At a Glance: I heard from some guy that we work harder these days then we ever have before. We write at home, we work more hours at our jobs, and we have to drive Billy to those soccer practices so his friends can punch him for being alive. I vaguely remember in high school history that we didn't always live like this. If that's true, sign me up for this pastification I'm hearing so much about. Old guys dress up in crazy outfits to take out other old guys with fake bullets. Kids in Michigan put southern flag stickers on their trucks. I, myself, yearn for a simplier time as well. When you could go out and get killed for no reason. When you could stab anyone you cared to and people left their treasure chests out in the middle of the street. That last part was satisfied with my voyage into the mysteries Cowboy Kid by Romstar.
Platform: NES (Download Emulator here - 192k)
Download: Download ROM here - 64k
Game Plot: As you start the game you realize that you're some guy with a hat. Considering you have this hat, you take it upon yourself to solve the problems of the law around the town of someplace. You do this by immediately stabbing the first person you see on the street. You continue this until you have finished the game. Those expecting more story will not find it here. Now get off my paragraph.
Most people would assume that being a cowboy meant you had some sort of gun. Well, take a big swig of your Gatorade because you're about to spray it all over the velvet lap of irony. Instead of those pansy Clint Eastwood-like lasagna westerns where they shot people on horseback, welcome to the real man's wild west where you knife people on horseback. Instead of those men with keen eyes who used rifles to hit people at unfathomable distances in the old west, you just sit in one spot and watch as people fall on your knife.
Being a cowboy makes you see things that will make you mature faster than you should have. Cowboy Kid, the final game from the makers of Gun Smoke for the NES, utilized their knowledge of the Old West to give us one last glimpse into the dark heart of mankind. Men dance in rooms for no reasons. People kill over their pet eagles. You see the real brutality of these backwards times as you watch the pigs and chickens rise up and attempt to kill you.
As a guy with a knife and a hat, you are out to bring some order to these dangerous and other "d" word times. Romstar took the necessary steps to make this game as dark and gritty as the Wild, Wild West was even before the movie. The music reflects the period; gritty ragtime music that sounds like a circus is following you around everywhere. If my time at that training camp taught me anything, it's stabbing people becomes comedic when you hear goofy music. Actually, that wasn't a training camp, it was a fairground. Either way, the music doesn't add much to the game besides making every slash of your knife comedic and joyful, keeping your knife far away from your wrists.
Enemies: Enemies come in all shapes and sizes, all of them sharing a strong trait for lethargy. The enemies do not really seem to have any true aggression for you, acting more like mildly disgruntled villagers than anything else. We also cannot forget the enemies who do absolutely nothing but hurt you when they bump into you, including farmhands and drinking Mexicans. This teaches us a valuable lesson about being different: don't do it. And as you walk around, no matter where you are, be sure to fire off a few giant bullets once every few steps.
Weapons: Not being a freemason, I was not given the privilege of shooting things until pretty much the end of the game. This could be sighted as a serious problem to not only me being able to get anywhere in the game, but also to my lack of ability to make jokes about anything other than this.
Even when you do get the sweet justice of shooting pixels at your enemies, you come to find that it takes roughly five thousand shots to take down a boss. If memory serves me, it doesn't take roughly near this amount of bullets to take me down. Let me look at my chart, "How many bullets does it take to put Kevin down?" Oh yes, one.
Life is always around the corner in Cowboy Kid, thankfully. Sheriff stars increase your life bar, thus bringing children to the conclusion that by reaching for the stars and following your dreams you can take a couple bullets.
Number of Bevels: None, but there happens to be a couple of nice spots where they do a wonderful job of embossing. The levels, on the other hand, are full of so many spots where you wish you could go back to town and get a gun just to end your own life. You aimlessly wander the level, stabbing with one hand and holding a map with another, entering every household dripping with blood and death. People are overcome with fear, the same kind of fear that allows you to raid people's homes and open up their stuff in RPG games.
Number of Bosses: There are seven, including the dreaded scorpion master. In the old west "dreaded" was a term used to signify anyone who is incredibly annoying and has a house that set up like a maze. I often wonder if there is an inspector who goes through end boss lairs and makes sure they are fully supplied with spikes, pitfalls, and giant somethings to fight. If so, this final boss barely reaches acceptable standards and practices. Tsk.
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).