The original version of Wild Gunman was one of Nintendo's early electronic Arcade games created by Gunpei Yokoi and released in 1974. Like Sega's 1969 arcade game Duck Hunt, Wild Gunman is a first-person light-gun shooter, yet it is not a true video game but rather an electro-mechanical Arcade game that uses rear image projection on the screen. This gives it the appearance of a video game, but it was more sophisticated than what was possible in video games at the time, incorporating full-motion video as well as voice acting for the first time in the arcades and anticipating the cinematic laserdisc games of the 1980s.
The game consists of a light gun connected to a 16mm film projection screen. Full-motion video footage of a Wild West gunslinger is projected onto the screen and when his eyes flash, the player needs to draw and shoot, much like a quick time event. If the player is fast enough, the projection changes to that of the shot gunman falling down, otherwise it will show the gunman drawing and firing his gun. If the player won, then they face off against several more gunslinger opponents.
The second version of the game has a plastic gunman figure mounted on top of a plastic battery box called Custom Gunman, which later became one of the microgames in the Game Boy Advance title, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!
An updated video game version of the game, replacing photographic images and live-action video footage with cartoon-style video game sprites, was released for Family Computer in 1984 and the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985. This version is by far more widely known than its 1974 ancestor.
In this version the player also waited for the opponent's eyes to flash (accompanied by a speech bubble reading "FIRE!!") before shooting. This was the first NES game that used voice synthesis. It also featured a shooting gallery where opponents had to be shot from the windows of a saloon. A piece of Chopin's "Funeral March" indicates the player's defeat.
- This game makes an appearance as a microgame in Warioware Inc.: Mega Microgames$!
- The NES version of the game is featured in the 1989 movie Back to the Future Part II as an Arcade cabinet. This version of the game was never released in Arcades and a specialized Wild Gunman Arcade cabinet prop was made just for the movie.
- October 21, 2015 ("Back to the Future Day" - the date in which Marty, Doc Brown, and Jennifer traveled to at the beginning of Back to the Future II) was the release date of Wild Gunman on the Wii U Virtual Console in Europe, to commemorate its appearance in the film.