Redemption has been out and doing well for about a year
now. Most adults buy this game and probably don't remember
its 8-bit roots with the classic Gun.Smoke, kids borrow/rent
it probably can't imagine its roots, and neither likely knows
that Capcom had a part in the Red Dead Revolver prequel.
Proof of this can be seen in the Undead Nightmare version
with its dark, eerie zombie theme that mirrors Capcom's original
design for Read Dead Revolver.
why BADCP drops Capcom so much when referring to this
series (past and present), and these proofs illustrate why
(even though Rockstar has played its parts in its development).
More proof is out there in rare screenshots and interviews
with Capcom artist Akiman questioning its success, saying,
"Our game is a strange game," adding that while
"it's good to be original, maybe it's too strange."
Undead Nightmare's success essentially answered the
question of how successful a zombie western theme could be,
and it's impossible not to wonder how well successful it would
have been if it hadn't been taken out of Red Dead Revolver.
At the time of that Akiman interview, Red Dead Revolver was
unique and risky, but it was following in the footsteps of Gun.Smoke
as a spiritual successor. Beneath
its John Wayne Western-inspired box art, Gun.Smoke was like
no other in its approach to the genre. I've never seen another game
(or movie, for that matter) where a cowboy fights a ninja, boomerang-toting
lunatic, and a gunner clad in knight's armor; one after another.
The bosses weren't quite so much a motley crew as they were unique
within the bounds of time. Sure, ninjas and dudes with boomerangs
weren't typical of the western theme established by movies and media,
but both fit a general timeframe in iconic traditional history.
Cowboys are iconic
of American history, and similarly the ninja and boomerang are iconic
of Japanese and Australian histories. Capcom's
innovative planners drew logical parallels to make one, cohesive
(yet familiar) western theme, and that is what made the game
so special. Even today, very few titles attempt such an approach,
and it's just not the same when they do. Why? Because even though
Gun.Smoke put characters of different origins together, it
never actually combines them. Ninjas were ninjas, cowboys
were cowboys, and tribesmen were tribesmen; though agile, tribesmen
aren't half ninja, and your character (Billy Bob) never uses a boomerang,
nor does he ever ride a kangaroo instead of a horse. Likewise, Billy
Bob never uses ninja moves, and nobody but the ninjas use ninja
stars (or "Chinese stars" to youth of the 90s).
The knife cowboy
enemy may leap across the screen with the agility of a ninja, but
he's still not a ninja; no disappearing, no throwing darts, and
no throwing stars. Though he may share the characteristic of a covered
face, he's ultimately still a cowboy. I won't deny that part of
the reason he looks cool is because of the ninja parallel with the
covered face and dual knives, but I've still never seen a ninja
in the boots/vest/hat cowboy getup. The ninjas move accordingly
and use all the requisite weaponry, but what about the wandering,
unmasked, gun-wielding (purple) cronies alongside them? It's possible
they were intended to be ninjas, but unlikely (since they appear
in a variety of colors throughout the game). All in all, each character
has profound appeal because they are so much different than the
character next to them.
Can Have My Gun...
Capcom had a knack for creating immersive environments even back
then, and the stages depict harsh elemental conditions of the Wild
West while carefully placing obstacles that immerse the player further.
Take a drive past the edges of town (if you live in the West) and
be amazed at how closely Gun.Smoke's 8-Bit pixels
resemble the real thing. They play the role of backdrop to the fastest,
most chaotic shooting in any western-themed video game, ever. Your
guns shoot literally as fast as your thumbs can go; all you
see is bodies falling in your wake. Gun.Smoke
wouldn't be complete without equally immersive audio, and from chunky
shooting and galloping horses, to the worrisome shopkeeper and "Little
Banditos" themes, the game's memorable audio delivers.
The Japanese approach to the Western is what makes Gun.Smoke
so uniquely cool. Fans of Red Dead Revolver and Red Dead
Redemption owe it to themselves to see not just why Gun.Smoke
is arguably the best Western-themed video game ever made, but how
it paved the way for the former. There's no denying the Red Dead
success and/or legitimacy as successor(s); both innately influenced
by 8-Bit predecessor Gun.Smoke. Unorthodox design, tight control,
furious gunning and memorable tunes were all combined into one cohesive
package that make Gun.Smoke the best Western video game of
- BAD -
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