The start of the affair: Sunset Riders

[Editor’s note: Gynecologist Cobra takes a look at Sunset Riders and tells us how it started the affair for him as part of June’s Musings. — CTZ]

When I was born in 1992, I still lived in London, as I did for the first four years of my life. I don’t remember much about these four years, but I remember visiting my uncle once at his workplace and playing Super Mario Bros. 2 and thinking it was the greatest thing ever. Looking back now, I’m glad it wasn’t the original Super Mario Bros. as I always have thought, and still do think, that that game was a piece of crap.

While that was my first experience with videogames, it wasn’t what necessarily gave me an interest in videogames as a whole. Sure, I loved the game, and wanted to play it more than once, but that was it. Super Mario Bros. 2 never really made me want to go and play other games, and for a while, I wasn’t even remotely interested in videogames. But then I turned six, and my parents enrolled me in daycare. At first, this daycare was nothing more than a daytime hell, and just a way for my parents to work without interruptions. Little did I know, this neighborhood daycare would be a blessing in disguise that would ultimately lead me here today. Hit the jump for the rest of my story.

In 1999, we moved into an actual house from the room apartment that we lived in, and I, for the first time ever, had my own room that I didn’t have to share with my sister. With my newfound freedom, I thought I was so bad ass, staying up until 11 PM only to fall asleep to The Cosby Show, and having a full room full of space to do whatever I wanted with. Unfortunately, at the time, I had nothing I wanted to do. Period. I usually just came home, did my homework, watched TV, and slept. Something was missing.

When I was seven, the aforementioned daycare brought in a Super Nintendo. Sure, it was eight years after the Super Nintendo was released, and the N64 and the Game Boy Color were new technology, but we were happy to have any exposure to videogames, especially right after school. Of course, being the immature bunch of twits that most 7-year-olds are, all we wanted were bloody games full of fart jokes and nudity, but Duke Nukem 3D wasn’t on the SNES. And since the people in charge of making sure we didn’t hurt ourselves were relatively responsible, the only games we were allowed to play at the time were Mario Kart, Donkey Kong, and Aladdin. These were all great games, but I never got the chance to play them for more than one minute. With the level of sheltering that went on in the daycare, most of us loved Donkey Kong Country, thinking that ramming an alligator in the chest with a rhino was the equivalent of blasting a hooker in the chest with a shotgun. It wasn’t.

The real story starts with another game, however. One day, the teachers felt as if we could handle ‘more mature’ games, so they started spoon-feeding us better games one-by-one. Of course, as the Game Boy became more popular, I was allotted more time to play the Super Nintendo without distraction. So one day, while everyone went out to recess, I snuck back inside, turned on the SNES, and chose a game at random to play. It was just my luck that the game was Sunset Riders.

A little background on the game:

The game, which is set in a fanciful version of the American Old West, revolves around four bounty hunters who are out to claim rewards given for eliminating the most wanted outlaws in the West. There is no true “storyline” aside from collecting progressively larger rewards. At the beginning of each level the player is shown a wanted poster, showing the criminal, the reward for stopping them, and the cliché line “Wanted dead or alive”.

The Wikipedia description really cannot do a game like this justice. Sure, RevAnthony covered it on a Games Time Forgot article last year (by my suggestion, may I add :D) but nothing beats the sense of complacency you get from playing this game for yourself. If you can find a copy of it, or think you can emulate the feeling with an Xbox 360 controller and an emulator, then by all means, go ahead. It’s great.

But the best part about this game is that it was, at the time, unbeatable. It was pretty much everyone in the daycare’s first experience with a shoot ’em up, so no one knew how to beat most of the game. I was the exact opposite way than everyone else, as I sucked at every other game that was in the daycare. For some reason, when I played Sunset Riders, I felt like I had never felt before. I’m not one for modesty, so I’m not ashamed to say it: I was really good at the game. Like, really good. When most people couldn’t get past Simon Greedwell (BURY ME WITH MY MONEY!), I made it all the way to Paco Loco in the same amount of time. I was a fucking monster with it. I used to challenge kids to the game on the co-op shootout levels, only to take their Pokémon cards when they lost [Editor’s note: LMAO!]. It was a good time.

Of course, from the story, it would seem as if there is a multitude of games that led to my foray into gaming. It seems a bit misleading that I would name Sunset Riders as the one reason for my interest in gaming instead of the Super Nintendo itself, but thinking back, I realized if it weren’t for Sunset Riders, I’d be frustrated with games as a whole. I almost didn’t play games after Donkey Kong Country (mostly because the mine levels tripped me up) until Sunset Riders showed up. As I said in my introductory post, kids started sneaking in other games like Street Fighter II, Super Metroid, and Mega Man, and I was in love with them all. After wasting at least a cumulative year of my life on the Super Nintendo, I convinced my parents to buy me a Game Boy Color, which came with copies of Pokémon Red & Blue. I’m confident that at this point, I became a bona fide gamer.

It’s not until now that I realize the impact that this game had on my life. If I hadn’t played Sunset Riders as a child, I would probably not have as much of an interest in gaming as I do now. Without Sunset Riders, the Internet persona of electro lemon (and subsequently, Gynecologist Cobra) would not exist, though to some, that’s a pro. I wouldn’t have many of the things I have now, I wouldn’t have an interest in technology as a whole, and worst of all, I wouldn’t have become a part of Destructoid’s community. Of course, I would probably have better grades in school, but I mean, who wants that? *Sigh*