Now y'all listen up. This here town's got itself a new Sheriff, reckons he's gain' to clear the town of the meanest fastest gun Totin' Bunch of Rootin' Tootin' Gun Slingers which ever did hit the Wild West. Goes by the name of Sheriff Quickdraw: Yes Siree.
As to be expected, in Ultimate's latest release you play the part of Sheriff Quickdraw. While relaxing in your office a telegram arrives detailing your task: to clear the streets of gunfighters. This task may seem straightforward but the public have ignored your warnings and remain outside, to your horror. For if you should accidentally blow away a poor innocent bystander then you are fined.
The game starts with a picture of a gunsight and bags of money scrolling downwards. In this first stage you must shoot the bags of money to finance your antics. Speed is of the essence, because money plays an important part in the next stage of the game, and you need all you can get. After a short while the money supply dries up and you commence the main part of the game.
In stage two, Filmation II (Ultimate's 3D masking routines) rears its head again. This part of the game bears a strong resemblance to Ultimate's previous release, Nightshade, and plays in a similar manner - although there is more depth to this game. Black Rock, the town, is full of women and children who point in the direction of the villain currently being pursued. If you bump into pedestrians you lose a life - and if you shoot one of them by accident or even just for fun you are fined an amount of money which varies as you play the game.
As you walk around Black Rock you'll need to use your revolver. It contains six bullets which you can use at will, and once all of them have been used up your Super-Slung Six Shot Slinger will reload automatically. You have to pay for ammunition, and like the fines for blowing away townsfolk, the cost varies throughout the game.
Sooner or later in the game you will stumble across a horse. This little beastie is not the normal four-legged type horse but appears to be little more than the Pantomime variety. Like most things in life, and everything in Black Rock, the horse costs money to use - again, the price varies throughout the game. The horse confers two advantages: it allows you to run over pedestrians (great fun) and it greatly increases your speed. This can sometimes be a bit of a disadvantage, because when you're scooting around at top speed it is very easy to have a rather painful collision with one of the many cacti that litter the streets.
Once you have located an outlaw you must apprehend him. To do this you must first shoot him - the screen cuts to show the outlaw along with your gunsight. This stage of the game is just like the good old fashioned shoot outs. You have to be quick with your trigger finger or else the outlaw dispatches you with one well placed bullet. If you win the shootout then you receive a reward which varies in accordance with the difficulty rating of the current outlaw. You are then transported back to the jail to begin your quest for the next lawbreaker.
The screen is split into several parts. The main window, on the top right of the screen, displays the current play area and expands to occupy the whole of the top half of the screen for the start of the game and the gunfight sequence. The rest of the screen displays the name of the current outlaw being pursued (not in gunfight mode or the money collection sequence) the amount of money in your possession and the number of lives remaining. The last window deals solely with telegram messages which give you all sorts of bits of information about rewards and so on.
Control keys: Gunfight mode X, V or N for left. C, B or M for right. A, S, D or F for walk. 1-0 for fire. Fastdraw mode: X, V or N for left. C,B or M for right. Row beginning Q, W, E, R, T etc for up. Row beginning A, S, D, F, G etc for down. Top row for fire
Joystick: Cursor, Kempston and Interface II
Keyboard play: responsive, but a bit confusing
Use of colour: little colour, to avoid attribute problems
Graphics: detailed backgrounds and characters
Sound: title tune otherwise limited to spot effects
Skill levels: gets progressively harder
Screens: scrolling playing area plus moneybag and shootout screens
'Recently Ultimate have come under a lot of stick concerning their product. Well they're back, up front and with a vengeance too. Looking at Gunfright it appears to be graphically similar to Nightshade: that's true, but the game element of Gunfright has been considerably developed. The several different stages make it a very enjoyable game and highly addictive. As usual the standard of graphics is high and the whole game is beautifully presented. If you're an arcade game freak then this one is definitely worth considering. Ultimate have finally got back to their roots. Let's just hope they can keep this standard up in their future games!'
'Out of all the recent Ultimate games this is the best - it has a plot which is interesting and immediately playable. The graphics are, as always, excellent, as is the sound. I found this one very playable and fairly easy to get on with. The people in the town point in the direction of the baddies, so tracking them down is pretty easy, shooting them however is another matter. I very much enjoyed playing Gunfright as it is fun to play and has lasting appeal, although I don't think another 3D game from Ultimate will go down as well as this.'
'Well it seems that Ultimate have made up for the recent spate of not-so-good games with Gunfright. Some may argue that it's a Nightshade clone but a very good and addictive one. The graphics are really good with a few nice touches like a horse which enables you to go faster and small children excitedly pointing the way to the nearest outlaw. The arcade sequences involved are colourful and very detailed. Definitely deserves a CRASH Smash.'
Howdy, pardner, and look what jest rode into town. There wuz a time when the newie from Ultimate meant makin' for the saloon but nowadays.... well, we's none of us too sure if they're goodies or baddies.
Hey, I think I recognise this partic'lar varmint. It's that fellah Nightshade with a cowboy hat. Sure is the same technique used to draw the western town, the same animation of the central figure.... and durn me, If the plot ain't mighty similar too.
This time you take the sherriff round the town, shooting bandits and avoiding the populace which consists mostly of sassy women who scuttle into you and kill you. I'd rather face up to the James gang, though don't get gun happy with a local lovely or you'll pay fur it out of your bounty. That leaves less money to buy bullets, the price of which rockets faster than a mute that's sat on a cactus. And talking of quad-ru-peds (Ker-spitt! KLANG!!) there's a hoss to be found aroun' town, though as it's of the panto rather than the pinto variety you'll have to do the runnin'.
Now most of the rogues are jest Mexican marauders who sit there waiting to be shot, but every so often you'se gonna meet a gen-ew-ine grade A outlaw, and that's when you'll need all your quick draw marksmanship. Only, durn it, if I didn't wander fur so long without meeting one.
What ah'm tryin' to tell yer is that despite the mildly economic overlay of bullet an' hoss buyin' and bounty collecting, this is another Ultimate repeat and if you didn't have Nightshade and you're a fan of shoot 'em ups set among durn purdy pictures it'll make you whoop with joy.
YOU'VE BARELY started reading this review and already you're moaning 'oh no, not another Ultimate slagging off.' Well, you're right, up to a point, but I tried really hard to find something in Gunfright which lived up to the early '85 Ultimate standard.
This is the first offering from the UK's premier software house since Nightshade, some four month's ago. When Chris reviewed that game, back in October's issue, he ventured to predict that "Ultimate may be running out of steam. Or dare we hope for something really special this side of Christmas?"
Gunfright, which arrived at the tail end of last year, isn't it. It's different, but in ways which are scarcely going to appeal to die-hard Ashby addicts.
For a start, Gunfright's no arcade-adventure, but a shoot-'em-up. You're going to have to resort to those lightning joystick reactions. There are no puzzles to solve, no objects to collect... It's all bang, bang.
Graphically it's almost identical to Nightshade, with a 3D view of the alleys and shacks of a western town. As you mosey along the streets of Black Rock the buildings which would otherwise obscure you are replaced by white lines denoting their perimeters. Clusters of rocks scatter the roads and, peculiarly, the building interiors. A touch of the Z or Shift keys and your viewpoint changes to a different angle.
You control Sheriff Quickdraw, eyes peering out from beneath his ten-gallon stetson, and you're out to rid the town of, as the insert poetically puts it, a "whole loda baddies a whoopin' and a wailin' ". You're armed with a six-shooter, but ammo is costly and reloading will set you back the going rate for bullets.
The game opens with a facile arcade sequence in which you aim at descending money bags to accumulate bounty money. The amount collected will be used to buy bullets and horses and pay off fines. This kind of thing departed gracefully from computer games eons ago, and for Ultimate to resurrect it is unforgivable.
After this irrelevance we pass to the game proper, and immediately we are in known territory. The sheriff stands outside the jail, and the touch of a joystick sends him scurrying up, down, left or right. To the left of the action screen is a Wanted poster, with the current baddie and reward displayed.
Stetson hats indicate the number of lives remaining - you start with three - and below them is the amount of bounty money you hold. A gun chamber shows how much ammunition you have left, and this is reloaded automatically when empty. Bottom right is the 'telegram', which lists the going prices of bullets, steeds and fines.
Anyway, enough of the finer details and on to the action. Doing your best Gary Cooper you stride forth from your sheriff's office and encounter fairly rapidly the hazards of the town. No - not the rampaging outlaws, but the honest, god-fearing citizens themselves, who wander aimlessly bumping into anything in their path. Collision with one means a life lost and $150 fine deducted from your bounty. A nice touch is that of the hats flying up and coming to rest where the hapless townsfolk once stood.
Pretty soon you'll chance upon what at first glance seems to be an irate gunslinger - hopping about waving his shooter rather dangerously. After you've filled him full of lead you belatedly realise that the ex-cowboy was an excitable innocent bystander pointing in the direction of the nearest baddie. Godammit, another $150 lost.
With the aid of other helpful citizens you'll eventually run into Buffalo Bill, the first of your wanted men. Don't wait for him to fire - quickly plug him one. The game now moves into fast draw mode, and the screen changes to a head-on view of the gunslinger who, even as you pull back the trigger on your trusty Kempston, is peppering the screen with bullet holes. If you get to him first you get the reward - $350 - and return to the main game in search of Billy the Kid, your next villain, with $700 on his head.
And so it goes.
Oh yes, Panto. Remember that decaying horse carcass you avoided earlier, thinking it to be another bit of background colour, like the cacti and the pebbles? Try stumbling into it and - Geronimo! you've got yourself a gen-u-whine pantomime horse, capable of great speed and, even more interesting, the ability to lay waste half the town's population without losing Sheriff Quickdraw a single life (though he does, unfortunately, have to cough up the fines).
I got quite carried away with ol' Panto, and galloped about the streets leaving a wake of empty ten-gallons behind me. It was more fun than searching for Billy the Kid, any road. The cassette inlay instructions - almost comprehensible for once - recommended Panto for pursuing mounted bandits, if you find any.
In the end, what have you got? Gunfight at the almost-OK Corral or Bad Day at Black Rock? Gunfright is good - it's difficult, attractive, amusing and even passably addictive - but for Ultimate it's not good enough. It gets four stars, because Ultimate has yet to release anything which isn't value for money, and maybe it'll win over some arcade converts. But as for me, pardner, ah'll jes hang around these here parts a mite longer for that there Cyberun, dang-nabbit.
Wild Bill Scolding
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, cursor
Howdy partners. This is Sheriff Sabreman talking to you from the troubled city of Black Rock. We're having a lot of trouble with a mean bunch of outlaws right now. There's Buffalo Bill, Billy the Kid and a host of other infamous names out to give me and the peaceful folk of Black Rock a tough time.
Luckily I've got my trusty six-shooter and my faithful steed Nightshade to help me run these varmints outta town - but I'd like you along as parta my posse. Fancy comin' along to help me clean up the town? Then grab this badge and pin it on your Spectrum boy...
Take a whole lot of Nightshade, add a couple of "duck shoot" arcade bonus screens, spice them up with some nice Western graphics and you've got Gunfright. The idea is that as the sheriff of Black Rock you have to get rid of all the baddies inhabiting the town.
The locals help you by pointing the way towards the particular baddie you're hunting as you patrol the streets in the guise of Sabreman in a stetson.
Once you've found him you have a gunfight. The 3D style screen changes to a 2D heads up view of the baddie you've come across - with a cross hair sight.
You have to move the cross hair and draw your gun in time to shoot your opponent down.
Each time you wipe out a baddie you get a bounty. Cash which enables you to buy more bullets to go out hunting the next baddie. The price of bullets - like petrol - varies from time to time so you need all the cash you can get if you're to succeed in cleaning up the town.
The townsfolk can be helpful - but they do tend to get in the way when you're hunting down the villains. Shoot an innocent bystander and you lose cash. Bump into one and you lose a life.
The graphics are identical to Nightshade - except for a few Wild West touches to spice them up. Beside the main play area window a colourful wanted poster appears showing you the particular baddie you're looking for.
Buffalo Bill is the first and he's pretty easy to gun down. After that you're on you own! Billy the Kid and the rest are pretty tough to kill and your TV could end up riddled with bullet holes. Sound effects aren't up to much though.
Gunfright doesn't have the puzzles usually associated with an Ultimate arcade adventure - but it is unusually playable. I don't think it'll have the usual lasting appeal however.
The packaging also includes a few hints and tips on game play - another first for Ultimate!
At first I found it difficult to tell which were the baddies and which were the male inhabitants of the town. Then I worked out that the little men jumping up and down and pointing weren't going to shoot me down and were just showing me where the baddie was hiding out. Lots of bounty money was lost before I'd worked this out.
Still, if you're after a souped-up version of the ancient old Gunfight arcade game then this is for you. But all the frills and pretty graphics don't make the game worth nearly £10.
In the movie world, 1986 has been hailed as the year of the western. While Pale Rider and Silverado are wowing them on the big screen, Ultimate's Gun Fright is destined for similar success on the computer screen.
As usual in an Ultimate game, the graphics are excellent. Most of the time, the screen is split into a number of areas, to the left of the screen is a colourful "wanted" poster showing a picture of the baddie you have to bring to justice, along with the reward. Beneath that is a display of hats showing how many lives you have left - you start with three.
At the bottom, your score is shown as the amount of dollars bounty earned. Next to this is a graphic display of the number of bullets left in the Sheriff's gun. To the right a telegram window shows the high score, together with the current prices of bullets, horses and fines.
The action window occupies about 40% of the screen.
As Sheriff Quickdraw makes his way around Black Rock, he must avoid bumping into any of the townsfolk, as this results in losing a life, and paying a fine from his score. The score is initialised in a Fast Draw mode screen where shooting at moneybags results in earning money.
Quickdraw is also likely to breathe his last if he walks into a cactus. Quickdraw can speed his travel by riding a pantomime horse, at a cost, but his aim is to hunt out the villain. Once found the screen changes to Fast Draw mode where you see through the sheriff's eyes.
Gun Fright is a witty and welcome change to the wizard-dungeon type of arcade adventure. Yup pardners even Clint Eastwood would approve.
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