Sunset Riders — Shootout at the Sunset Ranch

I literally woke from a dream this morning with this music in my head. I don’t know what that says about me.

Sunset Riders shares the same lifeblood as Turtles in Time: both Konami arcade games from the same era, both co-op titles with entirely respectable SNES ports, both with the same flavor of music. Sunset Riders can’t match the satisfying feel of whacking foot soldiers with your weapons and then grabbing them to hurl them at the screen, but there’s a special kind of pleasure that one gets by dodge-rolling away from a hail of bullets.

Years before firing two guns whilst jumping through the air was cool, I was leaping away from slow-moving projectiles and returning fire with dual-wielded sawed-off shotguns. Sunset Riders may not be quite as polished as a John Woo movie, but it kinda sounds like one when you put it down on paper.

Except, I don’t know– is John Woo noted for his cartoonish, appalling racism?

Yikes.

The game’s primary antagonist, Richard Rose, is a caricature of a British aristocrat, and he’s not really racist (he’s a stereotype, but from what I understand it’s all right to stereotype against the British–Americans, too–anybody post-global-empire, really).

But check out those other blokes. “Chief Wigwam?” “Paco Loco?” It’s a little embarrassing to play this game. If you have, you may remember that Chief Wigwam suggests you “Get ready for pow-wow” before he begins to leap about maniacally in a parody of a war dance while showering you with throwing knives (I know, I know–they couldn’t have sprung for tomahawks? Really sold the whole deal?). Boy, at least he wasn’t called “Chief Scalpem” or something, huh?

Oh, really? The arcade version, huh? Geez…

Anyway. Racism aside, Sunset Riders is a pretty fabulous time, and though it’s not widely available at the moment, I’ve run across it a couple of times when browsing SNES games at flea markets and garage sales. This is another title that I’d pour quarters into unrelentingly if it made its way to my local barcade.

Here’s another track or two that illustrate the game’s awesome boss tunes:

This one is the music that accompanies the fight with “El Greco,” who takes on your group of gunslingers with nothing more than a metal shield and a bullwhip. Aboard a moving train. Why has no one made this into a film yet?

And this music is from the game’s attract mode, which introduces the four playable characters and maybe gives a false impression of how mellow and Western the game’s music is going to be. I remember this piece quite clearly from my time in the arcades as a youth.

Why anybody would play someone other than Cormano, I don’t know.

And finally, here’s an OC Remix by arranger “Dr. Manhattan” that takes the absurdity of the game to heart:

Enjoy.

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About sinclairvox

Nate Ewert-Krocker has been both a gamer and a writer since he was very small. He believes that gaming, as a medium, deserves to be considered and chronicled with the same level of detail and attention as the rest of our pop culture. He's also an author! You can check out his fiction at www.silentworldpress.com. And, of course, the ol' Google+

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