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Sega Saturn cover art
Developer(s) Psikyo
Publisher(s) Arcade
Sega Saturn
XS Games
Yahoo Mobile
PC (Steam)[1]
Console Classics
Artist(s) Hirofumi Nakamura
Series Gunbird
Platform(s) Arcade, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Yahoo Mobile, PlayStation Network
Release Arcade
  • JP: 1994
Sega Saturn
  • JP: December 15, 1995
  • JP: December 15, 1995
  • EU: 2002
  • NA: March 19, 2003
Yahoo Mobile
PlayStation Network
  • NA: June 25, 2009
  • NA: July 17, 2015
Genre(s) Scrolling shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, two-player co-op
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Psikyo 1st Generation[3]
CPU Motorola 68EC020, PIC16C57
Display Raster, 224 x 320 pixels (vertical), 4096 colors

Gunbird (ガンバード?) is a vertically scrolling shoot 'em up developed and published by Psikyo and released in Japanese arcades in 1994. It has been re-released multiple times, including on the Sega Saturn, PlayStation, and Steam. When originally localized outside Japan by XS Games, Gunbird was retitled Mobile Light Force. The game was followed by Gunbird 2 in 1998 and was included in Gunbird Special Edition.


When a player collides with the body of an enemy unit, the player loses a shot power level, and a power up flies around the screen and disappears as soon as it reaches the edge. If a player is at the lowest level of shot, the player loses a bomb instead.

There are seven stages in each of the game's two loops. The first four stages are randomly chosen from possible five. In the second loop enemies fire denser bullet patterns moving at faster speeds. Stage 2-1 takes place at the only stage not available in first loop, instead of the 1-1 counterpart. The remaining three stages are chosen in random, but does not include the replaced stage. After completing first loop with only one player, player can choose one of two choices for a wish with magic potion, with unique ending for each choice. If first loop is completed with two players, a combination-specific ending is played.

The cutscenes between the battles with two players fighting cooperatively are frequently packed with hilarious dialogue and situations. This is often a recurring theme with Psikyo games, the Gunbird games being no exception. There are no cutscenes when playing second loop stages. The Korean arcade version contains English dialog but some sound samples are missing during play.

Plot and characters[edit]

Gunbird uses manga-styled character as the player's chosen craft. A story plays out in between levels and before boss fights, telling a tale of how the protagonists are trying to collect pieces of a magic mirror to make a wish.

  • Ash (アッシュ): A 28-year-old German man with a jet pack on his back, who in some of the scenes between battles is discovered to be an inventor, and when two players choose Marion and Ash as cooperative partners, he takes an unhealthy interest in her. Voiced by Ryōtarō Okiayu.
  • Marion (マリオン): A 13-year-old witch from England who flies on a broomstick. She is accompanied by her talking pet rabbit, Pom-Pom, and frequently abuses the poor creature verbally and physically. Marion is fun-loving and thrill-seeking but also selfish, and has a mean streak (which Pom-Pom is often witness to). Voiced by Chiharu Tanaka.
  • Valnus (バルナス): A big robot created in Russia six months ago that has some of the best firepower in the game. Secretly wishes to be human. Voiced by Kazuya Tatekabe.
  • Yuan Nang (ヤンニャン): A strong-willed and courageous woman whose character design is highly influenced by that of Sun Wukong from the Chinese classical story Journey to the West, including a cloud-somersault parody, Ruyi Jingu Bang, and the size-changing headband that was used by the monk Xuánzàng. Voiced by Naoko Matsui.
  • Tetsu (鉄): A strong, white-haired old man of 60 years. He is homosexual in a rather uncloseted manner and rides in a man-powered helicopter.
  • The Trump (トランプ): A group of sky pirates consist of Ace (voiced by Jōji Yanami), Claude (voiced by Kazuya Tatekabe), and their female leader Rouge (voiced by Noriko Ohara). They are not playable and serve as the players' rivals in the story.

Mobile Light Force[edit]

Mobile Light Force cover art

All in-game plot in this version, including the game's ending, was removed and character names were changed to those of XS Games employees. The game featured a Charlie's Angels-style cover picture, completely unrelated to the original characters or the game's theme. The original's fan art gallery was also removed from the game, although the directories are still intact on the disc if inserted into a PC.


Gunbird received mostly positive reviews. An import version for the Sega Saturn earned good scores of 82% from and 80% from French magazines Consoles + and Mega Force.[4][5] The three reviewers from the Japanese Sega Saturn Magazine rated it 6, 8 and 9 out of 10.[6]

Gunbird Special Edition[edit]

The special edition version of the game was based on an arcade version, and included the sequel, Gunbird 2. It was released only for the PlayStation 2 in 2004-2005.


  1. ^ "Mobile Light Force (aka Gunbird) on Steam". 2015-07-17. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  2. ^ "Mobile Light Force (AKA GunBird) Released on Steam! | Console Classics". 2015-07-17. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  3. ^ "Psikyo 1st Generation Hardware (Other)". System 16. 2016-03-31. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  4. ^ "Saturn Review : Gunbird : photographic image of magazine" (JPG). (in French). Retrieved 2016-07-29. 
  5. ^ "Saturn Review : Gunbird : photographic image of magazine" (JPG). (in French). Retrieved 2016-07-29. 
  6. ^ "File:SSM JP 19951222 1995-14.pdf" (PDF). Sega Retro. 2016-01-01. Retrieved 2016-07-29. 

External links[edit]