Format reviewed: Amiga 1200
Developer: DMA Design / Scott Johnston
Submitted by: Al Busby
Every Retro Gamer should have a game in the bowels of their Nostalgia Cabinet that exudes a sense of danger, raising the hairs on the back of your neck and bringing goose bumps out on your arms. Boot up Psygnosis’ Hired Guns on your A1200 and allow yourself to be carried away into another world, a world of absolute, pant-wetting terror.
From the very off, the typically-slick titles and intro you’d expect from Psygnosis draw you in to the dark and post-apocalyptic HG universe and playing the enhanced version, the sound, sweet jeeping Christ – the opening music – it haunts the very soul and the in-game sound effects will have you sweating bullets in no time.
Let’s talk about the sound, as it is often overlooked, in HG almost half of the game was the sound effects – it built the atmosphere and had you running, manically like a spooked cat, or leaning intently, closer to the television, trying to discern the direction and distance of an enemy and when you stumbled upon a live robot sentry gun -BLAM- the noise was almost deafening. Every sound effect fit perfectly into this mammoth jigsaw puzzle of a game, split over differ and huge levels.
And the level design was that of a King. Amazingly creative, split over a vast array of heights, which was such a change from the usual RPG fare – some levels had 100s of degrees of ‘height’ and you would have to send an impervious robot underwater to access certain areas. Watch your equipment though, as a lot of it doesn’t like water!
I used to play this 2-PLY with both myself and a buddy controlling two characters each (Kiurcher!) and we’d endeavour to complete each map as fully as we possibly could, picking up all items and locating all the secrets. Even now, we try to meet up at least once a month for a SWOS and HG night, packing my girlfriend out the door. Lights off, sound turned up, pizza on the delivery moped, cold beers and pretzel sticks on the table – it doesn’t get any better – it is truly a terrifying and exhilarating experience.
The Scott Johnston and the DMA Design team created in Hired Guns one of the most accomplished, stylish and expansive multiplayer RPGs ever made and it is a testament to their massive passion for their business that their creation still gets played to this very day.