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A Black Falcon
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Default Tin Star

Developed by Software Creations
Published by Nintendo of America
Released in 1994 on the SNES in the US only (not released in other regions)

Tin Star is a light-gun game on the Super Nintendo. It is really a quite fun game, and definitely is very under-appreciated. It was developed by Software Creations (an American developer) and published by Nintendo (NOA particularly), and is single player only, unfortunately. It supports gamepad, mouse, or Super Scope; I played with the mouse, because it's vastly superior to pad in this kind of game.

The graphics are great and music good, definitely high-end SNES stuff. Parallax, great cartoony art designs, robot cowboys (all the characters are robots!)... It's got a plot too, with cutscenes between every stage, telling the often-funny story. The main character, Tin Star, is a heroic sheriff, trying to defeat the dastardly villains who want to take over the helpless town. They try to run him out of town, con people into throwing him out as sheriff, break villains out from jail, and more... a few times I thought that maybe there was a bit too much text, but you can skip cutscenes by pressing both mouse buttons together, so you don't have to watch them if you've seen them before or don't want to. The game is broken into seven stages, one for each day from Monday to Sunday. The game actually has SAVING, and you can save between each stage section (usually). There are three save slots. It costs money (points) to save, though, so if you want a good high score you might not want to save every time you can... but if you don't and then die, you'll be sent back farther. So it's got a good balance there for people trying to get a good high score, between saving more and getting more points.

The actual gameplay is consistently fun, with lots of variety for a light gun game. There are 'keep hitting up the bottle' minigames before each day. The stages involve shooting bad guys, but there are a variety of settings; some do repeat later in the game, but there are always new ones as well. The stages, and bosses, start out easy but get harder as you progress. In some you just see the target on the screen and shoot enemies (while protecting a building, say; you aren't being attacked in these stages, you just need to keep the enemies from succeeding at their task), in others you actually see Tin Star on the screen as he runs around through the stage. You can't control him, but it definitely adds something to actually see your character going around, and also makes it so that instead of just having to stop anything from hitting the screen, you have to keep things from hitting Tin Star. It works very well. At the end of each day you play a minigame-like boss fight in the form of a duel. In this you have to wait for the 'bullets' icon to appear on screen, click on it, and then click on the enemy before they fire. You'll have to hit each enemy six or eight times to win. It starts out very easy, but by the end you need split-second timing and very good aim to not get hit... this game would be so much harder without the mouse!

In addition, the game has three endings, depending on how much money you had at the end. You need a lot of money to get anything better than the bad ending though (750,000 for the medium ending, 1,000,000 for the good one), and that's not going to happen the first time you play. The best score I got during this play was 160,000 I believe. I saved every time I could, and your score resets each time you die and load your last save of course. Given that the game does have battery save, it probably will save the top 10 high scores, as well as those three save files, so there is reason to try to get better scores in addition to this.

There are some flaws, however. The game isn't that long -- I started and finished it today, and it only took a couple of hours at most. And other than trying on Hard or trying for a higher score (and different ending), there isn't much reason to play it again, and as I said at the beginning there is no multiplayer. Also it'd probably be a little frustrating at times without the mouse, as with most light-gun games. Those are the main problems with the game. Still, the good points more than outweigh them. The graphics are great, with a great cartoony style, multiple background layers, and plenty of variety. The music is good 'wild west' style stuff and works well. The saving is unexpected in a light-gun game and is a fantastic addition. And finally, it's very cheap and not particularly well known. All in all I'd definitely recommend that anyone who sees a copy for a few bucks should pick it up. Tin Star, if it is thought of at all, seems to be remembred as 'that other Wild-West-with-robots game, behind Wild Guns', but while Wild Guns is definitely a fantastic game, I think that that's selling Tin Star a little short. It's a great game on its own right. It's perhaps one of Software Creations' better games. Though my favorite game published by them will probably always be Hexxagon, this one is pretty impressive for something I didn't have high expectations for.

Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 8/10
Single Player - 8/10
Multi Player - N/A
Other/Value - 8/10

Overall: 88% (not an average). Tin Star is a game many more Super Nintendo owners should play, and is definitely one of the system's better light-gun games.
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