And now we take a look at the second of the three late 1987 games that use the Light Phaser. So far the light gun games we’ve seen on the Master System (Safari Hunt, Marksman Shooting/Trap Shooting and Shooting Gallery) were nothing more that dull shooting gallery-type games, but Gangster Town is different becuase it looks like Sega actually put some effort into making this title something more than just shooting targets. Does it necessarily result in a good shooter game, though?
This cart seems heavily influenced by the legend of The Untouchables as it casts you as a member of the FBI out to rid a 1920s-style town of the mobsters that infest it. Interestingly enough you can enlist a second player to provide some backup (with a second Light Phaser), making this one of the few light gun games with simultaneous two-player support. When you fire up the game and get done entering your name you first go through a training level where you shoot police trainer targets for bonus points, letting you get the feel of the game I suppose. Once the level concludes (and after each following level) your performance is graded in several categories: hits, accuracy and points scored. Meet the requirements and your lifebar is extended as you go into battle for real.
After the training level you begin the game in earnest and six levels await you, all swarming with pinstripe-wearing tommy gun-totting gangsters out to exterminate you. You start with a car chase screen where you follow behind the enemy vehicle, shooting the gangsters that peek out to take a shot at you. Any robbers you nail turn into angels that fly into the sky, but in a sadistic twist you can shoot them a second time for bonus points while causing them to fall off the bottom of the screen (into purgatory?). The second level is an autoscrolling shootout on the streets of downtown as you eliminate the foes on your way to the next destination, a saloon where you go back and forth in the room blasting baddies. After that it’s another street level, this time leading to a nightclub scene which works just like the saloon scene, and finally it’s a showdown at the docks. As the thugs shoot back your life meter enables you to take a limited amount of hits before you bite it, though you can find a special medallion hidden in most of the levels that can replenish your health. You also have to watch out for innocent females that wonder on the screen as the thugs may try to use her as a hostage, prompting you to rescue her, and shooting her will penalize you. At the end of each level a boss appears and you must gun him down with multiple hits before you can proceed to the next stage. As I mentioned your performance is graded after each stage and if you do well enough you’re life meter is extended. You also have an occasional bonus stage where you shoot bricks in a wall looking for a key, and finding it within the time limit will also power you up.
While Gangster Town isn’t much more than just shooting things like most light gun games, the game is actually pretty well done. The gameplay is very fun and addictive with plenty to shoot, including stuff in the background such as windows and bottles and even the tires of the car in the first level. The light gun is fairly accurate, though it sometimes seem to register hits to the right. The cart also has a good challenge level and while the action gets frenetic in the later stages it never gets really unfair. You do only have one life, which means once you run out of hearts it’s game over, but you also have one continue, though it drops you back to five hearts. The graphics are pretty good with nice colorful backgrounds as well as well-drawn and animated enemies, even though they’re pretty much the same sprite except for the bosses. A little variety in the enemies wouldn’t have hurt. The sound effects aren’t much while the background tunes are pleasant to listen to.
The bottom line is the Master System finally has a good light gun game in its ranks. Most everything in this cart is well done, from the visuals to the gameplay, and having a second player join you is also a blast, especially since this is one of the rare light gun games to support two players. All in all Gangster Town is a great shooter title and a good reason to invest in a Light Phaser.