IGN Review of Mad Dog McCree: Gunslinger Pack
American Laser Games arcade titles like Mad Dog McCree, Mad Dog McCree II and The Last Bounty Hunter were not good games by any stretch of the imagination. Terrible acting, lousy production values, and – thanks to the limiting laserdisc technology – totally repetitive gameplay are just some of the problems with these 15 year old arcade games. They were completely dumb back in the day and to see them again a decade and a half later just amplifies their silliness. However, they were definitely guilty pleasure experiences: it wasn't hard to plunk down 50 cents to shoot third rate rodeo stuntmen in the face. The Wii version is a near accurate emulation of the three original arcade games, and even though the trio of games are dreadfully cheesy, it's almost worth the $20 pricetag to make fun of the awkward acting and stupid plot.
Mad Dog McCree kicked off the series for American Laser Games, and it's clear that the production was done quickly and for very little money. The company gathered up a camera crew and headed for a historical reenactment village, and filmed a bunch of footage that's turned into a shooting gallery. The laserdisc allowed the designers to quickly swap out the video track so that when you "shot" the bad guy it would jump to the footage of him keeling over. Limited technology, but it did the job. Of course, the experience is tainted (or enhanced, depending on your perspective) by poor actors, awful direction, and video quality that would look bad even in an 80s porno. You can tell that the budgets got bigger and the directors got more confident with each game, but even with The Last Bounty Hunter the production values can't even match late night Cinemax flicks.
The gameplay in all of these games is nothing more than a real life Hogan's Alley: shoot the bad guys, don't shoot the innocents. The use of video is incredibly limiting – sure, you've got actual footage of cowboys and Indians running across the screen, but the video will never change. In some cases the pattern will switch around, but even in these instances you know there's going to be bad guys popping out of the same location, so you can just memorize the footage and prepare your aim before they get the upperhand.
For the most part, the Wii version accurately emulates the laserdisc versions. The videotaped footage looks about as good (bad) on the Nintendo console as it did on the laserdisc arcade machine, the video compression comes off just a bit shy of DVD quality on Wii. The original arcade machine used a light gun, and the Wii remote makes a pretty good replacement – the difference here is you've got an on-screen reticule at all times. What doesn't work is the game's "quick draw" mini-challenges where you have to point the remote away from the screen, then reload and shoot the single bad guy. In the arcade, the gun had a mercury switch that could tell when the gun was pointed down, and when pointed up it reloaded the ammunition. On the Wii, there's no motion sensing involved: you have to keep the pointer aimed away from the sensor bar. It's near impossible to do this on the Wii successfully the way it's intended. You can just cheat the system by aiming at the bad guy, cover the IR tip of the remote, and uncover it when you're allowed to shoot him. It's the only way I was able to pull these levels off successfully.
These games can be completed in about 15 minutes once you know where everything is, so don't expect anything deep, engaging, or a Wii game with any sort of lasting power with replay. Sure, you can go for the high score, and you can even have one, two, or three other players join in for some quickfire competitions. But once you've plowed through the dated footage there isn't anything more to see.
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