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The Adventures of Bayou Billy (NES) artwork

The Adventures of Bayou Billy (NES) review

"Admittedly, The Adventures of Bayou Billy is usually unsatisfactory, uninviting, and outrageous. The storyline is pure putrid poppycock! From the outset, the game seems a bit hopeless; what was Konami thinking? Does this title have a purpose? "

Admittedly, The Adventures of Bayou Billy is usually unsatisfactory, uninviting, and outrageous. The storyline is pure putrid poppycock! From the outset, the game seems a bit hopeless; what was Konami thinking? Does this title have a purpose?

Perhaps eventually you’ll realize, however, that the game is of THREE different genres; quite the innovative idea for its time. Bold enough to try such an idea, Konami unleashed this title with the hopes of starting a new trend: the multi-genre video game. Throughout your adventure, the player can experience side-scrolling beat-‘em-up, car driving, and shooter, all within the same tale. Oh yes, there is much beating, driving, and shooting to be done in these bayous. Not only that, the title features compatibility with Nintendo’s Zapper gun, allowing for more realism. While the games are for the most part an eventual disappointment, the game collectively certainly isn’t the barren wasteland that other reviews assert.

An atmosphere of comic genius emits from the NES as you fire this sucker up; the story is of an unbelievably stereotypical caliber. The player takes control of Billy, master of the Bayou. Recently busting a smuggling network at, get this, Red Bean ‘N Rice Warehouse, Billy has never been more on top of his game. All of the ladies of the bayou love him. He’s feeling good. He’s in the zone.

From there, you and your girl Annabelle (described as nothing less than “the sweetest honey this side of a bee’s nest,” mind you) are walking home from the Jambalaya Jamboree, where you were bobbing for crawdads and shared a fillet gumbo. I’m not making this up. At all. Suddenly, a limousine speeds by and bullets are fired at your house! You hit the ground for cover, and after the car has sped away, you find a rock with a note attached to it next to your head.

The note reads (and I’m not making this up still, if you can believe that):

Dear Mista Bayou Billy,

Cause of your meddlin' in my livelihood, I've taken measures to end your hankerin' for bravery. Your cherished Annabelle is hold up here on my plantation and lessin' you stop messin' with my business she ain't never gonna grace your neck of the swamp again

Threateningly yours,

Dread and treachery take over as Billy spouts off the phrase, “OH-GOD.” What is to be done? Your honey, who happens to be a very sweet honey, has been kidnapped! And by the same man that you sabotaged earlier with the whole smuggling network in the bean warehouse thing. Gordon, despite his name, is one badass mammajamma. Not only does he have his ruffian-types just patrolling the swamps waiting for you, he has name-specific henchmen to beat on you. Watch out for such groupies as Thugs McGraw, Marty Graw, The Cajun Cut Throat, Migraine Mike, Jacques Killstow, and the indispensable A. L. Hurt!

As previously mentioned, your quest to rescue Annabelle (who has appeared on the cover of Swamp Digest several times; still not making this up) is experienced through multiple genres. The first trials of your adventure are played out in the form of a side-scrolling beat-‘em-‘up. In this game, Billy progresses on foot through the swamps and the streets from left to right, being forced to dispose of all thugs he encounters. On top of this, Gordon has apparently hired some wildlife to make your life even worse; at times, you will be forced to beat up multiple crocodiles at once before the screen will scroll, allowing you to go any further. Just how susceptible is a crocodile to the fist of a fairly chubby guy with an ugly hat and a bad walk? You be the judge.

The stages played out in this genre are of respectable visual quality. The backgrounds are fairly detailed with trees and green and whatever you’d expect in a bayou. They do get repetitive, though, because they’re used more than once. The foreground is mostly just brown dirt that you walk on, except for the occasional puddle-sized swamp that just happens to be infested with three crocodiles. Characters are a bit silly; they all seem to have good intentions with whatever they’re doing, but why are they all wearing jumpsuits? Not exactly ideal apparel for the bayou, I wouldn’t think.

Animation and gameplay are a bit disappointing in this “mode,” however. Characters all walk with the same, manly strut, which I can deal with. There is no running, though, and all characters seem to walk at the same speed for one reason or another. I’m guessing Konami just didn’t feel like giving them different walking speeds. Anyhow, Billy is capable of punching and kicking the swampy thugs, or, if he has one, using a gun, knife, or stick. Attack animations are decent, but enemies on the receiving end apparently experience no pain whatsoever. Whenever you strike an opponent, they refuse to even flinch; they merely flash different colors. Not only this, they will actually interrupt you kicking them in the head repeatedly and kick YOU, all while showing no signs of pain or discomfort. This makes the game very, very hard; no matter how you go about attacking, the enemy will always be able to easily respond at will. Enemies don’t even fall down until they’re dead.

The only saving grace is that sometimes a turkey leg will pop out of their faces, which you can eat to regain health. Other items enemies may drop include a weapon if they’re wielding one, a bullet-proof vest which reduces the damage that enemies do, and a star, which wipes out all enemies that happen to be on-screen.

Controls are livable, if not a tad unresponsive. The A button is used to kick, and the B button throws punches. Pressing left, right, up, or down moves Billy in the respective direction on the screen. Combining the two buttons allows Billy to perform a jump-kick that ends up being just as ineffective as the other maneuvers. By pressing select, you toggle in and out of gun mode, where you can use a firearm if you have any bullets.

All in all, an average showing in the first genre. While definitely not Double Dragon-like, it’s not the unplayable monster you may have read elsewhere.

The second game-type is the shooter. Capable of being played with either the standard NES controller, or the Nintendo Zapper, this is probably the best of the three genres featured. Here, the screen automatically scrolls left to right, with enemies popping out of the foliage of the background. Using your Zapper/controller, you must shoot them, and with deadly accuracy; if you’re so unfortunate that you do not find an extra bullets power-up, you will die. Because that’s what happens when you run out of bullets. You die.

Enemies feature a level of quality in animation far higher than that of the beat-‘em-‘up game; they’ll jump down from trees and pop out from behind bushes. They’ll run around. They’ll throw sticks of dynamite and shoot bazookas at you. By shooting the incoming fire before it gets to you, you can blow it up, preventing it from ever hitting you. It’s more constructive to just shoot the enemies, though.

The controls of this game are decent. Namely this is because there is only one button. Using the Zapper, your only choice is obviously to pull the trigger. On the NES controller, the A button fires your gun, and you’ll have to use the control pad to move the cursor around in order to target enemies. While certainly the controller version of this game isn’t as workable as with the Zapper, Konami does a good job as making it as playable as possible; the cursor is responsive enough, and it plays just as good as any other shooter.

Perhaps my only question thus far is why Billy can withstand multiple bazooka blasts and dynamite explosions, but a few kicks to the face will down him pretty quickly in the other mode. Ah well. Our final mode of play is the driving mode, where Billy takes to his jeep as he tries to progress even closer to the devious Gordon.

Unfortunately enough, the driving portion is completely useless, and an utter disappointment. Graphics are more of the green stuff we’re used to seeing in the bayou now, only with a lesser quality. Controlling Billy’s jeep from behind, you’ll notice much pop-up as far as oncoming objects go. Ultimately, all you do is try to make it to the end of the stage, while shooting at enemy cars along the way. Persistent is this Gordon fellow; he’ll exhaust all resources just to watch you struggle. From the many cars to limitless supplies of explosives to crocodiles, Gordon takes advantage of his equipment like a man with a mission.

Controlling the Jeep is a trial in patience. Pressing up on the control pad causes your vehicle to accelerate, while pressing down makes the jeep slow down. Pressing left or right allows you to turn slightly in those respective directions. This is vital, because there are many, many wooden poles of incomprehensible durability out there, waiting to explode your jeep should you even tap one with it. Pressing the A button allows Billy to throw some dynamite of his own enemies, and pressing the B button is a machine gun of sorts. Overall, a decent idea; car fights are fun to watch in action movies. With execution like this, though, they should have just directed the effort towards the other two games, which aren’t even close to as bad as this one.

Overall, the sound effects and music of the game are above average. The stage themes are generally enjoyable, and add to any atmosphere the game may have. Sound effects are a bit disappointing though; the punch and kick sounds are just static, and the car driving is just annoying. I’m forgiving of this, though, since the background music is of good quality.

There are many ingredients in the recipe that is The Adventures of Bayou Billy. An outrageously kooky storyline, average side-scrolling action, an even better shooter, and a totally useless driving game are all represented. Add in livable graphics, good background themes, and unbearably difficult enemies, and you have some action in the bayou on your hands. I almost feel sorry for the game; it gets bashed too much. While it doesn’t deserve that much credit to begin with, it does deserve recognition for trying to blend three genres of gaming into a single experience; a great concept for its time.

dogma's avatar
Community review by dogma (January 18, 2004)

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