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Cowboy Shootout

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Released: 1983

Genre: Shoot-'em-up

Format reviewed: BBC Micro

Publisher: Micropower

Developer: Micropower

The reality of real-life cowboys was very different from how they were depicted on television and in books and movies. Having said that, it’s easy to see why so many kids – me included – were so keen on strapping on a plastic six-shooter and riding a fake horse in our back gardens. Cowboys are damned cool.

Admittedly, they’re not quite up there with pirates or ninjas, but the chance to sleep under a starry night’s sky and then ride hell for leather with a posse of your best men while taking part in dangerous shootouts with your most hated enemy certainly does have its appeal.

Indeed, 34 years since it first appeared as the main entertainment of Taito’s Western Gun, the shootout has been a constant source of entertainment in the videogame industry, with Ubisoft’s Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood the most recent example. For now though, our focus is on the charming Cowboy Shootout, a fun offering by Program Power that pitted two sharp-shooters against each other in a fight to the bloody death.

Relying on nothing more than the A and Z keys for movement, the aim was to run up and down the screen, taking pot shots at your opponent (AI or human) before he did the same to you. Cacti and rolling wagons stood between you and your foe, so a surprising amount of skill was needed if you wanted to successfully shoot down your foe. While both wagons and cacti can be used for temporary cover, the latter will slowly get shredded by bullets as the face-offs progress, although the upside to this is that if you time shots carefully you can shoot through the gaps.

Fun and fast paced and with ten levels of difficulty, Cowboy Shootout is a surprisingly enjoyable fun game and definitely worth seeking out if you have access to a BBC Micro. The visuals are certainly basic and the stodgy controls do take a little while to get the hang of, but it’s a small price to pay for a barrel load of fun.

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