In 1983, Cinemetronics released Dragon’s Lair, the first (and arguably best) laserdisc-based arcade game. The general consensus from gamers worldwide was that (A) it looked beautiful and (B) the controls stunk. There wasn’t a gamer alive that wasn’t impressed by Dragon’s Lair’s graphics (you got to play a cartoon, man!), but unlike essentially every other arcade game on the market at that time, Dragon’s Lair was more about memorization and timing than it was about lightning reflexes and skill. Whatever frustration gamers had with this new style of gaming didn’t stop Cinemetronics from releasing Dragon’s Lair II, Space Ace, and several other games using the same laserdisc technology. These games were expensive to create, in part due to the hand drawn animation (the animation alone for Dragon’s Lair cost $1 million and took 7 months to create).
In 1990, American Laser Games came up with a twist; by replacing hand-drawn animation with live action footage and using a light gun instead of a joystick, the world’s first live action laserdisc western was born: Mad Dog McCree.
Mad Dog McCree: Gunslinger Pack for the Nintendo Wii contains three live action western shooters by American Laser Games: Mad Dog McCree, Mad Dog II: The Lost Gold, and The Last Bounty Hunter. All three games work essentially the same: using the Wiimote as a pistol, players must shoot their way through B-movie western footage.
As Mad Dog McCree opens, you (referred to as “the stranger”) are informed by a local about the town’s dire condition. Mad Dog McCree is running wild, the Sheriff has been locked up in his own jail, and … about this time, one of Mad Dog’s cohorts walks into view and shoots you dead. After a brief lecture from the town’s undertaker the level will start over, and now you know how these games work. At any given time, bad guys can pop out and shoot you dead, instantly. You start the game with three lives, and believe me, they will pass quickly.
And that was my experience with Mad Dog McCree. After beating one location I would arrive at a new one, only to be killed almost immediately. “Note to self: there’s a guy behind that big rock.” Then I would start over and successfully shoot the guy behind the rock, only to get killed by the guy behind the cactus — and so on and so on. I slowly worked my way through the first game, asking myself all the while why I was doing so.
In the arcade version of Mad Dog McCree, three lives would run you fifty-cents, with continues costing you an additional quarter. Here, you can continue by challenging a quick-draw gunfighter. Let me just say this: it took us forty-five minutes to successfully win a gunfight. With each gunfight sequence lasting around 30 seconds (including the “continue page” and talking to the understaker), that’s about 90 freakin’ attempts. It may be the most ridiculous and needless difficult videogame challenge of all time. I would rather buy a new Wii and another copy of this game and start over each time rather than try to beat those stupid gunslingers.
Save for minor differences, Mad Dog McCree II and The Last Bounty Hunter (the other two games included) play essentially the same as the original. While continues and scoring and handled a little differently, you’ll still find yourself pointing and shooting your Wii Remote at cheesy actors in western garb and getting repeatedly (and cheaply) killed by random varmints.
After playing Mad Dog McCree: Gunslinger Pack for a couple of days, I came up with six target audiences for this game:
01. You are a wicked stepmother. You know, like the one from Cinderella? What better torture for that stepdaughter of yours than to buy her a fancy new Nintendo Wii for Christmas and then only let her play this game on it? TORTURE.
02. You want to ween your kids off of videogames. Are your kids spending too much time on the Wii? Buy this game, and then start hiding their old games one by one until only this one remains. They’ll ween themselves off it within a week.
03. You want to teach your kids about gun safety. If nothing else, Mad Dog McCree teaches kids that if you pick up a gun, you can be shot and killed at any given time by a scoundrel with a handlebar mustache. The earlier in life kids learn this lesson, the better.
04. You are poor. Perhaps you won a Nintendo Wii in a drawing, or someone gave one to you. It sounded good, until you found out new Wii games cost $50. WHAT THE? Fortunately for you, Mad Dog McCree: Gunslinger Pack only costs $20 and contains three games. Sure, it’s like buying your daughter a Barbie that’s missing a leg or your son a three-wheeled fire truck, but hey, sometimes money is tight.
05. You enjoy bad movies, you drink heavily, or you are a sadist. I’ll admit, any of these three groups may enjoy this game.
And finally …
06. People who enjoyed this game in arcades. This is, most likely, the only group that will get any real long-lasting enjoyment out of this package. If you have memories of quick-drawing in arcade and have a soft spot for the cheesy dialog contained within, you will get more entertainment from the Gunslinger Pack than anyone else. And by “more enjoyment” I mean you’ll play it more than once.
Anyone else, even at the budget $20 price, should probably steer clear. Everyone I’ve shown the game to that wasn’t in one of the above six groups lost interest in about fifteen minutes. The game play is repetitive and cheap, and the acting is bad (not in a charming way, but in the bad way). Unless Mad Dog McCree himself is holding you at gunpoint, it won’t take most players long to go find something else to do.