Sunset Riders: Saddle up for a Classic

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Yee-haaaaahhh! Booting up the Sega Genesis version of this popular coin-op is a really treat.  It’s one of the most beautiful, perfectly balanced scrolling shooters I have ever seen on a 16-bit system.  Although this version doesn’t feature the lauded co-op function which was popular in the arcades, players have the ability of choosing from two characters.  Billy the blonde Texan and his Mexican amigo Cormano are a great combo as their differing skill sets help give the player a different gameplay experience.

Graphically this version is not far off the coin-op which is a massive coup for the Mega Drive.  The sprites and backgrounds are colourful, detailed and contrive to give the same feel without the constantly need to pump in coins.  The soundtrack and sound effects are some of the best on the 16-bit however the powerfully cheesy voiceover dialogue from the bosses is sadly missing.

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Graphics, sound, feel are fantastic so how does it play? Incredibly well.  To say that this is enjoyable is an understatement.  Both characters are a joy to control.  Leaping, sliding and spraying bullets in eight directions – this is what a scrolling shoot em up should be. Indians and other stereotypical western villains hurl themselves at you from every bar, brothel and cowshed – often with comedic effect.  The control system allows you to pump them fulla lead while leaping and bounding like Clint Eastwood himself.

The AI is a bit kamikaze but is fun and works well.  The boss fights are fun, usually involving them hiding behind some kind of barrier with hordes of minions dying for your attention. It makes it all the more satisfying when you scoop up all their lovely gold.  Although the horse level from the arcade didn’t make it here, it does exist in the form of a bonus level.  Afterall you can’t have a wild west shooter without horses!

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This game is an absolute blast and I really recommend it to fans of the shoot ’em up genre and western motifs.

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