THE SMELL of gun powder hangs in the air of Soft City, a community, born of the gold rush which has swept northern America.
As one of the few do-gooders in town you must protect the offices of the West Bank, there are 12 but you can cover only three at a time. The game is played in phases. You can only pass from one section to the next when at least one of the western characters has delivered gold to each door.
There are nine obnoxious characters in the game - four are introduced in the first phase. Each opens a door and either deposits money, a bullet or a bomb before the door is closed again.
The goodies in phase one are Green Jordan (Jordan? West Bank? Some kind of political message here? Ed), an untiring farmer who puts his life savings into the bank, and Daisy, the beautiful daughter of the city jeweller who mustn't be hurt.
The baddy in the same section is Jack Vicious. You have one chance to shoot him. Use your official bank gun using the one, two and three keys. Shoot to the left, right and straight ahead. If you're quick enough you will see Jack fall - hesitate for a moment and BANG! You are dead. He may also cosh Green Jordan on your doorstep, take the bag of money and try to shoot you, but he will never attack Daisy - such an old fashioned sense of morality.
The joker of the pack, a dwarf named Bowie, is neither good nor bad. He likes to wear a stack of hats which you can shoot off his head to gain points. The last hat contains either a bag of gold or a bomb, so be careful.
Once you have filled all the boxes above the doors with dollar signs, a quick shoot-out between you and three gunslingers starts with a countdown. When zero is reached they will reach for their guns. Shoot them when they make a move, not before or you will be killed.
Next is phase two which is faster on the reflexes and introduces another difficulty - the rest of the characters are masters of the quick draw. Alfred and Joe Dalton are real handy with their guns, as is Mackeyham, a bloodthirsty villain who doesn't even bother to think afterwards. Julius is a bit of an odd-ball, and a dandy. He could give you a bag of gold, or a permanent cure for a headache.
Apparently there is a ninth character but I have not survived long enough for a close encounter. Whoever he, or she is, if your aren't quick enough on the draw you will be the victim of a whodunnit.
The wide variety of characters makes the game enjoyable rather than just a three key shooting match. I found it best to play with a joystick in one hand - which scrolls new doors onto the screen - and three fingers on the firing keys for each room.
The Spanish software house Dinamic is responsible for West Bank. Those of you who are familiar with Gremlin Graphics will know that Dinamic has also produced Rocco, the boxing game, and Abu Simbel Profanation. More power to their Spanish elbows.
Publisher: Gremlin Graphics
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair