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Review Rewind
Review Rewind: Gunblade NY & L.A. Machineguns Arcade Hits Pack (Wii)
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on January 19, 2018   |   Episode 3 (Show Archive)  

This is Review Rewind, the show where we revisit games I reviewed a long time ago. Today we're taking a look at Gunblade NY & L.A. Machineguns Arcade Hits Pack, a Sega compilation on Wii that features two popular light gun games from the 1990s. Is this game still as bad as I remember it being eight years ago? Find out now when you experience this brand new episode of Review Rewind!

This is one of those rare times when I get to revisit a game for the third time. Long before I reviewed Gunblade NY & L.A. Machineguns Arcade Hits Pack on the Wii, I played both of these games in the arcade. I thought they were both solid light gun games at the time, but much preferred what Namco was doing with Time Crisis and Point Blank. Fast-forward a few years and I find myself trashing the Wii compilation disc, giving it a "D" and calling it one of the worst games of 2010. I wonder which side I'll come down on now that it's 2018.

"Sega is the kind of company that likes to release and re-release their biggest hits, hence why you see so many versions of Virtua Fighter and Sonic the Hedgehog. Although this Wii compilation has the word "hits" right in the title, there's a reason why these two arcade shooters are only now making their way to home consoles. Gunblade NY and L.A. Machineguns are not two of Sega's most popular games. If you've seen them, it's probably when you realized you didn't want to pay $2 for a single turn at an oversized arcade machine. But here they are, wrapped up in one neat little package for a reduced price."

Not to derail this review almost immediately, but I kind of wish Sega would do more re-releasing in the present day. I know critics like me gave them a lot of shit back when they were relying on questionable ports to pay the bills, but I would love to see Virtua Fighter and the rest of their catalog find its way to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch.

Back to the game at hand, a reoccurring theme of my 2010 review is that Sega waited too long to release this compilation. While I agree that waiting until the system was nearing the end of its life certainly didn't help anything, but I'm not sure it would have mattered if the game came out in 2006. Neither of these games are particularly great on their own, and this package was always going to be a hard sell.

"The gameplay is nothing more than an on-rails shooter, where all you have to do is move the cursor around the screen and shoot baddies. You have absolutely no control over where the helicopter goes, you just have to be ready to shoot the missiles out of the air and take out the guys on the ground. There's no depth here, you don't even need to take your finger off the trigger. After fighting my way through all eight levels, I looked at the clock and was shocked that it took me less than twenty minutes."

This is the central problem of both Gunblade NY and L.A. Machineguns. It's not that the game is on rails, that genre certainly has its place, but rather that neither of these games were built to last very long. The arcade machines were built to keep the game going just long enough until you got bored and moved on to the next cabinet. Your expectations in the arcade are significantly different from what you want on a console. These are the kinds of games you might download for $5 each, at most.

A point I only briefly touched on in my 2010 review is that Sega should have packed this Wii disc with a lot more than two barely-remembered light gun games. Why not make it a big collection full of games like Virtua Cop, The House of the Dead and Laser Ghost? Nobody was clamoring for ports of Gunblade NY and L.A. Machineguns, and Sega knew it. They spent about as much time making this collection as it takes to beat it.

"Along with the cheesy graphics and repetitive gameplay, you also have to put up with terrible voice acting and sound effects. The one cool thing this game does is pipe some of the spoken dialog through the Wii remote, which at least keeps it separate from the horrible noise going on through my surround sound speakers. It's enough to give me a headache."

I can't believe I thought the audio coming out of the Wii remote was cool. Look, the tech was novel at the time, but it has been done so much better since then. Put bluntly, the audio coming out of the controller's tiny speaker sounds atrocious. It's the kind of garbled mess you would have expected from the Nintendo Entertainment System. And it's non-stop, which does it no favors.

While neither of these games are all that great, L.A. Machineguns is definitely the better of the two. The graphics are better, the action is more exciting, there's a combo system and this time around you can't just shoot blindly at the screen. It also has a bad habit of wanting to escape L.A. as much as Snake Plissken. The game quickly flies to Alcatraz and Yosemite, neither of which is in Los Angeles. I like the diversity of locations, but the name is a bit misleading.

As an arcade game, I can understand the appeal. Sure, it was expensive and probably not worth it, but there's something alluring about grabbing those giant machine guns and shooting your way through downtown New York City. This sensation is completely absent in this Wii compilation, leaving us with two generic on-rail shooters with nothing to offer. I agree with the "D" score from my 2010 take, but feel like my review could have had more bite. I'll say now what I should have said then: There's not a day that should go by where Sega isn't ashamed for releasing Gunblade NY & L.A. Machineguns Arcade Hits Pack on the Wii.


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