Game: Wild Guns
Release Date: August 12, 1994 (JPN), July 1995 (USA)
Genre: Shooting Action (Shooting Gallery)
System: Super Famicom/Super Nintendo
Version Reviewed: Super Famicom
Growing up, I enjoyed playing Cabal in the arcades. It was such a fresh idea to me during a time of run-and-gun/light gun arcade games. Blood Brothers soon followed, and I enjoyed that game better than Cabal. NAM-1975 was also a game of the same vein I really liked in the early 90s. The years went on and I kind of forgot about this fixed third-person shooting genre (or “Shooting Gallery”). Street Fighter II was released and nobody cared about any other kind of game but fighting. A couple of years later and Wild Guns came into the picture. I first saw screen shots of Wild Guns in an EGM and I knew I had to have the game. It looked like a clone of Blood Brothers. The western setting, the shooting gallery game play, and even down to destructible backgrounds.
Upon getting the game, I could not put it down. I remember having so much fun with it. When I first saw screens of the game, I didn't know about one key element of the game that makes it so cool -- not only was it a cool western shooter, it had a retro-futuristic twist to it. I was shooting cowboys and robots. I thought that was the coolest idea ever. It was not a completely original idea, but it was new to me.
There are two characters, Clint and Annie. Annie wants to avenge the death of her father and so she tracked down a bounty hunter named Clint to help her. That sounds like the typical storyline for a game…or loosely stolen from “True Grit”. You can choose Clint or Annie. Annie is a bit more agile for quicker jumps, while Clint is a bit stronger. You can also change the colors of their skin by pressing any of the four face buttons. Two-player simultaneous game play is available and two of the same characters can be chosen.
There are 6 levels, even level is divided up into 3 segments. The first two segments being are timed shootouts, and the 3rd segment is the boss. When the time runs out in the first segments, all enemies on the screen are instantly killed and a sub-boss fight begins. The first level is called Carson City. Once you beat Carson City, you can choose 4 different levels; a moving train, an ammunition depot, a factory, and a canyon. After clearing those levels you are brought to the final level which is inside the space ship of the last boss. Only the final level has 4 segments; 3 shootouts and the final boss.
During the game you are equipped with an automatic machine gun, you control a cursor/cross-hairs and aim it all over the screen to kill enemies and destroy things. Power-ups such as a more powerful machine gun, shot gun, grenade gun, and a pellet gun are also available. The pellet gun doesn’t do any damage to enemies and you are really vulnerable during the time you are equipped with it. The pellet gun isn’t entirely useless, though. There is a “bullet meter” on the bottom of the screen which when maxed out; you become invincible and very powerful for about 15 seconds. The bullet meter is built up by shooting enemy bullets. The pellet gun can be used to deflect enemy fire during this short time of vulnerability. If you get into the habit of shooting enemy bullets instead of dodging them, you can get through the game a lot easier. Sometimes it is just better to dodge the bullets. You also have a smart bomb that annihilates everything on the screen as well as a lasso that can freeze some enemies for a short period of time. Press the "shot" button repeatedly to use the lasso. If you time this correctly, boss fights can be a breeze. Lastly, a lot of enemies throw dynamite at you. You can pick these put and simply throw it back at them to give em a taste of their own medicine.
Bullet-dodging can be done in a manner of ways. You can simply walk out of the way of an oncoming bullet, but that is boring. If you are holding down the “shot” button and push the “jump” button, your character will jump out of the way. To the left or right depends on which way you are pressing the D-pad. Your character can also jump high into the air and perform a double-jump if the press the “jump” button while airborne.
In addition to the regular game, there is a VS mode. You can play against the computer or another player. The VS mode is a 3-part shooting gallery (each part is also presented as a bonus stage in the regular game). You shoot cut-outs of enemies, falling rocks, and mechanized flying insects. Shoot as many as you can and he/she who gets the most hits is the winner. This was a nice little addition to an already-complete game.
"Annie, they are formidable opponents!"
"Oh, it seems to me you are scared!"
The Verdict: 9/10
This game is pure non-stop action. There is always something to shoot at (and always something shooting at you). Even if there are no enemies on the screen, which is a rarity, the backgrounds are destructible. You can shoot almost anything in the background and it will be damaged. You are even awarded points for damaging the background. This is especially fun during the 2nd segment of the Caron City (1st) stage which takes place inside a bar. That is just one example of how shooting up the background can be as fun as shooting the enemies.
The graphics are really detailed and colorful. There are quite a few beautiful SFC/SNES games, and this game is one of them. The screen distortion effect adds a bit of realism when there are large explosions. The impact and heat from the explosions in this game can really be felt. It is hard to explain, but great to experience. Feedback vibration was invented for games like this, too bad it wasn't mainstream yet.
The music and sound effects are also top-notch. The 1-up sound sample is stolen straight from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly which just gives it that great western feel.
The game is somewhat short but does present a great challenge. If 1-ups weren’t given so frequently and there weren’t unlimited continues, perhaps the game would be even more challenging. I guess Natsume wanted the game to be a bit more accessible to novice players.
Great challenge, fun game play, vivid graphics, and great sound make this game a winner. Find a way to play this game. It is not cheap on the used market, but good thing it is available on the Wii's Virtual Console. Again, one of the best action games on the SNES/SFC and should not be missed. I had fun with the game as a child with friends, and fast forward 15 years and it is still a great game. I am always afraid of nostalgia getting in the way of reviewing a game, but it is hard to ignore, this game is great, no matter which era you grew up in.
No pirates or emus, my copy: