Did you know that there are companies that still make NES and SNES games? Yeah, for reals! Don’t believe me? Ok Mr. Smarty-pants, open up a new browser tab/window and do a search for “NES Homebrew.” Don’t worry I’ll wait…
Gideon Zhi (English Translation) / Lenar (JP)
SNES (US) / Super Famicom (JP)
Yep, as you click on a couple of websites, you’ll see that the spirit of retro games still lives on in the hearts of gamers everywhere. Who knew? There are all kinds of sites ranging from online forums to sale sites devoted to bringing a whole new genre of classic home entertainment back to life. Most of these fan efforts can be broken down into four categories: Homebrews[1.1], Rom Hacks[1.2], Reproductions[1.3], and English Translations[1.4].
Today I would like tell you about one of these games that is so good that it’s sad that it didn’t make to the US. How good is it? Think about a game that’s like Zelda: A Link to the Past, but set in the Wild West with monsters, aliens, uzis, flamethrowers, and a talking cow. Let me introduce you buckaroos to a little SNES game called GUNMAN’S PROOF…
“In the year 1880 a pair of meteors came streaking down toward the Earth. They landed in the American West, on Strange Island. One would think this would cause a huge ruckus… But the people of that era were so busy scratching out their meager livings that no one thought much of it, and the incident soon passed from memory. And yet… This was where our tale truly began…”
After typing in your little Cowboy’s name (which I LOVE!), the story begins with another small intro explaining that once those meteors hit, monsters named Demiseed(s) showed up and started to ruff up the poor townsfolk of Bronco Village. One day while you – a young cowboy – was exploring a loud ruckus in a nearby forest, you run into a crashed UFO containing two galactic police officers. These two alien lawmen were sent to Earth to arrest Demi, a fugitive from outerspace and put an end to his monstrous shenanigans on Strange Island. After one of the officers bonds with the adolescent cowboy, your adventure begins…
Much like Zelda: A Link to the Past, you continue on your quest around Strange Island fighting weird monsters, ghosts, gunslingers, and mutant bugs. Strange Island is a big place with many types of very detailed scenery, all with it’s own themed music (desert, forest, jungle, ghost towns, etc). Even though simplistic and cartoony, the graphics really show off what the SNES can do. The games graphics really stand out in some areas, especially while playing the many Miniboss dungeon areas.
Along the way you run into a lot of characters that give you advice and powerups, in the form of lessons. These improve your weapon choices; from a six-shooter to uzi, bazookas, and flamethrowers, which present themselves as a random reward after defeating an enemy. Also with the added help of items and learning Kung-Fu lessons, you’ll always have a powerful punch/gloved attacks as backup. There’s a full range of characters in Gunman’s Proof.
My favorite is Robaton, a cow controlled by the original alien officer that was sent to arrest Demi. He shows up when a carrot appears and becomes your invincible riding beast of burden (for a short time). Not only that Robaton is a faster way to travel short distances but can run over enemies in his path, which comes in very handy, since baddies become dangerous later in the game.
As controls go, you have a lot of attacks to choose from. A is to shoot, Y is to punch, and X is to use various bombs that you pick up throughout the game. Both A and Y attacks can be supercharged, depending on which fighting lessons are learned. Most of the demiseed monsters attack with guns or projectile weapons, which can be dodged by pressing your crawl/B button, which I think is very creative for this type of shoot’m up RPG. Also like Zelda you have an island map and inventory screen by pressing the Select and Start buttons.
Some players may start with the notion that they’re playing another Hyrule adventure disguised as a Monstrous Wild West tale but after minutes of fantastic gameplay you just get sucked in and realize that you are truly playing a great adventure. Now, after saying this, the game does suffer from a few problems.
My first issue is that the beginning Level Bosses tend to be very easy, especially when using bombs to defeat them. Even though entertaining, I had no problems beating the first three major villains, but luckily Gunman’s Proof really starts to up the ante when it comes to exploring a spooky ghost town / dungeon level. At this point it feels like this whimsical RPG has finally taken off it’s kiddie gloves and is starting to become a real challenge with newer tougher baddies to overcome. Man, this game is so fun that I can’t wait to wrap up this review so I can continue on my Wild West adventure.
Another big complaint is that even though there’s a battery pack save system, the only way to activate it is to go back to Bronco Village which sometimes is easier said then done. This a fantastic game with a lot of new places waiting to be explored but kinda sucks that once you find something like a new powerup or life container, you’ll want to go back to your bed/savepoint. This can be a long and difficult task, especially when your health counter is low and may die before you can save it. There may be other save points in the game but so far I haven’t found any.
My last issue is that even though you can find extra lives that automatically replenish your health meter if/when you die, there’s no Fairy-in-a-Bottle that you can bring with you in battle. This would have helped out a lot while battling harder monsters or exploring new dungeons. Luckily while gunning down monsters you have a chance of gaining food, gathering coins to buy blue plate specials (at local cabins), or pick up a pet crab for a little health bonus.
The only other thing that may be an issue with some gamers is availability and price. Currently, Ganpuru Gunman’s Proof can only be found in cart form at Chipmasters for $45.99 plus shipping. Yeah, it’s a little pricey than a used SNES game but compaired to current Wii/XBOX/PS game prices; it’s a pretty good deal for a great game.
OUT OF 5
Ganpuru Gunman’s Proof is a fantastic game and once played will be on your top ten SNES list. It’s a true shame that this SNES title came a little too late to hit the US shores, but thanks to Homebrewers out there, we finally get to play this Japanese classic without the years of learning a second language.
+ Awesome graphics for SNES
+ Intriguing storyline
+ Hours of exciting gameplay
+ Flamethrowers and a talking cow
– Tricky level bosses
– Not enough save points
Homebrews: brand new games built from the ground up for oldschool consoles, such as D-Pad Hero (NES) where you have to mash corresponding buttons to one-hit 8-bit wonders and Glider (NES) which you fly a paper airplane around the house… Trust me, its way more exciting than it sounds.
Rom Hacks: game programming that has been hacked into, usually to put a new spin on an old classic with new levels and baddies. The most popular rom hacks are new editions of Zelda, Metroid, and Castlevania. There’s even a fan hack sequel to Zombies Ate My Neighbors simply named OH NO! More Zombies Ate my Neighbors
Reproductions: carts that tend to be copies of very hard to find games such at Nintendo World Championship or unpublished/incomplete games and demos like Mike Tyson’s Intergalactic Power Punch and The California Raisins.
English translations: games that were originally published for Japan but for some reason or another never made it to the US usually because it was deemed too hard like Super Mario Bros. 2, renamed The Lost Levels in the US. They could also be games publishers didn’t think were going to sell well (Goonies I, Adventure Island 4, and NES’s Earthbound.
Need more info on where to find Homebrews? Check out the following sites: