I remember my parents buying Gun Smoke for my brother, a long, long time ago… It was in the days when getting a new video game was actually quite rare and the excitement was off the hook! The box art is pretty cool, what young boy doesn’t want to be a cowboy shooting up the Old West, getting the bad guys, the rewards, and presumably a buxom wench at the end of it all…
Retro Top Down Scroller
Gun Smoke is a top down scrolling shooter, which is usually reserved for over the top space shooters and while at the time I was new to video games, I am now a veteran of time wasting, so have played a boat load of scrolling shooters, and am not really a fan of the space themed ones. The fact that this is western instantly made me forget about the likes of Xenon 2 and R-Type etc, as it doesn’t feel like them at all.
The plot is simple enough. You’re a gunslinger in the Old West and there are outlaws to fill full of lead. The start of every level presents you with a wanted poster, which gives you a description of the bad guy you are out to track down – these were times where people had to go from town to town, hunting bounties to make ends meet… Either that or you play as a sadistic murdering junkie.
So what you do, is walk ‘up’ and shoot everyone in the face for a while, until you find or buy a hidden wanted poster for that levels particular bounty, once you have the poster, you hunt them down, well, you keep walking up until you reach them and then shoot the big villain in the face until he dies.
The controls are excellent. They are very responsive, and your character moves at a good speed, making dodging bullets a good challenge. Usually if you die, it’s your fault, although sometimes the scenery does seem to grab hold of you.
For shooting, B is to shoot to the left, and A is to shoot to the right, pressing them together makes you shoot straight ahead. It’s a really good and interesting control scheme. There are also a good amount of power ups, including invincibility, extra lives, speed ups and weapon range extenders, but also, along the way, you meet villagers who sell you weapons and even a horse, which gives you an extra few hits before you die.
The new weapons all have a surprising difference, and really come in useful, like the shotgun spreads all over the screen, but has a very short range, the machine gun in a little weaker, but good range, and obviously a fast rate of fire. There is also the magnum, which is usually saved for bosses, as it has a good range, and is really powerful, but limited ammo…
Gun Smoke is a pretty sort game, but is also challenging. There are a great variety of enemies, which are all well animated and the levels are all greatly varied and look excellent, with a lot of colour and character. The NES isn’t the best for graphics, but it definitely stands up well on the system. It’s very fun to play though, and is a good