Reviews Archive
         
  Sunset Riders  
   
 
 
 
  Graphics  
         
    SNES Mega Drive  
         
     
   
         
     
   
         
     
   
         
     
   
         
  Detail  
 

SNES - All things considered the graphics look great, obviously it's been downgraded from the arcade version somewhat but it still retains the look very well, with pretty good textures, a lot of environment details like barrels, bucket's and trough's and some excellent water effects (especially the river in the 1st level which looks very high quality)

One issue I do feel is worth mentioning though is that many aspects of the graphics have been sanitized, the women are now wearing long dresses instead of the questionable attire they had on before, the American Indians have been removed and replaced with the generic cowboy sprites, and your character is no longer set on fire and burned to death.

Mega Drive - When looking at the base detail and effects what we have is very uneven. Some of the levels have an awful lot of effort put into them, and actually have better detail than in the SNES version, a good example of this would be the second stage on the train, which has a helluva lot more detail going on in the backgrounds, and superior parallax (there's even foreground parallax with cacti), on the other hand though some of the other stages (such as the Indian level) are so scrappy that they look unfinished, with poor textures, fuzzy sprites and graphical elements that generally just don't blend into each other as well as they should.

The last important thing worth mentioning is that the textures are definitely worse here, much of the time there isn't really any ground texture at all and the wood texture for the houses and such is noticeably cruder.

Other than that the view has changed from being a little to the side to being straight on.

 

 
   
  Winner Is: SNES  
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  Colour  
 

SNES - Very impressive overall. There are loads of colours being used, and the colour choices manage to look relatively close to those of the arcade version too.

Mega Drive - It's not bad, but there's an instantly noticeable drop in the number of colours being used onscreen in comparison to the SNES version, and the colours that are there don't fit as well (The skin colour isn't quite skin coloured, the wood colour isn't quite wood coloured etc).

 
   
  Winner Is: SNES  
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  Animation  
 

SNES - Pretty good animation across the board, the standing animations are especially noteworthy as they contain a lot of frames and many different actions.

Mega Drive - Acceptable animation. The walking looks a bit stiffer here, and for the most part there's fewer frames and less attention to detail going on (for example the gun doesn't recoil when you shoot like it does on the SNES).

Standing animations are much worse than before as half the actions have been cut.

 
   
  Winner Is: SNES  
  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  
  Scrolling  
 

SNES - Perfectly smooth scrolling

Mega Drive - Like the SNES this has perfect scrolling, but there are also more layers of parallax.

 
   
  Winner Is: Mega Drive  
 
 
  Sound  
     
  Music  
 

SNES - Very high quality tunes that fit the theme of the game well, many of which are quite catchy and memorable..

Mega Drive - Generally this is like the SNES version but in slightly lower quality.

 
   
  Winner Is: SNES  
  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  
  Sound FX  
 

SNES - Good FX and Loads of fairly impressive voice samples.

Mega Drive - The sound effects here are worse pretty much across the board (even the gunfire doesn't sound much like gunfire any more), but even saying that they still do an acceptable job.

Unfortunately all of the voice samples for the bosses are sadly missing (though on the upside there's one new sample "thank you nice boys" spoken by the women after they are rescued at the end of each 1st stage).

 
   
  Winner Is: SNES  
     
Gameplay

Sunset Riders plays like your average Contra style run n' gun game with the high jump from Rolling Thunder/Shinobi added on, it has you moving through a wild west setting shooting the enemies and collecting weapons power-ups which either give you a second gun or the ability to rapid fire. One of the more notable aspects of the original was the fact that it had a 4-player co-op which was quite rare for the time (the 4-player mode is missing from both ports).

SNES - The gameplay here is relatively accurate to the arcade game, but its sadly missing the 4-player co-op, and the it's more difficult due to the fact that you get put back to the start of the level when you use a continue (which I actually take quite an exception to as dying on a boss only to be put back to the start is frustrating as hell and doing each level with 3 lives can be tough), thankfully however this does not happen in 2-player mode.

The biggest exception to accuracy within the levels is the aforementioned Level 5, which has replaced the Indians with generic cowboys (the Indians actually had different moves so this changes the gameplay of that stage somewhat).

Mega Drive - This version has loads of very big changes. Only half of the arcade levels were converted here, but the levels that were converted have been lengthened and split into two stages each (basically the level progression goes Level 1 -> Level 4 -> Level 5 -> New Level). The last level has been completely replaced by an original stage in which you're storming a mansion in the rain whilst being attacked by dogs, this level whilst pretty good, doesn't really do anything new. The changes to the level progression have the affect of making the game pretty much the same length as the SNES version but much more lacking in variation by comparison.

The bonus stage where you have to shoot as many enemies as possible has been replaced by a horseback riding stage where you have to catch items being thrown by a carriage, the new bonus stage is fairly fun to play, I'd say that though very different it's still pretty much as fun as the original.

The last drastic change has been made with the boss of the train stage as El Greco has been replaced with Paco Loco (The boss from arcade/SNES level 6) Paco's moves don't fit in well with the new environment.

Where it comes to the main gameplay. Bullets travel faster here making them much harder to dodge, and unfortunately making this version cheaper, and less fair (it's more based around trial and error), and shooting the Dynamite now detonate's it which has mixed consequences (yes it's cool to time the detonation to blow up the enemies but it's much less helpful when you're already firing and dynamite's thrown into your line of fire next to you)

On the upside the Indian level (SNES level 5) is actually much more accurate to the arcade than the SNES version as it retains the indians who fire flame arrows (the SNES version replaces them with cowboys), it's bridge section drops as you walk across it, and the lift section has also been retained (this was replaced in the SNES version by a hand over hand rope section). You also now have a stand-still-and-aim ability which is very helpful in certain situations, and is definitely a good addition (as it means you can fire diagonally without walking in that direction)

 

Winner Is: SNES
 
Presentation

SNES - This version has the fantastic Intro movie from the arcade

Mega Drive - Missing the aforementioned intro.

Winner Is: SNES
 
  Misc  
 

SNES - Skid is mapped to a button, it doesn't seem to make that much difference as it's pretty easy to skid with either controls to be honest.

Mega Drive - In the MD version you only have the choice of picking either Billy or Cormano as the other two characters are unavailable. You have to collect stars during the stages to access the bonus game. There's a new two-player Vs mode added to this version which is kinda' alright but very lacking in longevity as it gets boring pretty fast.

 
   
     
  Conclusion  
 

The Mega Drive version of Sunset Riders feels very much like a game that had a difficult development, one that probably took longer than expected and subsequently had to be rushed with compromises to meet deadlines. Take for instance the fact that the two horseback riding levels are missing, but suddenly we have a new bonus stage with horseback riding that seems to be similar to the start of the original level two, maybe they started to create the second level ran out of time and converted the code into the new bonus stage? Or how about the fact that the boss of the train level has been swapped with one from a later (now missing) level, did they add him to the train level simply because his programming was already finished whilst the level to go with him was unable to be completed in time? The last thing I feel points to this being the truth is the general inconsistency of the graphics, level 2 looks as though it's actually going above and beyond the call of duty, whilst some other levels look fairly amateurish (after the second stampede in the first level look to the top half of the screen which is filled with detail and compare it to the bare, untextured bottom half of the screen which has barely even a rock to speak of gives a very inconsistent picture of the graphics).

So in closing the Mega Drive version has an unfinished feel to it, and is inferior to the SNES version in most aspects, though it's actually still pretty good all things considered.

 
  Overall Winner Is: SNES  
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