From the creator of Metroid and Kid Icarus comes Gumshoe, Nintendo's most exciting light gun game. Instead of being just another shooting gallery, Nintendo combines the fun of 2D platforming with the excitement of gunning down birds. The result is a wildly imaginative game that is both inventive and inspiring.
You play Mr. Stevenson, an ex-FBI agent who is now a private detective. The game picks up with King Dom, a mafia kingpin, holding Stevenson's daughter for ransom. Our hero has only 24 hours to collect the five Black Panther Diamonds and make his way to Dom's hideout. We don't have a second to spare.
Gumshoe is played entirely with an NES Zapper, Nintendo's 8-bit light gun. The good detective is ready to get going, whether you like it or not. He moves independent of the player, always walking at a steady pace going from left to right. Your job is to shoot Mr. Stevenson to make him jump. Sharpshooters will quickly discover that they are able to juggle the protagonist in the air, allowing him to cross giant pits and collect red balloons.
What makes Gumshoe so tricky is that you will also need to shoot incoming enemies and dodge deadly obstacles. This means that you'll start shooting all over the screen, taking your attention away from Mr. Stevenson. This is a stressful balancing act that is unlike anything I've had to deal with. It hints at a light gun game that is deeper and more involving than Duck Hunt or Hogan's Alley.
Gumshoe takes us all over the world. The first stage has an Old West vibe, thanks to the wide open ranges and boulders falling from the sky. In the second stage you make your way high above the large metropolitan city. Our hero walks on clouds and rooftops, all while avoiding small airplanes and out of control birds. The third stage takes us across the ocean. Here we see Mr. Stevenson float along the water, while still trying to avoid a whole litany of underwater creatures. From there it's off to brave a jungle full of wild animals and disease-carrying insects.
The game's graphics are simple, yet effective. The levels are diverse and there's even a surprising boss at the end of the adventure. Even the music is upbeat. Perhaps the colorful worlds and catchy tunes are there to keep the mind off of noticing the over-the-top (and often unnecessary) violence. Here's a game where you not only kill countless birds, but also take down airplanes with a single bullet.
Gumshoe suffers from the same technical problems that plague all of the Zapper titles. Aiming isn't always precise and it's entirely too easy to lose track of the hero. Once you get the hang of multitasking, Gumshoe becomes an engaging action game that elevates the genre past simple shooting gallery. Nintendo was on to something with this 8-bit classic.