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Konami Beat-em-ups

Bayou Billy

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by Bobinator - March 8, 2015

The Adventures of Bayou Billy / Mad City (マッド・シティ) - NES (1988)

American Cover

Japanese Cover

Before their first brawlers in the arcades, Konami released this for the NES, a system on which they did some of their most well remembered work. It's an interesting experiment in a multi-genre game, but as time passes on, it's ended up mostly reviled by the internet. You control Billy West, a hillbilly who lives in the swamp, who happens to share an uncanny resemblance to Paul Hogan's character in Crocodile Dundee. Billy has a girlfriend by the name of Annabelle, and like any girlfriend of a beat-em-up player character worth her salt, she is promptly kidnapped by a mobster named Godfather Gordon. Billy then sets off on a rampage across the state of Louisiana to get back Annabelle. This is probably one of the first video games to be set in the state of Louisiana, although it's... pretty far from being accurate.

The most interesting thing about Bayou Billy is that the entire game takes place across three entirely separate genres, with each level offering one of three different styles of gameplay. Some levels put you in a side-scrolling brawler of the Double Dragon variety, some levels are shooting levels that bring to mind Operation Wolf, and some are driving stages that put Billy in his jeep. A majority of the game, however, is set in the brawler sections, with only a couple of levels each reserved for the two other modes. It's not a bad idea at all, but what really brings the entire thing down is that the game, even by the standards set by most NES games, is far too hard.

In the beat-em-up sections, you generally wander forward, punching, kicking, or sometimes jump kicking anybody who gets in your way. Unfortunately, that's more or less your entire move set, without so much as a throw to use. Lack of moves aside, actually fighting whatever enemies you come across Is generally going to lead to frustration. Enemies generally attack too quickly for you to be able to get the first hit in, and even if you do, they recover so quickly that they'll usually instantly counterattack if you don't move out of the way. What this usually leads to is carefully fighting one enemy at a time by stepping in, kicking him, and moving away, repeating this for the six or so hits it takes to kill a single enemy. When you're dealing with two or three enemies at once, however, you're basically screwed, because if you hit one enemy, the other two will hit you right back with nothing you can do about it.

So, the beat-em-up sections aren't much fun, but maybe the shooting sections will be better. In these stages, the screen scrolls from left to right, with enemies popping on screen for you to fire at. You can either use a gamepad-controlled crosshair or the Nintendo Zapper to take out enemies, depending on which of the two game modes you chose. These stages wouldn't be too bad, either, since you're given a reasonable amount of time to take each enemy out before they inflict damage on you. The problem is that you've got a limited supply of ammo, and when it runs out, you die. Also, there are no ammo pickups.

In the driving sections, you're put in a view behind Billy's jeep, somewhat like NES driving games like Rad Racer. You drive down the road, using your jeep's machine gun to take out other cars, while throwing out grenades to destroy bomb-dropping planes. Much like the rest of the game, these sections wouldn't be that bad if it weren't for some issue that makes them basically impossible to play through. In this case, a single touch from another car, or even one of the posts on the side of the road, will make your jeep go up like a Pinto, taking one of your precious lives. Given that you only get three lives to a credit, you might see how this could be an issue.

So what you generally get from Bayou Billy is a game that's actually three games, only each game has some crippling flaw that makes them not very fun to play at all. Even getting through the first stage is a tall order, and beating the entire game on a limited number of credits isn't likely unless you're some kind of NES savant. On the bright side, the presentation is done fairly well. The backgrounds are well detailed, and there's some pretty good music in there, as you'd expect from an NES Konami game. There's even some classically muffled digitized speech in there, as well.

If you absolutely must play this game, it's worth seeking out the Japanese version, titled Mad City. Enemies take much less hits to die in the beat-em-up sections, while you're given much more ammo in the shooter sections. Even the driving sections have been vastly improved, since your car can take multiple hits. They're also a lot slower and generally easier to manage, much like the rest of the game itself. Once you beat the final boss, you're given the choice of multiple endings after beating the final boss, including one where Billy breaks up with Annabelle right after rescuing her, if you want to be a jerk. It's still not really a fantastic game, even with the improvements, but it's at least conceivably beatable.

Among other appearances, Archie Comics would bring out a miniseries based on the game, which would rather morbidly add a dead wife to Billy's backstory. The game was also featured in the generally forgettable '80s cartoon Captain N, where, in the most accuracy to its source material the show had at any point, Bayou Billy was the only game the main character couldn't finish.

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The Adventures of Bayou Billy (NES)

The Adventures of Bayou Billy (NES)

The Adventures of Bayou Billy (NES)

The Adventures of Bayou Billy (NES)


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Konami Beat-em-ups

Bayou Billy

S.P.Y. - Special Project Y

Crime Fighters / Vendetta

The Simpsons

Bucky O'Hare

X-Men

Batman Returns

Metamorphic Force

Gaiapolis

Violent Storm

Discuss on the Forums!

Back to the Index