The Fair Shake

Sunset Riders: SNES

With the gun control debate raging, I figured I’d briefly touch on one of my favorite SNES games that concerns guns with unlimited ammo magazines. In the video game realm, we have Steve, Billy, Bob, and Cormano, bad-ass bounty hunters who are the main characters of Konami’s Sunset Riders. Released in 1991 initially as an arcade game and two years later as excellent home conversions for both the SNES and Genesis, the game puts you in control of one of these four bounty hunters who are out to get some cash by capturing some bad guys and in the process saving a small section of the Old West.

Wasn't he in Popeye?

Wasn’t he in Popeye?

Assuming you’ve played TMNT: The Aarcade game, you’ll feel right at home here. Sunset Riders is a shooting side scroller with pauses around enemies as they appear. Playable characters can shoot in a multitude of directions as well as jump, crouch, and slide. Thankfully, ammo is unlimited. (These guns would be banned now right? What?) 8 stages await you in the arcade and SNES release, while the Genesis version has 4 stages with each having a mini boss half way through as you rescue a kidnapped girl.

Purple Barrels... Yeah I've got nothin.

Purple Barrels… Yeah I’ve got nothin.

The bosses vary from stage to stage, with such eccentric characters as the bankrupt banker Simon Greedwell, or the English diablo Sir Richard Rose. Capturing or killing them awards you money. Some of them are stowing away on a moving train, which of course has several cars full of bad guys who are tasked with killing you. Luckily there’s some power ups to help you out along the way such as auto fire capability or dual guns which double your firepower. Watch out for kegs of gunpowder; they tend to blow up when you’re near them, killing you in the process.

Nothing like the Good the Bad and the Ugly.

Nothing like the Good the Bad and the Ugly.

I always liked this game because the character sprites, both good and bad, were big and nicely animated. I’ve never been much of a fan of ‘drab’ SNES games and Sunset Riders is far it.  Running across the back of bulls looks like something out of a Warner Brothers cartoon and the guys all are distinguishable. I never understood why bullets flashed though. Sunset Riders is also guilty of the ‘flashing boss’. I start to flash red when I’m injured, don’t you?

Running of the bulls?

Running of the bulls?

Like most Konami games, the controls are very responsive. You can shoot in any eight directions and shoot in mid air changing direction as you fall. The fact you can aim down while up on a ledge is extremely helpful. If only Bionic Commando had this. The music in Sunset Riders is amazing.  Gradius III or R-Type music had a love child with the rhythmic pounding of a galloping horse. The sounds are decent in any version. There’s a hysterical voice at the end of each level as the boss speaks to you. Unfortunately, they all sound like Old Man from Pawn Stars.

The arcade game, depending on the cabinet, offers two or four simultaneous players, however the home conversions only offer two. Good thing, as it’s hard for me to find three other people willing to play the same game at the same time. My girlfriend loves this game, and I love blasting away with Cormano’s shotgun. Thankfully, you can’t shoot each other… save that for Double Dragon or River City Ransom. While TMNT the arcade game, in various forms is a good play, next time, grab your six shooter, your ten gallon hat, and of course your SNES, and give Sunset Riders the Fair Shake.