016 - Wild Gunman

Oh hey, it’s that game from Back to the Future! In this episode, we take another whirl with the Zapper for Wild Gunman.

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Wild Gunman

Episode 016


Is It Still Fun?

Wild Gunman shares the same basic structure as Hogan’s Alley and Duck Hunt in terms of game modes. Each features a different variation of the bad-guy-shooting minigame. Mode A and B are the same in terms of mechanics. In Game A, you face off against a single outlaw in a classic Old West duel, though you have been given clairvoyant powers that tell you precisely how much time it takes for your opponent to fire his gun, which I don’t believe was common in the era. In Game B you duel against two at once. The outlaws line up and wait for their turn to die ad infinitum, at least until you lose all your lives.

This mode can be quite tense at times, especially when you only have a split second to react, so I think it’s a fairly good simulation of the duel. However, once you’ve dueled a couple dozen guys in cowboy hats and sombreros, the gameplay loop can grow a little stale. Thankfully, Game C mixes it up a bit, giving you a shooting gallery at a Saloon to shoot outlaws in, similar to Hogan’s Alley’s Game B.

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Is It Still Playable?

Wild Gunman is just as playable as the rest of the Zapper games we’ve gone over. Given that you own the console, gamepak, the peripheral and a CRT television to play it on, you’re golden. But since that combination of equipment is growing more rare, it’s becoming more difficult to play the original NES version of the game.

That said, there’s a Wii U version on the virtual console that was released a while back, but since you basically just point and click with a reticle in that version, it’s not nearly as fun.

Is It Still Important?

Wild Gunman is a welcome addition to the Zapper library in terms of aesthetic, but isn’t nearly as impressive when it comes to delivering a new gameplay experience. This game shares too many qualities with Hogan’s Alley to be truly unique, though the cowboy setting is certainly endearing. The most important part of Wild Gunman is its lineage, with Gunpei Yokoi’s original electro-mechanical version essentially birthing the Zapper experience on the NES.h


The Verdict

If you’ve got all the prerequisite equipment, and maybe a friend to experience it with, give Wild Gunman a shot. … Otherwise leave it be as a fun Back to the Future reference.

Nothing says family fun like a saloon shootout...

Nothing says family fun like a saloon shootout...