Hands-on: Music GunGun!

It's Ouendan meets Time Crisis.

Wait, you need more than that? While not technically a new arcade game, this rhythm/light gun shooter was one of our favorite things from this year's Amusement Machine Show. (It was also conveniently located next to Elevator Action Death Parade.) Music GunGun! has you aiming at the screen with a colorful (but rather standard) plastic light gun. Instead of the usual shooter fare, your targets will be the most adorable, um, things ever. (They're not quite animals, fruits, nor vegetables.)

The basics of the game will be familiar to anyone who's played Ouendan or Elite Beat Agents on the DS. Circular targets will appear on the screen, and players will have to hit the targets in sync with the beat of the song. As in most other music games, players are judged on how closely they match the beat, and successive hits will increase the combo meter.

Unlike most arcade shooters, you'll have a reticule on screen to show you where you're aiming. (It's like you're playing a Wii game.) While this does make the game much more accessible, the harder difficulties will throw a befuddling amount of enemies on screen. For the most part, the game is much more a rhythm game than a shooter: knowing how a song goes is rather crucial in your ability to predict when to shoot. No wonder the theme song to Evangelion was so frequently selected by show attendees: everyone (in Japan, at least) has heard that song a few times by now.

While the idea of an Ouendan-esque game with a light gun is exciting enough, Music GunGun! does spice things up with a few flourishes that take advantage of the gun. Midway through a song, there's usually a "boss" sequence of sorts, where players will no longer have to follow the beat. Instead, they must try to take down a fast-moving boss character while simultaneously clearing the entire screen of enemies. These sequences certainly change the pacing of the game quite a bit.

Another cute addition: at the end of certain songs, players aim their guns upwards, away from the screen, and fire one shot at the right time to score a massive bonus. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear blowing into the gun whilst doing a Clint Eastwood impersonation is recognized by the game. (Something that must be rectified for the sequel!)

Music GunGun! isn't "innovative" in any way, but it does successfully combine the music and shooter genres into something wholly original and fun. We'd be surprised if this kind of game doesn't eventually make its way onto the Wii: Taito could make an easy port without having to introduce a new peripheral at all. Perhaps Activision should take a look at the game. Mowing enemies with a magic music gun is certainly far more heroic than Guitar Hero, right?

This article was originally published on Joystiq.