There was this little period in the very early 90s where Nintendo's third-party publishers suddenly had a mania for doing action games with multiple modes of play. Like, it couldn't just be a beat-em-up or a run-n-gun, there also had to periodically be driving levels, flying levels, submarine levels, foot massage levels, etc. I think it was a misinformed attempt to capture the "wow factor" of summer film blockbusters in NES 8-bit form somehow for ADD kids ... "WOW look at the graphics! WOW now we're driving! WOW now we're flying! ... THIS IS RADICAL AND GNARLY TO THE MAX BECAUSE IN 1990 WE STILL SAY THAT!" What usually happened with these games is that instead of doing one thing well, they did three or four things poorly.

Anyway, Bayou Billy is one of those games, maybe even the progenitor of all of them (can't be stuffed to do research). The core is a beat-em-up that's basically a more primitive version of the engine that Konami would use for the TMNT arcade game port, but there's also driving levels (a la Rad Racer) and first-person shooting levels (a la Operation Wolf) bolted in too. The protag is clearly meant to be Crocodile Dundee, but the whole thing is set in the Louisiana bayou somewhere, presumably to head off lawsuits. It's the standard dopey action game plot of the period where some crime boss kidnaps the protag's girl Because Reasons and he then has to singlehandedly mow down the entire crime family while in pursuit.

In Japan this was advertised as "triple hard action game"  , and I think it's one that they forgot to tone down for the western markets. You'll be lucky to even make it out of the initial beat-em-up level as enemies don't stun-lock or bounce back in any way when hit, and even the most lowly of the muscly Elvis impersonators you fight has a fairly long life bar and can quickly chip your health down when two or three gang up on you. And that's before you even get to the crocs who you can only hit when they pop out of the water to bite your ass or the Scuba Steves armed with pistols who come in groups of three.

You can at least get a taste of the shooter and racer modes of play in "practice mode", however. What the game doesn't tell you if you don't have the manual is that completing each of these modes actually earns you bonuses in the corresponding story mode version of that level. Not having the manual may also hang you up if you don't have the Zapper light gun, as that's what the "Mode A/B" on the title screen is all about -- A is for using the Zapper in the first-person shooting gallery levels, while B is for using the controller.

Even with those bonuses the game is too much of a headache to bother with, though. It's a shame as Konami obviously poured some money into it, for 1990 NES it looks pretty nice and has a decent soundtrack to boot. It's just too balls to actually play. Sorry Fayou Filly, your cat-eyed girlfriend is just gonna have to adjust to life on the plantation with Boss Hogg I guess.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video
* You're never getting out of that swamp, Billy