Creativity seems to have left me for the moment, so I'm starting a blog series. All I need to keep in mind are great games that you may not have played, and with a wealth of video game knowledge that starts in the mid 70's, I should be able to keep this going for a while. I'm not exactly artistically gifted, unless you count the shoops in my DAT ASS post as art, so if someone would like to make me a blog series banner, I would greatly appreciate it. Where was I? Oh right, video games.
One of my favorite games as a child was Sunset Riders. Developed and published by Konami, Sunset Riders is a Contra inspired run and gun set in the wild west. It was released as an arcade cabinet and later as a Super Nintendo game*. I owned the latter version, and many, many nights of epic game sessions were wasted trying to beat this damn game.
The game features four selectable characters. It's obvious that Konami had a very loose understanding of how cowboys in the Wild West dressed and looked, and the result is a very Japanese take on a very American set of characters. I always favored the cowboy in yellow, Steve. Does that sound like the name of a famous sheriff to you? The other name choices weren't much better, with the most interesting out of the lot being the stereotypical Mexican bandit, Cormano.
Still, aesthetics aren't everything in a game like this. What we're here for is the twitch based run and gun gameplay, and the game has plenty of it. It has a different feel to it than Contra or Metal Slug. Enemy bullets have a tendency to slowly float towards you across the screen, giving you plenty of time to dodge. That doesn't mean it's easy though, and you'll often find yourself in situations where you just can't dodge bullets. You have to learn to get out of the way early unless you enjoy gazing at Game Over screens.
The game spans eight levels, a couple of which take place entirely on horse back. Instead of the usual side scrolling you've grown used to, you're now forced to deal with dodging oncoming obstacles ala Battletoads while still shooting down your bandit foes. Did I mention that this game is hard?
Inbetween stages the view switches to a first person perspective and you're given the opportunity to shoot down some more bandits for points. If two players are playing, you're competing for points. If I remember correctly, you can still die on these stages, which would leave your bonus null. It's a fun distraction, but that's all it really is.
I doubt that you'll enjoy this game as much as I do. It doesn't hold up nearly as well as the older Contra's, and the frustration that comes with a design philosophy to suck quarters out of you isn't nearly as bearable as it once was. I only love it because it's the first game I ever
bothered to sit down and play. If you're a run and gun enthusiast, a retro gamer, or a glutton for pain, it's definitely worth a look. Others are going to want to steer clear.
*There's a Mega Drive version as well, but we don't talk about that. Also, here's a gameplay video
This sounded a bit too much like a review, but whatever.