Showdown in 2100 A.D. (Odyssey^2, 1979)
Takes the old idea of a duel between gunfighters and gives it a "futuristic" setting, the 22nd Century!!! The cowboys are animated in a similar manner to the main characters in I've Got Your Number and War of Nerves, but of course, these guys have hats.
The "trees" are a way of replenishing one's ammunition. Just touch a tree that's the same color as you are and you get more bullets. Running out of ammo seems to be a standard feature in a cowboy themed gun duel game, but the ability to reload is new and I found it to be a nice touch. The trees also serve as pinball bumpers. If you shoot one you may set up a wild series of ricochets that could kill you or your opponent. This feature gave my children a lot of giggles as each would find it absolutely hilarious when the other shot themselves with a ricochet bullet.
Looking at the other gun duel games available at the time there's Gunfight on the Bally Professional Arcade and Outlaw on the Atari VCS.
Gunfight's design on the Bally Professional Arcade beats out Showdown in 2100 A.D. due to a few factors, one being the ability to control the angle of the shot and another being the better graphics and sound. Gunfight may be a better design, but we had many more laughs while playing Showdown.
Outlaw on the Atari VCS, like so many games on the VCS, has a great deal of variations and that alone gives it more replay value than Showdown. Outlaw also has destructible environments which add a lot of fun. Yet, again, we laughed a lot harder playing Showdown.
At first glance, on pure technical merit, I'd rank the Gun duel games on the three systems that had them as: #1 Gunfight, #2 Outlaw and #3 Showdown. (Oh, and I almost forgot about Gunfighter for the RCA Studio II which I'll rank fifth out of four.)
On the other hand, Showdown in 2100 A.D. has something that neither of the other games have and that's a single player mode with a computer controlled opponent. In fact, it even has a zero-player mode. If you start a game and leave the controllers alone, both gunslingers will become computer controlled and will shoot it out. It can be fun to watch, especially due to the ricochet gameplay. The single player opponent isn't much of a challenge, but the fact that it exists give major points in my book to the Odyssey^2's version.
If I were shoveling out original retail price cash for any of the three*, I'd say that Outlaw for the Atari gives two-players the most for their money. However, considering Showdown's single player mode and the fact that we laughed most and hardest while playing the two-player game, I'm going to say that Showdown is our favorite gun duel game from the era. If it were 1979 and we had to choose a gun duel game that we could only play for 15 minutes, I wouldn't hesitate to slap Showdown in before the others.
I've got some movies of the action in Showdown. You may also want to check out the I've Got Your Number entry for gameplay movies I added. (See the link at its earlier mention.)
Blue Shoots Red! (1.22 MB)
Blue gets the drop on Red.
Riccochet Shot! (1.65 MB)
Red gets pulled back by some trees and then Blue pulls the 'ol ricochet shot on him.
Red's Revenge (1.91 MB)
Red, entirely fed up with blue, demonstrates an interesting morphing of Blue's corpse while repeatedly shooting it into a pile of mush.
(ALL DEAD LINKS REMOVED. I AM FULLY AWARE OF MY MANY FAULTS.)
*Ignore, for the moment, the fact that Gunfight was a built-in game for the Bally Professional Arcade.