"We were livin' a quiet life, when one day for no reason my wife and my
children were killed in cold blood! And I was woulded, unable to help.
Why this? Why US? Why? I won't let them get away with it. I'll get
every last one of 'em!"
The opening shot pans across a board of the wanted posters of the
gang that killed your family - Doug, Landolf, Hawk, Marry, Bull,
Riston, Pac-Brothers, Lloyd, Smith, and Gas. You start out at the
local town, and trek your way across the wildnerness of the old west
to gun down these criminals. Sound like a serious, gritty western?
Well, it would be except for all the goofy things that happen to you
when you don't shoot in time!
This is Badlands, Konami's laserdisc-technology arcade entry.
Badlands is strange in that it's a serious story with real villians
("They murdered my wife and child... Why, why...") but with humorous
death scenes. You walk across the screen on crutches, which break! Or,
a snake wraps around the legs of your horse, causing it to fall. Or, a
scorpion gives you a haircut. All the levels take place in the wild
west, except for a level where you enter a cave full of bats only to
emerge on the other side in some kind of prehistoric jungle. Shades of
Hologram Time Traveller...
This game takes the simple approach to gameplay. To play, insert a coin
and hear the "clinking" sound effect. You'll notice a light on the cabinet
to tell you when to shoot. Your controls are simply one big button that you
press to fire, accompanied by a "gunshot" sound effect. Often times you shoot
as soon as you see the target, such as an ememy popping up, but more often,
shots need to be timed. It's more difficult than you'd think! For instance,
if you shoot too early in a showdown you may end up in jail or hanged. Too
late, and you'll see a 1-foot wide hole in your torso. Sometimes a crosshair
wanders around the screen, giving you only a few opportunities to hit your
target. Sometimes you need to shoot attacking animals. If you shoot that
snake at any other time than when it lunges at you, you'll die very strangely
- the snake will tie itself around the legs of your horse and trip you! You
can see the effects of missing the scorpion; it gives you a haircut. If you
lose a life you're treated to one of two scenes - you walking across in
crutches which break causing you to fall on your face; or you being carried
in a gurney waving a red-cross flag, while the medics turn and mug to the
camera with a "ca-ching!" sound played. How odd!
You might see that this game has strangely comic scenes for having such
a dead serious story. Actually, the only story is that you'll see all the
bad characters of the gang at some point in the game, and you can shoot them.
Some levels are very strange for a western themed game. You travel into a
tunnel and come out the other side finding yourself in a dinosaur inhabited
jungle! After that level, you wander up to a cabin and see a young lady run
out. Sometimes she trips over a rock, and turns into a giant witch-like
monster! Confused yet? Finally, if you're good enough to play through the
entire game, you're not treated to much of an ending. In fact, the ending
animation is played in the attract mode!
Badlands, a very quirky game that I only saw once in the arcade, in a
very battered cabinet that half-worked. I'm assuming it's pretty rare. If
it was a Sega game, I'd definitely think it was the basis for Time Traveller!