== Nixon Computer ==

GAME CLEAR No. 166 -- Sunset Riders

video games game clear konami arcade playstation ps4

Sunset Riders (1991, Arcade/Genesis/SNES)

Developer: Konami Gaming
Publisher: Konami
Clear Version: Arcade Archives release (2020, PS4/Switch)
Arcade Archives Developer: Hamster Corporation
Arcade Archives Publisher: Hamster Corporation
Clear Platform: PS5
Clear Date: 4/5/24


Why should I care?
This run-and-gun cowboy game has a reputation as a classic for a reason, but it’s up to you whether or not to tolerate some problematic portrayals.

On your color TV screen

Sunset Riders is one of those old, well-regarded games that has been on my to-do list forever. I finally picked up this arcade release on a whim a few weeks ago and knocked it out co-op with friends shortly after that.

The game has a lot going for it. You play as one of four colorful cowboys and run around the Wild West collecting bounties until you reach the big bad and defeat him. The game plays a bit like Konami’s own Contra, with the bullets flying fast and furious from friend and foe alike. It looks and sounds great, and it provides a great campy Western vibe.

As a coin-op, it’s designed to kill you constantly, but with modern emulation releases providing infinite quarters, this is really no issue. Deaths cost you no progress, and respawns are basically instantaneous. It’s a breezy co-op experience that can be easily played through with friends without worrying about lives, assuming you don’t care about that sort of thing as a matter of pride. And fortunately, there are still stakes anyway, as each boss awards massive bonus points to the player who damages him the most, providing for a little enjoyable competition between teammates.

So with somewhat cheap arcade design made moot in the home version, the only remaining stumbling block is that the Native American and Mexican boss characters in this game are pretty indisputably racist caricatures. They’re not like wildly out of pocket, at least by the standards of the time (however much that matters), but they’re still hard to ignore in what is otherwise such a lighthearded and fun experience. It’s a shame because the game is otherwise an easy recommendation for a mindless hangout co-op game, but I can’t in good conscience fully endorse it without mentioning that unfortunate fact.