PSN Review: Fast Draw Showdown



To say Fast Draw Showdown has aged well might be a little bit misleading. I mean, it still looks and feels very much like a ’90s laserdisc FMV arcade game, albeit at a much sharper, clearer resolution. But the outdated cheesy charm of terribly overacting cowboys shouting deliriously corny western puns at you (like a Native American proclaiming, “I got no reservations about shooting you!”) provides so much of the fun, and it’s surprisingly even more enjoyable to play nearly two decades later.

While Digital Leisure’s recent loving PSN update of Dragon’s Lair provided a much bigger landmark of gaming history, it was also a game that was far more a product of its time and place. Outside early ’80s arcades where it first emerged and without the ‘Wow’ factor of its then-cutting age technology, Dragon’s Lair proves to be a disappointingly hollow and frustrating gaming experience for those without a nostalgic attachment to it. The same isn’t true of their restoration of Fast Draw Showdown at all, and – unlike its FMV forbearer – there’s an actual game to be found in this Wild West lightgun game, and a damn fun one, too.
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In the arcade, Fast Draw Showdown came with a holstered light gun strapped to it, and the aim of the game was to out-draw a motley parade of the West’s most deadly (or drunk and inept) gunslingers. Real-life quick-draw champ Wes Flowers appeared on-screen to compliment your skills (or scold you if you drew your gun too fast) and the game’s visuals came in the form of full motion video footage of actors on Western sets delivering hilariously cheesy quips before trying to relocate your grey matter to the dirt floor with the aid of a well-placed bullet. Whip the gun out of the holster quick enough to get the drop on them and they’ll keel over and leave you with a high score as you move on to the next challenger.

Little has changed for the PSN update. The FMV footage has been cleaned up, running much smoother and sharper than the original version and certainly the WiiWare release ever did and looks fantastic, while there’s a multiplayer option that allows you to try to outdraw a friend if you have an extra Move controller. The PlayStation Move controller is mandatory if you want to play the game, and it responds and controls as fluidly and accurately as you could want. You’ll be holding the Move wand down at your waist until you’re ready to draw, then whipping it up to blast the screen when it’s time (drawing too soon earns you a foul). Other little additions have been made to fill out the screen (the original laserdisc cabinet came with a monitor tipped on its side, so the footage only fills the middle third of modern TVs), like a gunslinger avatar to dress up as you earn badges and complete challenges, of which there are numerous to add a little more extra value to the game. Other than that, everything’s exactly as you might remember if you ever played the game in arcades.
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The gameplay itself isn’t exactly complicated – less an on-rails shooting gallery and more a series of one-on-one showdown stages. It’s simple in nature, but with several rounds each made up of six quick-draw stages, there’s a surprising amount of longevity to the game, especially as some rounds come with multiple opponents and a ‘Which one of them will draw first?’ challenge to them, while some challengers draw from much further away, making for a smaller, tougher target. Besides the entertainment and infectious hilarity of the corny ’90s cowboy acting on display, while it’s simple in design, Fast Draw Showdown is an incredibly fun lightgun game with a refreshingly long lifespan, which only multiplies if you like to go for the high score and try to trim a few more seconds off your quick-draw time.

Your enjoyment will be at least a little dependent on how much you enjoy the inherent cheese of badly-acted ’90s FMV games, but while the tongue-in-cheek video footage provides much of Fast Draw Showdown’s innate charm, there’s also a modest, but surprisingly resilient, lengthy and entertaining lightgun game there, too. After a couple of hours of blasting quip-happy cowboys and giggling at their terrible puns, you’ll be hoping against hope that Digital Leisure turn their gaze to PSN updates of the Mad Dog McCree collection for even more nostalgic Western gaming goodness.

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Fast Draw Showdown is available to buy on the US PlayStation Network Store now. An EU release is due soon.