Gunsmoke (Go) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing


By Go!
Commodore 64/128

Published in Zzap #37


The sheriff needs to bring lead-flavoured justice to some no-good bad hats who are terrorising the good citizens under his jurisdiction.

The player guides this law man through five different vertically scrolling areas with his shootin' irons ready for the 'omey cowpokes who stand on roofs and stalk down the screen, guns a-blazing.

To complete each level, the sheriff reaches its far end where there waits a real *mean* outlaw, a wanted poster of whom is shown before play begins. From the town, play proceeds to the railroad station, then to a canyon full of redskins. The next level places the sheriff on a wooden raft in the midst of hazardous rapids, which eventually lead to a meadow where the leader of the gang awaits - a youthful, boomerang-throwing varmint. These adversaries require repeated shooting before a diminishing bar representing their energy reaches zero and they die.

Points are scored by drillin' the bad guys, with a reward for the man who plugs the head honchos. To help the sheriff out, there are extra weapons and equipment to collect on shooting barrels. These cowboy accoutrements include a pair of boots to allow him to run faster, a set of bullets to increase his rate of fire, a POW symbol to clear the screen of villains, the essential horse, and stars for extra lives.


Since it crept into the office, Gunsmoke has been the object of much fully-deserved derision. Its hopelessly unmusical soundtrack is discordantly echoed by atonal sound effects, incorporating a silly, flatulent weapon collect and apologetic bullet spurts.

The gameplay is chronically facile and tedious, its only relief being the awkward and intrusive multi-load; indeed, the presentation as a whole severely lacks polish. The castrated end-of-level sequence is matched by the infirm in-game episodes, both combining to create an effect as unaddictive as it is unattractive.

This is a multi-load conversion of the original coin-op, and you'd do best to avoid it.


Here's a conversion of the lowest of low quality. The programmers have shown virtually no technical merit in converting this Commando follow-up, and the end result is a bastardised and unplayable disaster that bears only the tiniest resemblance to the arcade original.

The graphic artists have shown a monstrous lack of talent - blocky sprites hobble around a series of frighteningly mindless backdrops. The musician responsible for the vile, vile soundtrack should go to get his ears syringed - it's reminiscent of a mindless, tone deaf child banding a broken accordion.

Finally, there's a cretinous multi-load system which destroys the lack vestiges of any credibility. It's a shame that Go! didn't give the American programmers a copy o the Shoot-'Em-Up Construction Kit - at least, they wouldn't have produced anything as dire as this.

The good news is that the next Go! conversion, Bionic Commandos, is being written in England by Software Creations (the programmers behind Bubble Bobble), so the next Capcom conversion won't be a mammoth bummer like this!


Capcom dropped hints of their apparent low regard for the home computer market when they brought Side Arms to these shores.

Now Gunsmoke leaves me in no doubt that Go! need to revise their licensing contract with Capcom if they continue to abuse gamers with their poor conversions. Chunky, quaking sprites slide about unrealistic backdrops taking pot-shots at each other and expiring when the mood takes them.

The music is the ultimate in grinding cacophonies, bringing new meaning to the word 'tuneless'; fortunately there's an option to switch the music off.

Just so you don't miss out on the end of level breather though, the computer plays the victory tune but with the SID's volume register set at zero so as not to wake you up.

It's almost worth buying just for the initial laugh and the integral game of 'Spot the Bug' Oh sorry, no it isn't.


Presentation 32%
Slow and unintelligent multi-load routine. Almost competent options.

Graphics 18%
Dog food sprites and backdrops - wobbly and chunky.

Sound 9%
Option of unsyncopated non-melody with flatulent and unrealistic effects, or blissful silence.

Hookability 12%
Graphically uninviting and the gameplay is bland from the outset.

Lastability 9%
Even easier than a greenhorn gamer would like it a couple of sessions is enough.

Overall 15%
Any decent cowboy would have this lame horse shot and send to the great software shelf in the sky.