Hogan's Alley
  • Genre:
    • Light Gun Shooter
  • Developer:
    • Nintendo
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    NES
    • JP 06/12/1984
    • US 10/18/1985
    • UK 12/15/1987
    Arcade
    • JP March 1985
Score: 65%

This review was published on 10/05/2016.

Hogan's Alley is a light gun shooter video game published and developed by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was originally released in Japan on June 12, 1984, North America on October 18, 1985, and Europe on December 15, 1987. This was a launch title for the NES in North America. An arcade version of the game called Vs. Hogan's Alley was released in Japan in March 1985. If you're wondering where the name comes from, it's based on a real life location actually called Hogan's Alley, which was a shooting range on the grounds of the Special Police School at Camp Perry. This location served as a training facility for the National Guard of the United States, though the Special Police School closed down during World War II. Coincidentally, in 1987, three years after the release of the Hogan's Alley video game, the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia established a simulated city called Hogan's Alley to serve as a training ground. Now that you know about the name, how's the game? Well, it's playable, but a little boring.

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Like Duck Hunt and Wild Gunman, this game uses an accessory for the NES known as the NES Zapper. The NES Zapper is basically a controller shaped like a laser gun from one of those cheesy sci-fi movies. A bundle called the Nintendo Action Set came out in North America at some point, and it contained the NES, NES Zapper, and a cartridge with Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt, though the Zapper was also sold separately. Either way, the NES Zapper is known as a light gun, which means it has the ability to detect light. This wondrous device allows players to physically point at their television screens to shoot virtual targets within the game. The downside is that it doesn't work on any modern TVs like LCDs and plasmas, so an old fashioned CRT is necessary to use it. Of course, that wasn't much of a downside in the mid 1980s, considering CRT TVs were the norm back then.

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In this game, you play as an FBI agent in training. To prove that you have what it takes to join the FBI, you'll have to go through several training courses, with one of them being the aforementioned Hogan's Alley. In the primary modes of play, you'll be shooting cardboard cutouts of criminals as they pop into the screen. However, you also have to make sure not to accidentally shoot the cardboard cutouts of cops and civilians. You can't hesitate too much, though, because you have a small window of opportunity to shoot all the criminal cutouts before they get away. If you fail to shoot the criminals in time, you'll earn a "miss." Accidentally shooting cops and civilians also counts as misses, and if you get ten, then the game is over. And that's it, really. All the game modes are limitless, so you just keep playing until you either get bored or get a Game Over. The former is likely to happen much sooner than the later.

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There are three modes to the game, and Game A is the first one. In Game A, you're shooting cardboard cutouts in a shooting range, which is where this activity is normally done in real life. The cutouts will slowly slide in from one side of the screen, flip over to reveal what they are, then go to the other side of the screen to make their exit. At the top of the screen is a number that signifies how long you have to shoot the criminal cutouts before they "escape." The bottom of the screen lists your score, how many times you've missed, and the current round. Only three cutouts show up per round, and as mentioned before, there are infinite rounds. This mode is honestly pretty boring. All you really have to look forward to here is the different cutouts, of which there are only six kinds; three are criminals, two are civilians, and one's a cop. The main challenge here is to not fall asleep from the boredom.

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Game B is, obviously, the second mode at your disposal. You're still shooting cardboard cutouts in this one, but it's a fair bit more interesting, because it takes place outside of the shooting range. To be more specific, this mode is set in the titular Hogan's Alley. There's a lot more variety here, because there are different buildings with windows and fences. The cutouts will pop up from different parts of the scenery, like from the windows and background. Additionally, each round is comprised of five different sections, and they all feature different scenery. The screen smoothly scrolls from one landscape to the next every time you shoot enough cutouts, which is a nice effect. All the rules are the same as in Game A, meaning you have to avoid shooting cutouts of civilians and cops, plus you still have ten misses before the game ends. Game B is a lot more challenging than Game A, but it's also a lot more fun.

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Game C is the third and final mode of this here game. For once, you aren't actually shooting cardboard cutouts in this mode! This mode is called the Trick Shot, because you'll be doing some tricky shooting. Cans will be thrown into the air from the right side of the screen and it's your job to guide them towards the platforms on the left of side of the screen by shooting them. Depending on which platform they land on, you'll be awarded a different amount of points. Once thrown, cans will slowly fall downwards, and they get knocked upwards for a short distance whenever you shoot them. If you allow any cans to fall to the bottom of the screen, that'll count as a miss. There are five cans per round and the game ends after you miss ten. The only criticism I have of this mode is that there's no background; it's just a black screen. Shooting cans is pretty entertaining, though, because there's some actual strategy to it.

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So yeah, this game mostly consists of shooting cardboard cutouts. Technically, this is one of the only truly nonviolent video games out there, because you're merely shooting inanimate objects. I mean, the cutouts do represent people, so it still symbolizes violence, but nobody actually gets hurt. In any case, it's kind of boring. If it weren't for the Game B and C modes, then Hogan's Alley would have nothing going for it. It's a good way to test out the NES Zapper's aiming capabilities, but not much fun.

Word Count: 1,109

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