Diary of a Game
Gunsmoke Zzap Review
• GO!, £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk, joystick only
The sheriff needs to bring lead-flavoured justice to some no-good bad hats who are terrorising the good citizens under his jurisdiction.
The player guides this law man through five different vertically scrolling areas with his shootin' irons ready for the ornery cow-pokes who stand on roofs and stalk down the screen, guns a-blazing.
To complete each level, the sheriff reaches its far end where there waits a real mean outlaw, a wanted poster of whom is shown before play begins. From the town, play proceeds to the railroad station, then to a canyon full of redskins. The next level places the sheriff on a wooden raft in the midst of hazardous rapids, which eventually lead to a meadow where the leader of the gang awaits — a youthful, boomerang-throwing varmint. These adversaries require repeated shooting before a diminishing bar representing their energy reaches zero and they die.
Points are scored by drillin' the bad guys, with a reward for the man who plugs the head honchos. To help the sheriff out, there are extra weapons and equipment to collect on shooting water barrels. These cowboy accoutrements include a pair of boots to allow him to run faster, a set of bullets to increase his rate of fire, a POW symbol to clear the screen of villains, the essential horse, and stars for extra lives.
Here's a conversion of the lowest of low quality. The programmers have shown virtually no technical merit in converting this Commando follow-up, and the end result is a bastardised and unplayable disaster that bears only the tiniest resemblance to the arcade original. The graphic artists have shown a monstrous lack of talent — blocky sprites hobble around a series frighteningly mindless backdrops. The musician responsible for the vile, vile soundtrack should to get his ears syringed — it's reminiscent of a mindless, tone deaf child banging a broken accordion. Finally there's a cretinous multiload system which destroys the last vestiges of any credibility. It's a shame that GO! didn't give the American programmers a copy of the Shoot 'em Up Construction Kit — at least they wouldn't have produced anything as dire as this. The good news is that the next GO! conversion, Bionic Commandos, is being written in England by Software Creations (the programmers behind Bubble Bobble), so the next Capcom conversion won't be a mammoth bummer like this!
Since it crept into the office, Gunsmoke has been the object of much fully-deserved derision. Its hopelessly unmusical soundtrack is discordantly echoed by atonal sound effects, incorporating a silly, flatulent weapon collect and apologetic bullet spurts. The gameplay is chronically facile and tedious, its only relief being the awkward and intrusive multiload; indeed, the presentation as a whole severely lacks polish. The castrated end-of-level sequence is matched by the infirm in-game episodes, both combining to create an effect as unaddictive as it is unattractive. This is a mutilated conversion of the original coin-op, and you'd do best to avoid it.
Capcom dropped hints of their apparent low regard for the home computer market when they brought Side Arms to these shores. Now Gunsmoke leaves me in no doubt that GO! need to revise their licensing contract with Capcom if they continue to abuse gamers with their poor conversions. Chunky, quaking sprites slide about unrealistic backdrops taking pot-shots at each other and expiring when the mood takes them. The music is the ultimate in grinding cacophonies, bringing new meaning to the word ‘tuneless’; fortunately there's an option to switch the music off. Just so you don't miss out on the end of level breather, though, the computer plays the victory tune but with the SID's volume register set at zero so as not to wake you up. It's almost worth buying just for the initial laugh and the integral game of ‘Spot the Bug’. Oh, sorry — no it isn't.
If you have any idea what should go in this box, please let me know! :)