Galactic Protector


This just in: Jupiter has a mustache.


PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous



GENRE: Arcade

RELEASE DATE: 02/21/88 – (JP)

REQUIRES: The Paddle Control


Do you have approximately three hundred and thirty dollars to spend? Might I interest you in Galactic Protector, a game that will not work without a Mark III (a.k.a. Japanese Master System), a Paddle Control, and the game itself, none of which were released outside of Japan? Oh, you can try to emulate the game, as I did, with a controller, the Meka emulator, and some grit and determination, but no amount of resolve will make this game work without the necessary tools.


Galactic Protector (UE) [!]-02

Two-player would be awesome and nearly a hundred dollars more expensive


This is a shame, as I think Galactic Protector would be a fun experience with the proper accoutrements. The game stars Sega’s occasional go-to mascot, Opa-Opa, fresh out of his curious non-shmup adventure in Fantasy Zone: The Maze. Here he circles around various planets – including the Earth, Saturn, and Jupiter, all of which have hilariously cartoonish faces – and protects them from space debris. The space debris includes: asteroids, moons, spheres, and other shapes one might expect to find in some galaxy-themed version of Lucky Charms cereal. The jury’s out on the deliciousness of the debris, but they are certainly deadly. One hit by a single space mallow takes out one of Opa’s lives. The planet Opa is protecting from said mallows, however, has a life bar and can take several hits of damage versus Opa’s one hit. Opa has three lives before it’s game over. Depending on the size of the debris, the planet can get hit around eight times. Basically, it’s better to let the planet get hit a couple times rather than let Opa’s lives go to waste. As you advance in the levels, you’ll gain different upgrades, including rapid-fire, a triple-shot, and a speed boost. With the responsibility of upgrades comes more enemies, though, so it’s a glass half-full, half-empty situation.


Galactic Protector (UE) [!]-04

The earth’s expression mimicked my own while wrestling with the game’s controls.


Galactic Protector reminds me of Asteroids – if your ship was Opa-Opa instead of a random triangle and if Opa was tethered to a planet instead of floating deliriously in space. The debris doesn’t just hurtle randomly towards the planet, but shifts and changes directions so you’re always kept on your toes. Indeed, more than the tepid BMX Trial: Alex Kidd, Galactic Protector seems like the perfect game for the Paddle Control. I say this without having used the Paddle Control, so perhaps I should clarify: Galactic Protector seems like the perfect game for the Paddle Control, assuming the control allows you to tightly maneuver Opa-Opa around the planet as it should. I’m going to take the glass half-full approach and say that the control does just that and that the game is a marvelous arcade experience that can only be appreciated with the Paddle Control’s tight nuance. For this review, I am Sega’s cheerleader circa 1988.


Galactic Protector (UE) [!]-03

Double the Opas!


Galactic Protector‘s inability to work with emulation isn’t the emulator’s fault, really, nor is it my controller’s. The emulator emulates the game just fine. The controller I used has an analog stick that should, in theory, move Opa around the planets. The Paddle Control is essentially a primitive analog dial with two extra buttons. What’s the problem here? I couldn’t say. Programming isn’t my bag. All I know is Opa moved in the direction I twisted the analog, and even when he did, it was on some unknown terms worked out between the control and the emulator. Whenever I thought I’d figured out how to properly move Opa, the controls would get hung, stop working, and my planet would grow sad and wounded. Like space and time and the concept of galactic protection itself, the way the controls interacted with the emulator was and remains a mystery.


Galactic Protector (UE) [!]-01

As Hollywood has taught us, all good earths must eventually explode.


Is Galactic Protector any good? Well, in my desperation, I kept trying to have fun with it. If nothing else, there’s a spark in the game that made me wrestle with the controls much longer than I should have. Galactic Protector is not good enough to drop three hundred and thirty of my hard-earned American dollars, perhaps, but good enough for Lucky Charms aficionados.



Vacation, Sick, Tired


Thanks to Samper93 for the drawing.


Hey there Sega fans. Sorry for the lack of posts these last couple weeks. I was on vacation for a week, then got a violent case of the flu upon returning. I’m slowly recovering now, but unfortunately am not strong enough to play/review old Sega games. Lord willing, I’ll be blast processing like normal by the end of the week. Until then, back to the couch.

Thanks for your continued readership and support.

Maze Hunter 3-D


Maze Hunter 3-D was called Maze Walker in Japan. Not as exciting of a title, but truer to the game’s laidback style.



This cover is all sorts of horrifying. Get that retired baseball player out of the maze!





GENRE: Action

RELEASE DATE: 01/31/1988 – (JP)

                                                 1988 – (US, EU)


Maze Hunter 3-D is a top-down action game that is the best excuse for Sega’s 3D Glasses to date – or so I’ve been told by people who have played the game with working 3D Glasses (more on my own ocular woes later in the review). You control a young man around twenty mazes of varying length and difficulty. Armed only with a red bo staff and the occasional special item, you take down legions of randomly generated enemies (many of which look like egg yolks of varying shape, size, and color), while looking for a key to open the exit. Kill enemies, find key, exit, repeat.



Pick up that key if you know what’s good for you…*


The gist of Maze Hunter 3D is to stay alive while you explore the layout of the maze. All of the enemy types have specific patterns, but there’s no telling how many will appear at any given time. I’ve beaten entire levels while only seeing one or two enemies, while other stages have had swarms without end. While your red bo is your main weapon and a fairly effective tool against the enemies (all of which take one hit to kill), you can also get special limited-use weapons – like bombs that clear out the entire screen or two-way shots – from balloons that float by. Other items can be found in question-mark boxes around the maze, like special suits that make you faster or allow you to be hit three times before death (this is a one-hit-kill type of game). There are also special types of shoes which enable you to jump higher, squash enemies, and stay grounded on later ice levels. Any death results in you losing all your special equipment and starting the level over from scratch.



The hero sincerely regrets his decision to become a maze hunter.


Those who have been following this blog for some time know that I have had considerable difficulty in getting my 3D glasses to work properly with any 3D games. Maze Hunter 3-D was no exception. The glasses don’t display 3D – their primary function – but they do sorta, kinda work. Without the glasses, the screen jitterbugs like a couple flappers in a Roaring Twenties speakeasy. When I put them on, however, the game mellows out like octogenarians sitting in rocking chairs on a porch. I was saddened by the lack of 3D in Missile Defense 3-D and Zaxxon 3D, but I feel downright gypped with Maze Hunter. The former two titles were arcade shooters that existed to show off the glasses capabilities, and nothing more. Maze Hunter, however, uses the 3D effects to enhance the game’s foundation, rather than as a crutch to cover up lack of content. Without 3D, I was still able to play the game, but I acknowledged that I was missing a crucial aspect.



Mazes in the jungle? What kind of preposterous flimflam is Sega trying to sell us?


Despite spending considerable time exploring the underground maze circuit, I’m still unsure whether I enjoyed Maze Hunter 3-D. The game – less maze hunting, more maze exploring – moves at a languid pace with no time limit. As a result, it has a rhythm that’s entirely its own, one that’s far removed from Sega’s typical fast-paced arcade titles. The hero himself seems relaxed when confronted with handfuls of enemies. As the game ventured on, however, I kept waiting for more objectives, better items, something else that expanded upon the maze wandering concept. 3D could have been that “something else,” but unless I purchase either a different TV, different glasses or both, I won’t know for certain. Still, lack of 3D aside, I just couldn’t shake the notion that Maze Hunter 3-D could have been great instead of merely interesting.



SegaDoes Podcast: Episode 23 – Family Games


Episode 23 is here and not a moment too soon!


This episode goes all the way back to the disappointing port of After Burner for the Master System and ends on a confusing note with Parlour Games. With the exception of Zaxxon 3D, none of the games were worth prattling on about, but there is a special guest cameo at the end that makes up for the somewhat lacking selection.


Listen! Download! Enjoy! Leave comments below!


And hey, if you love the podcast and/or the blog and wish to show your support, here’s my Patreon. Thanks in advance!

Shooting Gallery


Gone quackers.





GENRE: Light Gun


                                     08/87 – (US)


Shooting Gallery is exactly what its title says it is: a gallery of knickknacks paraded out for you to shoot with the Light Phaser. I imagine there were few games made for the Light Phaser as great as this one, though I do not believe the game is great. I just admire the purity of its purpose. The word “shooting” is in the title.


Shooting Gallery (UE) [!]-01

Keeping the world safe from Bob Ross paintings.


Shooting Gallery goes the extra mile to draw the player into its “world,” so to speak. Just look at the title screen: an off-duty cop or security guard stands with his gun drawn in front of a hastily painted mountain background (you’ll learn that the mountain background is for the duck stages). The yellow bricks surrounding the man are disconcerting – why yellow? – but he looks confident in his shooting abilities and that’s what matters. Why am I informing you of this? Because Sega deserves credit for injecting these details into their series of reflex exercises.


Shooting Gallery (UE) [!]-03

Duck Hunt II: The Reckoning


According to the Shooting Gallery manual, there are four different games with a total of six rounds. The names of the games are as follows: Just For the Birds, Aerial Attack, Twisting Tubes, and TV Terror. In Just For the Birds, you shoot ducks that fly around in unconventional patterns. Aerial Attack provides balloons and honest-to-goodness zeppelins. Twisting Tubes gives you balls weaving through knotted pipes. And TV Terror has you shooting spaceships and televisions that can only be shot when their shields are down. If this place existed in the real world, it would be the greatest shooting gallery known to man, particularly as you’re given unlimited rounds. Unlike many light gun games that purposefully limit your ammo to provide challenge, Shooting Gallery knows you’ll need as much ammo as possible to take out all the targets. Shoot to your heart’s content.


Shooting Gallery (UE) [!]-02

Hot air balloons sans people is a depressing sight.


Despite the abundance of ammo, Shooting Gallery requires you to be a crack shot. In order to pass each round, you have to hit a certain number of targets, shown only at the end of each round. The deeper into the game’s twenty four rounds you go, the more targets provided, the faster they come, the more you’re required to shoot. There’s a lot of trial-and-error, a lot of sweat on the trigger. If you miss the round’s requirement, you’re back to stage one with the ducks, no second chances. The game’s difficulty is unforgiving, particularly in Twisting Tubes and TV Terror. In Twisting Tubes, the balls move quickly through the mostly enclosed tubes, providing you with the slimmest of opportunities to shoot them. In TV Terror, you’re beholden to the spaceships and televisions dropping their shields – you shoot when the game says, not when you want to. These are exercises meant for children with lightning reflexes, reflexes that haven’t been tarnished by car crashes, alcohol abuse, failed marriages and other life-related happenings. The Light Phaser, surprisingly, could handle the stress, but I, as an increasingly tired individual, could not.*


Shooting Gallery (UE) [!]-04

Shooting Gallery shifts from cute and whimsical to abstract and frustrating in five rounds.


Ultimately, it’s the details of Shooting Gallery that elevate it above your typical light gun excursion. Each of the four environments have beautiful soft backgrounds unlike any I’ve seen on the Master System; as if a painter finished them moments before they were taken to the gallery. When you shoot at an object and miss, you chip the background, revealing the brick behind it. The chipped background is important. Sega is reminding you that the gallery is pure artifice. You’re not really in the sky shooting zeppelins or in space shooting floating televisions. I find this attitude to be bold. After all, Shooting Gallery is a video game. The setting could be anywhere and the player wouldn’t blink an eye. “Shoot balls as they’re moving through tubes? Sure, why the hell not?” But Shooting Gallery is intentionally fake. It takes place in the real world, or at least in a shooting gallery supposedly set in the real world, but all you see are the set pieces – and the occasional chip. This constant awareness of a false reality lends the game a depth that Sega likely didn’t intend. The falseness isn’t a commentary on anything, I’m sure, but it gave me something to ponder as I shot like mad at ducks and balloons.




*It should be noted that I do not abuse alcohol nor have I gotten into a string of car accidents. My marriage is fine. The point is, life happens to all of us, and the more life happens, the slower we become. Or something.

Missile Defense 3-D


A Rocket to Nowhere 3-D





GENRE: Light Gun


                                     10/87 – (EU)


When a game requires more than one extra peripheral to work properly, I question whether it should have been made at all. To wit, Missile Defense 3D requires the Light Phaser and 3D Glasses to work properly. Both peripherals today cost about 70-100 dollars – all for a game that can be beaten within ten minutes or so. Of course, if you already have both peripherals or if you were planning on using them for other games, you should give Missile Defense 3D a shot. I’ve been told the game is a technological marvel of the late 80s. If I was transported back to 1987 with this game and all its requirements met, I suspect I would believe it, but I doubt any amount of ooh-ing and aah-ing would convince me that it needed to exist.



Cats and dogs living in sin! Missiles coming out of subwoofers! World War III!


The goal is simple. Missiles launch. They zoom towards you in three electric dimensions. You shoot them with the Light Phaser. That’s it. Once all the missiles have been launched, a screen appears showing you how many missiles you hit and how many you missed. You’re then given two more chances to take them all out. Obviously, the sooner you can destroy them all, the better. If you get to your final chance (you’ll know if the screen displays a city), and the missile explodes, the game is over. If a missile hits you a certain number of times, the game is over.



Where have all the flowers gone?*


There’s a strange, vague story in Missile Defense 3D about protecting cities. Two impossibly large cities are at war with each other, the East and the West. You are the Peacekeeper charged with protecting the cities from themselves. When the West City launches a couple dozen missiles at the East City, you have to destroy them all before they reach the city. But even if you protect the East from the missiles, they of course feel threatened by the West’s offensive and fire back. You then scurry over to the East and try and take down all of the West’s missiles. This story exists to convince you that the game has more depth than it actually does. You have to protect the East and West a total of six times before the game is beaten. Six! Any other Peacekeeper would have given up by then. If the East and the West can’t sort themselves out, let them destroy each other.



Not the satellite! How will people watch the ‘Homeward Bound’ marathon on HBO Family?*


And here’s another thought: how about making North/South levels to cut down on the repetition? Or move over to a different planet and protect them from being destroyed by some alien force? By the third time of shooting down missiles on the same two screens, I didn’t care any more. A little variety in the environments would have gone a long way in making the game more memorable.



Watch out, Space! It’s a missile!*


As with Zaxxon 3D, my 3D glasses stuttered while playing the game. Single missiles often looked like doubles, and it was hard to tell where the missiles were actually placed on the screen. I still don’t know whether it’s the fault of the glasses (they are used) or if my flat-screen CRT TV is too “new” for the 3D glasses to work properly. Thankfully, the Light Phaser did a bang up job taking down the missiles, even though I couldn’t always tell where the missiles were on-screen. Despite my limitations, I got to the fourth round of missile mediations before a lone missile slammed into the West City, ending my reign as Peacekeeper.



Not even Al Gore’s precious ice caps will be spared the missile’s wrath.


It’s not Missile Defense 3D‘s fault that my gaming rig can’t replicate the game to its fullest. Even if it could, though… even if the missiles were able to fly directly at me in stunningly clear three-dimensions, would the game be anything more than a novelty? In 1987, when the idea of full-length games made strictly for consoles was new, two levels repeated ad nauseam was still less a game than a tease. And for all of Sega’s admirable qualities, they have been guilty of skimping on content in order to showcase their admittedly considerable technological prowess. Missile Defense 3D is an amazing intro to a fuller, richer game, but the game in question is nowhere to be found.




*all images from GameFAQs

Marksman Shooting / Trap Shooting / Safari Hunt


A whole lot of blah for half the price.





GENRE: Light Gun



This cartridge should have been titled Light Phaser: The Collected Works, Vol. 1. The name change wouldn’t justify the cart’s dearth of substance, but at least the clumsiness of Marksman Shooting / Trap Shooting / Safari Hunt would be erased. Plus, the new title implies that the games collected therein are important from a historical perspective, never mind their quality. It’s not entirely true, but it makes the games sound more appealing than they actually are.

My original reviews:


Marksman Shooting / Trap Shooting

Safari Hunt


Three of the Master System’s blandest Light Phaser games for the price of one? I suppose if you’re hard up for some shootin’, but even compared to other combo carts, none of the games on here have/had a substantial amount of content to warrant a purchase. Marksman Shooting / Trap Shooting gives you 99 rounds of clay pigeons and human-shaped paper targets to shoot. 99 rounds sounds like a lot, but each round is the same, only faster. Both games may as well be a test to see if your Light Phaser works, they’re so bereft of purpose. Safari Hunt takes you through the jungle on an animal hunt, and more importantly, feels like an actual game. Still, the shooting is pretty bare-bones, and Sega obviously knew it if they threw it onto a cartridge with two other titles. I got nothing against light gun games, but these were all pretty poor ways for Sega to introduce their Zapper lookalike into the world.



Welcome to mid-80s gaming, folks. Thanks to SegaRetro for this screenshot.


Oh well. I suppose the Light Phaser was worth it for Gangster Town.





The Ghostbusters icon atop a white background just looks all wrong.




DEVELOPER: Activision (port by Compile)

GENRE: I really don’t know how to classify this thing, so I’ll just say ‘Action.’


                                    1989 – (EU)


Ghostbusters for the Master System is a port of the 1984 Activision title originally released for computers. This fact is almost as bad as a total protonic reversal. As anyone who has played the game on the Atari 800 or the Commodore 64 or the NES can attest, Ghostbusters is, at its best, a mess and, at its worst, a pile of Slimer puke. The game wants to replicate the full ghost-busting experience, but by doing so, it focuses more on the minutiae – buying items, driving between buildings, walking up stairs – and very little on the exciting aspects of the film.


Ghostbusters (UE) [!]000

I ain’t ‘fraid of no bananas.


You play as the Ghostbusters – or do you? You play as three squatty sprites in light brownish attire (Winston is nowhere to be found), but the men’s names and personalities are mysteriously absent. Before the game even begins, you’re informed via a text cluster that you received ten grand to open a brand new business. Hooray capitalism! A menu appears with a vast array of ghost-busting items to purchase, including four types of cars with varying power and speed and other miscellaneous bric-a-brac with names like Ghost Bait, Ghost Trap, PK Energy Detector, Marshmallow Sensor. Most of these items are essential to the game, but learning what each item does and then choosing what you need on a limited budget is a lot to consider before you even start. If you don’t have the manual, you’ll probably experiment with item-buying a couple times before you get the balance right. But why should the Ghostbusters have to buy their own equipment at all? They should start out with everything they need from the get-go. Questions like this will arise in your brain from time to time, but the answer is always the same: because the game would be a lot shorter without it.


Ghostbusters (UE) [!]001

Ray and Peter contemplate their existence.


Once you’ve purchased your Ghostmobile and equipment, you’re transported to New York City, kind of. NYC, as represented by the game, consists of a bunch of buildings, yellow banana ghosts that creep in from the corners of the screen, the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper wandering aimlessly around town, and the Ghostbuster icon, which you control. Once the buildings turns red, travel there using the icon, then hit button II next to the building. One might expect you to enter the building immediately, seeing as the icon is right next to it. But no. You’re then forced to play a driving minigame where you have to steer around cars and manholes for a set number of kilometers until you reach the building. You can purchase a ghost vacuum for the top of your car and suck up ghosts for money while you drive, but this is the only reason these sections exist. If driving was optional or occurred less frequently, I might appreciate it more, but this is not the case. Every single time you want to reach a building, you’re forced to drive there. Unless you’re hard up for cash, it’s stupid, boring, and a waste of time.


Ghostbusters (UE) [!]006

I didn’t know New York City had such spacious roads.


Once you reach your destination, prepare to ghost bust. Each ghost busting excursion is a one-screen image of a handful of ghosts – sometimes those banana guys, sometimes Slimers – floating around outside of a building. Assuming you purchased a trap (you should purchase at least four before you even start), lay down the trap where you want it, then coax the ghosts directly above the trap with your proton packs. This is the most rewarding part of the game, because it’s the only part where you feel like you’ve achieved something. Trapping the ghosts between the beams is not always the easiest of tasks. When the beam comes out and captures five ghosts at once, there’s a small sense of satisfaction. Also, trapping the ghosts gives you the money you need to proceed to the next portion of the game.


Ghostbusters (UE) [!]005

Sometimes you’ll arrive to a building and the ghosts will be gone. We call this “a waste of time.”


On the main map screen, you’ll notice a PK meter that slowly fills from blue to yellow to red. As the colors change, more and more banana ghosts make their way to the Zuul Tower to prepare for the resurrection of Gozer. When the meter begins to fill up with red, Stay Puft can appear randomly at any time and destroy a building. For some reason, the Ghostbusters will be blamed and you’ll be charged four grand for the building’s destruction. Now, granted, if an evil giant ghost destroyed a building and I was blamed for it, four grand is not a bad price compared to the millions that the building likely cost – but still. When the meter is completely red, you’ll need to have ten grand in your account. If you don’t, the game’s over. I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps you need ten grand to proceed because that was the amount you received at the beginning of the game? Still, I think with Stay Puft and Gozer on the loose, the city would want you to get rid of them as quickly as possible, debts be damned.


Ghostbusters (UE) [!]004

“Marshmallow Alert Red?! Our precious bank account!”


Once the meter fills with red, you’re summoned to Zuul Tower automatically. Stay Puft is bouncing back and forth in front of the tower, gleefully blocking any chance you have in entering it. Or so he thinks. You have a slim opportunity to pass a Ghostbuster one at a time through the building, but it’s tough. One hit and you’re dead. Because there’s three Ghostbusters, you have three opportunities to get them in the building, but you need to get two out of three in there or the game’s over. What a shame to come so far only to be killed by a giant mutant marshmallow man.


Ghostbusters (UE) [!]007

The Ghostbusters have rickets for this section.


Get into Zuul Tower and prepare for a dastardly climb up nine flights to the top. Ghosts appear along the way, but your proton pack will take them out with one hit. The ones to be wary of are the ones that have no discernible movement pattern and spew what appear to be fish. As with Stay Puft, one hit from either the half-digested fish or the ghost itself will kill you. You have three chances to climb the tower, but you only need to get one Ghostbuster to the top to proceed to the final battle with Gozer.


Ghostbusters (UE) [!]008

Slimer just hates it when you climb stairs.


Gozer looks intimidating with the dogs and the bolts of lightning, but he goes down really easy. Stand in front of him and blast away without stopping, and he’ll be dead. You’re congratulated (not “conglaturated”) by the game and given an extra five thousand dollars to start another game with, if you so choose. The more money you have, the better equipment you can buy, so admittedly, it would be a slightly different experience the second time around… until you got to Stay Puft, at which point your fancy car and expensive equipment wouldn’t mean Jack.


Ghostbusters (UE) [!]009

Wait… Gorza?


So let’s recap: the gameplay consists of buying stuff, wandering around the city waiting for buildings to turn red, driving for short distances, actual ghost busting, maneuvering around a bouncing Marshmallow Man, walking up lots of stairs while shooting ghosts, then destroying Gozer before being given the chance to do it all over again. That, friends, accounts for why this review is so long. This is the summary of a needlessly complex and pointless experience that involves little ghost busting whatsoever. And when the name of your video game is Ghostbusters, the latter is a problem. Sorry, Activision. The flowers are no longer standing.



SegaDoes Episode 22: Phantasy Star and The End of Gaming as We Know It


Holy crap and a peanut, it’s been awhile. Thanks for your patience!

On this episode, the long-awaited discussion about Phantasy Star. And some other games! But mostly Phantasy Star.

Sam and I also get our curmudgeon on to talk about how gaming has changed, and how we really don’t want anything to do with modern gaming anymore. Except for Nintendo. God save Nintendo.

Listen/Download the episode here! Subscribe to us over on iTunes! Leave us a review and we’ll totes read it on the air! Exclamation points all around!

And finally, lavish us with praise or tell us we’re wrong in the comment section below. We’ll read those on the air too.



Gangster Town


Are you sure that’s a gangster and not circa- “Wonder Years” Fred Savage in an oversized trenchcoat?


PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous



GENRE: Light gun



Gangster Town picks up where Sega’s Wild West shooter Bank Panic left off. In the latter, you were a lowly bank sheriff hired to take money from the good citizens, and protect the bank from banditos and kids with stacks of cowboy hats in their hand. It was a job with little reward, but at the very least, the experience kept you on your toes. Gangster Town gives you, the bank sheriff, a promotion, to FBI Federal Agent of the “Taking Down Loads of Swankily-Dressed Mobsters From the 1920s” Unit. What an honor!

Are the gangsters bootlegging? Racketeering? Peanut steering? Doesn’t matter. They’re criminals! Take ’em down. Gangster Town offers gin-u-wine Light Phaser support to ensure that the mobsters’ pin-striped jackets get as bloody as possible. While you technically had a gun in Bank Panic, the latter didn’t support the Light Phaser, and thus, wasn’t as violent as it should have been. Gangster Town rectifies that with a body count as high as the heavens.


Gangster Town (UE) [!]-04

Shoot to thrill.


The game starts you off in a training simulator to help you learn how to shoot. It parades outlines of human shapes for you to shoot, specifically in the brain or heart as highlighted by a red target in those specific areas. Of course, if you’re using a Light Phaser and not a mouse, stand as close to the screen as possible and fire at will. At the end of each round, the game shows you a record of your shots fired, your hit ratio, and the amount of points collected. If your numbers surpass the minimum of what the game expects from you, your playing ability will go up a level and you’ll gain an extra heart. Fail, and your hearts will stay at the minimum five and your abilities will be average. This judgment of your performance comes at the end of every level, and since each level trots out more and more gangsters, the requirements go up. Shoot to kill, then shoot again – but make sure your shooting is accurate. By the time the level ends, you’ll have more than enough points to earn a heart.


Gangster Town (UE) [!]-02

“Hey, I used to shoot cans for a living, get off my back.”


Each level is an extravagant set piece, beginning with a car chase and ending with a Harbor shootout. The car chase in particular is extremely well-executed. You’re chasing a clown car filled with an unlimited supply of gangsters who stick their heads and tommy guns out the window to shoot at you. Shoot them first, naturally, then shoot their disguised angels as they try and float up to heaven (“Nuh uh, bub, you’se ain’t gettin’ off dat easy”). Halfway through the chase, the infamous Red Baron plane will swoop down and launch bombs at your car, while gangsters continue to plug away at you. Despite the unreasonable amount of events happening – tommy guns, World War I references, gangster angels – the Master System never misses a beat with silky smooth scrolling throughout the entire level.


Gangster Town (UE) [!]-01

Shooting while driving has always been a gentleman’s pursuit.


Once the car chase ends, the rest of the environments come fashioned after your stereotypical gangster film locations: the aforementioned Harbor, the Night Club, Downtown (twice! – gangsters love downtown), and in a tip of the hat to Bank Panic‘s Western setting, the Saloon. The levels scroll automatically and enemies appear where they will. With the exception of the white-suited thug that takes several hits to kill and appears at the end of each level, the rest of the gangsters wear black-and-white suits with hats and only take one shot to kill. But with each subsequent level, more and more of them show up at any given time. They might appear from a second story window, the sewer, an attic, behind the bar: wherever good times and aimless murder are had. Shoot them all and get your score up. Better score means more hearts means more courage for the continuous evil that you have to deal with.


Gangster Town (UE) [!]-03

When there’s no gangsters to be found, you can relieve stress by shooting these brick walls.


Light gun games are by their very nature limited, but Sega seems to recognize what a light gun game should be: a fast-paced romp through some long forgotten genre film. There’s never a dull moment. Gangster Town keeps your eyes looking in all directions for the enemy, your finger on the trigger. And if you’re able to pause for a moment, you’ll also see the exquisite attention to detail in the stages. Mice run along the floor of the saloon, signs advertising sleaze are dropped onto passing gangsters, beautiful blonde-haired women are taken hostage (and subsequently saved, assuming your chivalric code hasn’t expired). For the previously lowly bank sheriff, this is a far cry from your dusty, God-fearing town in the Old West. Gangster Town is Chicago during the Prohibition, where money and violence are gods and nothing is off limits.