Genre: Light Gun Developer: Konami Publisher: Konami Players: 1-2 Released: 1994
Sometimes I really surprise myself. There are days that I can pick up a light gun and immediately be in the zone. Fast, accurate, and deadly; baddies don’t even get a shot off. For times like that, I play the first Lethal Enforcers because, let’s face it, if you aren’t at least partially in the zone, you won’t get past the first level. Other times, however, I need to warm up a little. Sometimes I don’t want to worry about being super accurate. Sometimes I just want to let the bullets fly and blow away some smack talking villains! Lethal Enforcers 2: Gun Fighters was made for just this purpose, especially the smack talking part, but more on that later.
If you ever owned a Genesis or walked into an arcade in the early ’90s, then you’ve probably heard of this series. If not here’s what you missed. The first Lethal Enforcers was a light gun game in the Dirty Harry motif released in arcades in 1992 and ported to the Genesis and Sega CD the following year. It was so successful that Konami released LE2 in 1994, set in the Old West. Both games are straight shooters (pun intended!); No story, no cut scenes, no background or fancy animations telling who you are or why you are after these guys. Just you, your gun, and a whole lot of bad guys.
Let’s start off with the good. The gun is incredibly accurate. I rarely if ever go into the gun alignment. If you are playing with a control pad, well then, you have my sympathies. LE2 controls very well with the pad, but it’s like joyriding a Ferrari in first gear. Where’s the fun and excitement?
Second, Konami wisely dropped the accuracy requirements that frustrated so many gamers in the first installment. You still move up in rank the more accurate you are, but advancing to the next level no longer depends on getting a certain accuracy percentage or whether or not you “accidentally” hit that brainiac lying on the bench in the middle of a gun fight. That’s right kiddies, shoot all the innocent victims you want!
The graphics are excellent, but not quite on par with the first game. The infamous limited Genesis color palette really comes through here. Be prepared to see a lot of different shades of brown. Everything is very realistic or real “rustic” as the case may be, but it feels more like you are playing through sets from a cheesy western movie with every tired stereotype you can think of. To be honest though, none of that bothered me too much. It is obvious that Konami spent most of its resources exactly where it should have, on great gameplay. Games that look amazing but aren’t any fun to play are practically a cliché at this point (I’m looking at you Ballz and Rise of the Robots!).
My biggest gripe with LE2 is the sound. There is no question about it; you will be reaching for the mute button here. The music is actually quite good and feels appropriate for the era, so it’s a shame they didn’t get more sound bites besides, “You ain’t gonna get me sheriff!” and “You can’t hit the broadside of a barn!” This would not be so bad if they didn’t use them every chance they got! In the first stage alone I must have heard them say each line a dozen times! Plus it seems to me that if I blow a hole in your gullet mid-sentence, do you really need to finish ridiculing me before you croak?
My other minor complaint is the boss battles. They look good, they are fun and challenging trying to shoot the boss while taking out whatever projectiles they are throwing your way, but they are so LONG! You will be switching shooting fingers/hands at least twice since you have to shoot them hundreds of times apiece!
So enough griping, let’s get to the important part. Is it fun to play or not? In a word: Abso-freaking-lutely! (wait-is that a word?) LE2 has more replay value than most of my other games put together! It is great stress relief at the end of the day shootin’ rascals, especially if you hunted down the second player gun like I did. Nothing beats an old fashioned shootout with a gun in each hand.
There are only five stages total with adjustable difficulty, but Konami upped the fun factor by adding bonus stages between levels such as shooting whiskey bottles at the saloon or an old fashioned gun fight. And what would a Lethal Enforcers game be without the extra weapons? You can get 50 caliber sharps, rifles, double rigs, shotguns, Gatling guns, and cannons. With a two player option, you can’t go wrong!
So listen here deputy, this is one humdinger of a shooter. Go grab your six guns and mount up!