The Retro Critic

The Lone Ranger

Even if Disney didn’t quite manage to make that obvious last year: The Lone Ranger was pretty cool.

The movies may not have been too kind to the classic hero but Nintendo’s attempt to bring the masked lawmaker to the NES was actually surprisingly effective!

Don’t believe me, Kemosabe?

If this awesome 8-bit rendition of The Lone Ranger’s classic theme hasn’t already made you want to play the game right now then I’m genuinely surprised but I’ll go on with the review regardless, maybe something else about the game will sway you.

The game introduces us to the Ranger in grand fashion with some iconic shots of the hero riding on his faithful horse Silver and some theatrical descriptions:

Lone Ranger Story

Silver Riding Lone Ranger

Lone Ranger Silver

Already the game is colourful, entertaining and completely in keeping with the spirit of the show it’s based on and it hasn’t even truly begun yet!

After a detailed text scroll outlining the setting, the time, who the Ranger is and what his mission consists of, we finally get our first mini quest courtesy of trust-worthy buddy Tonto:

Find Silver Lone Ranger

You’ll notice that the game begins in a top-down view with the Lone Ranger being taller than houses and walking around looking for his horse. I’ll allow for some weirdness when it comes to the scale since this is clearly going for an RPG-style setup and people are usually taller than houses in RPGs. You get to talk to the townspeople, mostly ladies in dresses who tell you the most random things like where to go even though you never asked and calling you a thief even though you haven’t stolen anything.

There’s also the Sheriff’s office where you get your main quest and several stores where you can buy all sorts of nifty bric-a-brac.

Weapons Lone Ranger

Don’t pay too much attention to the salespeople, though: they’re a little strange. One of them was even ready to give me directions to “nowhere”.

Nowhere Lone Ranger

Not that there’s anything too wild going on in Carson City but I think I’ll take my chances there otherwise me entering this shop was a complete waste of time.

The game isn’t all RPG clichés, however, as it also proudly (and wisely) offers various different styles of gameplay including some shoot ’em up levels designed specifically for the Zapper, some of which even boast a 3D perspective:

Blue Room Lone Ranger

Red Room Lone Ranger

The bad guys may look a bit tiny and there may not be much detail on those walls but this is still an undeniably creative and ambitious segment for an NES game.

And, because the top-down view isn’t for everyone, we’re even treated to some straight-up side-scroller levels where the Lone Ranger walks around shooting villains into money. Yes, they literally turn into Dollars, which saves the vigilante a heck of a lot of time. That kind of simplicity keeps the game light-hearted and surreal, something I’m all for seeing as this is meant to be not only a game but a fun one at that, which is why life force is represented by a big cartoon heart:

Heart Lone Ranger

Forget silver or gold! Can you imagine how rare and expensive big cartoon hearts like that one must have been in the Old West?!

Another thing I particularly love in those side-scroller levels is the “kneel-jump” the Ranger achieves whenever he jumps. Now I’ve tried to kneel-jump but no matter how loudly I proclaimed my dedication to General Zod during my attempts I just couldn’t make it so my hat’s off to you, Lone Ranger.

Kneel Jump

I bow before a power greater than my own.

By the way, Konami developed this game which explains a) why it’s pretty good and b) why it all ends in a Wild Wild West-esque steampunk level packed with mechanical traps, robot trains and rusty treadmills:

Treadmill Lone Ranger

Train Lone Ranger

Those guys sure like their elaborate death machines.

Now I was ready to dismiss this game as yet another fair, perhaps even slightly underrated TV-to-game adaptation akin to The Adventures Of Gilligan’s Island but I must admit this one’s much more enjoyable than you’d expect. Not only does it look and sound great but it feels like it genuinely cares about capturing the spirit of the old show and its characters. It’s not just a well-meaning but super messy attempt like The Three Stooges, this one actually works surprisingly well.

The fact it’s as entertaining and varied as it is also definitely helps. You’re never bored playing The Lone Ranger whether you’re using your Zapper to gun down random dudes on horses…

Horses Lone Ranger

Outrunning lesser horses thanks to good old Silver…

Race Lone Ranger

Literally playing poker in a salloon…

Poker Lone Ranger

Or saving the President like it’s Escape From New York in the 1800’s…

President Lone Ranger

There’s always surprises and adventure to sink your teeth into.

Fans of The Lone Ranger and Westerns in general should find this game to be a real treat to play through but everyone else should give it a go nonetheless as it’s definitely one of those underplayed NES titles that deserves more recognition. Besides, what better time is there to go back and find something Lone Ranger-related that’s actually worthwhile?


Hi Yo Silver, away!

Peace Lone Ranger

But wait-

I haven’t seen Tonto in ages!

I wonder what he’s got to say for himself.

Tonto Password

Ok, so either Tonto’s giving some password or he’s lost his mind.

Second one’s funnier, let’s go with that.