Released: June 1989
US Cartridge ID: NES-MU-USA
Genre: Beat ‘Em Up
Supported Peripherals: Controller, Zapper
ROM Size: 2 megabit
Mapper: MMC1 (128k PRG, 128k CHR)
Set in New Orleans and its surrounding environs, Konami’s The Adventures of Bayou Billy presents a violent love story through a curious amalgamation of several different game genres, including the classic beat ’em up, car racing with combat, and the first person light gun shooter. The tale begins with Billy, a man more at ease in the isolation of the untamed bayou than in the hustle and bustle of the city, recovering after taking out Bourbon Street’s notorious gang leader Gordon’s base of operations. While eating dinner with the love of his life, ex-beauty queen Annabelle Bon Vivant, Gordon’s thugs pull up to the house and open fire. Amid the chaos, they escape with Annabelle, taunting Billy to follow.
The Adventures of Bayou Billy begins in the swamps near Billy’s home, where he must kick and punch his way through hungry alligators, scuba divers, and an assortment of thugs wielding guns, knives, whips, and two-by-fours. Levels 3, 6, 8, and 9 follow this same style of game play, employing a simplified form of Double Dragon‘s fighting mechanics to facilitate Billy’s storming of Bourbon Street and Gordon’s plantation house and grounds. Levels 2 and 7 allow the player the use of either the Zapper gun or the standard controller in first-person shooting galleries taking place in the bayou and on Bourbon Street, much akin to the style of play featured in NES light gun shooters Operation Wolf and Freedom Force. Finally, levels 4 and 5 provide the racing portion, featuring a behind-the-car perspective and heavy artillery, making it similar to RoadBlasters, where Billy must avoid objects on and near the road while fending off enemy helicopters and cars with gunfire and grenades.
As with the great majority of Konami’s games, Bayou Billy carries with it a top-notch presentation. The graphics are excellent, with large, detailed sprites that move smoothly with little flicker, and the backgrounds in the beat ’em up portions effectively convey a sense of place, featuring tons of small architectural details that directly reflect the unique look of New Orleans and its surroundings. The shooting stages look good, despite the excessive amount of obvious tiling being used to cover large areas of the screen, with the large enemies purposely using foliage, fences, and other environmental assets to hide from Billy’s murderous view. The driving stages look relatively plain in comparison, but the effective use of scaling techniques to simulate the distance between oncoming hazards and Billy’s car serves its purpose. The sound easily holds up its own end of the presentation, featuring Konami’s typical heavy use of digital effects and drums to support the catchy melodies that play in the background. The sound effects are typical action game fare, but the DPCM voice samples are crystal clear by NES standards; Gordon’s laugh at the end of each inter-level cutscene is exceedingly creepy, nicely setting the tone for the upcoming action.
Though the control scheme for most stages takes its cue from Technos’ games like River City Ransom and the Double Dragon series, it is lacking much of the polish and depth that made those games play so well. Billy can kick, punch, jump kick, and use weapons, but never gets any combo moves or throws, nor does he have any defensive maneuvers. Simplicity isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the erratic hit detection allows hits that visibly connected to pass harmlessly through enemies, though the computer controlled opponents aren’t stricken with this difficulty. The shooter scenes controls are spot on, giving the ability to use either a D-pad aimed cursor or the Zapper – both reliable options. The car scenes fall between the extremes; the car can be difficult to steer around obstacles while aiming at cars and helicopters, but becomes much easier with some practice.
The primary problem with The Adventures of Bayou Billy is its difficulty level. While the Japanese version, Mad City, suffered from the same collision detection issues as the American one, the difficulty was perfectly reasonable and provided for a fun game. Mad City‘s driving stages require no sharp corners, power ups show up far more often, and more ammo is given in the shooting scenes. All enemies in the side scrolling sections take significantly more hits to kill in the US version than the Japanese, while they are capable of doling out much heavier damage per hit. The game is certainly not impossible to complete, but most won’t find it worth their effort nor the time.
What began as a good looking, fantastic sounding, fun and varied game was unfortunately turned into something that is so difficult that it lost most of its fun. Excluding masochistic hardcore gamers that adore hair-pulling frustration, most should seek out Mad City, and enjoy The Adventures in Bayou Billy in its original form.
|The Adventures of Bayou Billy
|マッド・シティ (Maddo Shiti) /