Wild Guns Reloaded - PS4
Wild Guns Reloaded joins in a number of games from the older video game generations to get the remaster treatment. Unlike many other remastered releases where the game receives mostly visual and some minor under the hood improvements, Wild Gun Reloaded goes beyond by adding in new characters, new stages, and a re-done soundtrack. On one hand, it’s great that the developers went above and beyond the usual remaster treatment to develop and pack in additional content on top of a very short game with minimal content. Unfortunately, the goodwill of remastering a cult classic action game with extra content cannot mask for some curious design choices around the new content along with its high price point that makes it hard to justify a confident purchase for this release.
Wild Guns is an action game played in the style of Cabal, where the player only moves horizontally on a flat horizontal plane while moving the crosshairs all over the screen with the control pad and shooting at structures and numerous enemies scurrying across the stage. It may be weird to have the player’s character to be restricted onto a stationary plane while the enemies shoot at the player from all over the screen, but like games of this style, the enjoyment comes with the player being able to pick off as many enemies on screen while jumping and dodging back and forth to avoid enemy attacks. Wild Guns never lacks in the action department, gradually building up the challenge from the each stage’s first two areas that leads into the stage’s final boss. While the original game was released only for the Super Nintendo back in 1994, the game plays more like a challenging old-school, quarter-munching arcade meant to overwhelm the average players while showcasing impressiveness for veteran players who know the ins-and-outs of game.
With all of the action thrown at the player at all-times, it’s important that the game’s controls and sharp and responsive and I feel Wild Arms Reloaded succeeds at that important aspect. The character movement, crosshairs movement, shooting, jumping, and employing the dodge mechanic feels fast and responsive, which is necessary for the player to react and more importantly, trying to readjust themselves into better position while playing a Cabal-esque type of game. Unfortunately, there are instances in Cabal-type games where the player can fall into no man’s land where even with the use of mechanics in trying to escape from an unfavorable position. Nonetheless, the actions, mechanics, and controls are executed well-enough that gives many players the opportunity to dodge and pick-off enemies on screen with their character.
Wild Guns Reloaded adds some interesting mechanics and depth on top of its gunfire gameplay. Not only players will have to deal enemies from the screen, but will have to fend off enemies walking on their plane by melee attacks. The rolling mechanic not only acts as an important tool in dodging enemy fire and recentering your character’s aiming, but also builds up the vulcan cannon meter when filled, the player is invisible due to the vulcan cannon’s power nullifying all enemy attacks on screen. Bonus points and power-ups can be earned by shooting down monetary valued items (moneybags, materials) on screen dropped by defeating certain enemies and destroying certain structures on stage. Weapon power-ups are also earned by gunning down drones that fly across the screen. Unlike weapon power-ups dropped by enemies which are known, the power-ups from the drone are unknown and the player can be duper into equipping a pellet gun as a joke power-up, which they must exhaust before they can return back to their default weapon. The lasso mechanic is another helpful tool that slows the enemy down. Another neat little gameplay detail is the “Look Out” pop-up, warning the player that they’re in danger of being hit by enemy fire.
I had no significant issues with the gameplay and mechanics and mostly enjoyed my time playing the game, I do have a couple of minor gripes. While the Look Out pop-up is a necessary gameplay element, I feel at a few times the display doesn’t give players enough time to react to the prompt, especially with certain enemies and bosses that shoot faster than common enemies. There are also a couple of areas where certain placement of enemies seem unfair, such as the small enemies in the background of the first area of the Gold Mine that actually shoot at you if you don’t notice. It’s also a shame that the vulcan cannon power-up automatically ends upon completion of an area since it takes so long to build the meter up in the first place. Despite the minor complaints, Wild Guns still holds up as an exciting game to play.
Seeing that the original Wild Guns game is thin on content, Natsume and Tengo Project decided to go above and beyond of a straight re-release of the original (which was done on the Wii U) and decided to add some content. The best additional content in Reloaded are the two new playable characters, Bullet and Doris, who each have interesting gameplay quirks that is vastly different than how Clint and Annie play. Both of them play so differently from the original two characters that they add in more interesting strategy on how to go about using them and adds in the biggest value to Reloaded’s package.
Bullet is a dachshund that has a drone that follows him and acts as Bullet’s weapon. Bullet’s advantages comes with his small size equates to a small hitbox that allows the player more breathing room, moves fast on his own, and able to grab onto the drone to hover all over the plane. His drone attacks everything within its crosshair radius, which is good at times and not so good if you need to quickly move the crosshairs over to another part of the screen. The drone is also vulnerable to enemy attacks, which severely limits Bullet’s ability to attack at all times. Plus in melee attacks, the drone has to line up with the enemy to successfully hit melee enemies.
On the other hand, Doris is the power character of Wild Guns Reloaded. Instead of shooting rapid-fire bullets like the rest of the cast, Doris’s normal weapon is chucking genades. Also unlike the others, Doris does not throw rapid fire grenades when holding down the attack button; instead she throws more grenades at once when the button is being held down. The power of her grenades usually knocks out enemies at a quicker rate than the others and hence she does not gain any power-up items that others are more reliant on. Though her walk pace is the slowest, her mobility is made up with her short and quick dodges, which is more of a slide than a roll. Doris also has the ability to do an air-to-ground pound to defeat melee enemies.
Reloaded’s other additions include two new stages, an updated soundtrack, local co-op multiplayer, and online rankings. The inclusion of the new stages and updated soundtrack is where I find their implementation curious. Reloaded has players first listening to the updated soundtrack, which I find to be inferior to the original soundtrack because I think it sounds too busy with its updated instrumental flourishes. The original soundtrack is locked until the player finishes the game in any difficulty, which I think is an odd decision to lock behind. The more perplexing content additions is with the new stages, which are tied in with the game’s difficulty. On easy difficulty, all of the original stages are carried over. In normal, the original Desolation Desert setting is replaced with the new Halloween-themed Underground stage. Hard difficulty not only replaces the Desert with Underground, but also replaces the Ammo Depot stage with the new Flying Ship stage. The new stages are fine but I wonder if the developers thought the two stages they replaced for normal and hard difficulties were too easy at their perceived difficulty and needed new stages to better match the difficulties intensity. The changing of the stages may not be an issue for newcomers, but I could find folks who are fond with the original game scratching their heads on the case to replacing stages on harder difficulties. Reloaded also has a curious subtraction in removing the two bonus stages from the Super Nintendo version.
I really hate to knock a game down for its selling price point, but unfortunately Wild Guns Reloaded is one of the few games where it’s high price point makes it really hard to recommend despite it being a good remaster of a cult classic. This could’ve been a nice opportunity for fans of the original to celebrate its re-release and attention to newcomers to Wild Guns, but asking folks for $30 for an update, short arcade shooter is a hard sell. If Reloaded was priced at the $10 to $15 range, I would strongly vouch for the game as a nice classic that you can have fun alone or with friends locally despite its few curious alterations. But at $30, it’s an extremely premium price to pay for a short, retro game that still plays great to this day.