SUNSET RIDERS / Konami / Arcade
Sunset Riders is an excellent little game from Konami, something between their beat-em-up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and a run-and-gun Contra-style game.
Up to four of your wild cowboys go on a quest to hunt down the biggest bounties in the land. This takes you through various western locales, such as frontier towns and a stagecoach train, gunning down legions of handkerchief-wearing baddies in an attempt to collect (our heroes always seem to opt for the former option when it comes to "Dead or Alive" stipulations).
Instead of having a playfield with depth as in most beat-em-ups, Sunset Riders has you switch between upper and lower flat planes as in games like Shinobi and Rolling Thunder. This gives you the ability to shoot upwards, downwards and diagonally. Levels are punctuated by the occasional bonus stage, which plays like the battle scenes in Konami's own Snatcher - you fire at baddie heads popping up on a 3x3 grid that covers the screen.
The graphics are very nice, as is the music (another fine Kukeiha Club score), and the gameplay is solid. It also has a lot of voice clips and a nice weird sense of humor (such as when you gun down a team of baddies in a saloon and dancing girls then put on an impromptu show for you while the carcasses gently rot in the background).
* Gameplay Video