Release Date: December 20th, 2016
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Back in 1994, prolific Japanese developer Natsume released what turned out to be their biggest cult hit of all time in the form of Wild Guns for the Super Nintendo console. The game received some praise when it was released, but quickly became what most consider a “cult classic” as it was very popular among a niche audience but unknown to most of the world outside this group.
Flash forward to the 2010s and we have a resurgence of nostalgia for this era of gaming in the 1980s and 90s, and not only had Wild Guns had become legendary in it’s status is a unique and quality game for its time, but also excessively rare to obtain an actual copy for less than a few hundred dollars.
The original developer, Natsume still exists in some form in 2016 and deems it worthy enough to do a remaster of the game and to add some new features that were cut from the game’s original release or created more recently. This is the origin of Wild Guns Reloaded, so is it a worthwhile update of a cult classic, or one that you can continue to overlook?
Well, for starters, if you’re unfamiliar with the original game, Wild Guns is an arcade shooting gallery-style game similar to other classics like Cabal or NAM 1975, where your player is on a plane closest to the screen and you have to shoot multiple enemies that pop up in various places in the screen, similar to a light gun game.
Unfortunately, the original game did not support actual light guns, and neither does this updated version, forcing you to still use the fairly antiquated on-screen shooting cursor, which greatly limits the movement of your character, since you cannot move freely while shooting.
This is one of the major downfalls of the game, and even the update to a modern controller with an analog stick doesn’t save the controls from feeling clunky. This is likely part of the “charm” for some people, because it certainly makes the difficulty much higher than it would be otherwise, but an updated control scheme for the game would have gone a long way to make this update feel more fresh and accessible.
The music, Wild West style visuals, and lots of graphical detail for a game of its era all stand out strongly, even today, plus it looks much sharper due to upscaling, widescreen support, and some new graphical filters to smooth things out on the visual side, and some slightly rearranged music score with more modern and updated instruments on the aural side. In short, the aesthetic presentation here is very well-done and goes a long way to making the game feel fresh.
This new version also adds two new characters, two new stages, as well as 4-player co-op and versus support, all of which were not available in the original game, which makes the package have more value for your buck. The two new characters have very different control and play styles than the two characters from the original game, making for a lot more variety, and technically a lot more content to play.
Aside from the controls, there’s one other major downside to this package, and that is the price point. The game was released with a hefty $30 price tag on it for a game that is still a fairly simple arcade shooter where you can finish all the content within an 3 or 4 hours, and the new content doesn’t seem to justify a price tag this high, especially in an era where these kinds of remasters are often released for somewhere between $5 and $15 and often contain entire collections of games, not just one.
It’d be very hard to recommend buying this at full price to anyone who isn’t a huge fan of the original, and with the difficulty curve being so high, this tag won’t do much to attract modern gamers, either. It seems like a bit of an oversight, but then again, it is pretty rare to find a Japanese entertainment product nowadays that isn’t full of gross oversights or glaring flaws.
If you’re a huge fan of the original game or just of 1990s 16-bit action games, you may want to check this out, but for a price tag this high, you may be better off getting any number of more modern games or other collections of retro games for the same or much less money.