Hogan’s Alley NES Review

halleybox

Looking at the NES library, when you think of light gun or zapper games the first game that springs to mind is always Duck Hunt, but there was a plethora of fine gun games on the console… wait – is there some Deja Vu thing going on? Well anywho games on the NES that utilised the light gun, or the zapper, or however you call the gun that were good were far and few between, with the most recognizable being Duck Hunt. Another game that utilised the light gun was Hogan’s Alley so grab your leather jacket and your shades and prepare to take out the vermin that sprawls the city, or shooting range, hell wherever the bad guys reside these days.

In case you didn't know the difference between good guys and bad guys...

In case you didn’t know the difference between good guys and bad guys…

Again, difference between good vs evil

Again, difference between good vs evil

Hogan’s Alley is a black box light gun game that was released in Europe in 1987, the simple aim is to shoot the bad guys and spare the innocent folk. Sounds easy? Well, in a similar vein to Wild Gunman, you have to shoot the bad guys in a specified tight time limit and if not you record a “miss”. Enough misses and it is game over. Although you don’t get to see your character, it would be nice to think that your character is a Clint Eastwood-type chiselled good-looking rather than an overweight Mario-type character that popped up in a lot of the games that was released at the time, be it as an umpire at Tennis or referee in Punch-Out.

When you pop the cartridge in and turn the console on, you get three options:

Hogan’s Alley A

Three cardboard cut outs will appear on screen – shoot the bad guys with guns and avoid the innocent civilians set in a police training environment. At the top of the screen in green shows a number which relates to how long in seconds you have to shoot the bad guys. Sometimes it may only be one bad guy on screen, however the later in the game you get the more chance you have of trying to shoot more than one character on screen within the allotted time frame.

Game Mode A

Game Mode A

Game Mode A

Game Mode A

Hogan’s Alley B

Same premise of shooting bad guys and not shooting the civilians however this time it is set outdoors where the bad guy cutouts appear in windows and on the street, even in shops. Although there is no timer on screen, you only have a certain amount of time in order to shoot the bad guys on screen. The same characters that appear in game mode A appear in game mode B, so it’s good that you don’t have a different set of characters that you need to try to remember.

Game Mode B

Game Mode B

Game Mode B

Game Mode B

Trick Shot

No bad guys in this game mode, the premise being that you have to shoot cans that fly from the right hand side of the screen, and you need to shoot them onto three spaces that are on the left side of the screen which correlate to differing points value. The top space has the lowest points value but in theory should be the easiest for you to shoot the can into, where the bottom shelf as it were has the most points value but is deemed the most difficult to shoot into, with a short awkwardly-placed block there to hinder you. It makes a nice change to shoot cans rather than cardboard cutouts of people.

Game Mode C

Game Mode C

In all three game modes the most challenging aspect is yourself – how does that work? For game mode’s A or B it’s the pressure knowing that you only have a certain time limit to shoot the required number of bad people (which numerically doesn’t show on the screen), so the first few milli-seconds you’re counting how many bad guys are on the screen and then reacting to this. You need to have sharp reflexes, sharper than a hedgehog eating a ghost chilli pepper washed down with Tabasco sauce. For game mode C, the challenge is trying to let the can get as close to the bottom as possible and shooting it so that you have a chance of getting the can into the bottom shelf. With multiple can’s on the screen at the same time, you need to forget that hedgehog and have your Spidey-senses on high alert.

Hogan’s Alley is a fine addition to the NES library and is more than just shooting bad guys, or cardboard cutouts of them at least. You have to think about what bad guys are on the screen and try to shoot them in a small amount of time, or shooting the cans at the right time so that the trajectory is correct and your can goes into a space on the left hand side of the screen. It’s great that although the premise of game mode A and B are the same, the background differs which gives it a fresh take. Although much cannot be written about Hogan’s Alley, if you’re looking for a variation on the NES on the light gun game then Hogan’s Alley certainly achieves this. It is more similar to Duck Hunt with the game modes than with Wild Gunman but all three are worthy to have in your collection. Copies of the game aren’t that common but it is worth the extra pennies so pick up a copy, I mean how many times can you shoot ducks and get laughed at by a dog?

Rating – 5 out of 5

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Wild Gunman NES Review

Looking at the NES library, when you think of light gun or zapper games the first game that springs to mind is always Duck Hunt, but there was a plethora of fine gun games on the console, and for me this one is one of the finest. Released in Europe in February 1988, a full 4 years after Japan, what did Japan love for those 4 years that we missed out on?

Well, as the name suggests, this game is set in the Wild West, and your character takes part in a showdown seemingly in the middle of the desert, with cactus and an overgrown termite hill or dirt mount for company. Although you never get to see your character, it seems natural to think of yourself as somewhat of a Clint Eastwood type character, clearing the West of the varmints that pollute the place.  It pays to have imagination you see, otherwise I could imagine the character is a dumpy Mario-type character like from the Golf game.

So firing up this game, your treated as per most of the black box games on the NES with a jaunty though short opening music, before being greeted with 3 options. Game A, intriguingly called 1 Outlaw, Game B that even more mysteriously is called 2 Outlaws, and finally Game C, with just the word “Gang”. Now that final option wouldn’t be out of place if the game was released today and was set in certain parts of the UK but for a Wild West game sounds pretty cool, unless the gang was Kool and the Gang, or Gary Glitters “gang” *gulp*

It’s hard to shoot someone who has a poncho to die for

So you choose your option, and this is where the fun begins. No controllers needed, just you, your gun, your cat-like reflexes and your Nintendo. After suitably jaunty yet slow music, your first outlaw meanders across the screen. You’ll notice you have a time on the top right hand corner, the time in which you have to shoot the enemy. As with all good games it starts off at an easier time, but gets progressively quicker. Don’t shoot until he shouts fire, otherwise you lose a life and the screen turns purplish, with your opponent running off shouting “foul”. In this game you get 3 lives, before its game over. The other instance of you losing a life is if your too slow in firing your gun, when your time goes beyond the gunman’s time. So as long as your quick on your reflexes, youll progress to the next level – how simple is that? A nice touch is when you lose a life, your treated to a rendition of Chopin’s Funeral March. Never forget, with these games its the little touches that go the extra mile. An interesting fact as well is that when the enemy shouts Fire, this was the first instance of voices in a NES game, which is impressive for the technology at the time, and something that is taken for granted these days with today’s games.

Game Mode A

Game B – 2 Outlaws, does exactly what it says. Instead of having one varmint you get double the trouble to defeat within the allotted time period. A hint, that was pointed out in video reviews, is to shoot the guy with the lower amount of time first before shooting the second guy, though you may have only 0.x seconds between each character. It’s certainly more of a challenge, but for those playing it who think they’re right sharpshooters and laugh in the face of 2 flying ducks, it certainly provides a challenge. Again, it starts off with a more than manageable time to shoot both in, gradually getting quicker and quicker. Same rules apply, 3 lives and thats it.

Finally, we have the intriguing Game C – Gang. Here, you have 15 bullets, and in waves, shoot the enemies in a setting not in the middle of a desert, but at a saloon. Its a good twist, and nice to have a change in scenery. Be warned though, you need to bring your “A” game to tackle this mode, its unforgiving and without a timer running down, you need to be a dead -eyed dick more than ever before. If you miss a target, you don’t forfeit the round, just lose a bullet so use sparingly, theres more targets than you realise.

The graphics are cartoony and colourful, and give a damn-good representation of the lawless Wild West that your helping to clean up. The scowls on the enemies faces when your shot, the ram’s head above the saloon on mode C, the scenery and the detail in the different enemies rather than them looking the same makes you feel like your cleaning a whole town rather than the same face over and over again. The music is jovial and upbeat, well aside from Chopin and his maudlin Funeral March, and sets the scene of the game nicely. Control wise, all you need is your gun, and if you don’t know how to shoot a gun maybe it’s worth checking out Barbie on the NES.

So all in all, its a darn good rootin-tooting ol’ shooter, making good of the light gun, or zapper, or however you call your funky grey (or sometimes orange) gun. The only downside is the lack of a 2 player option, but to try and topple your friend’s score is just enough incentive for a mate to try and compete but alas the score doesn’t save on the cartridge so you’ll lose your score when you turn your console off. If your looking for escapism, and the chance to reenact Dirty Harry and mutter that famous quote, something about being lucky then this is a great game to add to your collection. Carts are still out there in the great retro shops of the UK, with eBay having more PAL-B carts, so if you got your zapper to hand and tire of ducks and dastardly dogs, give this a whirl and get practicing with your Dirty Harry impression. I mean, how can you go wrong with a game that’s featured on Back to the Future 2?

Rating – 4 out of 5