The game sees one or two players take control of a bounty hunter seeking to bring four outlaws to justice. The Megadrive version gives wannabe desperadoes the choice of playing as Billy (not to be confused with The Kid) or his partner the purple sombrero wearing Mexican Cormano. Billy looks the coolest, as he duel wields pistols which allow him to fire straight ahead and diagonally at the same time, but I found Cormano’s shotgun to be more effective at taking down enemies. The wide burst of buck shots Cormano fires ensures that anyone mocking his oddly coloured choice of headgear is unlikely to live long enough to take part in tonight’s poker session at the local saloon.
Gameplay wise I would say that Sunset Riders resembles another title from Konami’s catalogue, namely Contra. You’ll spend most of the game walking from left to right filling anyone who gets in your way with hot lead. Downed bandits drop coins which you pick up to boost your stockpile of currency (considering that you play as a bounty hunter it shouldn’t come as a surprise that high scores are recorded in dollars earned.) Aside from having a deadly aim, players will also need to become proficient at evading damage as this is one of those games were getting hit just once spells instant death and the loss of one of your lives. What pussies, John Wayne was made of sterner stuff pilgrim.
Acquiring some bullet proof vests would seem like a shrewd investment for the Sunset Riders, but alas none of the power ups on offer provide any defensive protection. The only boosts you will find on your travels enhance your piece in terms of rate of fire and how many bullets get discharged when you press the A/B button. Thankfully you do not have to worry about ammunition as, thanks to the wonders of video game logic, reloading your gun is not required. Hurrah for infinite bullets. Besides the weapon power-ups players should also keep an eye out for sheriff stars. If they can find one they’ll be able to take part in a horse riding bonus stage when the current level ends. The bonus sections, were you ride behind a wagon, are well worth playing as they allow you to pick up coinage and extra lives which are being tossed out by the dame travelling in the carriage.LEVEL OVERVIEW
The game isn’t particularly long, spanning just four levels broken down into two parts.
Sunset Riders was one of the first games I owned on the sixteen bit Sega Megadrive. After beating Streets of Rage, Golden Axe and Sonic multiple times I requested a new video game challenge which my father generously obliged. A little after high noon he returned home, with a new cartridge for my console collection, before riding off into the sunset. Pop isn’t the most well versed chap when it comes to gaming so I guess he cannot be blamed, as a diehard fan of westerns, for picking a title with cowboys on the box. Thankfully the blind buy he made turned out to be a good one. Although I wouldn’t class Konami’s run and gun shooter as one of my favourite games on Sega’s system I did enjoy it enough to replay it several times.