Sunset Riders is a side-scrolling run-and-gun style shoot-'em-up released by Konami as a coin-operated video game in 1991. The game is set during the American Old West, where the player takes control of a bounty hunter who is seeking the rewards offered for various criminals. The coin-op version was released in two variants: a 2-player version and a 4-player version. Home versions of Sunset Riders were released for the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) in 1992 and for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1993.
The game, which is set in a fanciful version of the American Old West, revolves around four bounty hunters who are out to claim rewards given for eliminating the most wanted outlaws in the West. At the beginning of each stage the player is shown a wanted poster, showing the criminal, the reward for stopping them, and the line 'Wanted dead or alive'.
Sunset Riders can be played by up to two or four players, depending on the version of the game. In the 2-player version each player can choose which of the four bounty hunters (Steve, Billy, Bob, and Cormano) to play as at the start of the game, while in the 4-player version each character is assigned to a different control panel. Steve and Billy wield revolvers, while Bob and Cormano use shotguns. The controls consists of an eight way joystick for moving the character and aiming their guns, and two buttons for shooting and jumping. The player can jump between higher and lower floors by holding the joystick up or down while pressing the jump button. There's also a slide move that allows the player's character to avoid enemy fire by pressing the jump button while the joystick diagonally downwards.
Power-ups and bonus items can be obtained by entering saloons or defeating certain sack-carrying bandits. The power-ups comes in the form of a golden sheriff badge that gives the player's weapon auto-fire, and a silver badge that grants him a second gun (allowing him to shoot at two directions at the same time). Both power-ups can be equipped at the same time. Other weapons that can be used by the player include dynamite sticks carried by female bandits (which can be thrown back at the enemy before it explodes) and a mounted Gatling gun available only in the last stage.
The objective of the game is to reach the end of each stage and defeat the outlaw awaiting at the end. When more than one person are playing, the player who deals the most damage at the boss will be the one awarded with the stage clear bonus. While most of the game has the player moving on foot, Stages 2 and 7 both begin with a segment where the player fights against bandits on a horseback. In addition, there's a bonus minigame at the end of Stages 2 and 5 where the player must shoot at enemies from a first-person perspective coming from eight different positions before time runs out. There are a total of eight stages in the game. Once the final stage has been cleared, the player proceeds through a second loop where the difficulty is set on the hardest level.
The player will lose a life if he gets shot by the enemy, trampled by bulls, caught in an explosion, ect. When that happens, he will lose any power-ups he have obtained on his next life. The game is over when the player runs out of lives, although the game can be continued by inserting more credits.
Two years later, the arcade version was reprogrammed to two home consoles. Despite the arcade version having a release in the region it was created in (Japan), the home versions were only released in North America and Europe.
The Mega Drive/Genesis version of Sunset Riders features the most changes made to the game between the two home versions of the game. Out of the four main characters from the arcade game, only Billy and Cormano are featured. The two characters in the Genesis version were given surnames that they originally didn't have in the arcade version (Billy Cool and Cormano Wild). The controls are identical to the arcade version aside from the addition of two shooting buttons instead of just one: one button allows the player to walk and shoot at the same time, while the other shoot button keeps the character still when pressed down, allowing the player to change their aim only.
Only four of the eight bosses from the arcade version are featured, and each of the four chapters are divided into two stages. Each boss dialogue is worded in a text bubble instead of voiced. The power-up icons have also been replaced as well. Unlike the other versions, the player can cause a dynamite stick to explode by shooting it. To access the bonus stages, the player must collect a Star-shaped item located in either stage of each chapter. The bonus stages also differ from the ones in the arcade version: the player chases after a moving wagon on a horseback, while the woman in the wagon tosses bonus coins and extra lives at the player's path.
In addition to the standard game mode, the Mega Drive/Genesis version features a two-player versus mode. The players must shoot each other until one of the players runs out of health.
In contrast to the Genesis version, the SNES version of Sunset Riders features relatively few changes. The barfly that kisses the player character in Stage 1 as well as the saloon dancers from Stage 4 are dressed more conservatively compared to the arcade version. Hunter dogs, which were present in first segment of the final chapter in the Genesis version, were removed. Also, the Native American enemy characters from Stage 6 were removed and replaced with regular outlaws, leaving only Chief Scalpem (who is renamed Chief Wigwam and re-voiced in the SNES game) as the stage boss. The dynamite tossing female bandits were replaced with male bandits in the SNES port as well.
All boss and cutscene dialogues are subtitled. While most voice clips are carried over from the arcade, some voice lines are either re-worded or replaced with other less offensive lines for censorship purposes.
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