Shoot Out – The Roaring Twenties are back, but are they good?

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In the last of our current looks at the Data East Johnny Turbo Arcade series from FTE Entertainment, we have “Shoot Out.” Originally released to arcades in 1985, this gallery shooter may seem a bit rudimentary at first glance, but it is one of the formative predecessors to many games that are considered to be absolute classics. Is it still worth a look today?

Data East was a fairly prolific arcade game, pinball, and console developer and publisher in the 8 and 16-bit eras. They never had any smash hits outside of BurgerTime, but even that doesn’t hold the same universal recognition as, say, Galaga or Donkey Kong. What they did, however, was lay a lot of baseline groundwork to many genres of games, refining a basic concept into an intermediate phase.

The setting of Shoot Out is classic cops vs. gangsters, with a timeless 8-bit look.

Shoot Out is no exception to this example. It takes the basic concept of a lightgun gallery shooter (think Wild Gunman or Hogan’s Alley), and translates the experience to an entirely joystick-and-button-controlled affair. The player assumes the avatar of a detective going after (what appears to be) organized crime in a fairly 1920’s-esque setting. For 1985, the game does have decently refined mechanics. Five-way shooting and rolling dodges allow you to take out enemies quickly, if not easily, as this game is hard. The graphics are clean and sharp, and it’s very easy to pick out your enemies and obstacles. The music is also catchy and fits the setting well, with a jazzy, roaring-20’s type of vibe.

But is it good? Well, yes and no. It’s extremely basic. It’s repetitive, random, and it’s crushingly hard. If you’ve enjoyed some of the JTA series’ 16-bit entries, this isn’t on the same level. It plays well, absolutely. It looks and sounds great. It’s not janky, and the setting is very charming, but it’s extremely dated. While something like Pac-Man or Galaga has held up due to the absolute simplicity of their presentation, these intermediate stages of games, as we’ve discussed in the past, don’t tend to stay relevant or hold up well as time passes. The team at FTE did an amazing job with this port, but the game just doesn’t inherently hold up to modern sensibilities.

…you’ll be spending a lot of time in this room if you want to progress in the game. Shoot Out does not pull any punches on the difficulty.

Now, if you are looking to scratch that gallery-shooter itch, there are many options available on the Switch. Nam 1975 from the Neo Geo archives collection is the first one that comes to mind. Want something a little more flippant and a little more modern? Check out the ridiculously good modernization of Wild Guns by Natsume.

In retrospect, Shoot Out is an important historical note in moving the gallery shooter forward from a coin-op novelty to a real game genre that deserves everyone’s attention. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do anything beyond that, despite the excellent conversion work by the developer.

I do want take this opportunity to send some sincere appreciation to the good folks at Flying Tiger Entertainment. They’ve lovingly ported many fantastic, and rare, arcade games from Data East to the Switch, and done an incredible job across the board. Just from a preservationist standpoint, (fun games aside!) their work holds true value to the enthusiast, and for that alone I say well done, and thank you.

Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Flying Tiger Entertainment, Inc.Price – $7.99
Genre – Arcade / Shoot ‘Em Up
Size – 67MB

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