Witness the Wily Adventures of Mayor McCheese and Bert!
Accosted by Weird Criminals? Afraid of Scary Leaves? Antagonized by Fierce Cow Targets? Well, no need to be cowering in the corner of the living room clutching your security blanket anymore, ’cause it’s payback time. Dr. Don and Dr. Dan, fearless adventurers, have journeyed to the mysterious Point Blank Island. Weird Ninjas and Scary Yellow Balls block their every move. Their only solution: whip out their trusty handguns (no good explorer works without one) and blast almost anything that moves. Sound simple? Well, only against the weird targets.
Point Blank is perhaps one of the strangest games to come down the pipe in quite some time. With the release of their new light gun, the Guncon, Namco seems to be taking a closer look at that classic form of console entertainment. The 8-bit Nintendo had a light gun almost immediately. With classic games like Duck Hunt and Hogan’s Alley, people could shoot things all day and never be arrested. Crime was at an all time low, and old people could walk the streets of New York at night without fear of being mugged. Well, not really . . . but Duck Hunt was still a great game. No real light gun games were released for the 16 bit systems, and society went into the crapper again. The 32-bit systems have brought this genre back to life. Sega released Virtua Cop 2 and Sony had a strong showing with Die Hard Trilogy and now Time Crisis. Both of these were great, but none captured the true nature of the earlier games. Point Blank, for better or for worse, has truly captured (and shot) the spirit of those original games.
Point Blank is, at its most basic, Hogan’s Alley. It is a target based game. The humans don’t look like humans, and all the animals have a cartoony quality to them. The goal is to finish each round with a certain number of targets blown to itty-bitty bits. The games range from shooting ninja cut-outs, to target practice on a human score target, to shooting a fly that is buzzing around a room of priceless antiques. The difficulty is from easy to downright impossible. Point Blank is guaranteed to improve the latent marksmen in all us gamers.
So what is so fun about target shooting? Well, frankly, everything. There are over 70 different target games within Point Blank, giving it the most replay value of any recent game I’ve played. The multi-player is a blast, bringing out the competitive gun-toting maniac in all of us. There are also party versions of the game, so you can play with all your friends and see who is the best person to climb to the top of a clock tower and teach society a lesson.
The one drawback to the multiplayer in Point Blank is that you need another Guncon to play. Though the Guncon is extremely accurate (due to the fact that it connects to the video leads from the Playstation), it would have been nice of Namco to allow other light guns that are already on the market to work with Point Blank. That’s right – if you buy Point Blank, you have to buy the one that comes with the Guncon. It will not work with any other light gun. Sly Corporate Devils…wish they were targets . . .
Another interesting feature to Point Blank is the first ever gun-based RPG. Yes, you heard me correctly. You play as Dr. Don and Dr. Dan in search of the legendary “Gunball” hidden in five separate pieces on Point Blank Island. Happily enough, the designers didn’t take themselves too seriously when making the RPG. It makes fun of itself and other Pop media icons as you trek throughout the Island (Just ask Yoko Oh-No). The only drawback of the RPG mode is that it seemed like an afterthought. So much more could have gone into it, making it a truly bizarre RPG. But instead, it just becomes a way to play the target games in a different fashion. All the easy targets are called Weird, the moderate targets are Scary, then comes Fierce, then you just get your butt whooped. All in all, it was a great idea, but needed more development. Hopefully, someone will run with the concept and create a stronger plot driven gun game.
Point Blank is one of the most genuinely fun games ever. Much like Saturn Bomberman, its graphics aren’t the best, and its plot is non-existent, but if you don’t have fun with this game, you should have your head examined.