Gun Smoke: Classic Arcade Game Video, History & Game Play Overview
Widely known as Gun Smoke, this shoot 'em up arcade game highlights all of the standard features found in other Western games along with several notable improvements. Controlling a character that goes by the name of Billy Bob, your mission is to bring peace to lawless West by hunting down 10 of the biggest outlaws alive. This game was developed by Capcom, with a 1985 release date.
Prominent video game developer Yoshiki Okamoto came to work for Capcom just before work on Gun Smoke commenced. As a result, this is one of the first games that Okamoto authored while employed by the video gaming giant. Ayako Mori composed all of the music to Gun Smoke.
First becoming available on the NES home console in 1988, Gun Smoke was distributed by Romstar in the United States and Capcom in Japan. Early PC versions of Gun Smoke contained multiple superficial, visual and structural changes as well as modifications to the basic controls. More recently, Gun Smoke was ported to the PlayStation, Sega Saturn and Xbox.
Game Play Overview
Billy Bob is sent on a mission to wipe out the infamous Winchester family, but he faces quite a few obstacles along the way. The game is set in the uncharted Wild West in the 1800s, complete with saloons, outlaws and barren wastelands. In total, nine other bosses must be killed in order to get to the next stage. Your main weapon consists of a pair of pistols, which can be reloaded many times throughout the game.
Staying true to life, almost all icons either work as an advantage or a hindrance to Billy while on his mission. Picking up a boots symbol gives players increased speed, while extra ammunition adds speed to each one of his fired shots. You will earn points for every special icon earned, every enemy defeated and every stage cleared.
The health meter is also another important element in Gun Smoke. As you go further in the game, your maximum health meter capacity will go up, allowing you to take more damage without dying. If Billy Bob is hit with bullets or makes contact with the dreaded cow skull, he will lose power. You can use building, objects and other obstacles as a shield against enemy gunfire.
The original Japanese arcade of Gun Smoke also featured an in-game advertisement of sorts as a stand in for an end screen. There was a picture of Billy Bob atop of a bucking horse, with text letting players know that the day had been saved. The message ended with a note about Capcom's next to be released title.
One of the most powerful special features in Gun Smoke is the horse icon. Although Billy Bob will move at the same speed whether on foot or horseback, riding in the saddle allows him to take more hits from enemies. The horse icon can be found on several stages of Gun Smoke.
The cow, star, loot bag, dragonfly, flask and bottle icons all give players bonus points. These symbols may be restricted to certain boards or generate at random. Extra men are also awarded at the 100K mark, although some arcades give an extra man when the score first reaches 30K.
The boots power-up will make you move faster. There is also an extra gun that you can pick up to help Billy Bob hit enemies at long range. The POW symbol eliminates everyone in your trajectory, but you will still have to fight all other gunmen that remain on the level. Lastly, the Yashichi icon will give you an extra life, but this bonus feature is quite scarce.
Ammunition – Pick up the icon that resembles loose bullets to make Billy Bob's gun fire faster.
Yashichi – This symbol is present in many games made by Capcom during the 80s. Collecting it will give you one additional man.
POW Symbol – Use this power-up to get rid of all gunmen that Billy is in close proximity to.
Cow – This icon is valued at 20,000 bonus points.
Gun – When the gun icon is equipped, all bullets fired will go further. This can help to take out enemies that would normally be out of your range with the pistols alone.
Horse – Have Billy grab the horse icon to equip a shield capable of absorbing three rounds. After the horse power-up is deactivated, he will no longer be on horseback and be susceptible to damage, as normal.
Boots – The boots icon is good for increased speed, but it will go away if Billy loses a life.
Cow Skull – This icon may look harmless enough, but it actually reduces your stash. If you have the boots, horse, gun, or ammunition power-up activated, coming in contact with a cow skull will instantly take one away.
Loot Bag – Bonus icon is worth 1,000 extra points.
Gunmen – These are the secondary enemies that attack Billy Bob as he works he way to each boss.
Dragonfly – This emblem will add 10,000 extra points to your score when collected.
Bosses – There are 10 boss fights that Billy Bob must complete to win the game.
Bottle – For 1,000 bonus points, add this icon to your stash.
Star – This is a high value bonus icon that will help you to quickly rack up 10,000 more points.
Flask – The flask doesn't serve any practical purpose, but it does have a 1,000 bonus point value.
How to Play Gun Smoke
Because your field of view will be from overhead of Billy and the area immediately around him, the controls can be difficult to master at first. You can shoot in multiple directions and move to take a defensive stance. However, hitting or pressing down on a single action button will not improve accuracy or even send bullets flying any faster.
Additionally, you have a somewhat limited range of mobility in Gun Smoke. You will have to change the direction that your character faces in order to shoot enemies that appear at the 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions. In other words, Billy Bob can shoot anything that appears directly in front or off to the sides. This is an element that makes boss fights especially dangerous when there are still other gunmen left to defeat.
Level 1 – Town of Hicksville
At the beginning of level one, Billy Bob enters town and is almost immediately greeted by gunmen. Remember that you cannot be hit directly by any enemy gunfire or you will lose a life, but indirect contact will cause varying degrees of damage.
A series of enemies with long and short range weaponry will randomly appear; coming up behind you, running out of doors and emerging from balconies. If you move carefully at a slow enough pace, you can take out your enemies without sustaining any damage. Eventually, two wooden barrels will come up on the screen that contains a pair of boots. After they have been equipped, Billy's pace will be quickened.
There will be many more enemies for you to defeat, but stay on the lookout for barrels. Some icons worth extra points and the horse power-up can also be found on this stage. The horse will be very helpful in eliminating Master during your first boss fight.
*Boss Fight - Master
Boss Master won't really have any surprises in store, but the gunmen that continue to attack during the boss fight may be completely unexpected. Master packs a Winchester, which is lethal if you get hit. However, your character should be to outrun any bullets fired by Master, thanks to the boots power-up.
Look around carefully before you focus on the boss fight at hand, and be sure to get to the barrel on the far left that has the coveted POW icon. After Master is struck for the first time, he will fall down. He will continue to shoot his weapon while on his hands and knees, but eventually, he will get back up. Shoot Master twice to get the kill.
There will be a set of train tracks running from the top to the bottom of the screen at the start of this level. Billy Bob stands just over to the right as a locomotive goes roaring by. Immediately afterward, various enemies will enter the screen and fighting will resume. Again, there will be plenty of barrels for you to pick off that are packed with power-ups.
As you come across a variety of enemies packing knives, pistols and bombs, try to stay toward the middle. Generally, gunmen will come from the top and the bottom, but they can also enter from the right side. Billy will continue to walk north and come across a stopped train. There are more gunmen perched on the roof of this train. When you can go no further, there will be a couple more gunmen for you to fend off before going to the second boss round.
*Boss Fight - Roy
This boss fight will be a little different as Roy is equipped with a cache of throwing knives. This boss is also very unlikely to stay in one place for long, so you will need to fire a lot of shots to eventually catch him. Roy's throwing knives can also be stopped mid-attack by shooting them down with your pistols.
There will also be scores of gunmen and other secondary enemies coming onto the screen constantly. The best way to defeat Roy is to wait until there are no other enemies present, and then send a short barrage of bullets his way. You may also want to close the gap between Roy and yourself, but make sure that you are able to fend off his attacks.
Stage three starts off with Billy Bob traveling through open land. You will see mountains, plateaus and lakes along your way. You will also be walking over bridges and passing through valleys, which can help to make for great cover, but they can also work as an advantage for your enemies.
Boots, ammunition and a gun power-up can be found on this stage in various barrels. After crossing a bridge and going through a few narrow passages, Billy Bob will encounter a bull. Shoot it immediately to send it on its way. Two more bulls will appear shortly thereafter, marking the end of this level.
*Boss Fight - Ninja
Boss Ninja has darts, also known as throwing stars, which he wields at Billy Bob with great speed and ability. He will move around the screen, hopping about, and is usually accompanied by quite a few gunmen. Time Ninja's jumps and try to fire your rounds so that they connect with his as he is just touching down on earth.
It will take a couple of bullets to stop Ninja's attacks, but in the meantime, you must also try to stay alive. It will be much harder for Ninja to hit you with his darts if you do not remain stationary. Shoot any other enemy that appears instantaneously so that Ninja is easier to deal with.
This is another stage that is set in open land. However, there are plateaus and cliffs where enemies wait to ambush you. You will need to have quick reflexes to shot your foes before they can manage to attack you. The third group of barrels that appears on this level has a power-up that will be helpful. Equip the horse and continue fighting.
Shoot the rest of the barrels to find icons worth bonus points as well as the boots or gun icon. There will be a distinctive group of barrels, sometimes appearing just beyond a group of bulls. When all of the gunmen have been killed, the game will advance to the boss stage featuring Cutter.
*Boss Fight - Cutter
Boss Cutter is armed with two boomerangs that he throws at Billy Bob simultaneously. He is not nearly as agile as Roy or Ninja, so shooting him will be easier. However, Cutter has a larger energy meter, so you will need to hit him a greater number of times to take him out.
First eliminate any immediate threats from gunmen, and then fire a couple of rounds while Cutter is throwing his boomerangs. You may manage to hit both Cutter and his weapons at the same time, but make certain that you are primarily aiming for the boomerangs first. Compared to previous boss fights, Cutter usually makes for an easier opponent that just happens to take longer to defeat.
Billy Bob starts this level by walking across a treacherous bridge. There will be a few barrels that have a pair of boots power-up, but you will need to work fast. Quite a few opponents will be entering the scene, with guns drawn. Make it to the next group of wooden barrels so that you can get the ammunition and gun power-up.
The scenery will change, but the gunmen will never stop coming. While you are walking next to a river, you will see more barrels. Take your time, collecting bonuses and eliminating the gunmen that leap down from above, sneak up behind you and attack you head on. Once you come up upon the last few building on this stage, the screen will stop scrolling. Next up is the Pig Joe boss fight.
*Boss Fight - Pig Joe
This is the most difficult boss that appears in Gun Smoke, thus far. He is extremely active, with a big health meter and a diabolical weapon; sticks of dynamite. The good news is that his weapon is only effective if you fail to move away quickly. Pig Joe will throw sticks of dynamite in your general direction, hoping that you accidentally stumble upon one at exactly the right time.
As with other boss fights, there will be more pressing dangers in store for you. As Pig Joe moves across the screen, gun slingers and other henchmen will launch their attacks upon you. Try to shoot at Pig Joe just as he is beginning to jump or leap upward. When he lands, at least some of your bullets should be making contact with him. It will take a lot of time to wear him down, but Pig Joe can be defeated.
Stage six is, by far, the most impressive level in Gun Smoke. With three distinctive chapters, Billy Bob is introduced to Native American attackers, the dreaded cow skull, tee-pees and an imposing chief at the end of the round. The first part begins a fast paced attack launched by a couple of Native American archers’ warriors, sent by Wolf Chief. The attack occurs while you are positioned to the right of a big body of water.
When the water ends, a set of forts will appear. Continue walking until you come across the cow skull, making sure that you maneuver around it. Next up are two barrels and a huge rock. You will want to be more careful as you grab the items contained in the wooden barrels as the cow skull will instantly take one of them away.
More Native American attackers armed with spears will start to come after you. Shoot them, and then walk to the next body of water. Even more attackers will appear, with each group having a unique weapon. Once you get past the water and some walls, you will run into a Native American village filled with tee-pees. Enemies will be hiding inside some of these dwellings.
You may be confused once you see Wolf Chief riding on his horse. This is the boss that you are going to fight later in the stage, but for now, there are more enemies for you to clear up. Chapter one ends with Wolf Chief leaving and more of his cohorts coming to keep you busy.
After passing through a second village, Billy Bob runs into a river. Cross the bridge, shoot your opponents and investigate each barrel. Then you will have to walk across several hills where there will be more barrels and attackers. A second bridge must be traveled across before you hit a few caves lined up in a row. As expected, there will be multiple henchmen popping out of the caves.
Go over the next group of hills until you come across flat land. You will see Wolf Chief once more before he rides off again.
First, pass the big hill and go over the bridge. Native Americans throwing small axes will try to ambush you while you are still on the bridge. After you make it off the bridge, pick up all of the power-ups housed in the barrels nearby.
A long line of Native American attackers will be coming your away again as you walk toward a village. The rest of the board consists of enemies and wooden barrels. When you see one final tee-pee, you will know that you are very close to the boss fight.
*Boss Fight - Wolf Chief
Wolf Chief's weapon is a shotgun. This weapon fires three bullets at a time. Thankfully, they go in three different directions, so you can just move slightly to avoid being hit. This boss isn't as powerful as Pig Joe, but he does move swiftly.
Kill off the enemies that come into your field of view, and then aggressively attack Wolf Chief when he appears vulnerable. Since he will be doing a lot of jumping, you will need to time your attacks well.
You will be standing in the middle of the desert, surrounded by cliffs, when five different opponents begin to attack at the same time. Make it to the first group of wooden barrels to equip the power-ups. A long series of sporadically placed barrels and aggressive gunmen make up the majority of this level. You will know that you have reached the end once you find that you can walk no further.
*Boss Fight - Goldsmith
This boss fight will be frustrating, in part because Boss Goldsmith likes to hit the ground often. He will avoid your shots by dropping down and rolling; as opposed to the jumping you have seen other bosses exhibit. The only way to defeat Goldsmith is to attack him only when he stands upright.
A faint path is etched in a large expanse of open fields. This is the path that will lead you throughout stage eight. Approach the small bull pen on your left hand side to collect a few bonus point icons. You won't be approached by many enemies between the bull pen and the group of barrels. Collect your power-ups and continue on the path.
There will be another bull pen next to a body of water. This is where a large wave of enemies will emerge. Shoot at them as you continue to advance to the next waterway. Just past the lake, you will find another small group of barrels. Walk a little more to come to the end of the level.
*Boss Fight - Los Pubro
You will be pretty evenly matched with Los Pubro as he does not jump or roll. In fact, this boss has the same weaponry as Billy Bob. Gunmen will pose a bigger threat than Los Pubro, who can be taken down pretty fast if you aim carefully.
Billy will need to be prepared to face a large scale attack at the start of this stage. The setting is that of a western ghost town, which means that you will have to deal with gunmen on balconies and coming out of doors once again. Whenever you get the opportunity, go over to the barrels that appear for a quick boost. When the town comes to an end, so does this stage.
*Boss Fight - Fat Man
Armed with a machine gun, Boss Fat Man walks slowly and doesn't do anything except fire. You will need to move at all times in order to keep from getting hit. Other than his massive machine gun, Fat Man doesn't have any other notable features.
Lead Billy across the first series of bridges and rivers until he gets to some wooden barrels. Grab the power-ups, and then keep walking. More waterways and short bridges await, with lots of enemies headed your way. Toward the end, the infamous Wingate family will be positioned just beyond a small river with three separate bridges. Prepare for the last boss fight in Gun Smoke.
*Boss Fight - Wingate Family
As opposed to other bosses, there are three different enemies for you to kill. You will take on the first two bosses at the same time, with the last Wingate appearing after they are down. It is not until you start attacking the last Wingate that you will notice any difference in the enemy health meter. The Wingate’s, battle with rifles first, then a machine gun. What makes this boss fight even more challenging is the fact that secondary enemies are present. It will not be easy to defeat the Wingate family, but when you do, you will be rewarded with the final screen.
Hints and Tips
- Even if you cannot see an enemy, his shots can still cause you damage or death when coming from off screen. Keep an eye out for enemies that are positioned on top of balconies, trains, cliffs and other places so that they do not attack you by surprise.
- Shoot barrels whenever you can as they contain valuable power-ups, but don't sacrifice a life just for extra points. Note where the most important barrels are positioned, then ignore all of the others.
- If Billy takes a direct hit, he dies. Since extra men are given at 100,000 point intervals, you can always take longer clearing out a stage and search for bonus points to get extra lives.
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