|Agustin Ortiz (Heuristica)
|One of only two 2600 games
to use the light gun.
Shooting Arcade is one of only two 2600 games to use the light gun
(Sentinel was the other), but was never released. This is a shame
because Shooting Arcade is a creative light gun target game similar to
the Point Blank series, and would have been unique among 2600 games. Interestingly it appears that Shooting Arcade was not developed in the US, but rather in Mexico by a company called Heuristica. How Axlon was invovled is unknown, but they may have simply sub-contracted the game out to Heuristica instead of doing it themselves.
Shooting Arcade is really made up of six different scenes that are put
together in different orders depending on the level you've selected. Each
scene has its own unique theme, rules, and objective, making Shooting
Arcade essentially six games in one. Depending on which skill level
you choose, the scene's attributes change to make it more or less difficult
and the timer at the bottom of the screen counts down more or less quickly.
The status bar at the top of the screen shows the number of shots
you have left, your current difficulty level, and the number of targets
left. You start each level out with a limited amount of ammunition
depending on the difficulty level (40, 10, 5, 2, or 1). You can
continue from the last screen you completed an infinite amount of times
by simply pressing the reset button. This is a handy feature as
the game get very hard at the later levels...
The six scenes are:
Colored Squares - Here you must shoot out all the colored squares
before the timer runs out. Starting on level 1 if you shoot and
empty area where a square would be, a new square appear and you'll have
to shoot it again! On level 4 the squares will all disappear after
you take your first shot, and you must memorize where all the squares
were before you start. The squares can briefly be seen when you
take a shot which helps a bit, but they will reappear if you shoot the
same area twice (as in level 1). Every square you successfully hit
will give you two extra shots.
Shooting Gallery - This scene is reminiscent of Imagic's Shooting
Gallery cartridge. Here you must shoot various carnival targets
such as glass pipes, ducks, milk jugs, colored squares, and dinosaurs?
The targets in the center area move at a fair clip (depending on
the difficulty level) and the pipes at the top can be very difficult to
hit making this scene one of the toughest in the game. Speaking of squares, you can shoot the colored squares at the
bottom of the screen to gain extra ammo if you're in need. To clear this scene you must successfully
shoot all the targets.
The Birds - This scene is only accessible from level 2 onward.
In this scene you must shoot all the black and white birds before
the timer runs out. The birds move with a up and down motion, but
follow a specific path around the screen so you can predict where they
will move. The background will change from black to white during
the course of the scene effectively camouflaging the birds making them
even more difficult to hit.
Target Practice - This scene is one of the hardest to complete,
since you begin with almost no ammo and the timer counts down lightning
fast. The concept of this scene is quite simple, you must shoot
the various birds which fly around the screen. Unlike the previous
scene, these birds only appear one at a time and they move very very fast.
The birds will wrap around from one side of the screen to the other,
so you can try and anticipate where it will appear next. This scene
is only accessible from level 3 onward.
The Demon - This scene is damn tough! You must shoot a
demon who randomly teleports around the screen. Since this scene
is only accessible on skill level 4 you start low on ammo and have almost
no time. If you shoot the demon enough times you will move onto
the final scene.
The Unicycle - This is the final scene in the game. Here
you must shoot the unicycle out from underneath a poor clown and watch
him fall to his death (ok so I made the last part up). Since the
unicycle is very thin and moves at a surprisingly fast clip, this scene
is nearly impossible to beat. Like the demon scene, this scene is
only accessible on level 4.
So why wasn't shooting arcade released? No one knows
the true reason, but one possibility is the horrid controls. The
light gun aim is so off it makes it almost impossible to hit something
by aiming directly at it. If your lucky enough to actually hit something,
it's almost a guarantee that you'll never be able to hit it again as the
shooting code is so buggy that shooting at the same spot three times in
a row will result in hitting three completely different areas of the screen.
This problem is really the death nail for Shooting Arcade, and ruins
what could have otherwise been an awesome game. Another possibility
is the late date of the game (1989), by 1989 Nintendo was all but king,
dominating everything in sight. It's doubtful that an Atari 2600
target shooting game would have sold in great numbers, and is probably
why Atari went with the more action oriented light gun game Sentinel.
If you can get over the flawed targeting system, Shooting
Arcade can be really fun. It's interesting to see just how much
programmers could squeeze out of the ancient 2600. A game like this
really pushed the poor old 2600 to its limits, and proves that a good
programmer can do wonders even on bad hardware. Don't think of it
as Shooting Arcade, think of it as Point Blank 0.5.
Shooting Arcd C300024-169A NTSC 9/18/5
Shooting Arcd C300046-169A PAL 1/16/90
|Final Version (PAL)
to 2600 Software