Gotcha! The Sport! (NES)

A few days ago I was on my computer just playing random games on my NES emulator. You know, just relaxing after work. That’s when I stumbled upon an amazingly fun game I had never heard of, Gotcha! The Sport! It was so much fun I had to find it online so I could buy it right then and there. I do have a rule that I only review games that I physically own, so “In the mail” is going to have to qualify as “Own” for this one, because I just have to write about it. This is going to be the fastest turn around between discovering a game and reviewing it I think I will ever do.

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Anyway, Gotcha! The Sport! is a light gun game for the NES. This means even when the game does arrive, I can’t really play it. Not without digging out an old CRT TV first. Even without being able to use an actual Zapper to play the game, using the computer mouse is just as fun. I don’t want to get too deep into the game here in the intro, so let me just wrap things up by saying I may have found one of LJN’s only good games. But don’t just take my word for it, let’s see what the game really has to offer.

Gameplay

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Like I said before, the game is a light gun game, like Duck Hunt or Hogan’s Alley. But unlike those games, there is a lot more to this game than simple target practice. In Gotcha, you are playing a game of paintball with “Capture the Flag” rules. After picking your difficulty level, you’ll be thrown into the woods and be forced to defend yourself as you try to capture your opponent’s flag.

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Of course, since you’re playing capture the flag you can’t really just stand in one place. You actually have to move around, and this is one rather long stretch of woods. So in one hand you have the controller, allowing you to move the screen left and right, while in the other hand you have your light gun, or in my case computer mouse. For the time, I can’t think of any other games that actually tried to build a real game around the light gun mechanic.

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As you travel to the right side of the woods, you’ll constantly be attacked by members of the other team. You’ll also be attacked by members of your own team for some reason. Actually I’m not sure if there even are teams. There clearly appear to be two different team colors, but EVERYONE is trying to shoot you, so I guess you’re on your own team.

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Also, you might be the only person with a paintball gun while everyone else has real guns. Whenever you shoot someone, they are visibly covered in paint before they run off. You on the other hand receive a giant gaping hole of a splash screen. Clearly you have been shot in the face and are now lying dead on the ground.

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Regardless of what dangers you’ve exposed yourself to, the objective remains the same. Travel to the far right end of the woods to capture the opponent’s flag. Then make the trek all the way back to your own flag on the left end of the woods. Hang their flag up on your own pole and congratulations, you’ve won.

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Now that you’ve proven yourself to be the master of the woods, we move our battlefield into the big city. The objective remains the same, but the enemies have been changed. Now instead of people in camouflage, you’ll be shooting at what looks like a biker gang. Again I can’t help but wonder if maybe you’re the only person playing paintball.

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Here in the city, the opponents have a lot more protective cover as they shoot at you from the upper floor windows. This makes them a somewhat smaller target which means they’re harder to hit. There are also a lot of areas which allow them to walk behind buildings, making it impossible to hit them. For most enemies this isn’t an issue. But when they grab your flag, shooting the flag bearer can become difficult.

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Conquer the big city, and once again we will have a change of scenery. Now we find ourselves out in the snow filled fields with snowmen and a cozy cabin in the woods. This level feels a lot more similar to the woods we started in, and thus feels a bit easier than the city we just left. However, because I’m playing on an emulator, this area was extra difficult because the crosshairs of my mouse would become lost in the snow.

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After you manage to capture the flag in the snowfield, you’ll find yourself back in the woods we started in. From here on out, the game will just continue looping between the three different stages until you either lose or quit. You only get three lives before a game over, but these lives are restored at the start of each stage, so you actually could go on for quite a while. You’re also barely punished when you do die since you resume play almost exactly where you died, and still in possession of the flag if you already had it. So have some fun and happy hunting.

Verdict

Gameplay – 7 / 10

With only three stages, there isn’t a lot of content in the game. However, as a light gun game, it actually is fairly impressive. The combination of using the controller and the light gun simultaneously is something I’m not aware of seeing again until the Playstation 2. Usually you’re just standing still shooting at targets. Even if you are moving it would usually be on rails with very little control over your movement. As for the gameplay itself, there are constantly targets on screen, making it a very exciting game. The hit detection was also generally really good, but I did notice that it gets a bit wonky if you’re shooting while moving. I know I couldn’t really get the full experience since I was playing on an emulator, but I’m actually really tempted to set up a TV just so I can.

Graphics – 8 / 10

For the NES, I can’t really complain about the graphics. The environments were very well detailed with some nice little touches, such as the snowmen in the snowfield area. There was also a good sense of depth with multiple size enemy sprites. The inclusion of more levels would have been nice, but I can’t really complain about what was presented.

Audio – 7 / 10

Like the gameplay, the audio is suffering mostly from lack of content. The soundtrack is rather good for the NES, but you’ll be hearing the same couple of songs for the whole game. Honestly though, it doesn’t really matter. I was so focused on shooting that I hardly noticed the music. And like I said, it’s good music for the NES.

Story – N/A

There’s no story that I saw. But you’re out playing paintball, you don’t really need a story. There might be an interesting story here for your obituary. All about how you were killed when you decided to shoot paintballs at military personnel and biker gangs, but that wasn’t covered in the game.

Total Playtime – 0h 15m

With only three different stages, you’ll see pretty much everything the game has to offer in just a few minutes. However, that doesn’t stop the game from being fun and addicting for quite a while.

Total Deaths – 5 Deaths

The three lives per stage you are given are usually going to be more than enough. It’s the snowfield that ended up getting me. I couldn’t see my crosshairs most of the time. But that is a problem that would be nonexistent if I could play it for real with the light gun.

Overall Score – 7.5 / 10

I’m giving this game a relatively low score mostly for lack of content. However, I want to stress that I really loved playing this game. I love light gun games in general, so I might be a bit biased, but this one was really fun. The fact that it had actual gameplay as opposed to the usual target practice really elevated it towards the top of my list for light gun games. Then the sheer number of enemies kept the game exciting from start to finish. Lack of content or not, I had a great time playing this game and I simply can’t wait to hook up my old CRT TV so I can enjoy the full experience. I suggest you do the same if you’re capable.

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Shoot all the people!!!

 

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