How the West was Fun: The Greatest Cowboy Video Games

With the upcoming release of Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption, gamers are reminded that it isn't too often that video games are set in the Wild West anymore--where have all the cowboys gone?

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, cowboy games were all the rage. From educational video games to digital pornography, there was a western-themed game for just about every game genre. Here are the most well-known Wild West-themed video games from yesteryear.

5. Custer's Revenge (Atari 2600, 1982)

How the West was Fun: The Greatest Cowboy Video Games

Also known by its classier titles "Westward Ho" and "The White Man Came," Custer's Revenge is basically a game in which players control an aroused General George Custer. Using their joystick, players avoid arrows in order to reach their prize at the end of the game: A large-breasted Native American woman tied to a cactus. Poor girl!

Despite the high price tag of $50 in 1982 and stickers clearing stating that the game is intended for adults, developer Mystique realized that the game would inevitably fall into the hands of children. To remedy this, the game's instructions state: "If the kids catch you and should ask, tell them Custer and the maiden are just dancing." Were kids really that naïve back then?

4. Lethal Enforcers II: Gunfighters (Arcade/Sega Genesis/Sega CD, 1994)

It's strange, but some of the best Wild West-themed video games were made and developed in Japan. Lethal Enforcers II: Gunfighters is no exception. The game is light gun shooter, in which players use a plastic six-shooter in order to eradicate bandits in a stereotypical American Old West town. The catch is, however, that innocent civilians continue to jump right in front of you with their arms flailing about, screaming "don't shoot me!" Really now, that's not the wisest thing to do in the middle of a gun fight.

3. Wild Arms (Playstation,1996)

The wild west was a completely slightly different world through the eyes of the Japanese, according to Media Vision's Wild Arms. The game's got most of the required cowboy traits down--such as dusty towns, guns, and nice music with a lot of whistling. However, there are numerous Japanese RPG clichés like an orphaned boy with amnesia, magic/sorcery, and people who can transform into demons. Wow, that's something John Wayne couldn't do.

2. The Oregon Trail (Your Elementary School Computer, 1971)

Back in elementary school, everyone hated The Oregon Trail. Integrating education and video games? Nice try! Decades later however, the edutainment title has left us with some of the most memorable moments in video gaming history, including the infamous "YOU HAVE DIED OF DYSENTERY" line.

Developed by three student teachers in 1971, the title was inspired by the real-life Oregon Trail, and was designed to teach children about the realities of the 19th century life of the pioneer. And with the possibility of the child's character to die from measles, snakebites, dysentery, typhoid, cholera, exhaustion, diarrhea, or drowning, perhaps the game also taught children how lucky they are to be alive in modern times.

1. Sunset Riders (Arcade/SNES/Genesis, 1991)

How the West was Fun: The Greatest Cowboy Video Games

"Bury me with my money!"

Just imagine all of the stereotypical things that cowboys do in those old Sunday matinee western films. They're dodging stampeding cattle, fighting in dusty taverns, riding their horses beside a runaway train and somehow managing to stay balanced while standing on top of a shaky steam train. Somehow, developer Konami was able to cram in all of these unforgettable moments into a single game. With so many memorable set pieces, great music, and four-player action, the game still has the ability to suck in piles of quarters at your local pizza parlor.


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