CGRundertow HOGAN'S ALLEY for NES Video Game Review

Uploaded by CGRundertow on 30.12.2011

First off, I know what you’re thinking. But don’t worry, I’m not going to rip
my shirt off or challenge Mark to a steel-cage match (since he is the Big Boss Man, after
all). No one’s gonna get powerbombed through the Spanish announcers’ table. No, this
Hogan’s Alley was named for the shooting range of the National Guard’s Special Police
School, which shuttered after World War II. However, a successor to that range now operates
under the same name as part of the FBI’s academy in Quantico, VA. But this is an NES
game, and a launch title at that! So we’re going to be shooting at pixels.
The basic premise is simple: Shoot the gangsters, don’t shoot the cop, the lady, or the professor.
Issue one is fairly simple: I can understand the cop, but what are a soccer mom and teacher
doing in this kind of crime-stricken neighborhood? And two, who the hell is terrorized by cardboard
cutouts? That’s right, no shouts of pervasive violence against humanity here; everyone’s
as 2D as your average sitcom characters. As such, occasionally a target will come into
play side-on, refusing to reveal its identity until absolutely necessary. It’s as much
about reaction time and decision-making as it is about simply aiming the gun.
There are, like all the launch title Zapper games, three different modes to Hogan’s
Alley. The first puts you in a blue room with a lineup of three targets; they turn in unison
and you have to pick out the hostiles (with bullets) before a time limit of only a couple
seconds. The second mode gives you a more realistic cityscape, full of windows and fences
and whatnot from behind which the gangsters can strike. Finally, a “Trick Shot” mode
gives you a series of cans falling into the shot from the right side of the screen; you
have to shoot them out of midair and try to get them across the screen to the slots on
the left, collecting the indicated points for a successful traversal. In all modes,
10 misses, whether they’re shot civilians, unshot mobsters, or dropped cans - results
in a game over.
Hogan’s Alley is one of three zapper games that launched alongside the NES, and it amazes
me just how different the three can be, especially given their rather simple premises. While
Duck Hunt is focused on aim and accuracy, and Wild Gunman almost myopically on reaction
time, Hogan’s Alley treads a middle ground, more concerned with split-second decision
making. Anyone can shoot first and ask questions later, but then you have to explain why Little
Suzy deserved to die. And unless she’s carrying textbooks on quantum physics and you’re
Will Smith, chances are you’re not going to give a satisfactory answer.
If you’re watching all these NES launch title videos, chances are you’re an NES
owner, and that’s awesome. And I realize some of these are on the dry side. But Hogan’s
Alley is worth picking up regardless, if only to give the Zapper something else to do. I’m
tired of duck. I’d rather be Elliot Ness.