Saturday 18 July 2015

Gun.Smoke (NES review)

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Released: 1988

Gun.Smoke is a vertically scrolling shooter that was initially released in the Arcades in 1985.

The d-pad moves your character and shooting is performed by pressing either B (fires left), A (fires right) or both buttons (fires straight). This control scheme works brilliantly in imitating a duel stick setup and gives you a greater level of control over the action. Your main objective in each stage is to locate a hidden Wanted poster that will then lead you straight to the boss. These posters are sometimes held in barrels but can also be completely hidden from view and require eight shots to be visible. This can be frustrating but once you know their location they always appear in the same place. You can collect money and if you have enough you can visit a shop and buy the poster outright. There are other items you can purchase including more powerful weapons like a Shotgun and a Machine Gun. The first stage is excellent and sees you running through a town shooting bad guys and eventually riding a horse that affords you extra hits before you lose a life. From Stage 4 onwards groups of enemies attack from the bottom of the screen and seeing as you can't shoot downwards you have to dodge their fire and wait until they advance upwards. Stage 5 is one of the more interesting levels as it takes place in the Cheyenne River and you need to cross bridges and leap into the water to fight. The final stage takes place in a graveyard with narrow areas and enemies with 3-way shotguns. The action throughout is fast and furious and while it can get repetitive it's always fun. There's also minimal slowdown and flicker that usually plague these kind of NES games.

Gun.Smoke is an interesting take on the shoot-em-up genre and mixes the best bits of 1943 and Commando together (both Capcom titles by the way). The gameplay is solid and although it doesn't have much variety it has a good learning curve and enough challenge to keep you playing for a while.

Random trivia: While the dot in the middle of Gun.Smoke seems like a typo it was actually inserted by Capcom to avoid potential legal issues with an American TV series called Gun Smoke.

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