It is important you know that I am from Canada because we spell colour and flavour with a U and sometimes use British vernacular, probably because of Coronation Street and East Enders.
I'm a student in something called 'pre professional journalism'. Whatever that is. I'm a major of Philosophy and a minor in Sociology, mostly because critical thinking and the analysis and understanding of social behaviors makes me horny.
My ambitions include creating a fully animated rotoscoped feature length animatronic musical and to build a 'fusion' reactor in my backyard out of little more than a high power laser and an industrial vacuum. Both of these things are possible believe it or not.
Bayou Billy is at its core three well made games in one. It's a street brawling game, it's an offensive driving game, and it's a shooting gallery game. All under one narrative, be it a hairline narrative, backed by what can only be described as 8bit funk music.
Here is a faithful remix of the main theme:
Read this review listening to this song. And then go play the game.
It came out in North America, sometime between 1989 and 1991 around the same time as an Australian hero was hitting theatres, 'Crocodile Dundee'. At first glance, you might want to say that Bayou Billy is an unlicensed and unofficial Crocodile Dundee game, but Bayou Billy is actually a Louisiana man. However, a great deal of similarities beyond iconic hats can be found between them. For instance, both start in a swamp setting, of course. Both are about a blonde woman, fight street thugs, and latter find themselves in a strange city. Although Bayou Billy's city settings are filled with purple carpets and thugs wearing full body combat suits that put you in a full nelson until you die.
Behold the full nelson of death!
Bayou Billy's most prominent levels are the street missions. The final fight/streets of rage street style brawling is the main chunk of the game. There is a mishmash of gameplay elements along the way. As you move through the levels of one of the most difficult bi-button fighting games that ever hit the NES, you find yourself jumping between what could almost be seen as totally different games. You have to punch your way through street fights, find yourself in gunfights, and drive your way through a constant attack super highway of bomb dropping helicopters and cars that want to do nothing more than have you start all over again.
Scuba-divers don't know nothin' bout no drop kicking Cajuns.
(the white scuba-diver has a bullet proof vest on, you want to get that ASAP because these mo'fo's have guns)
In the street brawling levels you have a punch, you have a kick, and if you push both A and B you do a drop kick. The punch button when mashed can produce the most effective string of attacks you'll be using. As Bayou Billy has a 'flash and freeze' damage system. When a hit connects, the opponent or player will freeze in place for a second and flash. The drop kick is the jump in the game. It will be used frequently at the start of the game to jump you quickly to safety through waist deep alligator infested waters. It is an offensive jump but largely useless as enemies will quickly counter attack.
You will die in Bayou Billy. A lot.
For such a simple game, a lot of strategy is required to get through this game effectively. You only have two lives per level, with three checkpoints through each of its six street style-fighting levels. Figuring out how your enemies attack is key. Finding a way around those attacks and surviving will get you through. Alternatively, you can spam, kick scream, and prey. The second way is possibly the most well known way of playing this game. As it will surely get you nowhere if do not stop to examine your opponents. Much like how in Sonic, the difficulty lies in taking it easy, going slow, collecting, and keeping a good pace. Trying to blur through it as fast as possible, you will find you are starting from the very start, repeatedly not progressing, and generally having a lousy time. See with Bayou Billy, you only have two lives, five hits, and a ten-second countdown to keep the gameplay going. Luckily, and less spoken of, is the fact that you have two lives per level. Now, it is still aggravating because getting to the countdown screen will mean that you start that level over again.
Shoot other cars, grenade incoming helicopter, collect gas to keep going, and race against the clock!
Items play a big role in the street missions. Bulletproof vests, throwing knifes, and ammo for your pistol is all-necessary if you want to survive through the first level. And it only gets more difficult as you go on. The light-gun levels are conceivably impossible if you do not hold the light gun right on the glass of your TV. Luckily, I only just recently got to play this game and had the pleasure of being able to use a cursor. These light gun levels can also be played with a NES controller if at the main menu you selected GAME B. Although I much prefer the light gun/cursor controls of GAME A because using a control pad or keyboard to operate the cursor is a nightmare during the hectic boss battle shoot outs.
The shooting gallery levels are very well done.
The driving levels are so-so. I could never get into the broken horizon type of driving games on the NES that these levels emulate. Nevertheless, they move things along and play decently. Looking at this game now, twenty years after its original release, Bayou Billy vaguely reminds me of, vehicle levels in modern games like Drake's Uncharted 2. It really does switch up the gameplay, and for 1988, when this game came out in Japan, it's pretty cool they did this then. Not just having these driving levels done fairly well how they are, but between shooting gallery gameplay and street fighting gameplay there are only a few games that really mixed things up this well.
Honestly, Bayou Billy surprised me right from the start. As soon as you start the game, you're greeted with that creepy digitized mess that recorded voice turns into when put through a NES sound chip. You also get creepy digitized laughter, and a turd dropping death gnarl out of Billy. The music, which is on par with several other games of the time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles especially, share in this very pop-80s funk kind of vibe. This game is worth a look. Go into the NES library and check it out. Feeling a sense of accomplishment from a game without an achievement alert makes it all worth the while. Play the game and kick its ass.
Bayou Billy has three endings. Three endings! This game came out in 1988 FFS!
This game will only disappoint you if you have no soul, or no taste in classic gaming.
You can play Bayou Billy online at the following links:
(For all of these links you will want to select GAME B)