Top Shot Arcade – Review
I’m no stranger to gun games. From Duck Hunt to Operation Wolf to Police 911 and Time Crisis, besides aging myself, it shows I know what a good light gun title can be. I’ve been looking for one on the Wii for a while now. Activision and (the now defunct) Budcat Creations recently released Top Shot Arcade for Nintendo’s system. It’s an arcade shooter, heavy on the hunting and, despite a lot of the advertising, light on the humor.
Top Shot arcade is an aim-and-fire title that let’s players pick one of five big game types, each with 3 difficulties, to hunt and bag anything with antlers. Points are earned by taking down as many males of the chosen species, along with occasional duck, squirrel and mountain lion. Accuracy counts for higher scores and your performance after each round is rated and a medal awarded. Accolades are also assigned for special achievements. Pretty straight forward arcade style shooting.
On the plus side, the minimalistic hunting level environments are lush and lighting is used to great effect, representing the area of the country you’re supposed to be hunting in as well as the time of day with beautiful results. Similarly, the animals that dart across the screen have a sense of realism to them, at least visually, not necessarily in how they move. Activision clearly had family gaming in mind because there is no blood. Instead, a hit results in a small black and white mark on the animal where the shot connected. Kills are represented by the animal flashing the color of the player (in single player, it’s appropriately red) and a yelp as the animal falls to the ground and disappears. Bonus games earned after completing each locale can be fun: firing at bulls-eyes caught in a tornado, blasting a trailer into trash or protecting a building from zombie critters.
On the minus side, this isn’t a light gun game. It’s not the fault of the developers, but the nature of the Wii. Aiming like you would aim a real gun will not result in high scores, so you must rely on moving the reticule around the screen for accurate shots, not unlike using a mouse. In Top Shot Arcade’s case, you aim the Wiimote (moving the targeting reticule) and fire using the C or Z buttons on the Nunchuk. You MUST reload after every shot by hitting the B trigger on the Wiimote. The control scheme makes sense when using one of the extra Top Shot peripherals, but it tends to be a little awkward if you’re using the Wii Zapper. Anyone using other gun accessories might be completely out of luck because the physical triggers on many of them pull the Wiimote trigger, which only reloads. The control scheme cannot be changed.
Keep two things in mind when buying the bundle pack that includes the Top Shot Elite accessory: The site mounted on the gun has no effect on accuracy (see above) and the the Fore-stock (the pump-action grip used to reload) is going to have its work cut out for it. You have to reload after every shot, regardless of how much ammo you have and since the shotgun is the only gun available in the game, there’s going to be a lot of pumping (pause for teenage giggling). It’ll be especially trying when rapid fire becomes the name of the game for many of the bonus levels. Even just using the raw Wiimote and Nunchuk, rapidly firing and reloading in succession to fight back waves of targets became a strain on the wrist.
Multiplayer seems like a place for this title to shine, but it can quickly turn into a fuster cluck. As I mentioned, you aren’t actually ‘aiming’ your gun, but moving a symbol around the screen to find your target. Even with two players and different colored reticules, it gets difficult to track who is who on screen which can suck the competitive fun out pretty quickly. You are given the option to play with a single controller, taking turns to compete for better scores but that just slows things down. The single player campaign can be blown through in just a few sittings, probably about 4-5 hours of gameplay, and you’ll need to dedicate the time if you want to unlock the bonus levels.
Top Shot Arcade gets points for being a mildly entertaining, mostly on rails shooter that is value priced (if you opt out of the gun bundle) that’s pretty safe for the young hunter, if that’s your cup of tea. Its 75 advertised levels are largely repetitive though. A wider variety of weapons, less animal hunting and more levels like those of the bonuses would have made it measurably more entertaining. Even the ability to customize the control scheme could have accounted for an extra point or two.