PIRATES / Nix / Arcade

OK, so in the early '90s there was this arcade game called Wild Guns. It starred some cowboy and some schoolteacher-lookin' marm as they shot up the Old West for reasons I can't remember. It wasn't distributed very widely but it did garner a cult following, enough to get it ported to the Super NES.

Anyway, this little fly-by-night company called Nix apparently decided to clone it, except to differentiate they gave it a pirate theme. So now, a male and female pirate get Engrishy orders from some pirate captain ("Treasure map is in pirate power! You brave and strong!"), and off they go to find pieces of this map that apparently leads to fabulous booty.

Their approach in this is to simply blow the hell out of numerous small towns, stopping only when their thirst for devastation is slaked (you never actually see them pick up a map piece). The view is from behind your pirate warriors, and the joystick moves them left and right while simultaneously maneuvering the reticule you use to aim your shots. You also have a limited supply of bombs you can lob, and a slide that makes you briefly invincible.

Since it clones a good game, the action here is actually reasonably fun, if a bit repetitive. The goal seems to be to blow up every possible structure on each screen, then kill enough pirates until your Bloodthirst Meter is satisfied. The thing that separates it from Wild Guns is the total zaniness of the design. Aside from blowing the crap out of whole town for no good reason, you see a lot of bizarre characters pop up, and everything in the field of play is fair game. In the first level, a barmaid randomly wanders out dispensing beers to everyone, then starts showing off her juggling skills for you ... shoot her down in cold blood and you get a 2000 point bonus. You get a similar bonus for brutally gunning down some society dame that wanders into the battle lost. Sometimes a cow will just wander across the screen at random - fill him full of lead for bonus weapons and bombs. Weapon upgrades include double automatic pistols and what appears to be a machine gun. And at the end of every three-level set you face bosses that include an airship, and even a Giant Enemy Crab.

It does get repetitive pretty fast, but this game is goofy fun for two players for at least a little while. The gameplay and interactivity with the backgrounds surprised me for what I'm guessing was a no-budget game.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video