Tuesday 30 May 2017

Shooting Range (NES review)

Developer: TOSE
Publisher: Bandai
Released: 1989

Shooting Range is a light-gun game that requires both a standard controller and an NES Zapper.

Normal mode includes four events and the objective is to reach a specific point total by shooting pinwheel targets as they move across the screen. Missed shots decrease your energy metre, and once it fully depletes (or you run out of time) it's Game Over; additional energy and time can be obtained though by hitting icons from smashed targets. The gameplay requires you to simultaneously use the Zapper as well as a controller to scroll from left-to-right; it works okay, but using two inputs is awkward and never feels comfortable. The Western stage is up first, but the scenery is barren and targets only appear across two planes, making for some unexciting action. The required point total is also never displayed, leaving you to guess when you're close to completing the area! Ghost House is more interesting due its varying target patterns and reverse 'E' icons that introduce some strategy (accidentally hit one and you'll end up losing energy!). Space is similar to Ghost House with its tricky patterns, but when the clock reaches 100 seconds a gigantic alien boss appears which needs to be shot five times. It's a fantastic idea and it makes you wonder why previous stages didn't follow a similar structure. The Bonus Round tasks you with shooting bottles when they start to flash; this timing-based action is brilliant, playing like a much better Mad Dog McCree (1994, Philips CD-i), and it really shows how accurate the Zapper is. There's also a multiplayer Party mode where you blast as many targets as possible within 249 seconds; it's like Whack-a-Mole but the lack of substance and stimuli makes it a real snoozer.
Shooting Range is fun in short bursts, but truth-be-told it's no more advanced than Hogan's Alley (1985, NES) or Wild Gunman (1985, NES). It's definitely playable and may provide some entertainment for 10-20 minutes, but once you've completed it there's really no reason to return for multiple play-throughs.
Random trivia: The game was only released in North America.

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