There’s probably no better scene in movie history than Doc Holliday stepping through the trees to confront Johnny Ringo and saying coolly, “I’m your huckleberry.” The quick draw gun fight that follows is brilliant, capped by Doc standing over Ringo’s body and declaring, “You’re no daisy at all!” The whole quick draw trope is fun. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy Gary Cooper in High Noon? The lone man of honor standing tall against Frank Miller and his outlaw band is tense and exciting and probably gave birth to countless backyard cap gun battles.
Aspiring gunslingers looking to sharpen their digital reflexes were first given the opportunity to try their hand at head-to-head gun play in the 1975 arcade game Gun Fight (titled Western Gun in Japan). The game was released by Taito in Japan and Midway in North America.
There was no plot to the game. You simply squared off against another player to see who was quicker with a gun. A variety of obstacles were on screen providing shelter, from cacti to stage coaches, and players were provided with six shots per round. As an added curiosity, bullets could ricochet off the edge of the screen, so players could bank their shots when attempting to hit their opponent. When you successfully shot your foe they dropped to the ground and the words, “Got Me!” appeared over their body.
The North American adaptation was notable for being the first video game to utilize a microprocessor. Tomohiro Nishikado, who designed the Japanese version of the game, was impressed by the microprocessor and decided to use it in a minor hit released a few years later known as Space Invaders.
The game also prompted Atari to release a similar game known as Outlaw. Unlike Gun Fight, which relied on joysticks to move the characters and provide direction for the gunfire, Outlaw utilized a light gun.
Today, games like western based video games Red Dead Redemption have turned into smash hits. With brilliant graphics, elaborate stories, and vast worlds to explore, they are a stunningly immersive experience. Still, there’s a distinct charm to the simplicity of games like Gun Fight, squaring off against your opponent to see who has the better reflexes, who has got the dead eye and who will drop dead. Think you’re the fastest draw this side of the Mississippi? Just say when. You’re a daisy if you do.