Barker Bill's Trick Shooting
  • Genre:
    • Light Gun Shooter
  • Platform:
    • NES
  • Developer:
    • Nintendo
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • US August 1990
    • UK 06/27/1991
Score: 65%

This review was published on 10/07/2016.

Barker Bill's Trick Shooting is a light gun shooter video game published and developed by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was originally released in North America in August 1990 and Europe on June 27, 1991. There's a dog in this game, but Barker Bill isn't his name. If you're wondering about that name, it's because the game is based on an old cartoon created by Paul Terry in 1952 called Barker Bill's Cartoon Show. Paul Terry is better known for being the one responsible for classic cartoons such as Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle. In fact, Barker Bill's Cartoon Show was the first network television cartoon series. As for Barker Bill's identity, he was a fictional portly circus ringmaster with a handlebar mustache and he wore a fancy suit and top hat. He basically acted as the presenter, introducing all the different cartoons that would appear on the show. The reason his name is in this game's title is because he's in this game. Speaking of the game, it's okay, but loses its appeal quickly.

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This game utilizes a special NES accessory known as the NES Zapper. It's a controller in the shape of a silly sci-fi laser pistol. The gun-like controller was available for sale separately, but also came with the Nintendo Action Set bundle released in North America, which consisted of the NES Zapper, an NES, and a cartridge containing Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. Along with Wild Gunman and Hogan's Alley, Duck Hunt was one of the first games to support the NES Zapper. As for what it does, the NES Zapper gives players the ability to shoot virtual objects displayed on their television screens in real life. However, the NES Zapper's magic doesn't work on modern TVs like LCDs, as it requires the light emitted by a CRT TV to function. That wasn't an issue for people back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but is certainly a problem for us today.

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The overall game is broken up into several carnival-like mini-games, with the titular Barker Bill acting as the host. He looks suspiciously like Mario from the Super Mario Bros. series, though. Anyway, the first mini-game is called Balloon Saloon. This one is really simple, because all you have to do is shoot the balloons before they fly away. You have three bullets per balloon, so you have to be quick, but also accurate. After all the balloons for that round are gone, your score gets tallied and you move on to the next round. The game gets harder and harder as you move from one round to the next. You start off with ten lives and lose one each time a balloon manages to escape. Sometimes the dog from Duck Hunt will also show up, and shooting him also causes you to lose lives. It's possible to acquire more lives by shooting diamonds, which are contained within some of the balloons. There's no actual end to this game, so you just keep going until you lose every last one of your lives. Balloon Saloon is okay, but kind of boring.

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Flying Saucers is the second game on the list of games that you can play in this game. Here, Barker Bill and his attractive female assistant, Trixie, will walk onto the stage and begin throwing plates into the air. It's your job to shoot the plates before they hit the ground. You'll get three bullets every time they throw plates. Once you destroy enough, you'll move on to the next round, where things will obviously get more challenging. Like before, you begin with ten lives and lose one whenever a plate drops, and you can get more by shooting diamonds. Occasionally, a parrot will fly across the screen, and shooting this little guy also causes you to lose lives, so you have to avoid him. Again, you just continue playing until you exhaust your supply of lives. This game mode is a bit more exciting than Balloon Saloon, as seeing the plates shatter in midair is more exhilarating than watching balloons pop. Plus, aiming at the plates is a bit easier.

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Window Pains is the third game. With this game mode, you'll be looking at a bunch of windows, some of which are missing. Behind those windows, various objects will fall from above. Your objective is to shoot the objects before they reach the bottom of the screen, but you're unable to shoot through the windows. Therefore, you must wait for the objects to fall until they reach a windowless space, where you'll be able to finally shoot them. As with the other game modes, you get three bullets per object. After you go through enough objects, you'll go to the next round and do the same thing, only harder. The formation of windows will also occasionally change. All the other same rules apply; you've got ten lives and will lose one whenever an object is missed, and you can get more by shooting diamonds. This mode is also a bit of a snorefest, because aside from the window formation and speed of falling objects, nothing ever changes.

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Fun Follies is the fourth and final game mode. This one has you play one round of the previous three modes back-to-back, but it does contain a few unique mini-games of its own. After going through the first three rounds, you'll come to a new mini-game known as Trixie's Shot, which has Trixie prancing around a stage with disco lights, tossing coins and diamonds all over the place. The goal is to shoot the coins without shooting Trixie, though doing so is funny. If you got at least one diamond from Trixie, you'll get to play the slot machine for a chance to win extra lives. After that, you'll play the first three normal games again, but on the ninth round, you'll play another unique game called Bill's Thrills. For this one, Bill will throw stuff into the air like watermelons and tomatoes, and you have to shoot them before they land on Trixie's head. When that's done, the whole cycle begins anew, and you keep going until all your lives are gone. This is obviously the best mode on offer, as the combination of different games gives things more variety.

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Some of the modes on offer here are fun, but most are boring. Fun Follies mode does slightly make up for it, but it's merely a different way of enjoying the same content. While it's nothing groundbreaking, Barker Bill's Trick Shooting is a good way to get some fun out of the NES Zapper. The fun won't last long, however, as all the mini-games get stale after a few minutes.

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