Westerns aren't the most
popular subject for video games, and oddly enough, Japan seems to show
more interest in the genre than any American developer. (I can't even
think of an American-made Western console game offhand, but there was
probably at least one for NES.)
Proof (aka: Ganpuru) is one such lovably quirky Japanese take on Western
sci-fi. Though it's mainly fluff and parody, it's a fun distraction
throughout its duration. It has a visual and storytelling style inspired
by Earthbound/Mother wrapped up in gameplay influenced by Zelda: Link
to the Past. The main advantage the (technically unnamed) hero (whom
I've affectionately dubbed as "The Cowpoke") has over Link,
is the fact he's carrying a comically-oversized Revolver of Infinite
Bullets. And, as in every action/adventure game since Megaman 4, you
can power it up to shoot even bigger bullets, laughing to scorn the
way a gun actually works. Your secondary and generally useless weapon
would be power punches- the only real use for the power punch would
be breaking boulders in your path.
Gunpoke is a normal, even pathetic little boy living on Strange Island.
One night, a pair of meteors crash into late 1800's-era Earth, and shortly
thereafter, strange monsters called the Demiseed begin terrorizing the
countryside (as evidenced by pictures of a cactus in streetwalker clothes
trying to molest a bystander in the opening.) While playing in the field
against his James Galloway-esque father's wishes, 'Poke stumbles upon
a toy-sized UFO crashed on a hill. The occupants, a blue and red color
coded pair of Space Sheriffs then explain to the young protagonist the
details of how the two meteors were actually aliens. Meteor number one
was a noted (space!) criminal named Demi, and hot on his heels was the
aliens' impulsive partner Zero. Since the aliens apparently can't survive
in our atmosphere, the 'poke allows one of the officers to take the
keys to his body until Demi is brought to justice. Needless to say Poke's
father not only doesn't buy the story, but beats the ever-loving snot
out of his son and kicks him out of the house. To prove to the father
that 'Poke is a good boy, and fulfill his mission, our Space Sheriff
embarks on a quest to bring down Demi and all his self-generated drones.
plot's not going to be winning any literary acclaim, since literary
acclaimists are all stodgy old British men who don't play video games.
But it's as good an excuse as any to kick some alien ass. Among the
enemies you'll encounter are strange blackfaced gunslingers (who come
to think of it, seem to be Mexican wrestlers in their color-swapped
versions), ghosts, and really muscular spiders. Robots and ghosts also
make appearances, as do that aggravating staple of overhead-perspective
adventure games- reconstructing skeletons. If there's a way to kill
them off for good, I haven't found it yet.
Ghost (I think his name was Ghooooosssst Saaasssuke or something) is
among one of the funnier bosses- he's a recurring character who really,
really enjoys being dead and strongly advises 'Poke to try
it out himself. His modus operandi consists of ordering improbable Western-themed
superweapons via cell-phone and running away. One particularly funny
gag involved him baiting you into a mine shaft and making you pay money
at several intervals in order to pass, which went into financing his
next giant robot. (Unfortunately, you don't get the cash back after
killing the robot. But there's not much you actually need money
for in the game, so it's okay.)
defining element of the game stems from the humble, randomly dropped
carrot. Once you pick up a carrot (having cleared the first dungeon
and released him), a bizarre little horse/cow called Rabon(Ramon?) rushes
to your side to trample enemies. He's basically this game's invincibility
item. He's actually the aforementioned Zero- upon crash-landing, he
bumped his head into the horse and can't get out of its body. As an
added spoofy touch, every time he appears, he does a different goofy
pose, ranging from reclining on a bed of flower petals to posing in
a Sailor Moon costume. Yes, a chubby equestrian Sailor Moon cosplayer.
Only in Japan, folks...
visiting the old gunsmith at various intervals, you enable extra weapons.
Instead of buying and equipping them, though, you simply make it so
enemies drop rotating weapon panels with an increasing number of possible
weapons. The Shotgun is the first, followed by the good ol' Uzi. The
Bazooka has a decent area effect, and the traditional flamethrower is
a high-damage, ammo-guzzling weapon. There are also upgrades to the
punch including a drill arm and ball and chain. In addition, reclusive
martial arts masters can teach you special moves like rock splitting,
rapid punching/shooting, and the Shoryuken.
bothers me that I can't for the life of me remember how this game ends,
though. I seem to remember it being pretty funny at the time.