Mad Dog McCree hit the arcades way back in 1990, and mixed some speedy light gun fun with live action acted visuals to create a pretty unique and memorable experience. Even Gamesmaster jumped on the bandwagon, including Mad Dog challenges in the TV show which ingrained the game into the memories of most teenagers at the time. Since then the game has cropped up on a few platforms, but a few weeks back it was released onto the PS3 giving Move owners something else to wave their wands at. But is there space in the 21st century gaming home for something which is, rather frighteningly, 23 years old?
That depends on exactly what you’re looking for. The PS3 version of Mad Dog McCree surely exists purely for nostalgia purposes. There’s no brand-new graphs or interfaces, just an upscaled 720p version of an old arcade shooter. Younger gamers will load this up and wonder just what they’ve stumbled into – bad acting, some hilariously bad dialoge and graphics that despite being filmed with real actors in real locations, actually won’t impress people as mcuh as some current gen animated titles. Welcome to the world of early 90s arcade games! And yet those with a few more years under their belts will have a series of memory moments, those times when you see something that makes you grin as you see something that had long since been forgotten and stored in the “probably won’t need this again” file in your brain’s basement.
But rose tinted glasses themselves don’t make a retro arcade game worth playing – luckily there’s a fair few merits to the game that go beyond the maybe-intentioanlly-but-maybe-not comedy value. Firstly, this game is tough. Really tough. True, you can half-learn where the bad guys will pop up but some areas area super-tough. One area, which sticks in my mind as a result of spending about a week trying to get past it, has you facing a rocky area with bad guys popping up to shoot you. The target to aim for is tiny, to the point that you’re unlikely to hit them in time unless you see them duck out of cover at just the right time, and even then your aim needs to be spot on. Other moments, such as the quick-draw duals are tough as well, especially if you’re not using a gun attachment for your Move controller. It’s refreshingly unforgiving, but frustrating at the same time. A single shot is enough to pay a visit to the undertaker, who will always have some brilliantly smart advice to share with you. I defy you not to line your crosshairs up between his eyes…
There are some other decent moments too – getting into a mine involves shooting some objects hanging around outside the entrance, with the items you need to shoot changing each time. There are also a couple of practice mini-games, when someone will throw an item into the air for you to shoot. It’s like cowboy clay pigeon shooting, but with the same voice clip used just before each throw it’s far more repetitive if you need a few attempts. Generally it’s decent fun the first time round, and you can enjoy it again when you invite more people into the action, but that’s probably as far as it goes.
If nothing else, Mad Dog McCree is a strong reminder of just how hard games used to be. In a gaming world where success and achievements mean more to some gamers than the enjoyment of the game itself, you just don’t see games anywhere where being an inch off target is the difference between moving on, and having to pump another 20p into the machine. It’s a massive challenge, especially if you plan to get through in one sitting without using any continues on offer, but I’m not convinced it’s all that relevant nowadays unless you want a huge nostalgia hit. It’s more fun with more people and even more fun when playing with different language options enabled, but there’s little reason to play this several times over unless you want to perfect it in time to amaze your easily-amazed friends with your sharp shooting skills.
Reviewed on PS3