Cowboy Kid – Nintendo Entertainment System
This obscure 1992 release by Romstar for the NES sees you playing the role of a young gunslinger travelling across the land fighting baddies and playing various mini-games. The main staple of the game is the side scrolling sections, where you run along taking out the enemies and collecting the chests of gold. You start the game with just a knife at your disposal but as you progress you can upgrade to several different types of gun. After each level you face a boss fight, where the action switches to a vertically scrolling perspective. The little mini-games dotted throughout include a test of strength, horse riding and target practice. The gold you collect can also be taken into shops to trade for health or weapon upgrades. Cowboy Kid is one of those titles that flew under radar but is actually a pretty enjoyable romp with enough variation to keep things interesting.
Wild West World – PC
Those of you looking for a Western themed game that’s a bit more cerebral should look no further than Wild West World by German developers Software 2000. Released for the Atari ST, Amiga and PC, this strategy game sees you trying to forge a living within the constraints of the old west. Farming, ranching, mining and hunting are all methods that can be used to generate cash in Wild West World. Once earned, this cash can be used to buy land and build your economic empire. You must employ staff to run your farms and ranches, discover new trade routes and make deals with other cowboys. You can also hire outlaws to sabotage your rivals or even bribe Indians (presumably with pox-laden blankets and rotgut whiskey) to burn settlements to the ground! Like any good strategy game, your goal is total domination. It’s rare to find a strategy game in this setting, so Wild West World is definitely worthy of a look.
Blood Brothers – Arcade
There have been several arcade games on this list that are re-programmed versions of earlier titles, and Blood Brothers is another of those. Many people will fondly remember Tad Corporation’s excellent Cabal: a crosshair type shooter that unusually saw the game played from a third person perspective. Released in 1990, the game is almost identical to its more popular predecessor except for being set in the Wild West. In Blood Brothers one player takes the role of a cowboy and the other an Indian as you search Dodge City for its most wanted outlaw: Big Bad John. When I say search, I actually mean blow the crap out of everything in sight. Be it buildings, trees, stagecoaches, people, animals – you name it, you can shoot it! Blood Brothers is one of the rootingest, tootingest, gun-shootingest titles in the West (or East), and it’s a powerful shame that it wasn’t ported to any home systems like its predecessor Cabal.