The Wild Bunch – Sinclair ZX Spectrum
Released in 1985 by Firebird Software for both the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC, The Wild Bunch is my earliest memory of playing a Wild West themed video game. One of the first games I bought for my Speccy back in the day, this title really made me feel like I had been transported into a TV western. The Wild Bunch is a highly original combination between a text adventure, strategy game and arcade game that sees you framed for a murder you didn’t commit. With the local Sherriff on your tail you must search the local towns for clues and try to track down the real killer before it’s too late! There are many locations that feature different ways to interact with the game; the bar serves drinks for health, the shop sells ammo for your gun and the telegraph office gives you clues to your assailant’s identity. The real fun comes in the form of the first person gun fights however!
Gun Smoke – Arcade
In 1985 Capcom took their already successful arcade game Commando and adapted into a new game set in the Wild West. The formula is exactly the same: walk up the screen shooting the bad guys and rescuing the hostages while trying not to get killed yourself. Like Commando there are various power-ups available to increase your firepower as well as bonus items like the horse that allows you to take an extra hit. One unique aspect of Gun Smoke that set it apart from Commando was the way you fired your weapon. In Gun Smoke you always fire two guns at once, one in each hand, and can only fire in three directions; straight ahead, left diagonal or right diagonal. Gun Smoke was also converted to a host of home systems including the NES, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC as well as appearing on several of Capcom’s home arcade game compilations.
Apache Raid – Sinclair ZX Spectrum
One of the more obscure games on this list, Apache Raid is a 1987 game by Pirate Software that was released exclusively for the ZX Spectrum. Also known under the title Cowboys ‘n’ Injuns (which it uses on the title screen) this one is interesting in that you get to play as an Indian for once instead of the clichéd cowboy. The plot from the game is pretty brief – you play as Nigel Navahoe (yeah great Native American name that!) who is out to save his tribe from the invading cowboys. In essence, it’s just a flick screen shooter where you run around the reservation shooting the colourful cowboys and collecting items. You have an energy meter that reduces each time you are hit, three lives and a limited amount of arrows. Many of the screens are actually maze-like in their nature so it’s easy to get trapped. Apache Raid is pure nostalgia for me, but also pretty mindless fun too.