008 - Hogan's Alley

In this episode we reloaded the NES Zapper for our second foray into light gun games: Hogans Alley.

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Is It Still Fun?

Hogan’s Alley puts you in the life of an FBI Trainee (though that may not be abundantly clear to those who didn’t read the back of the box).  Your primary goal is to quickly shoot the cardboard cutout bad guys, while avoiding the cardboard cutout good guys. This light gun game is a test of your decision-making and reflexes.  Playing it today can still offer an enjoyable distraction but it probably won’t be your new favorite game.  Eventually it becomes apparent that your aim is much less important than your ability to make quick decisions.  Shoot the general area that your target is in and it’s a hit. The only way to really miss is to make the wrong choice.  While this offers something unique when compared to Duck Hunt, it also makes the light gun feel more like a means of immersion and less like a necessary part of the gameplay. 

A bit of variation is offered in the third game mode: Trick Shot.  In this case your aim does matter as you shoot several cans to keep them in the air and guide them toward desired platforms.  As this is a bit more skill based, it can be fun to compete with your friends for a high score.  However the gameplay doesn’t really evolve from there, so even this can get old after some time.

Is It Still Playable?

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Like other light gun games, the first thing you will need to think about is getting the proper hardware.  Aside from the obvious light gun, console, and Hogans alley cartridge, you will also need access to a CRT TV.  The original game will not work on an HD television.  However, you do have the option to download a slightly altered version of the game on the Wii U.  The added crosshair doesn’t make much of a difference in the decision based game modes (A and B), but it does rob the Trick Shot mode of some of its charm.

Functionally, on the other hand this game is easy to play.  There are no controls to learn other than shoot the correct targets, making it the type of game that anyone can pick up, even if you’ve never played a video game.

Is It Still Important?

Any successful Nintendo Zapper game could be considered important, as they offered further proof that the company could prosper by thinking outside the box.  Hogans Alley did just that.  It provided a fun experience that was different from it’s fellow light gun game: Duck Hunt.  However Hogan’s Alley doesn’t seem to have as strong of a lasting impression.


The Verdict

It’s hard to imagine someone playing Hogans Alley and not getting at least some enjoyment out of it.  It’s fun on a basic level: can you make the right choice under pressure?  It even offers a mode that tests your aim as well.  While this is a good game to play if you can, note that the level of challenge plateaus after a while, which can lead to the game getting a bit stale.  For this reason Hogan’s Alley does not make our essential games list.

Don't tell me this guy doesn't look shirtless...

Don't tell me this guy doesn't look shirtless...