Genre: Run and Gun
Developed by: Konami
Published by: Konami
Platforms: Arcade, Genesis, SNES
Feeling Like: Bury me with my money
Arcade ports can be fickle. Shifting a piece of software to inferior hardware, while charging full price and losing the element of originality can lead to harsh judgments by an entitled gaming community. Developers have to retain the same feel, while changing core gameplay elements to ensure the game runs smoothly as well as scrapping the concept of inputting quarters to play. Sounds like quite a challenge to me.
Thankfully, Sunset Riders translates pretty well into a challenging, atmospheric two-player co-operative game full of rip-roaring, horse ridin’, gun slingin’ cowboy action. It’s a complete package that includes: cowboy hats, cowboy ponchos, cowboy enemies, cowboy trains, non-cowboy indigenous peoples, and one of my all time favorite sound bites in video game history.
Like many of the entries on the 500, Sunset Riders‘ residency was in one room only and for a very specific time frame. Steve, my boss at Neverblue, and I retreated to the games room often for a quick 15, or 20, or 55 minute game session to recharge our online marketing brains and for some good old fashioned manager/employee bonding. I know what you’re thinking; online marketing games room? Must have been a luxurious, spacious, trendy bastion of overspending and comfort. Well, not exactly. I mean there was a TV, Foozeball table, more than a few gaming consoles but the chairs and physical space available for said chairs was more of an afterthought. It didn’t take much before holes in walls started appearing. They were unintentional, but that didn’t stop the higher ups from banning access to the room until we learned our lesson.
I’m not sure what that lesson was, but Steve and I soon did learn nearly every part of the game. Deaths were minimal, boss attack patterns learned, powerups snagged (or avoided) and communication was flowing like Cormano on a galloping stallion. I always found the names of the protagonists hilarious. You have Steve, Billy, Bob and…Cormano. You’d think they would come up with some kind of incentive to play anybody BUT Cormano, but no. He has the coolest name, the coolest guns and a poncho. Contest over.
The star of the show is the boss at the end of level one. I’m not going to look up his name, because it doesn’t matter. When you defeat him (easily) he falls to the ground with an aerial somersault, lands, and proclaims his dying wish. “Bury me with my money.” It could have been a poem. It perfectly encapsulates this man’s ultimate greed and provides an ironic twist to the notion that you can’t take it with you. I almost named this blog “Bury me with my money” and I’m still not convinced I won’t.
The challenge became a cliff in the last few stages. Chief Scalpem (I know, I know) found his mark with his knives and sent us to the great big corral in the sky over, and over again. He definitely wasn’t easy and absolutely did not have an adorable audio quip to motivate us to really dig our spurs into the dirt and beat him. Chalk this game up as another successful Konami SNES co-op title, listen to the lamentations of Simon Greedwell (ok, I did look up his name) and be thankful that a cheesy, over the top western game like this exists to question our entire philosophical outlook on currency, life and death.