NameWild Guns Publisher: Titus, Inc Developer: Natsume Date Published: 1994 Platforms: SNES Genre: Sci-fi Western Third person Rail shooter Should You Play It? Yes

There are very few Western themed videogames, something that surprises many. How has such a fertile genre with such a strong focus on action yielded so few memorable games? Wild Guns is an obscure argument in favour of Westerns, though, like Trigun and 1945, it mixes the history with a healthy dose of science fiction.

Story: 2/5 Clint (the brawly man with the ten gallon hat and rife) and Annie (a demure gunslinger in a pink dress and pink hat) need to shoot things to stop somebody who's evil. The world they're in mixes high with low tech-- robots throw dynamite; two men work together to crank a train car that shoots missiles. At the end of every level there is a boss, and at the end evil is defeated. (In other words: I have no access to the manual, and I doubt the plot is important. The point value is for the setting, one I personally like)

Controls: 3/5 All this rootin and tootin is handled in a rather unique way: players view the character from behind in a series of screens. Each screen last 60 seconds, and the clock is advanced by shooting enemies. Within the space you can move left and right, jump and flip over enemy fire (cross-hairs appear where shots are going to be so you can avoid them. There are exceptions to this), fire into the background, and catch dynamite hurled by enemies. The freedom of movement is nice, though you can't move while shooting. Still, dodging, shooting, and dodging again soon become second nature. The ability to jump and dodge fire goes a long way toward making the shooting seem less 'on rails', and the constant barrages of enemy fire make it all very necessary.

Gameplay: 4/5 Shoot a barrel. Get a shotgun. Use it to shoot the robot who's about to fire his missiles at you. Knock somebody far in the background before he has a chance to get you. Wait for somebody to throw dynamite at you; jump to it and throw it back at him before it explodes. See your screen fill up with blinking cross-hairs; double jump over them. Shoot enough enemies to fill up your Vulcan bar; blast away with your invincible supergun for a few seconds. Hit another power up. Don't hit the Popgun; you can't do anything until you use all the shots if you do. Shoot a sign and make it blow up. Spend five very tense minutes destroying a train; realize its only a sub-boss. Hold down 'Y' and fire a lasso at the enemy, stunning him (you can do this any time you want; it takes time and usually isn't a good idea). Shoot him before he lassos you. Hit 'Pause'. Breathe.

Graphics: 4/5Most things in this game is detailed; most things in this game are interesting. Each level comes with its own set of enemies and its own visual gags. My favourite is the obligatory 'runaway train' level, where you'll shoot the wings off guys in gliders, kill muscle men pumping away at a handcart that pulls a long train, and face your standard Western stagecoach riders and flamethrowing tanks. Things blow up often and they blow up good; bosses fill entire screens. The exception is a slim, scared man who stops cowering only to fire insanely accurate shots at you. A primitiveVash the Stampede?

Sound: 3/5 Its not Ennio Morricone, but it does its job. Guns make gun sounds (that could be crisper); things that explode make explody sounds. There's music that's appropriate to the situation and won't stay with you after you turn off the game. There are a few shouts; there's nothing to break the tension and the action.

Replayablity: 2/5 There are few bonuses in this game-- a shooting gallery and a multiplayer mode are the only deviations from the main quest, and those are available from the start. I suppose playing through the levels with somebody else would be fun, and matching scores in the shooting gallery sounds thrilling-- if there weren't many other, better multiplayer games out. There are no unlockables and three difficulty levels and the game's short enough to make a second or third play through fun... but that's it. No secret paths, hidden characters, extra art, or any other bonuses. Its certainly worth that first play through, though.

Cheats: (thanks to Gamefaqs.com) Stage Select: At the Character Select screen, hold down the SELECT button and press A, A, A, A, B, B, B, B, A, B, A, B, A, B, A, and then B. Links: Gamefaqs (Cheats, game info, reader reviews): http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/snes/data/9529.html Destroy All Monsters (Screenshots. Loads of screenshots): http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~bevhome/wildgunsrev.htm