Friday 10 July 2015

Hogan's Alley (NES review)

Developer: Intelligent Systems, Nintendo R&D1
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1985

Hogan's Alley is a light gun game and a launch title for the system in North America.

Game A sees three targets enter the screen that only reveal themselves after they've moved to their correct spot. They then spin around and show you whether they're a civilian, a cop or a bad guy. Obviously you only want to shoot the latter and you must do so within the time allocated at the top of the screen otherwise you lose one of your ten lives; accidently shooting anything else will also deduct a life. Sometimes two enemies appear at once so you'll need quick reaction times. While it isn't overly difficult this mode is fun and unpredictable. One downside is that unlike Wild Gunman the game doesn't tell you your reaction time when shooting an enemy. Game B is similar but this time the screen scrolls along a city street before stopping so you can wipe out waves of gangs. They appear from different parts of the screen at varying speeds and again you need to avoid shooting civilians and the police. This is an excellent mode that will keep you entertained due to its increased difficulty. It even has what looks like day/night cycles through palette swaps! Game C is the most unique of the bunch. It tasks you with shooting incoming cans into three gaps marked with 300 points (top), 800 points (middle) and 5,000 points (bottom). There's also a separate ledge you can land on for 100 points. If a can falls below these you'll lose a life. It's very difficult to get 5,000 points as the can needs to be dangerous close to the bottom of the screen before you shoot it; this adds a great risk-reward element though. It's a nice mode but the cans are small and the hit detection suffers slightly.

Hogan's Alley is almost a refined version of Wild Gunman with a bit more variety and difficulty. It's not the most amazing light gun game but it's a fun shooter for its time and one that will entertain you in small doses.

Random trivia: Various Hogan's Alley cameos have appeared in WarioWare titles as well as in Super Smash Bros. 3DS (2014) and Wii U (2014).

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