Point Blank. Namco (1997) PlayStation

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Point Blank Cover
Point Blank is best summed up as Mario Party with guns. With light gun games, you either love them or hate them but with Point Blank, there little to hate, as it is pure fun.

Background

Point Blank started life as an arcade machine in 1994, and it was pretty damn good. Here on the 1997 PlayStation version you get pretty much the same thing.

Point Blank doesn’t go down the same route as other popular light gun games, there are no terrorists, there is no story. Instead you have a series of minigames in varying degrees of difficulty. There is nobody shooting back at you, all the targets are cardboard cutouts, so all you have to worry about is the time, and your aim.

Here you defend Dr Dan, and Dr Don from Piranhas.

Here you defend Dr Dan, and Dr Don from Piranhas.

Levels vary wildly. Some levels are “one shot, shoot apple off head”, some are shoot the matching symbol, others are whack-a-mole style shoot as much as you can in as little time as possible. There are also shoot only red, or blue targets.

There are several allusions to other games too. One homage to Street Fighter requires you to shoot a car until it blows up, as well as more obvious games based on Duck Hunt.

Duck Hunt much?

Duck Hunt much?

Different games test different skills as well, some are about pure speed, some slow, steady and require an aim, others test your mental capacity, so the game has managed to squeeze in a lot of depth into such a simple concept.

Shoot the birds, avoid bombs...

Shoot the birds, avoid bombs…

Replayability

You’re relying on fun here, and Point Blank is inherently fun. 2 player mode is fun, you can work together, or you can screw your friend over by stealing all the kills. Other than that? You can high score chase. Personally I don’t tend to be bothered about high scores, but the option is there.

BUT. And it is a very big butt. The highscores for each minigame are not saved onto your memory card. So when you turn off, your scores are gone. It keeps the overall score, but sadly loses individual games.

My current high scores in Point Blank

My current high scores in Point Blank

The music is pretty terrible, for some bizarre reason it uses a phone ringing in its 10-15 loop, so you’ll constantly be thinking the phone is ringing. You never get used to it either. It is pretty terrible.

It is also the only music in the game, and you hear it between every round.

However, assuming you can get to the end without quitting, it only takes 10 minutes to do “Very Hard”, you only do 16 minigames per game, and each one is 5-30 seconds long.

The short length isn’t an issue though, as there are about 100 minigames, meaning there is always something new, and stops games becoming repetitive.

What’s new?

Well, there is a story mode… This is basically an RPG where you buy items, level up, and suffer Random Encounters. To be honest, I’m not a fan of this.I am not sure how much playtime it has to offer, but you can see there was time and energy spent on the story mode. It wasn’t just a crappy after thought for the PS1 version.

The start of the game is infuriatingly easy. You fight the easiest mode of the easiest minigames over and over and over and over and over… and over. and over… You will be sick to death of the Clay Pigeon game as I had this about 30 times in 2 hours of play. As you progress you get progressively more difficult fights, but if you’re reasonably competent at the game  the first sections of the Story mode are insanely easy, and therefore dull and monotonous to play.

A lot of levels require you to defend Dr Dan and Dr Don.

A lot of levels require you to defend Dr Dan and Dr Don.

Overall

There isn’t much more to say about Point Blank. It is fun as hell, and a light gun game. It eschewed the conventions of the genre and avoided “on-rails”, and stuck to a series of minigame gallery shooters. Even if you hate light gun games, you’ll enjoy Point Blank.

Point Blank is certainly one of the best light gun game ever made, it got a slightly inferior sequel in Point Blank 2, but the 3rd game in the series perhaps tops the antics of the first.

However, it is basic. You’ll enjoy it for a few hours every now and then. Unless you really want a perfect score. Me, however, just likes shooting ninjas.

Pros: fun as hell. Enhanced by 2 players

Cons: Story mode, relatively short

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