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Barker Bill’s Trick Shooting Review

Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: 1990 Also On:

Boy, I think the last Zapper experience I had was The Adventure of Bayou Billy. Ugh. The Zapper was the most popular accessory for the NES, and with good reason, one of the most iconic NES games, Duck Hunt, was the first to use it. After that, you really didn’t see too many games that really exploited its potential. Barker Bill’s Trick Shooting does just that, and if you’re looking for another Zapper game in the same league as Duck Hunt, check this one out.

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Graphically, it’s clear who programmed Barker Bill’s Trick Shooting, Nintendo. The color scheme is vibrant and fits the cartoon atmosphere. The characters and objects are very well animated. The balloons, plates, and falling objects in particular couldn’t have been programmed better. No slowdown, flicker, anything, this is a solid game in this department.

The sound in Barker Bill’s Trick Shooting sets up a midway or carnival presence. This is fitting, because it works perfectly with shooting balloons, plates thrown by a ‘ringmaster’ character, and so forth. It has a dreaminess to it that sets a good mood. Also, the sound effects are spot on. I don’t think it would have been possible to make balloon bursts and shattering plates sound more realistic. Add to this some goofy effects at different points, and you have a well-rounded title. On to the gameplay.

Barker Bill’s Trick Shooting is almost a sequel to Duck Hunt. In fact, the Duck Hunt dog makes a comeback, particularly in the balloon levels. It’s very easy to get into, and one great thing is you don’t even need a controller. Simply shoot offscreen to select any one of four events, and then shoot at the screen to start. The first event involves popping rising balloons, the second involves shooting plates thrown by Barker Bill and his assistant Trixie (pretty hot for 8-bit), the third involves shooting falling objects that cascade down behind barriers, and finally ‘Fun Follies’, a run through each of the events followed by special levels if you’re good enough. Overall, it’s a solid setup, with only minor problems. Here’s a glimpse:

Barker Bill’s Trick Shooting completely lacks a two-player option. That’s a real bummer. You’re not even going to find a two-player competition mode. The events, however, are a lot of fun, and several steps above Duck Hunt. There’s more variety and options for increasing your score. It’s not an easy game, either, because for each ‘miss’ you get (which can include anything from actually missing to hitting a character), you lose a life. Lives are collecting through the levels when you hit certain objects, but you have to be constantly on your game to get higher scores. At first, you have to be careful to use your bullets well because you only have three, but later on when the game gets faster and more complicated your bullets respawn quickly. However, you still have to be good because you have a ton of targets flying all over the place. Barker Bill’s Trick Shooting is generally a solid game, but the lack of a two-player option is curious. Not really sure how they could even think to skip that bit. It’s so obvious it’s laughable.

For a late-run Zapper game, Barker Bill’s Trick Shooting has a lot going for it, but when it comes down to it, it still is the same old ‘shoot the target’ bit. Where it manages to pull out of this is with cool little gimmicks and an engaging play space. It’s easy to get lost in this title, and that’s a good thing. So, points for the design elements, but a little off because it’s another target shooter in the end. Perhaps some silly bosses or hidden levels would have been cool, but at least it does have some ultra difficult targets to hit that lead to huge point totals. Good luck finding them.

I’ve played Barker Bill’s Trick Shooting several times. It’s an easy game to sit down with, and it has plenty to offer for both the beginning and advanced gamer. The arrangement of the levels is intentional, because the balloon event is the easiest, and if you try the falling object event without some practice you’re in for a wake up call. It’s basically play till you’re done, so if you’re looking for a simple game to sit down with or one to spend several hours on, Barker Bill’s Trick Shooting has both.

There aren’t really enough cool Zapper games for the NES. In spite of how much potential it had, I guess few programmers could figure out how to get around the fact that any game it’s used for will be some sort of target practice in the end that really just stretches back to ‘Carnival’ for the Atari 2600, except you’re actually holding the gun and playing with it. Barker Bill’s Trick Shooting manages to get past this somewhat. It still is another target game, but there’s enough variety, fun, and intensity for even a casual gamer. Definitely one to check out if you’re a fan of light-gun games, and even if you’re just a general retro-gamer, I’d say give it a go.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 8.3
Written by Stan Review Guide