Impressions: Big Buck Hunter Pro

I’ve always been a sucker for shooting galleries. Any time I make my way to an arcade that features several of the titles, I can’t help but plunk my 50 cents to $1.00 into the machine and burn up a good pocketful of cash simply trying to get my name in the credits. An iPhone app known as Big Buck Hunter Pro has surfaced, mirroring this experience for on-the-go hunting joy. In fact, it’s a portable version of a real light-gun game that you can find scattered throughout the US. And wouldn’t you know it? I’m impossibly hooked on this hokey little game.

If you’ve ever taken up one of the big plastic rifles at arcades featuring the actual machine, then you should feel right at home with this diminutive translation. There are three modes: one trek, three treks (the bread and butter of the game), or Bonus, which you may unlock upon completion of the main modes. This mirrors the arcade menu exactly, as one trek costs less than three, but in this case you’re only paying for the app. How sweet it is!

In a nutshell, you’re out to kill any bucks you find gallivanting throughout the forest. Morbid, yes, but hey — at least you can’t shoot the does! Using your finger, you simply tap any bucks to shoot them (obviously, the ones with antlers), and tap the bottom of the screen to reload periodically. Bucks, does, and various critters will run across the screen in each stage, and each stage has three bucks that you’ll have the opportunity to take down. Take them all out and score big.

If you manage to nab them by hitting vital organs, you’ll also score more. I’m not a fan of hunting, but this game is pretty darned addictive. When you finish up a round, you’ll be scored and assigned a rank — who knows? You might be the Hunter Hero of a certain stage. If you shoot a doe, though, watch out! It’s game over. And you can’t replay that stage, so be very careful where you shoot.

The graphics are quite low-quality, as are the voiceovers, filled with cringe-inducing faux-Southern accents. Fortunately, they gameplay is addictive and long-lasting, should you play it in short bursts. Unlike standing up in the arcade or Mr. Gatti’s where you will likely find the machines, it’s best to take along this pocket-sized buck hunting sim and play for a few minutes at a time, lest it become repetitive.

If you think you’re some kind of a Hunter Hero, you can submit your high scores and scan the leaderboards, both locally and globally, to see what everyone else is up to. Another interesting feature is the Big Buck Hunter Pro arcade machine locator that allows you to input your location and it will point you in the direction of a machine to play the game the way it was meant to be played.

Big Buck Hunter Pro is a great way to experience the game on the go, even though it’s laughably low production values should spell “disaster.” Don’t judge a book by its cover here, though, or you’ll be missing out on some silly fun to be had on trips, car rides, waiting in line, or even in the comfort of your own bed. And you’ll be saving a lot of real bucks from their demise.

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