Dang-Nabbit, go git thim villans, Sheriff Quickdraw!

Gunfright (1986, Ultimate Play The Game - an original Stamper Brothers creation!) is a classic game of the early PC era, and one of the most popular games for the Sinclair Spectrum of its time.

Using Ultimate's Filmation technique to give the player a 3D world to participate in, the basic premise of the game is a Wild West shoot-em-up. You play the aforementioned Sheriff Quickdraw, who must clean up the town of Black Rock by eliminating criminals with extreme prejudice. There were actually three components to the game: first, you would shoot bags of money in a 30 second free-for-all in order to upgrade your gun and get more bullets; then you would be given the poster of a criminal and wheel around town on your horse (more on this later), asking townspeople for clues and directions (while dodging deadly cacti and tumbleweeds); and finally there'd be a shootout with the criminal himself.

As far as old-school games go, Gunfright is pretty fun, if repetitive. Like all games of the era, it starts off fairly easy, lulling you into a bit of false confidence before becoming virtually impossible by about the 9th or 10th criminal caper. There are a lot of neat subtleties to the game, including the fact that if you shoot a pedestrian, you merely get fined. Texas justice at its best! (Although money is the only important thing in the game, so don't do it.)

But by far, the biggest appeal for me, a then 5 year old watching my older next door neighbor play the game in 1987, was the horse. Or rather, the pantomime horse. Yes, the "horse" you bought (cheekily named Panto) was represented by two guys in a horse suit, and watching it dash up and down the streets, crashing into pedestrians (no fine for trampling!) was hilarity itself. The horse was a necessary evil of the game, as it cost a lot of money to buy, but I'm pretty sure my sister and I made him buy the horse almost every time just to watch it in action.

When the game came out, it was considered merely a clone for Nightshade, Ultimate's first smash hit game released just a few months earlier. But over the years it has retained a singular nostalgic appeal, most likely due to its subject matter.

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