Wild Guns
A wild west arcade-style shooter for the Super Nintendo developed by Natsume

Review Written by

date published: 8.15.23
Game Suggested By

I am standing inside a cube-shaped building with an old-western facade in the middle of an amusement park. Around my neck is a red paisley bandana and in my hand rests a rifle with a plastic orange tip. I am age 8 and my family has decided to take a break from all of the fun and excitement of Cedar Point to have old-timey, wild west-style portraits shot of my sister and I. As the photographer lines up one of their (many) shots, my 8 year-old self dissociates from reality and begins dreaming about what life might have been like back in the days of the Wild West — Saloons and shootouts, broncos and bushwhackers, saddlebags and spurs. Whatever life really WAS like back then, I knew for sure it was NOT like

The first clue that the world of Wild Guns is slightly different than the U.S.’s Wild West is in the box art. The art depicts one of the main characters (Clint) throwing his lasso at a massive robot with a gatling gun for an arm (a technique that does NOT work in-game). The second clue I found was in the game’s manual when it calls Clint a ‘renown space bounty hunter’. Ah, a bounty hunter that only works in space.. Or is he just only renown in space? Doesn’t matter. When you press the power button and Wild Guns boots up, you’re greeted with the sounds of gun fire chipping away at a stoney surface to reveal the Natsume logo — badass. After this, you’re given the bare essentials. A large logo on a clean, solid background, and three different choices: Game Start, V.S. Start, and Options. Once you choose your game mode, you need to decide which of the two characters you will be playing: Clint or Annie (References to Eastwood & Oakley?). Both play exactly the same, it’s just a matter of whether you want to look like a debutante or a dullard. From here, the player is taken to the stage select screen, but the first level is always Carson City.

Carson City

Wild Guns is an arcade-style shooter. The name of the game is: move your character to dodge incoming projectiles/explosives/etc while also moving your crosshair over enemies and pressing the ‘shoot’ button. For a majority of each level, the player’s greatest enemy is time. A countdown at the bottom of the screen indicates how much time is left until all enemies on the screen spontaneously combust and a ‘miniboss’ enemy spawns in. The countdown for each level is between 60-80 units of time (roughly seconds, but not specified anywhere). You spend that time dodging and killing, racking up points and power-ups (guns). To make the level go quicker, every enemy you kill knocks the timer down a little.

Each stage in the game is split into three different sections: two timed areas where you kill enemies until a miniboss arrives, and then an untimed final section that consists of a boss fight. If the player manages to complete the boss fight in Carson City, they get to choose their next stage from the remaining four. If all five stages are completed, the player moves onto the final stage — a showdown with ‘King Kid’, the evil villain that kidnapped Annie’s entire family and then killed them! A deed so dastardly, it drove Annie to hire a famous ‘space’ bounty hunter and seek revenge on the patriarch of the infamous Kid family.

  *Note that purchase of this Game Pak comes with a 90-day limited warranty from Natsume. The warranty doesn’t apply if the ‘PAK’ has been damaged, but if you feel your Game Pak is defective and you are within the warranty window for your Wild Guns Game Pak (released in U.S. Q3, 1994), I recommend notifying the ‘NATSUME Consumer Service Department’ by phone at 415.342.1712. Keep in mind, their hours of operation are M-F from 9a-5p PST.

Truthfully, this game… is a lot of fun. I recommend choosing to play as Annie. I think her revolver in the concept artwork is more stylish than Clint’s weird shotgun-rifle. Also, Annie Oakley is one of the coolest Americans to ever live. That aside, I am really astounded that there aren’t more games like this. This game offers nigh-perfect arcade shooter gameplay. The game is difficult, but never seems unfair. If you are getting hit, you are making a mistake that you can learn from. The artwork (concept and in-engine) is fantastic and in my opinion, never has a dull moment. Stages are creative and interesting — blending science fiction with Wild West may not be my favorite combination, but it certainly is a look.

Boss Battle

Moving and jumping feels good and you can easily dodge incoming bullets using your double jump. It can be a little difficult to get your character to do exactly what you want sometimes though, because the d-pad controls both your character’s movement and their crosshair. That may be the biggest issue I have with the game, but I certainly cannot think of a better control scheme on a SNES controller. If only Natsume had the DualSense™ in 1994…

Levels never feel like they overstay their welcome and there is a really nice balance of shooting enemies, props, money, and power ups. Your focus will be on enemies for awhile and then a shiny shotgun might appear, so you change focus and move to shoot the power up and boom — Annie is holding a shotgun. You can also shoot enemy bullets to build up a gauge. When that gauge hits 100%, you are given the ‘Vulcan Gun’. A really powerful machine gun that can destroy anything. You might need it for some of the bosses, because they can get a little tricky. Boss battles are typically with giant mechanical/sci-fi creatures that tower over you. They are super impressive and look amazing when you make it to them. To get past many of the bosses, you will need to memorize attacks and practice dodging when you see their telegraphs.

Clint and Annie

All these aspects of gameplay combine into a really solid arcade shooter that I would highly recommend trying out. Since the original game is around 30 years old (at the time of this review), so it can be a little difficult to get your hands on. Thankfully, a remake was released in 2016. The remake is now on PS4, Windows, and Switch. Depending on the code of ethics you choose to live by, you may also be eligible to emulate this game using the plethora of software available on the internet.

The shutter snaps and quicker than my dissociated, eight-year-old brain can make it back to reality, the image of my blank stare has been captured and immortalized by a teenage amusement park employee. I may be speculating, but this photographer had no idea or concept of the vast differences between Wild West U.S. history and the world of ‘Wild Guns’. I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to explain it to them. Put down the camera and pick up a SNES controller for God’s sake. Whatever — I changed back into my non-wild-west-attire as fast as I could and I was off to ride the ‘Mean Streak’ (RIP).

Concept art of Clint & Annie


"remove the peashooter"

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