Compile is well known for making excellent shoot'em ups and of all the ones I've played, Gun-Nac is my favourite. This is not a game I played as a kid. I only tried it for the first time within the past year, but I was immediately hooked and I now consider it one of my favorites on the NES.
Aside from very solid controls and a variety of weapons and power-ups, the thing that stands out most is the amazing, somewhat bizarre, environments. Each stage has a theme that's a little different than your average shmup. In one, you battle sentient vegetables, while in another you're up against currency. Boss battles that include giant robot rabbits and Maneki Neko are a nice change from battling other spaceships.
Compile is one of the kings of retro shooters. I picked up Gun-Nac about a year ago myself as well, traded in a box of unwanted commons and ended up getting it for under $100 if I calculate the overall profit from the box.
I owned Stinger from Konami before Gun-Nac, and all the cute stuff you shoot reminded me of Stinger, where you shoot down turnips and donuts while juggling the bells they drop.
The shooters Compile developed almost read like a Greatest Hits list of shooters from the day, bar a few from companies like Technosoft and the bigger developers. Power Strike, MUSHA, Zanac, Blazing Lazers, Space Megaforce, there's a lot to play on a variety of systems.
It's funny how I could spend so much time playing games during my summers working in a video game store, and still somehow managed to miss out on so many great looking NES games. While I really stink at schups, Gun-Nac looks visually appealing and a ton of fun to play. Of course, the cost is quite a bit higher than I can afford, but I still won't hold out hope.
I'm only missing 3 or 4 domestic shmups for my NES collection. It just so happens that both Gunsmoke and Gun*Nac, both of which you've reviewed, are among those. That flamethrower weapon looks amazing, as does the laser weapon. I think this was Compile's take on the whole "Parody shmup" genre, i.e. Parodius and Star Parodier. This is probably the NES shmup I want the most, and definitely in my top 5 or 10 shmups I don't have that I still want to get really bad, along with stuff like Thunder Force V, Radiant Silvergun, Soukyogurentai, MUSHA, and so forth. Looks like a lot of fun.
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