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Level 1
Wild Gunman (Level 1)
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on September 15, 2011   |   Episode 22 (Show Archive)  


Welcome to Level 1. Every week we look at a random game's very first level. It doesn't matter what kind of game it is or what system it's for -- we're here to dissect the game's first level and see what it tells us about the rest of the game. I promise you an eye-opening experience in each episode! This week we're taking a look at our very first NES Zapper game. No, it's not Duck Hunt. It's one of my favorite early 8-bit shooters, Wild Gunman. Find out what we can look from Wild Gunman when we pull the trigger on the first level!
Wild Gunman (Nintendo)
[ Release: 1985 - Console: Nintendo Entertainment System ]
Wild Gunman
Wild Gunman
Not only was Wild Gunman one of the earliest Nintendo Entertainment System games, but it also paved the way for countless light gun shoot-em-ups. While it may not be as well-known as Duck Hunt, Wild Gunman was featured prominently in Back to the Future Part II and is a fan favorite amongst Zapper enthusiasts. Here we are a quarter century later ready to pull the trigger play the first level of Wild Gunman!

Level 1 - Shooter Valley, New Mexico: Have you ever had one of those mornings where you felt like you were kicked by a horse and run over by parade of wagons trying to make their way west? Well, partners, that's exactly how I feel right now. I can see the sunlight coming through the window and the woman-folk washing the dishes in the streets. I have no time to lay here letting the flies feast on my filth; I have a job to do. After all, they don't call me the wild gunman for nothing.

As I search around for my spurs, I see an angry woman standing in front of me ready to give me a piece of her mind. She hovers over me like a hawk, ready to strike at any time. I sense something is wrong, but I don't remember what. Then
Wild Gunman - Level 1: Shooter Valley, New Mexico!
Wild Gunman - Level 1: Shooter Valley, New Mexico!
she tells. Apparently I was at the local saloon the other day and challenged the whole town to a duel. It seems the whole town is hopping at the excitement and I need to get my butt to the clearing by 12 noon. It looks like I chose the wrong day to not die in my sleep.

With not even an hour to spare, I rush through my morning ritual and prepare for a day of wanton killing. I grab my lucky revolver, my cross and enough ammo to take down a city twice the size of Shooter Valley. Actually, now that I think
Wild Gunman - Level 1: Shooter Valley, New Mexico!
Wild Gunman - Level 1: Shooter Valley, New Mexico!!
about it, I'm not even sure this place is called Shooter Valley. That's probably just a nickname I came up while drinking myself into an early grave. Maybe I'll ask the town elders what the real name is ... after I get done spraying blood everywhere.

I make it to the clearing on time; because if there's one thing I am, it's punctual. I have already fired practice shots at a few unsuspecting townsfolk on the way, I feel like I'm ready to go. I pop in some chew and slick back my hair; I'm as ready as I'll ever be. I impatiently pace
Wild Gunman - Level 1: Shooter Valley, New Mexico!
Wild Gunman - Level 1: Shooter Valley, New Mexico!
back and forth waiting for the first victim. It's time for this wild gunman to show the world what he's made out of.

The first villager takes the stage. He has a dark beard and a funny walk, almost as if I had already shot him in the foot on the way over. He finally gets into place, positions his hand and yells "FIRE!!" I fire. And just like that, one opponent is down for the count.

Out comes the next hero, a lanky son of a bitch with a stupid smile. It doesn't take long for him to taste the hot New Mexico sand. I look around for the audience reaction; it is nothing
Wild Gunman - Level 1: Shooter Valley, New Mexico!
Wild Gunman - Level 1: Shooter Valley, New Mexico!
but stunned silence. I yell at the naysayers, telling them to bring on the biggest, toughest gun fighter they have. So far these wimps aren't even a challenge.

Out comes a well-dressed man with an expensive hat. He tells me that he's been waiting his entire life for this day. I shoot him on the spot, before he even gets into position. I'm not here to fulfill some childhood wet dream, this is a serious duel. While I'm in the shooting mood, I decide to shoot the lone Mexican in the audience. Not because of some xenophobic rage, but rather because he was putting
Wild Gunman - Level 1: Shooter Valley, New Mexico!
Wild Gunman - Level 1: Shooter Valley, New Mexico!
the moves on my Gertrude. Nobody hits on Gertty without getting a bullet straight through the forehead.

And with that my day of killing has come to an end. I look around and don't see anybody scrambling to take me on, so I wave to my fans and holster my gun. But just as I go to embrace my beautiful cowgirl, the sky turns black and I hear chanting from the fallen bodies. I spin around to discover the Mexican I shot is standing erect, mumbling something I couldn't make out. I panic.

I quickly load my gun and send a few more bullets his way. It doesn't seem to faze him. I can see the rest of the townspeople running away, scared that they'll get killed in the crossfire. I make one last stand, letting him know that I will not be beaten. And
Wild Gunman - Level 1: Shooter Valley, New Mexico!
Wild Gunman - Level 1: Shooter Valley, New Mexico!
just as those words exit my mouth, the Mexican reaches his hand forward and shoots me right between the eyes. He didn't even use a gun. He just lifted his hands and a thousand bullets from the thousand people I have killed came hurling their way at me. I said my prayers and prepared for the worst. See you on the other side, partner.

What Have We Learned Today: Apparently Wild Gunman is a really depressing game. It's also one of the few games that Nintendo didn't turn into a long-running franchise. Instead it lived a short life as an early NES and arcade novelty. Maybe
Wild Gunman - Game B: Shoot Out at the Saloon!
Wild Gunman - Game B: Shoot Out at the Saloon!
Back to the Future Part II is right and we'll see a resurgence of popularity come 2015. Until then, stay out of the hot New Mexico sun and, most importantly, never challenge an entire town to a duel.

What Did We Miss: Wild Gunman only has one stage, though the bad guys are repeated until you ultimately bite the wrong end of the bullet. However, there is a second mode that involves you shooting out the
doors and windows of the local saloon. That certainly sounds a lot more fun than sitting dead in the middle of Shooter Valley. Oh Wild Gunman, if you had just made better choices your life would have turned out differently. I tip my hat to you, good sir.

What the Wild Gunman Really Said That Night: "You guys are the best group of drunken slobs in the world. Bar keep, get these ugly sonsabitches another round on me. You guys have no idea how much work it takes to get to Los Angeles. Let me tell you, I've been walking for what seems like a month to get to this film festival where Steven Spielberg will be introducing all of his favorite movies. He'll talk about Raiders, A.I., Jaws and even Duel. That's right, DUEL! Let me tell you, that thing has not held up well. I challenge anybody to sit all the way through Duel. What's that? You're up for it. Perfect, we'll check out Duel tomorrow at noon. Sounds like the greatest plan in the world. See you there!"


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