Not the fastest, or even the hottest gun in the west.
UFO Interactive has been a big supporter of Nintendo's digital download services. Most of the titles they have released, however, were marred by errors in execution. Johnny Hotshot is the sequel to an earlier 2012 release Johnny Kung Fu. Sucked into an arcade machine (I can't tell you how many times that's happened to me) during his lunch break, Johnny winds up as sheriff of an old west town pledged with the duty of capturing five wanted outlaws, including his nemesis, Mr. Wang.
There are five outlaws to capture, and each outlaw consists of three stages. The first is the Shooting Gallery, the second is known as the Saloon Shootout, and the final stage is called Catch 'Em All.
The Shooting Gallery is exactly what it sounds like. Various cardboard cutouts move in from both sides of the screen, and it is your job to blast them away for points. You can do this with the d-pad, Circle Pad, or tapping the targets with the touch screen as they come up. This is all the while being careful of not blasting away innocent civilians. Thankfully, enemy cutouts are highlighted with a red border while civilians are highlighted with a white border. That setup helps with taking down foes in a fast fashion.
The second stage of every level, my personal favorite of the three distinct stages of the game, puts Johnny and players right into the thick of the action. The camera is directly behind Johnny as you move him left and right, firing at stationary and moving cardboard cutouts.
The first two stages end when you shoot and hit the cutout of the outlaw. Usually this cutout only appears twice in a given stage, and when it does appear, it is only seemingly for almost less than a split second. Timing is crucial, but it seems the window of opportunity is so small that luck is more of a factor than anything else.
The final stage has Johnny on horseback on the left side of the screen as he chases after the outlaw on the right side of the screen, attempting to flee capture. The villain won't go down without a fight. Depending on the outlaw, bullets, bombs, arrows, or missiles can be fired at Johnny. You have to dodge the outlaw's shots while avoiding passing rocks and other obstacles. This is easier said than done as there is no advanced warning of when an obstacle is coming, and you're moving so fast that you get little chance to evade. When the outlaw's health gets lowered enough by Johnny's shots, it's time to try to lasso him off his horse. A button mashing segment begins. Once the gauge is in the correct zone, a tap of the X button will send the outlaw to jail where he belongs. Mess up the timing, and the chase continues.
While the game contains points, I don't even see the, well, "point" of them. They don't do anything substantial besides give you a meaningless ranking at the end of a level. Since the main idea of the game is to defeat the outlaw of a stage as fast as possible, it's like Whose Line Is It Anyway in the fact that the points really don't matter in the grand scheme of the game.
The way Johnny Hotshot is structured is problematic. You need a certain amount of stars to unlock the next outlaw's series of stages. Considering the prerequisite amounts are so strict, you will be replaying the same one or two stages over and over again, making marginal progress along the way. Each stage awards you with up to three stars depending on how fast you shoot or capture the wanted character. Like the amount of stars needed to advance in the game, the time limits you have to earn stars are also strict. This means you will, indeed, be playing a stage over and over again until you get it perfectly done. All of this feels much like padding and artificially extending the game. If you don't get enough of Johnny Hotshot by playing through it normally, you can always gun for all of the achievements within the game for completing certain in-game tasks.
Johnny Hotshot misses the mark for the most part. The game is fun, but being forced to play through the same stages over and over again just to make progress is irritating. It's simply poor design. Whether or not you choose to go after the achievements is another story as well as most will probably want to be done with the game by the time they unlock all five levels Johnny Hotshot has to offer. It isn't necessarily a bad game -- I love a lot of the ideas put into it, but it's just like a good portion of UFO Interactive's software: flawed in execution.