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Adventures of Bayou Billy, The Review





Developer: Konami Publisher: Konami
Release Date: 1989 Also On: None

The NES had a pretty large library of beat-em’ up titles and by this time there were plenty of good ones. Most were based on already running series and arcade titles, but now and then programmers attempted something new. The Adventures of Bayou Billy received a huge amount of attention when it was first released, featured in Nintendo Power and even an episode based around the title on the cartoon series Captain N: The Gamemaster. Obviously, part of the idea was taken from the then popular movie Crockodile Dundee, so why not a nice beat-em’ up with gators and so forth? Sound good? Most people remember this game from my generation and seem to remember liking it, until they play it again and old memories start to surface…

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I can at least say that Bayou Billy has some impressive graphics, which one usually comes to expect from Konami in the 8-Bit era. The attempt to make this game flow through a bayou and then to a New Orleans-style mansion is superb, captures everything you’d expect. Great range of colors and plenty of detail. The animations are pretty much perfect, but there can be a fair amount of graphical flicker at times. The only real problems I had were some of the details. For example, when Billy does a jump kick or regular kick, his foot pretty much looks like it turned into a needle and appears absolutely ridiculous. Another example are Gordon’s sons at the end, two palette swap losers that look nothing like their depiction in the manual. They look like two giant robots with no facial features, which really throws off the feel of the game. Still, with some excellent cut scenes, title screen and tons of other features, Bayou Billy has some good graphics with only minor problems.

To add to the atmosphere, this game has one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard. It has this creole or zydeco flavor to it with the right amount of tension when you need it and a laid back, ass kicking theme during most of the fighting segments. The driving parts don’t have the best music, but everything else works well. The sound effects are fitting, but some of the sounds are a little odd. When Billy gets hit you have this odd sort of ‘hip’ sound that he says, but overall I’d say this is as close as you could get to something actually sounding like a punch or a walloping. Plus, you have to love the digitized voices, this was one of the earliest games to really use the full potential of such a feature. Overall, another plus for Bayou Billy.

The excitement for me, however, stops there. Graphics, good. Sound, good. Gameplay, freaking terrible. Now, some people will probably be getting angry now saying, “now Stan, I remember this game from when I was a kid, it was awesome!” No, it wasn’t, let me explain why. First off, the story is standard get the girl from the evil guy, but with a New Orleans flair. The controls during fighting and shooting scenes are responsive and the idea of making this game essentially three types of titles in one works very well. You have fighting segments, driving segments and shooting segments, two requiring the control pad and one the Zapper. There’s a wide variety of enemies and different weapons to use, so at first glance it seems like a pretty cool game following in the Konami style of Castlevania. That’s how I remembered it myself, and then I sat down to finish it…

The first thing you’ll realize is that this game is hard. I don’t mind that so much except that it really gets annoying at times because of how the game is set up. While fighting you can’t face the enemies head on, which is great, you have to learn to move up and down with a sense of strategy. However, you still end up getting hit now and then and even the most common of punks take off a ton of life. Luckily, it still seems playable during these parts and this is the most enjoyable part of the game. The only really, really, really annoying part is the final boss. When you have to face the twins, you basically have to be armed with a whip, otherwise forget it, and circle around the room striking them once every three loops or so, which takes off almost no life. Your fingers hurt so terribly by the time it’s over that it wasn’t even worth it, makes more sense to cheat since you’ll beat them eventually. Really hated that part. But there’s more.

The shooting levels where you use the Zapper are pretty tame in comparison with not much challenge other than the bosses and the fact that it just seems like you’re not hitting enemies when you clearly are. I put the damn gun right up to the TV and still missed, even when the barrel was right on them. Plus, they’re not arranged in the most interesting of ways. The later shooting level in the city features guys running with guns who apparently can run through walls on the upper level of buildings, hitting the ground at full tilt while still shooting. Motorcycles, apparently, are also able to go through walls. These stages have the major fault that there’s nothing really going on, nothing clever, just a bunch of targets moving when it comes down to it. Basically it’s just guys running around that you shoot at, no hidden tricks or something, which is sad because Duck Hunt was pretty old at this time and did it better. In addition, you don’t get any power ups, just your normal shot, which makes the one boss nearly impossible and merely a case of ‘make sure you have full life so you can just blast away and end with one measely fragment left’. But that’s not the worst part.

The worst part, and the aspect that draws Bayou Billy’s gameplay deep into the bog, are the driving segments. Now, there are only two, but you can totally forget beating them without luck. You won’t believe how much these two, fairly short levels ruin this game. The controls are god awful, making use of one of the stupidest control configurations ever where ‘up’ makes the car move and you have to hold it in constantly, ending up with painful fingers and making it truly impossible to steer when you really need to. Add this with shots you fire out of the front that seem to randomly miss when they shouldn’t, grenades you toss at airplanes that make your guns nonfunctional as cars approach, a stupid timer,as well as poorly placed enemies that you sometimes don’t see coming until you’ve already wrecked and you’ve got a poor ride ahead of you. To give one more example, I slowed down after I almost got hit once and I was close to a pole on the side of the road, so I slowly moved over and it hit me even though before this the pole was on the right side of my jeep. That’s right, it wasn’t even touching anything but the side of the road. Bad collision detection as well? Come on, Konami. These parts are where most players give up because they’re just too aggravating and even if you do manage to stick it out you’ll be incredibly lucky to get by with one life and no continues remaining. Terrible.

Bayou Billy has some pretty creative aspects. It has various games thrown into one title with usage of different periphreals, great music with an original and fitting theme, graphics to go along with it and it has a great atmosphere over all. However, this atmosphere was ripped off directly from Crockodile Dundee down to the appearance of Billy himself, so I have to take off points for the programmers cashing in on something they didn’t even create. Why didn’t you guys just get a license? Oh, yeah, that’s right, that costs more money, so why bother when you can just make something that looks like it and thus still attracts the attention you want without paying someone for it. I’m on to you…

As for replay value, aside from nostalgic reasons, I doubt you’ll play this game again if you beat it for real. It’s just too difficult to bother and not really a game you just want to sit down and play now and then. It really doesn’t have that aspect to it and is just too much to handle at times. Those damn driving scenes really take it out of you, I’d never want to play them again. As for length, I have to say Bayou Billy has a nice layout with the perfect amount of time to complete it, which is made slightly more enjoyable by the option to try some practice levels that are essentially easier versions of what you’ll find in the game proper. So, good length, but don’t expect to come back to it unless you’re an idiot.

The Adventures of Bayou Billy is an all around disappointing title because they’ve ruined great graphics and sound with some of the most tedious gameplay I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing that pretty much 80% of this is due to only two levels, but trust me, you’ll be hating it when you play them. Konami needed to tweak this a bit for gamers because I can’t see anyone at that time actually completing it since the majority of the audience would have been around 10-12 years old. I’ve played games for years, but I only just beat this after much hardship and practice, neither of which were redeeming. The memories of playing it seemed good at first, but then I remembered, my friends and I never really made it past the first few levels until we cheated. Play, and you’ll find out why.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 4.5
Creativity: 4
Replay Value/Game Length: 2.5
Final: 5.5
Written by Stan Review Guide