They say he came from parts unknown, dragging hell behind him and a fistful of coins that could sway the hearts of any Greek corner cafe owner. He was a man with no name, a pilgrim that whistled Dixie and tamed any arcade cabinet that crossed his path. But the stranger met his match one day, when he ran afoul of Sunset Riders…
One of the greatest genres that was relatively untapped during the arcade cabinet boom, had to be westerns. The idea of saddling up and riding off into a sunset of six-shooters and outlaws, was an idea that was made for these machines. It gave birth to some classics such as the choose your own adventure duels of Mad Dog McCree, the vertical scroller that was Gunsmoke and Fast Draw Showdown.
But the very best western game ever made, had to be Sunset Riders. It wasn’t a serious game, it wasn’t anything new really. But what it had going for it, was some of the tightest action ever coded into an arcade stand, polished to a degree that is sorely lacking in games today. The only patching done in this gem, were the band-aids attached to your bloody thumbs after having dropped many Rands into the stand in order to finally take down the various outlaws who stood in your way.
It was pure platforming action, but with enough depth to give the levels a sense of style as you wrangled your way through stages. It was also filled with plenty of humour, as running a marathon on top of a herd of stampeding cattle never got old, while seeing varmints get cartoonishly blown up when you tossed their dynamite back at them was pure fun.
The game was also very much like sex. Between two people, it was special. Between four players, it was magical. Sunset Riders came in the usual flavour of two-player action, but nothing compares to actually deputising three other friends to join you in the game and spread bullets until the screen looked like it was about to burn out. I spent countless hours playing the game, and its fantastic port on the Sega MegaDrive.
Fast, deadly and always fun, Sunset Riders will remain one of the greatest western games ever made for all time. And home to one of my all-time favourite chiptunes:
Last Updated: February 10, 2015