In 1990, Mad Dog McCree was an arcade light-gun shooting game that drew attention for presenting itself in the style of a live-action Hollywood Western through the use of Laserdisc technology. It would then go on to be released for the SEGA CD, PC, 3DO, and other platforms of the ’90s. In 2011, over 20 years later, it is an abomination of an iPhone game that’s a complete waste of time and money.
When it was first released, the game got by more on account of being a novelty than by being an engrossing gameplay experience. The acting ranges between passable and cheesy, depending on how much dialogue a character has to deliver. And you will be seeing a lot of it, as the game hails from the era when developers thought that the advent of the CD-ROM meant that the future of video games belonged to low-budget movie-like experiences which would occasionally require input from the player.
So realistic you can almost smell his breath.
The premise of the game is a cookie-cutter Western, wherein a band of outlaws led by the notorious and eponymous Mad Dog McCree has stormed into town, locking up the sheriff and taking the mayor and his daughter hostage– in effect, taking over the whole place. As a wandering gunslinger who has just come into town, the people look to you for salvation.
Menus aside, the game plays out entirely in video, and it falls to you to shoot the right people at the right time, lest you be shot yourself. The game says not to shoot until your opposition is ready, but all that does is leave you dead after the video disjointedly shifts to the reel of footage of you being shot, accompanied by an amusing busted camera lens effect.
Unfortunately, you’re likely to see this a lot, as the game tends not to be very accurate. Sometimes you’ll get a shot off, though at other times it seems as though the interface doesn’t even realize you’re touching the screen. This is sometimes due to the need to shoot something besides your enemies, but the game doesn’t give you the faintest of hints.
On top of that, replaying some situations makes more outlaws creep into the picture, often in a different order than your last encounter, meaning that memorization is out. This is worsened by the fact that it can be very difficult to even see an enemy peering out from behind their cover until it’s too late, or that one of those bits of movement turns out to be an innocent, not that you can tell.
He sure is mad.
As a result of your inevitable failure, you’ll be spending a lot of time looking up at the doctor, or undertaker, or whoever it is that spends his time talking over near-dead bodies. Fortunately, he gains a new bit of dialogue with each life you lose. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for those in each scene you’re forced to endure again and again and again with each new life, waiting for the moment of truth to arrive. It’s a vicious cycle… well, vicious to the player, anyway.
There are some amenities included with this version. In addition to some admittedly good-looking video footage, you have a classic arcade-style mode and a “casual” mode, each with Easy and Normal difficulties (though we couldn’t tell much– if any– difference). The former gives you little clues as to what to do and when, while the casual mode at least provides a sort of timer that indicates when you need to shoot before you eat lead yourself. On the plus side, you’re given five lives to lose at a time versus the original game’s three.
Mad Dog McCree is just not a very good game, and serves better as a historical curiosity. It doesn’t help that it’s priced at $4.99 on the App Store. Unfortunately, even if this version of the game were playable, the fact is that it isn’t very long. It was designed as a quarter-muncher back in the days when games were made to make money for their owners one coin at a time, but even if you manage to pull it off, the experience is short. Trial-and-error aside, a clean run would take you in the ballpark of around ten minutes to complete.
If you’re still unsure, you can check out a more playable version of the game on the Wii (and with less replayed footage), as played by Taco Man, here.