Hogan’s Alley

Review Date: February 10, 2021

Release Date: October 18, 1985

Platform: NES

Developer: Nintendo

Genre: Zapper

Anecdotes: In the early NES days, the light gun was heavily promoted and there were three games that required use of it. After that, it was largely forgotten. After the trio of Duck Hunt, Hogan’s Alley, and Wild Gunman came about, not much happened on the Zapper scene. Anyway, we could play legitimately, but we had more fun shooting the opposite, to see how quickly we could rack up misses. Game B is the best of the three; the changes in scenery and palette swaps every two levels kept it visually interesting. We never did well enough to see all five color schemes, but it never stopped up from trying. I found out it repeats after 10 levels through playing around on an emulated version.

They did a nice job summing up games A and B in a single screen. Notice how the two “Gangs” shown look similar to the men in the bottom row.

Description: Grab the Zapper and shoot away for the screen to choose a mode, then shoot the screen to start. A and B require players to quickly judge whether or not to shoot two dimensional cutouts of people. They are to avoid shooting the woman, the officers, and the professor. Shoot any other cutout (called Gangs) that shows up. The game ends on the tenth Miss. A Miss is either a failure to shoot a Gang or shooting a non-Gang. In A, three cutouts appear at once, with the reaction time at the top. Rinse and repeat. In B, players actually see the alley. The game rotates through five scenes per round with cutouts showing up at unpredictable times. After every 2 rounds, the palette changes, which I’m fairly confident was meant to mimic a day/night cycle. Game C throws out everything from A and B. In C, cans are “thrown in” from the right side of the screen. The cans need to be hit from below to boost them upward. Doing so keeps them from falling off the screen. Ten falls equals game over.

For me, most of the misses come from shooting the Professor, as opposed to missing the intended targets.

Positives: Game B is a lot of fun. Between the scenery changes that actually affect gameplay, the unknown variable of where a cutout will show up, and whether to shoot it or not, the game keeps me on my toes. Game C, Trick Shot, is a simple, fun concept as well, especially when the game challenges me with multiple cans at once.

Negatives: Game A does nothing for me. Trying to make three quick decisions at once gets a bit rough. It also just has a shooting gallery motif with a plain blue background. I could never be a police officer. I also think the bottom ledge in C is overvalued; the scoring could use a better balance.

This is Game A. Three targets appear, along with a time in seconds at the top. In this case, the guy in the middle needs to be shot or it’s game over.

More Screenshots:

Here’s the Hogan that Hogan’s Alley was named after. I just call her Brooke.
Is it just me or does the Professor’s face look strange, especially the eyes?
It’s always wise to hang out at the gun shop in the middle of the night.
Game C needs a laugh track. It could use some canned laughter.
The scoring is way off balance here. I landed two cans on the 5,000 point ledge and that is more than half my total score.

Grade: B

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