It’s quite a sobering moment for those of us who were around for the original. What could once only fit on a disc the size of a 12-inch vinyl LP (ask your mum) is now on a device that fits in your pocket. That’s progress.
For those who weren’t there, Mad Dog McCree was the first live-action laserdisc arcade game. It was a shooter that saw you take part in a rather amateurish western, as you attempted to rescue the mayor’s daughter from the titular outlaw.
You used a gun to shoot at bad guys who popped up – or, more likely, get shot first because the window of opportunity to blast them first was so short and you could barely see them anyway.
It was rubbish, of course, but oddly endearing rubbish, as you attempted to memorise enemy locations (their order of appearance changed each time so that wasn’t much help) so as to avoid wasting the coins weighing down the pockets of your shellsuit bottoms.
Mad Dog arrives on iOS pretty much intact, with a few adjustments to the formula. Checkpointing is more forgiving – complete a section and you don’t need to play it again – and you have five lives per continue rather than three.
It’s as simplistic as ever, but the tap controls are accurate, and despite its obvious shortcomings it’s more entertaining than a lot of retro re-releases – partly because it doesn’t have fond memories to sour.
Pardner in crime
The acting is hammy and the action ridiculous, but there’s something to be said for its innocent, good-natured feel. And while it’s every bit as arbitrary as Dragon’s Lair, it’s more cheerfully cheap than annoyingly unfair.
Sitting through the same intros and identical shoot-outs has the potential to irritate, but they’re all fairly brief, and once you get accustomed to the game’s tricks you’ll motor through the later stages quicker than the early ones.
The tiniest movements will start to catch your eye, though you’ll still suffer occasionally from moments where enemies pop up from the shadow. The only way you’ll spot them second time around is prior knowledge of the kill shot’s origin.
From time to time the window of opportunity is so narrow that you’ll be killed several times even when you know what’s coming, but a couple of taps later and you’re back in play, a little wiser to the key enemy positions.
It’s not all about shooting outlaws, of course. You’ll need to ignore the itch in your trigger finger when a bandit emerges with a hostage, biding your time until you have a clear shot.
Elsewhere, you’ll blast signs to move to your next location, blast bottles thrown by a friendly prospector as practice for the later showdowns, or shoot booby traps before descending into a mine.
Even with all the dirty tricks, it’s not a long game, and there’s not much in the way of replay value either. All the same, we found it hard to resent the investment.
While its simplistic mechanics will prove far too dated for most, we’re sure some players will get a kick out of Mad Dog McCree.
Whether you played the original and fancy a jolt of nostalgia or you’re simply interested in experiencing a blast from gaming’s past, there are plenty of worse ways to spend your money on the App Store.