Game Review: Gun.Smoke

Gun.Smoke Title Screen

  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Released: February 1988
  • Game Type: Action
  • Players: 1
  • Product Number: NES-??-USA
  • Rarity: B- (Borderline Rare)
    Game Ratings:
    OVERALL: 8

    Box Scan
    Gun.Smoke Screen 1 Gun.Smoke Screen 2

    In the mid-80s Capcom released another one of their classic arcade titles, Gun.Smoke, which could be described as Commando in the Wild West. Although it had nothing to do with the long-running TV western of the same name, Gun.Smoke still did decent enough business to warrant some home ports. When Gun.Smoke hit the NES, it went through a number of changes but still retained the core gameplay, and proves to be another entertaining cartridge for the NES.

    This game takes place in the western town of Hicksville, where its citizens live in fear. A group of outlaws knwon as the Wingates have invaded the twon, killed the sherrif and terriorize the townspeople every day. Then one day, a mysterious lawman known as Billy Bob arrived in Hicksville, determined to rid the area of the Wingates and restore order to the town.

    This game his six stages of shooting action. In each level Billy Bob walks through the town and other areas shooting any varmints that get in his way. The screen automatically scrolls vertically downard but Billy can move around the screen. Throughout each stage an swarm of criminals will appear to try and do in our hero, each with a different method of attack, but Billy is far from defenseless; he's armed with a pair of pistols that have unlimited ammo. Billy earns money for every bad guy he guns down, and can shoot barrels to find several power-ups such as boots to make you move faster, rifles to increase your firepower, moneybags for extra points, and even POW symbols to wipe out all the enemies on the screen. As you travel through each stage, you'll come across some friendly merchants, where you can use the money you've collected to buy items better weapons, including shotguns, magnums, machine guns, and others. One hit will do in Billy, but he can find an icon to summon his trusty horse to ride through the level, and the horse can withstand several shots until he dies (he'll start blinking when he can only take one more shot). The overall object of each level is to defeat the main boss, but you can't face him until you obtain the Wanted poster, which is hidden in each level and can also be purchased from shops. Otherwise the level will loop around endlessly until you find the Wanted poster. Once you each the end of the level with the Wanted poster in hand, you'll be able to engage the boss in a fight to the death. If you manage to defeat the boss, you'll collect the reward and move on to the next area. The six hombres include Bandit Bill, a deadly marksman; Cutter, a thug who uses boomerangs; Devil Hawk, a corrupt Indian cheif who shoots fireballs; the Ninja, an assasin from the Orient; Fatman Joe, a pudgy villian who throws bombs; and the leader of the Wingates himself.

    Graphics & Sounds:
    The graphics are pretty decent for an older title. Each stage is designed very well and has its own different theme, such as the town, the Native American village, the mountains and others. The sprites aren't the best but still look okay and have decent animation, though some breakup does occur at times. The music in this game is actually pretty good. Each of the background tunes has a nice Western feel to it and fits the setting of each stage pretty well. I especially like the music during the intro scene and the first level. The sound effects do their job but aren't too memorable.

    This game has a slighty unusual control scheme. The B buton lets you fire to the left, the A button lets to fire to the right, and pushing both of them fires striaght ahead. It takes some getting used to but actually works out well, enabling you to pick off enemies without always being in their line of fire. The other controls work just fine and your cowboy is pretty responsive, which is good when you need to dodge a storm of bullets.

    Challenge & Playability:
    Like most Capcom titles, Gun.Smoke provides some good arcade action. It's just plain fun to gun down any outlaws that get in your path and it never gets old. Some scenes even give you a feeling like you're in a shootout from those old movie Westerns. Also like most arcade shooters, the challenge level is a bit on the hard side. The first two levels aren't too bad, but from the third level on, enemies constantly swarm at you from all directions, requiring you to really be on your toes, especially with the one-hit deaths. The game never really gets frustrating, and if you lose a life you start right at the point you died at. You do get unlimited continues, but they start you back at the beginning of the stage. The game can be beaten with some practice; just be ready to give many lives to accomplish this.

    So all in all, Gun.Smoke is another good NES cartridge from Capcom. This game is fun and addicting with some good graphics and sounds to boot. It may not be the top dog of NES shooters, but this game is definetly one that shouldn't be run out of town. Definetly saddle up with this one.

    - Review posted on December 28, 2007