game focused on the life…or rather,beyond the death of former orphan and gun expert hitman, Brandon Heat, a stern, down-to-Earth individual with a noble heart and a code of protecting his friends and their families,unless they turn into horrific undead monsters. This man is now dead and has returned to life,as the undead protector Beyond The Grave. Armed with the twin guns, Cerberus and a huge coffin that can double as melee weapon and a bullet raining death machine, he is ready to take down the greatest mafia organization of the world, Millennion and it’s corrupt boss, Bloody Harry to avenge himself and save his friend’s daughter. Talk about taking revenge to the next level.
Beyond The Grave!Much more fitting of name than you think.
Apart from the stylish gameplay, the game offered a dark world, or rather, underworld[all puns intended] full of stylised enemies and visuals, that are reminiscent of anime and atmospheric music that wasn’t as western styled as Trigun, but still was a good fit for the kind of revenge-themed game Gungrave was.
The game soon gathered a strong and loyal fanbase, a fanbase that was local enough to ensure that, no matter how small it was, it’s voice was heard and the team decide to collaborate two more times. First, they all collaborated with Madhouse and produced an anime of 26 episodes focusing on the first game explaining the backstory on one hand but taking several liberties towards the end, toning down the whole revenge angle and instead focusig on the dynamic of the Millennion camaraderie that was eventually corrupted, thus losing the whole “revenge western” atmosphere it had going on. On a side note though, it seems the anime’s supposed to be related to Trigun as it’s implied that this Earth was actually Planet Gunsmoke 3 million years before the storyline!
The second and argually more welcome and badass collaboration was the second game, Gungrave Overdose. Beyond The Grave returns from his relaxing sleep to take down some mafia rings closely died to a new drug distrubiting ring as well as reviving technolgy handling, the same one used on Brandon. This time he is joined by undead swordsman, Kabane Juji and the ghost of a dead rockstar, Rocketbilly Redcadillac. The system is revamped and evolved offering more playable characters and more options to the player for fights as well as a much more stylish and crazy…I’m sorry…KUURRRAAAAZHEEEEEE gameplay compared to it’s predecessor. All in all, it was a much welcome addition to the series.
It’s not just another Gungrave game, it’s an overdose of a sequel.
Gungrave is a strange series, in that it can cater to both western and japanese audiences as it mixes things that both love and presents them in a great way. Gungrave’s gameplay and especially the way Beyond The Grave / Brandon Heat plays could easilly be adapted to most gun-totting badass for a third person shooter that the west produces, utilising his Gun Kata to good use.
This series is a great example of the action revenge genre for the videogames and a great chapter for stylish gun totters as well,offering a crazy rush with each segment of action and a satisfactory feeling whenever the player pulled of great moves. SEGA and Red Entertainment go hand in hand and are a match made in heaven, they should utilize this more often. The sequel showed that even if the revenge story is done, the world has much to offer and if worse comes to worse, then they can remake the older games and perhaps combine them in a signle one followed by a Trigun game using these mechanics. It’s something of a fantasy, but I keep hoping that one day, SEGA will realise it.