Wild Guns has always been one of those games that isn’t necessarily in the mainstream spotlight, but is well-loved by those who actually played it when it released back in 1994. Admittedly, my experience with the game didn’t come until years later thanks to the Virtual Console on the Nintendo Wii U, but even then I could appreciate that it was a neat little title that offered intense shooting gallery style gameplay.
Twenty-four years on and the game finally has a new release in the form of Wild Guns Reloaded. It isn’t a sequel, but a remastered edition that comes with a few new additions. Is the game actually worth investing in so long after release though, or does it hold up well as a timeless shooting classic? Well, there’s a case to be argued for both…
Wild Guns Reloaded follows a basic gameplay formula, with the player able to run around levels to avoid incoming attacks from enemies whilst also targeting them with their own gun in the background. Each level consists of just a couple of static screens and a boss fight, though that’s not to say they’re not challenging and full to the brim with action.
The formula works well and the game is certainly a fun one. There are four characters to play in total (Doris and, my new personal favourite, the canine Bullet are newcomers) and each one plays different to one another – not significantly enough to completely change up how the game plays, but enough for you to have an easier time with a specific choice. It might be a case of being nimbler, being more powerful, or just having a more interesting weapon to blast enemies away with.
There’s no denying that Wild Guns Reloaded is tricky though, which probably isn’t helped by the fact that the game throws you in the deep end with no form of tutorial. You aren’t taught the ins and outs of gameplay, but instead have to figure it out yourself. Whether it’s shooting, dodge-rolling out of danger, jumping over enemy fire, working out the best time to use your special attacks oe picking up one of the myriad of extra weapons scattered across levels – it really is down to you to work everything out. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it could make getting into the game a little tough to begin with.
There’s also the fact that danger is everywhere. You aren’t just looking out for the ‘obvious’ attacks, but those that come from nowhere. There are hazards all across each level and avoiding both them and the more direct attacks that enemies send your way is tough. It took me a good few hours to start to get decent at the game, and even then I suffered ‘game over’ after ‘game over’ as I tried working towards those latter stages.
When everything clicks though, Wild Guns Reloaded becomes a whole lot of fun. The screen fills up with enemies and incoming fire so you’re constantly on your toes running and gunning, whilst the sheer size of some of the boss battles is incredibly impressive. The game blends together a futuristic and Wild West setting too, and it makes for some really cool sights – nothing quite like gun-slinging with some robots, right? The aesthetic has certainly aged well and actually fits in perfectly with the 16-bit style visuals that are so popular these days, which is always a plus.
Of course, it’s not all perfect. The aforementioned lack of tutorial is a pain, but the fact that you can’t actually save game is even more annoying – you have to clear the whole game in one sitting if you want to see Wild Guns Reloaded to its conclusion. In fairness, this is how arcade-style games were back in the 90s so it might be an intentional design choice, but it ended up feeling a little annoying for me. At least the Nintendo Switch has a ‘sleep mode’…
Outside of the traditional single player mode, Wild Guns Reloaded also features local co-op multiplayer for up to four players as well as a Boss Rush mode that lets you take on all of the game’s big baddies in one epic showdown. The multiplayer mode is actually one of my personal highlights and works perfectly with the Switch’s convenient local-multiplayer options – it’s definitely a blast to play the game with some friends.
One thing that I’d be remiss not to mention though is the game’s price – it comes in at $29.99, which is a whole lot more than the $7.99 that Wii U owners had to pay for the Virtual Console release. I don’t think the additions that Wild Guns Reloaded brings to the original release justifies such a hike in price, regardless of whether or not there are new stages, modes and characters. I had fun with it, but it might also be worth waiting for a sale to get Wild Guns Reloaded at a more reasonable price.
Wild Guns Reloaded is a lot of fun and without a doubt the most definitive way to enjoy Natsume’s classic gallery shooter, though it does have a few shortcomings that stop it from becoming a must-own release. Add to that a fairly steep price point, and it’s easy to see why it’s a game that’s worth grabbing on sale rather than at full price.
Still, if you’re already a fan of the original or want an arcade shooting fix, Wild Guns Reloaded will undoubtedly provide hours of entertainment. It’s far from perfect, but it’s still a game that deserves some attention.
Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC