Gunman Clive was a nearly-perfect gem of a game, its singular flaw being that it's short enough that you can beat it in half an hour. Well worth far more than the $2 asking price. The sequel, however is nothing short of a massive disappointment.
While Gunman Clive 2 corrects the first game's lone flaw--it costs only $1 more but is twice its length--everything that made the first game so brilliant is gone.
The controls are still spot-on, at least. However, while the first game was tough but fair, never killing you without proper warning, 2 is nothing but UNfair. Death still sends you back to the start of the level, but the levels are much longer this time, meaning you'll be replaying the same parts over and over.
Much of the charm of the first game came from its world. While some things were a bit silly, like enemy cowboys flying in carried by ducks, or pelicans that drop explosives, it was still reasonably mundane up until the sudden "ALIENS!" twist in the last few levels. This time, the aliens are around from the very beginning, and it just piles more and more on, like ninjas and dinosaurs, and the result is laughably video game-y.
The reason that the first game being so short is a problem is that it didn't have the breathing room to really experiment with any of the features of its level design. Things like falling blocks, gravity inversions, and the like--all platforming mainstays, but all executed intelligently--would each appear for one or two levels and then be dropped entirely. The sequel takes all of these concepts further, but the level design is no longer the perfect balance of fun and challenge to figure out and conquer. Instead, it's just purely frustrating.
The gravity inversions, for example, are now sometimes applied to round surfaces as well, which sounds cool, but just makes the exact spot you need to stand before making a jump off of one of these surfaces impossible to guess.
But perhaps the absolute nadir of all of this comes in a level that by all rights should be the coolest thing ever: when you ride on a panda.
A COWBOY riding a PANDA into battle. That should be AMAZING, but instead it is the least fun thing I have played in a long time. The panda moves barely any more quickly than Clive does on foot, and when it hits a vertical surface, it climbs up at an agonizingly slow pace. Which wouldn't be a problem if there wasn't both a giant circular saw following you close behind, and enemies that will slow you down so that the former can catch you, or just knock you back into it. The saw kills you in one hit, and is guaranteed to catch up to you if you make even the tiniest mistake. And even if you manage outrun the saw and reach the final jump that ends this level, if you either jump a nanosecond too soon or too late, or just don't hold the button for long enough, you won't make it and will have to do the whole thing over again. As high as my death count was by the end of the game, I think I died more times in this one level than in the rest of the game put together.
On top of that--though this is a minor quibble in comparison--there are fewer special gun power-ups now. In the first game, you could get a three-way spread shot, a slow-moving explosive shot, a homing shot, or a wall-piercing laser. In the second game, only the spread and explosive shots remain.
The worst part of all of this though, the final insult, is that the game ends on a joke: After an hour of unbearable frustration, I beat the final boss, this giant robot that you have to scale and destroy a piece at a time, Shadow of the Colossus-style, it explodes, and the pilot ejects... It's a duck. You shoot the duck, the game says the duck was the mastermind, and the credits roll.
I. Am. Not. Making. A. Word. Of. This. Up.
And not even an anthropomorphic super-science duck, no. Literally the same mundane duck enemy that appeared throughout both games. This was the point at which I actually said aloud, "Are you SHITTING me?" All that play, all that time fighting both the game's obnoxious level design and my own mounting fury, and THIS is the pay-off? This insulting joke of an ending? Fuck. You.
Gunman Clive 2 is as much a train-wreck as the first game is a masterpiece. Ironic, considering the train level was in the first game.
Yes, there are two more playable characters, and there also seems to be an unlockable fourth one. But you know what? I think I'd rather just play the first game again.