Genre: Action Shooter
Natsume is a company that doesn’t get a ton of press outside of the occasional wonder game and Harvest Moon. When I found Wild Guns, a rare shooter type of game from the company, I was intrigued. I decided to pop it in and give it a shot, and even now, I keep going back to the game. I suppose I’m getting to the end of my review before I get started though, huh?
This game is interesting in various ways. The exact idea of the story is a little muddled to me, but it appears that robots and various alien beings have overtaken the west. Not only that, but they are responsible for the death of many people, including a relative of Annie. She hires a gunfighter named Clint, and the two of them head into various locales to stop them from doing more damage and take revenge. Western references aside, the game takes you through six levels to reclaim the frontier.
The first thing people will notice is that the game is pretty much a first person shooter, in the vein of Lethal Enforcers or Area 51, but with an onscreen avatar to move around. The player chooses to be either the rugged and handsome Clint or the sassy and sexy Annie as they trek to various locales. Some of the maneuvers end up as integral things to learn, such as double jumping or diving rolls across the screen. The entire idea is that if you survive long enough, you’ll advance to the next level.
To get to the next level, though, you can blast- well, pretty much everything. The amount of destruction you can wreak in each locale is astounding, especially for a game of the time. Everything from barrels to neon signs to cacti; practically anything you see on screen can be blasted, broken, or riddled with holes. Through doing this, you can find ore, which will give you points for extra lives, or weapon upgrades. Machine guns, grenade launchers, shotguns, and others are all available throughout the game. In an interesting turn of events, you can also end up with the misfortune of a Pop Gun, which will render you ineffective until the ammo has run out.Oh, and if an enemy should get too close to our hero, they’re armed with the butt of their rifle or a baseball bat to knock them away. Seriously, the game is just wacky enough to work and just serious enough to be a contender for a great game.
The actual shooting mechanic is a little harder to explain than to actually get down through practice.You move a target around the landscape, shooting at bandits, robots, and other baddies as they try to do the same to you. With most of the attacks, you’ll see a ‘Look Out!’ bubble shoot up from your character, giving you some kind of warning that you’re about to lose a life if you don’t vamoose. When moving the target in conjunction with other buttons, you will run back and forth, making a basic escape possible. By holding your shooting button, you’ll fire a fairly steady stream of bullets, and if you tap it rapidly, you can aim a lasso to throw and paralyze an enemy for a short amount of time. That’s especially useful since most of the bosses are susceptible to said attack. Your arsenal is not limited, and while you might lost a life or ten as you try to get the finer points of the game down, the levels are so short and fun that you probably won’t get too frustrated.
The short duration of the game, however, can also be considered one of its drawbacks. While it admittedly stops before the mechanics would get too repetitive, the whole game, for someone who has gotten the hang of things, can be finished in just under an hour. Thankfully, as I insinuated before, the replay value is through the roof on this game, but had I spent fifty dollars on this game when it came out, I probably would have felt pretty cheated.
The other downside to the game is the strange mechanics. Your shots always hit where you want them to all the time, and for what it’s worth, the collision detection in the game is spot on. There were just times, though, where I knew where to jump, but the game, for whatever reason, decided that would be the one time that a bullet would not have a reticle, which is the prime way of telling where a bullet is about to strike. It’s a small gripe, and honestly, pretty inconsequential. Still, grasping for complaints has to have its merit for the game itself.
All around, the game is surprisingly fun, even in a short stint, and it follows the old adage of ‘easy to play, hard to master’. The game could stand up to the test of time, considering that if this game were to come out on a Virtual Console or other means for five to ten bucks, I might be inclined to get it. There’s also a two player feature, though I’m not entirely sure that it would be as fun, depending on how that is handled. I may not be a devout fan of shooters, but this game feels much more like a hidden gem than a stowed away embarrassment.