E3 2016 – Wild Guns Reloaded Hands-On Preview – Annie Get Your Gun (PS4)

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It’s a sequel 22 years in the making.

Yes, it’s been over two decades since Natsume’s popular arcade shooter Wild Guns became a cult classic on Super Nintendo, and the company — since known mostly for its localizations of the Bokujō Monogatari series and its subsequent use of the Harvest Moon property for a series of in-house developed farming games — has finally seen fit to bring a sequel to the arcade shooter. But fret not, hardcore fans of arcade action; if fears of infinite retries and a toned-down pace just flitted across your mind, rest assured that Wild Guns Reloaded is shaping up to be true to its roots. Maybe that’s because it has the very same Natsume team members working on it that helped put together the original game 22 years ago — an unheard-of phenomenon in the revolving-door world of video game development.

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Gunslinging and Breathing Are All I Know

When last we saw them, our heroes Annie and Clint were out for blood, seeking revenge for the death of the former’s family…and that’s all you really need to know, I suppose. All right, of course, story didn’t really play that much of a role back then, but it seems to be of even less importance now — at least if the preview build is any indication! I booted up the demo and was unceremoniously thrust right into a firefight: and since I’m no Wild Guns expert, things went rather poorly for me the first time.

Like the first game, the controls are extremely simple, but a bit tricky to wrap your head around at first. When you hold the fire button, using the analog stick moves the targeting reticule around the screen, and when you’re not holding it, it moves your character. As enemies pop up in the scenery before you, you’ve only got one goal: blast ’em with extreme prejudice. Of course, this is a bit more difficult than it sounds thanks to the occasional wrench thrown into your plans. When an enemy puts a reticule on your character, for example, you can use a jump to get out of the way — but the reality is a lot more like four or five reticles getting up in your face. And sure, you can use a melee attack to pop enemies coming in at you from the sides, but good luck doing that when you’re so focused on firing!

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Suck Hard & Have Fun Anyway

All right, I admit it: I sucked at this game. But I had a ton of fun regardless, and I can see that there’s a need for this sort of quick-and-dirty arcade action in this era of increasingly complex and expensive video game projects. Shooting powerups to gain a boost, blasting enemy outlaws and enjoying the wildly mixed themes (yes, you’re fighting robots!) was simple but incredibly satisfying during my short play session. And since the game’s being developed by the folks who made the original 22 years ago, you know they’re not going to go out of their way to fix what isn’t broken — the improvements include new characters, easy-on-the-eyes HD pixelart and naturally, a few new powerups and stages (hit me with those laser beams!). But of course, best of all for those diehard arcade fanatics: there ain’t no saves in this here town, pardner, so I reckon you’ll be startin’ all over if ya die.

I think the sleep deprivation of covering E3 is getting to me. Let’s all agree to forget I typed that.