Listen up, buckaroo…if yer the kinda desperado that has a hankerin’ to drill some other sidewinder fulla lead, you gotta call ’em out for a shoot-out. But this is 2010. Unless you’re a Crip or a Blood, callin’ somebody out in the middle of town for a little gunplay’s gonna get the attention of the local constabulary, if ya know what I mean. What’s a Yosimite Sam wanna-be to do?
Well, you could mosey on over to the App Store and download a copy of High Noon STARS & STRIPES. This clever game is one-part shoot-em-up, one part social networking, and one part competitive game ladder.
When you first start up High Noon, you’ll become what amounts to a greenhorn gunfighter. You’ll (mercifully) be paired up against others at your noob level, and forbidden (for the nonce) to compete against the meaner, more experienced hombres.
You’ll start with a six-shooter. And you’ll see a variety of others in the “saloon” (really more of a rogue’s gallery) that you can challenge (if they’re not busy air-conditioning somebody else’s torso) or be challenged by yourself.
Holster your weapon (point the iPhone towards the floor) and wait for the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly spaghetti western theme to play as they ready the duel. Once you hear the church bell toll, it’s on, dude!
The game is surprisingly challenging, just to get your shots to hit where you aim. Run outta bullets, and you point your iPhone “gun” at the floor to reload. It’s kill-or-be-killed, but mercifully, you always come back to life to live another day, even when you lose.
If that’s all there was to the game, it would be fun – but quickly tiresome. Not High Noon. Nope. Winning a gun battle earns you gold, which you can spend to change your avatar’s look, buy gear you may need (a bag o’ flour will blind your opponent for 3 seconds, or turn ’em into a piñata with a rope) or earn enough gold and buy a steel breastplate. Or upgrade your six-gun to a lever-action rifle (limited to three rounds at a time).
Interesting, the authors have realized that, even when you rise to the upper levels of the game, getting too big of an advantage would scare off those at the lower levels. So they’ve included some factors that level the playing field a bit.
For instance, any gadget you buy (sheriff’s badge, false teeth, bag o’ flour, rope, etc.) is a one-shot deal – use it and it’s used up. And no matter how many you buy, you can only use one item per duel. The bigger and badder the weapon, the more often you must reload. And the rifle’s a helluva lot harder to aim than the handgun.
What’s fun is that, say some hombre bought a steel breastplate. Whaddya do? Shoot at his head, or aim for his legs. It works. Takes more shots to kill him, but it works.
Certain purchases require Indian “Wampum” instead of gold. You occasionally earn wampum, but it’s hard to come by. You can make an in-app purchase, but that costs REAL money. A double-barreled shotgun can be had for 50 Wampum, which translates to somewhere around $7 in cold, hard, real-world cash.
Every so often, you’ll get a message that someone has stolen some of your gold. What the . . . ? Yup. It’s true. You can get robbed (whadya expect, with all these gunslingers runnin’ around, dude?), but you can also try your hand at a little robbery yourself.
Each attempt costs you one energy point, and you’ve only got a certain amount of energy before you have to rest (or buy some juice with your precious Wampum) to continue playing. You can grab a randomly-determined amount of gold, get nothing for your trouble, or get caught by the sheriff, where you’ll lose double the amount you were trying to steal.
You can play random opponents, or put people you want to play again on your “Shitlist” (their words, not mine) and get notified when they show up in the saloon. Or you can go full-tilt boogie and authorize a hookup to your Facebook account (which will earn you a 5 Wampum bribe prize), enabling you to annoy play your friends.
The game is free; the developers aim to make their money from the in-app purchases; always being dependent upon the kindness of Rangers. (Sorry. Couldn’t help myself. I mean, how often do you get a chance to punnel someone to death. Continue.)
As it is played in real-time, it requires either a WiFi (best) or a GPRS (okay) connection. The faster connections give you a leg-up in gameplay, as your iPhone gets a wee bit more responsive when you’re not fighting the ‘net.
All in all, High Noon is just about everything you’d expect in a shootout game. Well, there’s no schoolmarms or saloon floozies to swoon over your dead body or reward you with a kiss depending upon the outcome of your shootout, but still . . .
The music would make Sergio Leone proud. The avatars are cartoony, but strike the right balance between mean and humorous. The gameplay strikes the right balance between challenging and rewarding to keep you coming back for more.
If I have a nit to pick with the game (and don’t I always?): the game is a little too addictive. And if you put somebody on your Shitlist (again, their word, not mine), you’d best hope they adhere to the same sleep schedule as they do, else you’ll get a notification message from them anytime they jump into the game. And I do mean anytime they jump into the game.
I’d give the game 5 out of 5 stars. If you like shootout games, this is a great one to keep on your iDevice. Oh, and if you see “CaptainDigital” in the saloon, call me out. I’m always ready to help some stuck-up, city-slicker, cowpoke take a dirt nap. Ya hear?
High Noon STARS & STRIPES
- for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
- 2.0.0 (iOS 4.0 Tested)
- Language: English
- © 2010 Happylatte
- Frequent/Intense Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
- Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References
- Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.