West Bank for the Commodore 64 was one of my all-time favourite games back in the 1980s. Despite its simple premise, West Bank’s requirement for concentration and fast reaction all wrap up in a Western Cowboy setting had me returning to it time after time. So imagine my excitement when I found out that Shoot’Em Up Construction Kit (SEUCK) game design maestro, Alf Yngve, had produced Bank Run, a West Bank/Bank Panic inspired clone, back in 2013.
The backstory to Bank Run is that you are a Sheriff who has been assigned to guard the local bank, following a series of robberies carried out by an outlaw group known as the Bounty Boys. As customers start coming into the bank, those nasty gunslingers come by looking to conduct another unlawful withdrawal and its all up to you to prevent this from occurring.
As you start up Bank Run, you immediately recognise that Yngve has done a very good job in providing an alternative approach to the SEUCK shooter genre. The game engine scrolls from right to left, bringing all the bank doors into view as you wait for them to open to see if it contains someone that requires some of your deadly justice. The on-screen cross-hair has a narrow vertical band in which it can travel, which means that you only really need to worry about moving the cross-hairs left and right to aim at robbers, while pressing the joystick button to shoot them down before they pump you full of lead for being slow on the job.
But beware, as Sheriff, you have sworn an oath to keep innocent townsfolk from harm, so in among the frantic action if you shoot a fair lady or an unarmed man (no matter how shifty they look) then you will lose one of your precious three lives. As a secondary objective, you can shoot money bags that will result in bonus points being awarded, which will come in handy as an extra life can be obtained ever 10,000 points.
Bank Run is a good-looking game. Graphics are bright, vibrant and detailed. Richard Bayliss provides a wonderful western themed soundtrack to the game. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the sound effects on offer. Normally, when given the choice between in game music or sound effects, I will choose the former, but with Bank Run I found myself using the sound effects as it provided me with feedback as to whether my shots were on target or not.
As you progress through the game, you will find a good amount of variation with the enemies. Some will just peak their head beyond the door, others will hide behind ladies daring you to take your best shot and then there are some who sneakily shoot through windows. At the end of each game day you will come to what is equivalent to a boss battle, whereby you are confronted with three closed doors on screen and you must be at your quickest to ensure you are able to handle what is behind each one as they open, sometimes simultaneously.
The sequence of game characters revealed in the game always appears to be the same, as it does in all SEUCK based games, so if you can memorise the enemy patterns then you are sure to be able to make good progress through Bank Run. But towards the latter levels, robbers come out in simultaneous swarms and only those with the quickest reflexes have any hope of surviving.
Alf Yngve’s Bank Run is an enjoyable game. All the graphical, sonic and gameplay elements have been combined so well to provide a fun and rewarding experience. If you like this type of shooter game then you really do need to give Bank Run a try, you won’t regret it.
Well what are you waiting for Sheriff? There is a bank that needs your protection. Time to mosey on out and fill those bad guys with some lead.
Digital Download: Bank Run D64