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PlayStation Game and Hardware Reviews

Developer: Namco OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Sony 1-8 Player
Game Type: Arcade Shooter Memory Card
Review Date: July 1998 Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

Several months ago I picked up a Japanese Import light gun game and I 
was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was the very same game that 
I remembered playing for hours on end in the arcades some ten years ago.

Namco's GunBullet brought the memories flooding back only the strangest 
thing was that I recall the arcade version being called something 
completely different.  I have since enjoyed many evenings flexing my 
trigger finger downing a wide range of moving and static cardboard cut-out 
targets in both single and multi-player mode.

It appears that anything that Namco touches these days seems to turn to gold 
and they have seen fit to translate the text and re-launch this wonderful 
shooter across the world under the title that I recall - Point Blank.


Point Blank is the follow-up to Namco’s splendid home version of the arcade 
hit Time Crisis. It is their second PSX title which takes advantage of 
Namco’s proprietary Guncon light-gun peripheral.

It is basically an arcade gallery shooter, consisting of dozens of little 
events and contests from which you earn points to continue playing or pound 
your opponent firmly into the ground. 


I was thinking of skipping this section of the review because, let's face 
it, the whole concept of Point Blank puts the emphasis strictly on pure, 
addictive gameplay.

Saying that, the game opens up with a superb rendered FMV intro showing 
the gun-totting adventurer Dan and his inseparable buddy Don flying through 
various locations while perched on top of a grinning bullet.  It is entirely 
tongue in cheek and in many ways can be compared to the wonderful intro to 
Worms.  It's definitely worth sitting through, if only to witness the amazing 
water sequences.  Boy, do they look realistic!

I'm sure your immediate reaction will be of shock and amazement that during 
these days of 3D dominance, graphics such as these can be paraded on a 32-bit 
console but I plead with you to stick with it and gain your just rewards in 
gameplay heaven.   

Rather than slow down the fast and furious pace of the game Namco have 
retained so much of the original visual style using flat 2D spites and 
colorful cartoon animation.  For example black and white cardboard cut-outs 
of Ninja soldiers move back and forth on tracks.  The amazing thing being 
that you can actually see the stick holding them up so it is not as if 
anyone is trying to con you by covering up any flaws.  I personally prefer 
this style for certain types of games, of which Point Blank is the perfect 

Sounds and Effects

Needless to say, all of the wacky sounds in Point Blank are a perfect 
translation of its arcade counterpart.  What's amazing is the fact that 
although each event is over in a matter of seconds the time has been 
taken to provide individual background tunes that match the gallery theme.  
Therefore, when shooting lines of tanks the sound of military music can be 
heard in the background, enter the jungle to blast man eating piranha and 
you get an up-tempo drum beat and screaming chimpanzees, etc. etc. 

The sound effects are equally impressive with every shot ringing true.  
Shoot a cuckoo as it momentarily pops out of the clock and it reacts with 
a high pitched squawk.  Bottles smash, bombs explode, tin cans rattle and 
innocent bystanders scream out in agony when hit by a stray bullet.  Even 
the options screen is target activated with buttons smashing to smithereens 
when hit, with each empty bullet casing being distinctly heard fall to the 
floor, much in the same vein as Time Crisis.


Anyone who has visited a fairground shooting gallery or played out a session 
on an arcade gun game should be fairly familiar with the main objective 
within Point Blank.  Simply shoot as many targets in the allowed time as 
quickly and accurately as possible.  Should you reach your target number 
then points are awarded and you continue with the game.  Failure to 
complete the task or shooting the wrong target results in a life being lost.

If there is one thing that Point Blank has over all of it's rivals then 
that must be variety.  There are over 70 different wild and crazy shooting 
scenarios that are thrown at you in random order.  
These include tasks such as: 
  * blasting 42 Ninjas in 25 seconds
  * shoot a car 60 times in 15 seconds
  * hit a falling leaf with only one bullet
  * you have one shot to hit the apple on Don's head
  * hit seven nests and then shoot 16 wasps in 20 seconds
  * shoot the numbers 1-16 in correct order within 14 seconds
  * hold back the tanks from reaching the front line for 20 seconds
  * you have ten seconds to hit the fly that is buzzing around a room filled 
    with valuable antiques.  Bonus points are awarded for hits of high value. 

Get the idea.  Obviously this is best played using the ultra-responsive 
GunCon but surprisingly the game works equally as well using a standard 
joypad.  This is probably due to the fact that you can adjust the speed 
that your cross-hair moves over the screen to suit each individual. 

After adjusting the game settings you must decide on playing either Arcade 
or Arrange modes.  Arcade is almost identical to the version I played in 
the arcades all those years ago where four screens are randomly selected.  
Complete each task in the required time and you advance onto the next four 
stages which are more challenging.  There are four difficulty levels from 
'training' to 'very hard'.  Training consists of one stage with 4 screens, 
and the other three consist of 4 stages with 4 screens each, a bonus level 
and final round.  While some of the levels are simple to beat, some will 
require expert skills to pass.
Arrange is divided into four PSX exclusive sections.  The first being a 
practice mode where each screen may be played individually and your 
performance is rated in graph form.  This is ideal for working out which 
screens you need the most practice on.

A Special game follows the trend set by Time Crisis where new and original 
levels are mixed in with upgraded variations of some of the original Arcade 
screens.  This is an excellent addition for those who enjoyed playing the 
game in the arcades and are after something new.
Party Play is the greatest way to experience this game where competitions 
take place between groups or teams.  It is set up very much like Team Battle 
Mode in beat-em-ups where up to eight players take part in a series of 
'knockout' or 'winner stays on' battles.  Dependant on the style of game you 
choose two players may fire at their own split screen targets together or 
separately.  It's possibly worth mentioning that two GunCon light guns can 
be plugged into the Playstation by connecting the second yellow composite 
cable into the first one, and plug it into controller port 2.  This mode is 
definitely the best way to experience Point Blank and the option to handicap 
certain players should keep everyone involved until the final shot.  

The final gameplay option is Quest Mode which is an RPG set on Point Blank 
island.  Dr Don and Dr Dan's  wander around chatting to people and buying 
items with credits earned from various shooting challenges.  To move a 
character simply aim your cursor and then shoot.  This mode works quite well 
but in reality their wandering only prolongs the gaps between some serious 
target practice.    

As a two player game Point Blank is excellent and I can think of nothing 
better for two buddies to do than spend the evening firing blanks at the 
TV screen.  Most of the screens have been designed with two players in mind.  
The player with the red cross-hair fires at the red targets and the blue 
player does likewise.  All good fun.

Value for Money

If you like Time Crisis, you'll love the hilarious shooting frenzy of 
Point Blank. It has over 70 completely different wild and crazy shooting 
scenarios and includes a chance to dust off your Guncon, the most accurate 
gun ever for the PlayStation.
GRAPHICS: 14/20 Once again talk of motion captured, high resolution, 3D graphics is shown the door in place of good old fashioned gameplay.

What is difficult to comprehend is that all of the best PSX multi-player games seem to be upgrades of older titles - Worms, Bomberman, Point Blank, Micro Machines. Makes you think that the bottle of ideas has finally run dry, doesn't it?
SOUND: 8/10
VALUE: 19/20


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