We now take a quick look at a rare Sega Card release, only one of two titles release in card format in 1987 (the other being Super Tennis) as Sega was quickly losing interest in that limited format. Apparently Sega decided to bring out a quick arcade title to bulk up their catalog, yet it was never released in the U.S., making this our first European exclusive release on the blog.
Anyway this game is a port of an obscure Japanese arcade title and sends you back to the days of the Old West as you take control of a sherrif who’s guarding the town’s bank. The townspeople are coming in to deposit their money, but a band of outlaws are looking to make a speical withdrawl and it’s your job to make sure that doesn’t happen. The action screen consists of 12 doors and the object is to collect at least one money bag from each of the doors before the game timer expires. You can only see three of the doors on the screen at any one time but the status bar on top shows all 12 doors and alerts you when someone is approaching each door. Once the door swings open it’ll either be a civilian depositing an money bag or a masked bandit looking to shoot you unless you plug them first with a certain amount of seconds. You can shoot them once they appear but you get a ‘fair’ bonus by letting them draw their gun first before firing back. Sometimes the outlaws will swerve you by using the people as decoys or hostages, and accidentally shooting a civilain will cost you a life (and get you an angry look from the unfortunate victim) so be sure to wait until the real baddies appear before gunning them down. Sometimes a kid will appear with a stack of hats, and rapidly shooting them will earn you bonus points, while other times a bomb will be placed at a door and you only have a few seconds to locate it and shoot it to disarm it before it explodes in your face. Once you collect money bags at all 12 doors your bonus points are tallied and it’s off to the next level to do it all again and so it goes until you lose all your lives and the game ends.
Granted, that’s pretty much the entire game in a nutshell, as it doesn’t hardly change and it goes on indefeintely, with no ending. But even though the game is simple and slightly repetitive, it’s better than you think as it’s easy to get into and is even a little addictive. The graphics are bright and colorful with some good animation and detail from the townspeople who really give the game some personality, especially their reactions when they’re being used as hostages. There’s also some funny scenes when a mishap causes you to lose a try. The sounds are also solid enough with a neat Western diddy playing throughout the action and the sound effects are adequate. The controls, while simple to use, try to mimic the three fire buttons used on the arcade cabinet (since there’s three doors and all) by forcing you to push down on the D-pad for the left door since the standard controller only has two buttons. It’s nore really that hard to overcome with practice but it can be easy to accidentally shoot the wrong door at times.
Bottom line is Bank Panic won’t rank among the top carts on the Master System and may be too much of a throwback to the simple arcade titles of yore, but it’s still a nice little release for the system, certainly a decent game to try out once in a while.