Gumshoe (NES)

Gumshoe Box Art.

Gumshoe

System: NES

Release Date: August 1986

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Light Gun Shooter/Platformer

Gumshoe is the first hybrid game we’ve seen so far in our chronological NES journey. I came into Gumshoe blind, only seeing it was a Zapper game when I looked at the instruction manual. I tried honestly with this game. I’ve got an hour and a half of footage of me dying on the first two levels over and over for what probably amounts to a 15 minute playthrough. In order to beat this thing, I decided to abuse rewinding. I’m glad I did. I wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise.

The final boss. Shoot him in the eye with Stevenson’s machine gun, not the Zapper.

Gumshoe stars Stevenson, whose daughter Jennifer has been kidnapped by King Dom. You must collect five Black Panther diamonds to give to Dom in exchange for her safety. You find these diamonds in four levels. There is a 6 hour (minute) time limit on each level, during which Stevenson is constantly moving to the right. You shoot him with the Zapper to make him jump in order to collect balloons and avoid obstacles and pits.

Collecting balloons for bullets.

Level one is the land level. Stevenson must avoid getting hit by bottles thrown at him from off screen, while navigating around skull boxes which will kill him. The player shoots the Zapper at the bottles, lucky birds, and other enemies, like falling rocks, in order to keep Stevenson safe. Lucky birds show up at set points and when shot provide either a turkey or potion. The turkey gives points, while the potion turns Stevenson pink and gives him an extra hit point. If you’re lucky enough to collect five potions, Stevenson turns green and has five hit points.

Don’t worry, Stevenson can float jump as long as you shoot him!

Navigating the levels will bring Stevenson to the diamond. Be sure to collect them in order to free his daughter. Level two puts him in the sky. This level is more about avoiding falling into the pits, while keeping him away from the skull boxes. They can be placed in a way that is pretty tricky to navigate, but with practice, you’ll figure out the optimal path.

Jumping away from a shark on level three.

I got to level three, the ocean, once in a legit playthrough and was quickly eaten by a shark, sending me back to the beginning of the game. I couldn’t get the method for continues to work. That’s when I decided cheating would suffice. Overall, level three wasn’t as difficult to learn, it just took some quick shooting skills.

Bugs and bombs and Rhinos, oh my!

Level four was a jungle that tested every reflex one could have. There are birds that don’t give powerups, grasshoppers, invincible rhinos, and bombs that explode bits into the 8 major directions. I wouldn’t have gotten through this if it wasn’t for rewind. It was hard. Then, the final boss! Oh, the final boss. Stevenson is given a machine gun right before the final and starts shooting bullets at this cyclops looking dude. I got hit a stupid amount of times before finally killing him.

Handing over the diamonds to save my daughter.

The game finishes with Stevenson giving the diamonds to King Dom, getting his daughter… then starting all over again! The second time through looks to have more difficult enemies, but I couldn’t take anymore and tapped out. While writing this, it occurred to me that this could have been an inspiration for Flappy Bird, if you remember that mobile game from 2013ish. Avoid the obstacles by tapping your dude (with a gun in this case). If your timing sucks, too bad, start over.

Graphics: 2.5

I like the graphics, the sprites are big and decent looking. The stages are crisp, too.

Sound: 2.0

I like the song in stage one. The rest? Meh. The sound effects are fine.

Gameplay: 2.5

I actually like this concept and the way it comes through. Mixing the Zapper with a platformer was an odd idea, but I think it worked.

Difficulty: 3.0

The stages are fixed. One should be able to learn the patterns over time and win.

Fun Factor: 2.5

I’m not sure if I was having fun or I was just determined to not be defeated by the game. I’ll go slightly above average here.

Overall Grade: 2.5

I’ll give Gumshoe a C+/B-. It’s pretty innovative. It’s hard, but I kept coming back for more. I think that says all it needs to.

Gumshoe Video Review on YouTube

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