Sunset Riders [Retro]

This review covers only the Sega Genesis release of the game.

Sunset Riders, published by Konami, was originally an arcade only title but later received home ports to the Genesis and SNES systems. You collectors better have some bandages on hand, because this will hurt your wallet, at a whopping $40-$50 price range for the SNES, and a $20-$30 range for the genesis version.

Sunset Riders is a side-scrolling shooter, based in a fancied-up version of the American Old-West. Up to two players take control of the characters Billy Cool, and Cormano Wild, and together they hunt down four outlaws that have been terrorizing The West. Spanning across four stages; with each stage being comprised of two levels, you are faced up against the four bosses: Simon Greedwell, Paco Loco, Chief Scalpem, and Sir Richard Rose. Every boss encounter, and level is incredibly well done, in terms of design and art-style; and the gameplay compliments it in every way.

The first thing that pulls you into this game is the music. Right as it dumps you into the first level, Gunfight at the Sunset Coral carries you over boxes, and gives every shot from your pistol (or shotguns) quite the heroic feel. It's Time to Pay, the first boss encounter music also emotes a feeling of desperation even before the bullets fly. The second thing that grabs your attention right from the get-go is the art-style of the town. From the tiny huts on the outskirts of town, right to the building you fight Simon at. Even the scrolling backgrounds during the train stage look fantastic.

Each level has you dodging bullets, evading sticks of dynamite, hopping over stampedes, and even being ferried down the side of a mountain in a lift. Through most of the game you'll have enemies shooting at you from behind barrels or from the tops of buildings, but on occasion there will be the one fool-hardy guy that charges at you with a knife or a tomahawk catching you totally off guard and relinquishing from you one of your precious credits. Sunset Riders does a very good job of keeping you on your toes during your play-through with all of the different enemy types and different boss encounters it has to offer.

It also wouldn't make a great old-school game without some power-ups. While traipsing through out the game you'll find houses that can be entered, or a saloon with a very generous barmaid. These buildings hold several different power-ups. Most power-ups speed up the velocity of your shot, and another gives you an extra gun; allowing you to spray fire all over the screen. Another power-up you can receive is that sheriff's star, which lets you play the bonus stage after you complete the level. These bonus stages are completely different from all other versions of the game. This version puts you on horseback, chasing a wagon while a woman throws coins and power-ups to you as you progress through the stage. Allowing you to carry the power-ups over to the next level. Be careful about getting hit, because when you get killed you lose all of your power-ups and are forced to pick them all up again.

Sunset Riders ends up being a great side-scrolling Run and Gun with memorable landscapes, music, and gameplay that will leave you with a smile on your face as the credits roll. Each stage, enemy, and boss encounter all culminate into a very pleasant gaming experience that you won't soon forget. Anyone who is a fan of Retro games, or bullet-hell games will find Sunset Riders to be right up their alley!

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