Thursday 9 July 2015

Gumshoe (NES review)

Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1986

Gumshoe is a side-scrolling platform game that requires the use of the NES Zapper light gun.

You play as Mr. Stevenson and your mission is to collect five diamonds and rescue your daughter. The game consists of four phases (City, Sky, Sea and Jungle) and each has specific enemies and obstacles to deal with. You automatically run through the level and the only way you can control movement is to shoot your character with the Zapper; this makes him jump into the air where he can be shot again for extra height. This helps you cross platforms and collect balloons to increase your bullets up to a maximum of 299. Most enemies can be shot and occasionally they'll drop items such as a Power Drink that affords you an additional hit before losing a life. The premise of the game is intriguing but the hit detection is spotty and sometimes it refuses to register a shot. Holding the Zapper very close to the T.V. improves things but even then it's not always perfect. When it does work the gameplay is entertaining and unlike anything else on the NES. Although the difficulty is high it's an addictive experience with nice cut-scenes. Each area is unique and I love that there are multiple pathways so you can choose whether to gamble for items or play it safe. This constant battle is engrossing and rewarding if you enjoy learning patterns. I would have preferred it if your character carried on his momentum when falling off a platform though as instead he just jumps straight down! If you do make it past all four phases you'll face a boss who throws fireballs. It's great as you pick up a machine gun and need to time your leaps so bullets hit him in the eye!

Gumshoe is so close to being a classic NES game but it's marred by imprecise controls. The level design is excellent though and when things work correctly it's a joy to play and a highly original title in the console's library.

Random trivia: Gumshoe was directed by Yoshio Sakamoto who also served as Game Designer on the NES games Balloon Fight (1985), Wrecking Crew (1985), Metroid (1986) and Kid Icarus (1986).

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