Weekly Retro Column: GunSmoke

December 7, 2002

Welcome to a new Snackbar feature;
the Weekly Retro Column. Once a week Pickle and I are going
to get together and write a game review together. The catch
is that we’re going to be reviewing a game from the past. Generally
we’re going to reviewing NES games that we used to enjoy when
we were kids. Hopefully those of you who have been gamers for
a long time will get a kick out of this feature and it will
be something to reminisce to. Playing these old games brings
back great memories of the stupid power light flashing on my
NES or having to blow in those damn oversize cartridges to get
them to work right. And how could you forget the ever-popular
“Battery Backup” games. Also known as “Pray to
god that your game gets saved right.” Those of you new
school gamers who aren’t old enough to remember Nintendo’s glory
days, I suggest you get on Ebay or something and pick yourself
up an old NES system. Hope you enjoy and feedback
is always appreciated.

This week’s retro game is GunSmoke for the NES. Released in 1988
by Capcom USA. Let the chaos begin.

First of let me say that I am a big fan of westerns. I mean who
doesn’t like shooting guys off roofs. Back when I was a mere lad
I remember playing GunSmoke with my cousin for many hours, trying
again and again to get enough cash for the horse. This game was
North/South scrolling. As opposed to the horizontal platforms of
the day, it was all about shooting as many things as possible. The
challenge in this game comes with the absurd amount of bad guys
that roll onto the screen. Shooting every single one of them proves
difficult in itself.

Honestly Pic, while it is a nice change of pace to see North/South
scrolling instead of side scrolling, this is the same freaking game
as 1942. Some marketing genius somehow managed to change some graphics
resell us the same thing again. The amount of bad guys that
come onto the screen is crazy at some points, I don’t know how my
reflexes would have ever been good enough to play this game when
I was eight. Like you I thoroughly enjoy a good western. Now I will
grant Capcom a little bit of creative license, but isn’t this game
supposed to be based in 1849? Yeah, I’m sure that the “Machine
Gun” was a common weapon back in the old west. Sheesh. At least
it was a nice change of pace from the “Hyphen Shooter”
I start off with.

Speaking of guns, you start with a peashooter and everyone else
seems to have a better gun. But you don’t mind because you’re like
a mix of Charles Bronson and John Wayne. However you can take solace
in the fact that you can get a POW power up that kills everyone
on the screen. This game taught us that every barrel in a video
game is meant to be shot at. There are numerous power-ups in the
barrels that can improve your shooting range and speed. The only
thing you really need to look out for is running into an enemy or
not seeing laid dynamite. May I remind you also do not get stuck
behind an object as the game scrolls you upward, or it’s your ass.

This game is defiantly the distant relative to games like Resident
Evil or Dynasty Warriors 3. Every crate or barrel needs to be explored.
How many shots does it take to destroy a barrel though? You’d think
that one blast with a shotgun would blow those things up. They tended
to get in my way more than help me. Here’s my major issue with this
game though. I hate to sound horribly politically incorrect here,
but how come all the bad guys look like Asians? I’ve taken a lot
of history classes and I don’t ever remember reading about Cowboys
and Asians. They hop around like ninjas and everything. I was really
confused if I was in the old west or if I had stumbled upon some
secret ninja training center.

Well Soda, you have to remember the eighties. Movies like Karate
Kid and American Ninja were insanely popular. It does not surprise
me that there may have been an old west Triads type of gang. Surely
there were Asians back then…right? Anyways the game is as fun
as anything. A bit repetitive but seeing as how it is a NES game
we won’t hold that against it. I don’t mind so much the drones of
enemies but the barrels do take about ten shots to break. All the

while 100 enemies surround you and take you out. Like we mentioned
the game is not without its faults, but without the likes of GunSmoke
we would have no action shooters.

I defiantly respect the groundbreaking steps that games like this
took towards trying to expand video game creativity. Here are a
few things that I found a little odd though. The main bad guys in
the game have ridiculous names. On the first level you’re trying
to hunt down “Bandit Bill.” I blame this guy’s parents
for his lawless ways. If you’re going to go out and name your kid
Bandit you have to expect that his career choices are going to really
limited. Have you noticed that you buy all your weapons from some
stranger standing on a street corner? As some sort of law enforcement
officer shouldn’t you be concerned with people dealing illegal semi-automatic
weapons on the street corner? I mean renegade western Asian ninjas,
impenetrable wooden barrels and now illegal arms dealers on the
street? This game is some mindless fun but it’s a little bit too
cheesy for me. Stick with 1942 if you want a retro North/ South

I no doubt respect the game, and I agree there are some shady people
on the corners. I mean what kind of guy stands on the corner with
horses and guns and doesn’t get a Chinese star to the back? These
Triads would just assume kill you than look at you. If this game
teaches us anything it is that enforcing the law is as easy as packing
some heat and taking out every one you see. Also that there was
a lot of twins being made. As you fight about a thousand of the
same four people. I love this game to death, I recommend going down
to your video game store and picking one up if they have it. If
not hit up the internet and buy one. It’s worth it, trust me.