With Express Raider, Johnny Turbo’s Arcade not only takes us back to the wild west, but also digs the deepest tunnel yet into the Data East archive, with the initial release of this game to arcades happening in 1986. This is another arcade title that’s rare by all accounts, but this game is notable for its ideas. The game-play for Express Raider is clearly setting the stage for several seminal 1990’s arcade and home console hits.
The western shooter is no stranger to arcades. In fact, some of the earliest games in arcades were electro-mechanical cowboy themed shooting games. Nintendo had a hit in 1974 with Wild Gunman, and later in 1980 released Sheriff, so this genre was definitely a pretty solid hand to play.
Where Express Raider stands out is its use of two different game types. The first stage is reminiscent of the beat ‘em up styling of Bad Dudes, except amidst a train robbery. The second stage finds you on horseback, shooting in a gallery setting at another train, in another would-be heist. For a game this early, and simplistic, the variation is welcome, and adds a lot of fun and challenge to the title.
Now, why should you check out Express Raider? Well, this is going to be a rare time with an arcade title where the average person should not, at least in my opinion. What you should realize, and what may draw your attention to this title, are some of its successors. Have you come across Sunset Riders? Or Wild Guns? Both draw directly from Express Raider, and each take one type of its game-play and refine it to great results.
As always, the team at Johnny Turbo manages the presentation here extremely well. As a long time arcade and console gamer, I do enjoy seeing where games I really love find their inspiration, and for that reason, Express Raider holds value for me, personally… but this game is what it is. An early, well done, yet simple, arcade title that likely won’t hold up for most people. There’s not much to it, but it should be noted for laying the track for things to come.
Charlie’s first attempts at gaming did not go well. Repeated, failed run-ins with the first Goomba in Super Mario Brothers 1 plagued his maiden gaming voyage. Undaunted, he would go on to become an avid gamer of all platforms, with Nintendo always sitting atop the highest pedestal. Except for that Halo 3 incident in 2007. We don’t talk about it. It never happened.
Currently, Charlie enjoys playing games on as many platforms as he can get his hands on, with current favorites being the Switch, 3DS and Neo Geo. When he’s not playing games, Charlie is a live sound engineer and manager for his production company, Clear Harmonies, based in Washington, D.C.
Charlie enjoys talking about games nearly as much as playing them, and loves meeting new people, so hit him up!
Plays: All of them games. Seriously.