Tranquilizer Gun
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  • Sega
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  • Action - General, Other
  • 1980
  • 1-2
  • high score save
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6  |  So, So, So Very Wrong...
Darryl B. , 7/11/2005 9:22:00 PM
Wow. Here is a game that, on the surface, appears to be so politically incorrect (although that depends on what it's back story is) that it is severely doubtful you'd ever see a modern version of it in the arcades (among other reasons, which I'll get to near the end of this review).

This is one of a series of games that I will be reviewing due to putting MAME up on my mom's computer, which I asked a friend for a few games so I could put up some pics on Stage Select and review them. Unfortunately, the bonehead gave me a link to a collection of over 500 stinkin' ROMs, taking up a lot of my time that I didn't have (gee, THANKS! And don't even tell me I could have just deleted them all without trying them: yeah, right! We're GAMERS here!). Luckily, though, a lot of them didn't work, so within a week I had well under 100 left, I've tried and deleted most of the crappy ones, and now I'm down to less than 30. So there will be quite a few interesting ones that I'll be reviewing in the coming months, although a lot of them will be spared my (sometimes) scathing wit, since even though a lot of them sucked, they're just not worth the time (in my opinion) doing a write-up on them.

So, onto this very original and different game: you control a hunter who pulls up to a maze of shrubs in a funky-looking bus of some sort. He hops out, and animals start appearing amongst the shrubbery. It's your job to shoot them (uhhhh, the animals, not the shrubbery) with a tranquilizer gun until they stop moving. Once an animal is stunned, a point value of 30 appears (which your score is measured in dollars, to make this game even more wrong than it already is) with the animal, which it instantly starts decreasing in value until you're able to take the animal back to your bus.

Oh boy. Two things come to mind here: one, if there was a remake of this nowadays (which I'm sure it would be in the dreaded 3-D), there would be SO many animal rights groups making a fuss over this game (which would cause many more gamers than usual to go to their local arcade just to see and play it, rather than if the whiners would have kept their stupid traps shut, then not as many people would have known about it) whining to Sega like flies on a dead animal. And two, the mental picture of a hunter having these bionic powers in being able to physically drag a lion or an elephant back to his bus all by himself brings two words to mind: "severe hernia".

The game also looks simple, but is deceptively difficult, due to the same continuity nonsense that plagued the original Activision game Pitfall! with the tunnel garbage: say there's a horizontal row that leads from left to right (the only places where you and the animals can be shot, as you can't enter the shrubbery) across the screen, but there's a vertical row of bushes that interrupts it's path. A lion that you want to stun and grab next (hey, Stun 'n Grab, why wasn't the game named that? Oh right, that's an awful-sounding title) appears at the left, traveling right, until he encounters the bush; he'll re-appear at the same path on the right, won't he? Nope, he'll re-appear at the nearest north or south path instead. So when you try shooting him (but not enough to stun him) until he disappears, he could suddenly appear behind you to bite your butt and cost you a life before he's stunned if you think he's going to re-appear at the logical right end of the next path.

Speaking of which, most of the animals need more than one shot to be stunned as well; the snake's the easiest to go down, with only one shot, whereas the lion, gorilla, and elephant take several more. Happy hunting! (By the way, how come all of the animals start off with the same point value, if some are harder to stun and capture than others?)

Unfortunately, the game has some problems (aside from how un-p. c. it's theme is), as dragging a fallen animal back to your bus gets monotonous after a while. There is also NO end to a level or anything, it's just one long game. After I had noticed during one game that I had brought in four snakes (because they're so easy to deal with), but only one of each other animal (your bus keeps a tally of what you've brought in), I thought maybe I needed to snag one or two of each animal before a wave ended so I could receive a bonus or whatever before going to the next one; I thought I was doing something wrong. Nope, there seems to be no ending to the one screen that you get, and nothing indicating there even being waves on it's entry at the (as I tried several additional games with capturing one, then two of each animal, to no apparent end in sight). If this had come out a couple of years later, after seeing something like Ms. Pac-Man, I'm sure Sega would have been more than happy to dump some extra memory into the game to add waves and different screens of hedge mazes, but alas, this is all that we get (hence why it doesn't receive a very high rating, although it's high on the original scale to me).

All of this reminds me of this toy that my sister's kid had where you've got a buttload of animals together, you'd press down on one, and depending on what game you selected, there would be either noises from the animal, a clue as to what animal you needed to match it's sound with, or a proclamation as to what it was. Unfortunately it was for the eight and up age group, which he was only 3-4 then, so all he did was press certain buttons over and over just to hear it talk (I'm surprised to this day I've never heard the gleeful announcement of "I'm an orange MONKEY!" [yes, I] in my nightmares). I should show him Tranquilizer Gun: hey, lookie at what your uncle used to play when you were about my age! Drag the animals back to your bus! Try it, it's FUN!

(Don't even TELL me that's mean: like I said, this could be much worse as a 3-D update, with realistic-looking animals falling over as a cloud of dust settles over them. However, maybe the back story was that they escaped from your circus [due to the comical-looking bus, as I assume that's what this is about] and you must take them back. Due to tons of animals constantly appearing, though, it must be one damn huge circus, as it's more like animals boarding onto Noah's Ark, if you ask me.)

I'm sure there's almost no one left at Sega (who's now a shadow of their former self) who worked there when this game came out, so, even with Sega releasing compilations over the years of various Genesis games (the Toejam and Earl series, along with modern updates of it as well), I doubt they'll go even further back into their history and dig into their catalog of even older arcade games (which I doubt they'd bring back several of their embarrassing Space Invader rip-offs, like Invinco!) to put onto a disc. And even if they did, I'm sure they'd miss this classic (or not), as there's probably no one left at Sega from the old days to remind them of this hidden ge(r)m. (NOTE: again, WOW: only 10 DAYS after this review goes up, there's an announcement in the classic gaming community that this game is going to come out on a compilation cd for the PlayStation2!!!! UNBELIEVABLE, here the game's MIA for a good two DECADES on any kind of home console [that I know of], and now it's being released. What a coincidence!)

Nice try Sega, no matter how wrong this appears nowadays. Still pretty original and different though. 6/10

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