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Video Game / Sunset Riders

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A side-scrolling Shoot 'em Up released for the arcades in 1991, Sunset Riders is one of several four-player arcade games that Konami released in the wake of their success with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game. The game centers around four bounty hunters (Steve, Bob, Billy, and Cormano) who must hunt down various fugitives during the Wild West to collect monetary rewards. Essentially a Wild West-themed version of Contra, as its director Hideyuki Tsujimoto worked on both arcade Contra games.

Sunset Riders was ported to both the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, in 1993. A port of the arcade version for the Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch, via Hamster's Arcade Archives series, was released June 11th, 2020.


The game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adapted Out: Steve, Bob and half of the bosses in the Genesis version, along with a few of the mooks.
  • Aerith and Bob: Steve, Bob, Billy and... Cormano. Justified since he seems to be Mexican rather than American like the others.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Even after you beat the game, if you still have credits left, you'll be taken straight back to the first stage, no "Press Start" prompt.
  • Agent Peacock: The final boss and Big Bad, Sir Richard Rose. He's a British pretty boy with an affinity for roses. He's also one of the toughest bosses in the whole game (if not the toughest), due to his agility and the Bulletproof Vest he wears under his suit.
  • All or Nothing: The player who does the most damage to a boss collects the entire bonus for defeating him.
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  • Arrows on Fire: Used by some of the enemy Amerindians.
  • Artificial Brilliance:
    • El Greco won't put his shield down until you stop firing. His reflexes with his whip are also really fast.
    • Richard Rose's fight starts out looking like he's content to stay on the balcony like the first boss... that is until his barrier is destroyed, at which point he immediately jumps down, moves all over the upper and lower height levels like a player character on crack and starts utterly destroying you. The way he angles his shots also remove any blind spot where you can just sit tight and blast him to oblivion - you need to stay mobile to avoid his shots.
  • Badass Beard: Cormano is the only playable character with one. "Hawkeye" Hank Hatfield is the only boss who has a beard.
  • Badass Native: Unfortunate name aside, Chief Scalpem can deflect waves of bullets with just his two knives and is easily That One Boss of the game. Expect to lose lots of lives and credits fighting him.
  • Bookends: The first boss, Simon Greedwell, is fought in front of a building's facade. He shoots the players from behind a barrier with mooks appearing from all directions to support him. The final boss, Sir Richard Rose, is fought under very similar circumstances, that is until you destroy his barrier.
    • At that point his fighting style becomes similar to the second boss, Hawkeye Hank Hatfield. Only cranked Up to Eleven. And at one point he sort of borrows a trick from the third boss, Dark Horse. A hidden plate of metal under his shirt. This all still counts for trope purposes.
  • Bottomless Magazines: As usually dictated by Video Game logic, no one has any trouble with ammo.
  • Boss-Only Level: Stage 4 consists solely of the Smith Bros. boss battle in the saloon.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • The SNES version faced some censorship, including removing all references to alcohol, adding some modesty to the female NPCs, changing a boss' name from Chief Scalpem to Chief Wigwam, cutting his lines from "Me ready for pow wow!" and "Me pow-wowed out!" to "Ready for pow wow!" and "Pow-wowed out!" (though the subtitles say "Get ready for a pow-wow!" and "I'm pow-wowed out!") and replacing all the Native American enemies in one stage with white outlaws. Additionally, El Greco no longer says "Die, gringo!" before battle; he says "adios, amigo!" at both the beginning and end of his battle.
    • In both console ports, the female dynamite throwers are replaced with dynamite-wielding variants of the male bomb throwers.
    • The Arcade Archives version also changes Chief Scalpem's name to Chief Wigwam and makes El Greco say "adios, amigo" twice, but keeps everything else from the original arcade version.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Sir Richard Rose wears a steel plate under his suit. Shoot him until he collapses, and he'll stand up, throw if off, and let you have it all over again.
  • Can-Crushing Cranium: Cormano shatters his bottles over his own head whenever he steps out of a saloon door.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Try as he might, Bob doesn't have the taste buds for alcohol and immediately spits out what he takes in.
  • Clean Dub Name: Chief Scalpem to Chief Wigwam in the SNES port and the Arcade Archives version.
  • Collision Damage: Averted. The game takes care to give an actual explanation for why you got hurt, most notably enemies taking a moment to stop and try to stab you up close.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer
    • Steve: Yellow
    • Billy: Blue
    • Bob: Green
    • Cormano: Red
  • Cool Horse: Dark Horse's steed is fitted with metal plates on its head and legs, which block your bullets directly from the front. It also carries him off after you shoot him.
  • Damsel in Distress:
    • The saloon dancers in Stage 4 of the arcade and SNES versions.
    • In the Genesis version the player has to rescue a brown-haired girl in a yellow dress at the end of every odd-numbered stage. In a 2-Player game the player who gets to the girl first will receive the stage clear bonus.
  • Depth Perplexion: In the train level, enemies looking out the windows of the train can see and fire at the players standing on the roof of the train, and vice-versa. From a 3D perspective, their bullets would have to be doing U-turns.
  • The Dragon: Paco Loco, again. For the Genesis version, it's Chief Scalpem.
  • Dual Boss: The Smith Brothers are both fought at the same time.
  • Dumb Muscle: Paco Loco is presented this way, banging his chest and speaking his lines with a very simple-minded accent.
  • Easter Egg: When fighting Hawkeye Hank Hatfield in the original arcade version, there's a wanted poster on the the wall with one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on it.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: If you beat the game on Easy difficulty in the SNES port, you're treated to this message saying "Are You yella?! Now try the Normal mode!"
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Once you defeat Chief Scalpem and have him dead to rights, his sister runs in to beg you to spare his life. The player characters comply.
  • Evil Brit: The final boss, Sir Richard Rose.
  • Excuse Plot: Who are your characters? Who are the bandits they're hunting? Who knows why they're attacking innocent townspeople? Who cares?
  • Face Death with Dignity: Sir Richard Rose.
    Rose: I say, bit of bad luck. *dies*
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: The fourth stage features a huge chandelier that dangles around and can be used by mooks as shooting platforms. The heroes can climb on it and either give it the same use, or simply hang from it to avert the bombs tossed by the bosses. In a subversion, it stays in its place through the whole stage and, when the bosses are killed, it's "peacefully" taken away.
  • Fat Bastard: Paco Loco, yet again.
    • Also, Simon Greedwell.
  • Flash of Pain: The bosses flash white upon hit and red when in critical health. This also applies to three types of destructible objects: Simon Greedwell's barrels, the wooden gates in the final stage and Richard Rose's balcony.
  • Flechette Storm: Chief Scalpem can throw up to four throwing knives at once.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: The saloon girls in the arcade and SNES versions and the kidnapped ladies in the Genesis version wear white feather boas with their outfits.
  • Flunky Boss: All bosses except El Greco and Chief Scalpem summon additional enemies to fight with them.
  • Gatling Good: Paco Loco uses one. There's also two in the arcade game's final stage, usable by both player and Mooks. You need them to progress, since they're the only weapon that can blow down the gates.
  • Great Way to Go: The last Smith brother blows himself up after you defeat him.
  • Greed: Simon Greedwell. He even drops a huge bag of gold when he falls out of his door.
  • Groin Attack: Step on a rake and see what happens.
    • Also when you walk into a plastic arrow planted on the floor. Yup. That's in the Amerindian stage.
  • Guns Akimbo: With a powerup. Two of them, even Dual Wield SHOTGUNS. Well, Sawed Off Shotguns, but still.
  • The Gunslinger: The whole team.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: The dynamite-throwing girls can have their dynamite thrown back to them (with predictable results), and the Molotov Cocktail-throwing mooks regularly burn themselves and their fellow mooks up with their own attacks. The Genesis Port of Richard Rose also leaves a dynamite after the first phase, which, if fired on quickly enough, will instantly kill him. Doesn't explain how he can survive the explosion with a metal sheet under his clothes though.
  • Hostage Situation: Right after defeating the third boss Dark Horse, a girl is violently thrown out of the saloon right behind. The hero or heroes tend to her and she says that the Smith Brothers and their goons have taken over, keeping three other dancers as hostages. Then she begs the hero or heroes to save the other girls, the hero/heroes go inside, and the stage proper begins.
  • Improbable Weapon User: In a wild west setting, El Greco uses a whip and shield.
  • Ironic Echo: El Greco has "Adios, amigo!" as both his entry and death phrases in the SNES version and the Arcade Archives version.
    • El Greco's entry phrase in the Arcade version was "Die, gringo!" which was censored out by Nintendo as it was considered inappropriate.
  • It Was a Gift: In the arcade version, if Cormano is involved in the fight with El Greco in stage 5, El Greco takes off his red sombrero upon defeat and tosses it away. Cormano will catch and wear it in place of his own for the rest of the game. In the SNES version, he just drops it.
  • Just Following Orders: Chief Scalpem's sister saves his ass with these words, as opposed to all the rest of Richard Rose's thugs who were also "just following orders." Presumably they didn't have pretty sisters to speak in their defense.
  • Knife Nut: Chief Scalpem.
  • Last Words: Every boss gives these after they are defeated.
    • Simon Greedwell: "Bury me with my money."
    • Hawkeye "Hank" Hatfield: "Ya got me!"
    • Dark Horse: "Me in heap big trouble!"
    • Smith Brothers: "That was a bang!"
    • El Greco: "Adios, amigo!"
    • Chief Scalpem: "Me pow-wowed out!" note 
    • Paco Loco: "Hasta la bye bye!"
    • Sir Richard Rose: "I say, bit of bad luck!"
  • Licking the Blade: Chief Scalpem does it before you fight him.
  • Mad Bomber: The Smith Brothers. One of them has enough sense to talk, but the other is completely Axe-Crazy. Their boss fight (the only one without a preceding stage) could be dangerous to play if the player's epileptic. The brother in blue uses molotovs and the one in green uses regular bombs. When one of them is killed, the other one will start tossing his weapon of choice around like crazy, so it's HIGHLY recommended that you kill the green brother first.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Sir Richard Rose. He lives in a HUGE mansion on top of a mountain, and is presumably in charge of the gang you just spent the game busting.
  • Mirror Boss: Sir Richard Rose. After you destroy the barrier protecting him on his balcony, he'll to begin dash, jump and slide around the stage with agility that rivals that of the players. One difference is that his slide can do Collision Damage to the players.
  • More Dakka: Paco Loco uses a MACHINE GUN (which really were a thing in the Old West). Mind you, it doesn't fire like a machine gun, the bursts come in threes and the bullets are bigger than normal but still.
  • Musical Spoiler: An alert player will realize the fight with Sir Richard Rose isn't over after they gun him down the first time, because his boss theme is still playing.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Chief Scalpem, Paco Loco.
  • Nice Hat: El Greco has a really, REALLY nice charro-style sombrero. Which he tosses away before he dies. If Cormano's there, he will catch the sombrero mid-air, take his own 'charro'' hat off and and promptly put Greco's on, claiming it as his own from then on.
  • Nintendo Hard: Despite the lighter overall look, this will kick the players' butt just as hard as Contra does.
  • Not So Above It All: After defeating the Smith Brothers, the girls of the bar they took hostage put on a dance for the heroes. Steve, Bob, and Cormano stand by the stage cheering. Billy stands off to the side acting like he's above it, but you can see him give a side glance to the stage and blush.
  • Offscreen Karma: Chief Scalpem. While they don't finish him off, his "Wanted!" Poster still gets crossed out, and said posters are labeled "Dead or Alive".
  • One-Hit Point Wonder: Played straight mostly. Averted in the Genesis version's versus mode where players have a Life Meter.
  • One Name Only: The four heroes.note 
  • Professional Killer: The heroes.
  • Quick Draw: The 2nd boss, Hank "Hawkeye" Hatfield. In theory, at least.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Sir Richard Rose has quite the modals for the Big Bad. Noted specially in his intro:
    "Cheerio, old chap!"
    • He'll make you cry on harder difficulties.
  • Playing with Fire: Some mooks, and one boss, will throw molotov cocktails around. Anyone caught in the fire, whether friend or foe, gets burned to death.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: All the bosses start with one each.
    • Simon Greedwell: "It's time to pay!"
    • Hawkeye "Hank" Hatfield: "Draw, pilgrim!"
    • Dark Horse: "You in heap big trouble!"
    • Smith Brothers: "We're gonna blow you away!"
    • El Greco: "Die, gringo!"note 
    • Chief Scalpem: "Me ready for pow-wow!"
    • Paco Loco: "Ay, Chihuahua!"
    • Sir Richard Rose: "Cheerio, old chap."
  • Pyromaniac: One Smith brother. The other is a fan of dynamite.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Cormano. Pink is also the color of Steve's hat, neckerchief and boots.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: Contra IN THE WILD WEST!
  • Reformulated Game: The Genesis version is missing Steve and Bob, and only four of the arcade version's bosses are included. However, the stages are completely redesigned and are now divided into two segments, while the bonus rounds are different as well.
  • Riding into the Sunset: The end image, so the game's title isn't lying to us.
  • The Savage Indian: Chief Scalpem, and the Native American mooks in the stage that he is the boss of.
  • Showdown at High Noon: The battle against Hawkeye Hank Hatfield has this feel to it.
  • Slasher Smile: Richard Rose has one all throughout the Boss Battle.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The Game Over music is light-hearted Mariachi band music.
  • Spiritual Successor: Two in particular. Mystic Warriors was made by the same team and even features a cameo by Steve, while Konami's arcade game version of Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa is a very similar western-themed side-scroller. The game also acts as a spiritual successor to Konami's earlier western-themed shooter Iron Horse.
  • Spread Shot: You get this by picking up the Dual Wielding power-up. However, Bob and Cormano had these right off the bat.
  • Squashed Flat: The death sprite used when anyone, be it either player characters or enemies, gets crushed by falling rocks.
  • Stationary Boss: Simon Greedwell, the Smith Brothers, and Paco Loco don't move from their spots. All but Paco Loco have walls that can be destroyed. Subverted with Richard Rose; he starts out as a stationary boss like Simon Greedwell, but once his barriers are destroyed he suddenly becomes very mobile.
  • Storming the Fort: The final stage.
  • Suck My Rose: The final boss, Sir Richard Rose.
  • Sweet Tooth: Paco Loco if the Genesis port is to be believed, as all money on his stage is replaced with candy, including the large amount he drops upon defeat.
  • Taking You with Me: After his defeat, Paco Loco sits up and attempts to shoot the Sunset Riders with his gatling gun, but misses, then dies for real.
  • Token Minority: Cormano is the only Hispanic in a team of blond-haired white cowboys.
  • Tonto Talk: Chief Scalpem talks this way in the arcade version. His sister, however, speaks perfect English.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Molotov Cocktail-throwing mooks have a tendency to throw their molotovs near them, which explodes into a large wall of flames... that they and their fellow mooks are not immune to. Results are predictable.
  • Traintop Battle: The boss fight against El Greco. But that's not the only stage where you have to walk through a moving train.
    • In the Genesis port, Paco Loco is the one fought atop a moving train.
  • Upgraded Boss: If you get to Chief Scalpem/Wigwam with 5 lives - the most you can get in the game - in the arcade version (including the Arcade Archives ports), he will move faster and throw 4 knives each time instead of 3, reverting to his "normal form" once you lose a life.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Cormano, the Mexican gunslinger, has the exact same twangy Western accent as the other three heroes.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: El Greco. He actively blocks your shots, only whipping you when he's not hiding behind his shield, and said whip has a lot of range. Players who thought they could get by just filling the screen with bullets usually end up losing a fair few quarters to this guy.
    • Hawkeye Hank Hatfield. His henchmen shoot fast,he is very fast too and just to surprise you he will JUMP into your zone and shoot you while ducking, way different from Simon Greedwell who just stood there taking shots, Hank moves around like crazy.
  • Warm-Up Boss: Simon Greedwell does nothing but fire at you from the balcony with his rifle, even after you've removed his improvised barrier. He's more like a regular Mook with a massive HP boost.
  • Weapon of Choice: The four playable characters distinguished by their firearms of choice. Billy and Steve wield revolvers, while Bob and Cormano use shotguns. This mean that at least two characters are duplicates, which allow at least two players to use the same weapon in multiplayer mode (unless you're playing the Genesis version, in which you are stuck with Steve or Cormano).
  • Whip It Good: El Greco. He and Chief Scalpem are the only bosses that don't use guns.
  • A Winner Is You: Completing the SNES version of the game on anything besides Hard Mode nets you a hearty "Good job, podner!"
  • You No Take Candle: Dark Horse says, "You in big heap trouble!" when you fight him, and "Me in big heap trouble!" when you defeat him. Chief Scalpem also introduces himself with, "Me ready for pow wow!" and croaks, "Me pow-wowed out!" when defeated.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: So you've killed Richard Rose? Not so fast... He was wearing a body plate!


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