Sunset Riders Review by: rcarter2Draw, Pilgrim!
In some ways, you just can't get any better than the old times of the Wild West. This is back in a time where if the local authorities were proving ineffective in taking a particular criminal down, you could say enough is enough, arm yourself up to the teeth, and get that criminal yourself (dead or alive), and actually get to say "Now where is my money?!" Come on, how do you get better than that? Sunset Riders for the Super Nintendo is a game that is solely based on that. With four different cowboys to choose from, you can go out to take bounties to build up your own small fortune. If you like rootin tootin cowboys and getting paid to take on bounties, check out Sunset Riders.
Sunset Riders has no less than what you can expect from a good Super Nintendo game in the graphics department. First, I'll start with the details. The game is bright, and colorful to start with. But not inappropriately colorful. Sure, you got buildings that are yellow, balconies that are light blue, and pink barrels. But honestly, the wild west simply was not a very colorful place/time. It may work when you are going for realism for a game like Red Dead Redemption, but when you are limited to more of a cartoon feel that the Super Nintendo is capable of, you can't really go for realistic colors here. Anyway, the shading of the colors of this game are also done very well. They are nothing short of fantastic. Though it is cartoon feeling, everything has a nice rounded dynamic with the shading. Also, important characters are very distinguished. Instead of giving characters different hair and body structure to look different, Sunset Riders really worked on the faces of each special character to make everything diverse about the characters. Too bad there are pretty much only 3 types of regular enemies in the entire game, which is a bit of a shame. Though it is the wild west, you do get a variety of environments. Some levels will have you scrolling through the main road of a town, fighting in a tavern, hopping across trains, and riding horseback through the open plains.
The first thing I'll touch on with the sound is the part where there are flaws, which are the sound effects. Granted, everything that actually needs a sound, pretty much has one. exploding dynamite makes big booms, you hear the rattling of the train along the train tracks, and barrels clunk when they hit the ground. However, for the most part, that is about it. There are two other sounds that you are going to hear a lot of. Those sounds are the sound of your own gun going off, and the "Aww" of the normal enemies that get shot. That normally wouldn't be all that much of a flaw except that the gunshots and screams are much louder than all other sound effects other than the explosions, so you have to either be paying attention or not shooting to hear a lot of the other sounds. Now, onto the music. The music on Sunset Riders is freaking awesome. Play halfway through the first level, and you will know exactly what I mean. And if you think playing through the first level "Oh, it's good, but this is probably going to be what plays on almost every level", you are incorrect. Most of the levels have their own music, and each is pretty much as epic as the first level's. What is even better is the music for the bosses. Each boss has their own unique music, and each makes it very clear that you are in for a good fight. I gotta say that the music to the second boss has to be one of the best boss tunes of any Super Nintendo boss. I love it.
If this game is one thing, it is pretty addictive. It has pretty much what you could ever want in a Super Nintendo wild west game. You have big bad outlaws to do battle with, each getting harder than the last. Each one has a progressively larger bounty. It says you can take them dead or alive, but I guess your cowboy characters prefer dead. Anyway, the only thing between you and them are the hundreds of cowboy gang members at their disposal. You have guns that have unlimited ammunition, power ups along the way, the choice of having powerful and widespread shotguns or super fast firing pistols. Except for bosses, everything is pretty much one shot kills. You get to stroll through towns, jump up to or down from balconies, ride horses, and train hop. What more can you ask for? Well, you can ask for w player mode, which just makes it even more fun. Harder, yes, but a blast. There are a few things that make if frustrating though. Remember when I said pretty much everything is a one hit kill except for bosses. That includes you. You get hit by ANYTHING, and you lose a whole life. Luckily, you do get a lot of lives, but some parts are very unfair. In particular, the Native American boss a little more than halfway through the game. As far as unfair goes, he is on the lines of Scarface from Super Smash T.V. Not on easy mode, but on hard mode, he is ridiculous. It is such a pain in the neck. Also, on hard mode, the bullets of the enemies guns are super fast and very numerous. You have to have perfect reflexes or play this game on hard mode enough times to know exactly when every enemy fires and where they are firing. The whole no life bar type thing gets pretty annoying. In my opinion, that adds to the addictiveness, but I know this would be a downer for many, so I marked the score down to be as unbiased as possible.
Most games have their drawbacks, but hopefully the drawbacks aren't significant. Sunset Riders does have a pretty big drawback, which is the story. Though you know exactly what the story is (at least you should), it has less to it than the first Super Mario Bros. for the NES. You pick on of the four available cowboys. The main story appears to be this. There are outlaws in the wild west that have very hefty bounties on their heads. You have taken it upon yourself to collect those bounties. Along your travels, you hear of an outlaw named Richard Rose who has a tremendous bounty, so you set off for him. That is not it in a nutshell. That is pretty much it altogether.
Aside from the story, the game does have a fair variety of things to do. As I said before, there are some levels in which you get to spend horseback riding at high speed, which is pretty fun. You get to travel via train, explore the desert mountains, climb, jump around, and shoot. Also, at two points in the game, you get a little bonus round where outlaws pop our of hiding places, which you have to shoot as many as you can by aiming your cursor and firing. It is pretty much like the carnival game where thin targets pop up and fall back if you don't shoot them in time. However, it doesn't change the fact that you are pretty much not going to be changing your overall strategy for each level. Dodge, jump, shoot wildly. That is pretty much it. Like I said, there are only around 3 different common enemies, so it is a lot of the same. That and the story is severely lacking takes the depth down a bit.
First off, I need to say that this game has three difficulty modes like most. Easy, medium, and hard. I am basing this score off the hard difficulty because there is no reason in rating a game mode that is holding back ;) Anyway, this game on hard mode is just that. Downright hard. At first, you might not think is it so bad as early on, there are only about 3 enemies on the screen at a time. But when you get to the point in the game where you surrounded by enemies and their bullets travel at a ridiculously high speed, you'll get what I'm saying. At first, the bullets don't appear to be going that fast. But you will change your mind when you have a bullet traveling in 5 directions, and it takes about one second for it to travel across the screen. Bosses also have many enemies shooting at you while you are trying to take them down. But the Native American boss is so freaking hard that he doesn't need lackeys to fight alongside him. Be prepared to lose a lot of lives fighting him. That is a very unfair fight. The fact that one bullet takes away a life does not help because that severely limits any room for error. For those who love a good challenge, definitely look into playing this on hard mode.
Averaging the above score to avoid bias, this game still gets a solid score of a 7.3. For my personal tastes, I would look past some of the flaws and give it between an 8-8.5. But the average score still does it justice pretty well. To recap, the graphics have great colors that give it an appropriately cartoon western look. The important characters are very well done in that they all look different from each other instead of the same faces with slight differences. However, there are only 3-4 different looking common enemies. The music is absolutely fantastic, and it has some of the best boss music that you will find for the Super Nintendo. There are quite a few sound effects, but the screams and gunshots are so loud compared to the others that you don't hear the others so much. The game is wildly fun and addictive to play, even if you have beaten it before. 2 Player mode makes it a little harder, but over double the fun. The one hit kill for yourself, however, is frustrating. Also, the fact that the core game play doesn't really have much variety throughout the levels. The story is severely lacking, but I suppose that only matters to people who really want a good story. Easy mode is not so bad once you get the hang of it. Hard mode, however, will challenge even the hard core retro gamers out there. The fight against Chief Wigwam will make you want to pull your hair out. Overall, this is a western classic game that belongs in any retro game fans collection.