Cactus McCoy

Cactus Mccoy is the original in what is now a series of side-scrolling platform shooters from Flipline Studios. It involves assuming the role of Cactus McCoy - a real-life talking, walking, brawling, and shooting cactus that has ended up this way because he went and picked up a cursed gem - in order to return the spiky gem to its rightful place, all the while being chased by gangs of mercenaries and other nasty fellows. This makes for somewhat of a unique platform-based adventure that involves a substantial quantity of brawling, shooting, and platform traversing in roughly equal measures.

screenshot of cactus mccoy

If you've ever used the internet to play games before, you're guaranteed to have come across the sort of format Cactus McCoy consists of at least once. It's a platform game at its core, with a control system that doesn't get more complicated than simply using the keyboard to do everything you need to do. Movement is carried out with the directional arrows of course, and the rest with various keyboard keys: A for jumping, A+(Downwards directional arrow) to jump down from a platform, the down arrow to pick up objects on the floor (such as weapons), S to fire your current weapon/punch, and s+(upwards arrow) to shoot projectiles upwards.

Once you've gotten to grips with the controls on the initial tutorial level that's also kind enough to give you a detailed run-through of each particular function and its keyboard assignment, you simply have to play through each of the levels doing the usual thing for a platform game such as this. Killing enemies, collecting various items, weapons, and money from your fallen enemies, collecting bonus items (such as treasure and wanted posters), and also just staying alive to reach the end of each discrete level - all of these are among the things you'll be getting up to during your time with/as Cactus McCoy.

Shooting game fans will be delighted at the prospect of being able to pick up a variety of weapons along the way, ranging from melee weapons such as pipes, cacti, and sticks to projectile weapons in the form of sheriff badges, darts, and wooden crates. It isn't a patch on what you get to wield in the quality Red Dead Redemption games (check out the website at http://www.rockstargames.com/reddeadredemption/), but for a free browser game Cactus McCoy has got a lot of variety. Your enemies (or enemigos as they are known in the game) drop coins when they snuff it; with this coinage you can buy yourself upgrades between levels. These range from improving your punching and swinging to increasing the effectiveness of your shooting, throwing, and whipping. That's right: there are whipping weapons in this game as well.

To analyse this game's worth, it would pay to look at the genre as a whole. Even though there are plenty of shooters, and many of these are of the platform variety (Raze is a good example, which can be found here at http://armorgames.com/play/5395/raze), there are relatively few western-themed platform shooters of the calibre of Cactus McCoy.  Developers Flipline Studios are best known for their time-management titles in the Papa Louie series of games, but in Cactus McCoy they seem to have struck developer's gold. This is a really well-designed and extremely well executed game.

It's a pleasure to praise everything about Cactus McCoy's design, from the pleasantly detailed artwork to the spot-on physics, varied weapons, challenging enemies, and platform mini-puzzles that make for some well-balanced gameplay that's very good at what it does. The western music is also very distinctive, though this could do with being muted (you do have the option) or at least reduced in volume since it gets a little repetitive after a while. It's a little reminiscent of Lucasart's Outlaws PC game from way back in 1997 - you can read more information about this game at http://steamcommunity.com/groups/OutlawsVideoGame.

If there are any faults to speak of they would be with the absence of true boss battles, though there are plenty of enemies to be getting along with fighting. Some casual gamers may get a little frustrated at the jumping-based puzzles at points as well, but this could be seen as part of the game's challenging appeal. Cactus McCoy simply has an abundance of great content to discover as well as achievements to attain and items to find to complete the game to 100% standard - this means hours of gameplay and therefore hours of unique, wild-west fun.

Bebop Rating: 8.3/10