Magnus Nilsson and Steffan Gustaffson are the latest pair to indulge in their passion for a game originally released in 1988, and they’re really not being shy about it at all. Gun.Smoke is almost a 1:1 recapture of everything that Gun Smoke was over two decades ago. It’s a cowboy themed vertical shmup, for those not familiar, and it’s quite a good one too. Though this remake (?) has seen a few tweaks to the levels that changes things up significantly in certain places. Sometimes it makes parts easier than the original; other times they’re much harder all of a sudden – some people are even describing one level as “impossible”. The first level of Gun.Smoke, I’d say, is actually a little easier providing you keep moving and taking out the enemies as they appear.
“I’ve probably played the NES original over 100 times in the process of making this. I’m very happy how it turned out and anyone who is a fan of the original or have missed out on this classic should give it a shot because it’s a blast to play.”
There’s six levels to charge through in total, and this PC version comes with support for different screen resolutions and gamepad play should you want it. Otherwise, you’re using the arrow keys, Z and X to blast your way through the many enemies that want you dead. Should you want to try out Gun.Smoke for yourself, then you can grab the download for Windows only right here.
Back To The Wild West
Oddly enough, looking at the graphics from the original and those that have been supplied for Gun.Smoke, I’d have to say that the latter has bigger pixels. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I just see more details and darker tones in the original Gun Smoke. The levels seem to have been designed to do away with the claustrophobic feel of the 80s arcade game. As such, the paths between buildings seems much wider, and the open areas do without the edges of lake to restrict parts of the screen. The developer of the game says that tweaks such as these are in place so that Gun.Smoke is “streamlined and geared towards more traditional arcade verti-shmup while still staying close to the original.”
To be honest, I’m grateful for the extra room, but part of me hankers for that hunched feeling as you dodge bullets across much narrower roads. The boss fights similarly feel much more generous in spacial terms. Perhaps the thinking is that more people would appreciate the game if they’re able to play it through a little easier. Indeed, in the options menu the player can toggle the amount of lives they start with, from three to as many as seven. So the intention seems to be to allow a greater accessibility, opening the game up to others who may be put off by the difficulty. Another note for the moaning – the boss the deliciously dark tones of the boss music in Gun Smoke will be missed.
Apart from that, pretty much everything else is intact, including the horse power-up, which doesn’t interrupt the whole game any more (thank goodness). The best way to play the game is to stay nearer the top of the screen and be constantly shooting, and then retreating on the odd occasion when an enemy appears behind. Of course, if you focus on shooting barrels and increasing the range and speed of your cowboy and his shots, then things become easier and easier. For those not aware, you shoot diagonally using the two firing buttons, but holding them down together allows you to shoot vertically. Just a couple of tips. And anyway, once you’ve learned the levels and beaten them once, they stay unlocked for you so you can start from any level you like, rather than having to restart the whole game, like in most arcade titles. So the whole “streamlining” aspect is generally pleasing, but may slightly upset some fans of the original, but this won’t last too long once they get into Gun.Smoke and feel those old muscles creak into gear.