Developer(s): American Laser Games
Publisher: Philips Interactive Media
Released: 1994

Mad Dog McCree is a shooting gallery that utilizes the Peacekeeper gun controller (which was bundled with the game). If you’re familiar with classic light guns like the NES Zapper, well, the Peacekeeper isn’t really like that. It’s more like a Wii remote, utilizing a sensor bar that plugs into the controller port of your CD-i console in order to track where you’re aiming. In theory, this is great, as it would even allow you to use the controller on a modern TV, but in practice it requires constant re-calibration, and, even in the best conditions, feels far from accurate.

The saloon is my favorite of the initial batch of levels

Set in an western community being terrorized by Mad Dog McCree and his gang, you play as a stranger who wanders into town and is immediately drafted into the fight by an old prospector. After an initial introductory shootout, you’re given a choice of stages, which can be played in any order, though there is some story continuity if you, say, tackle the saloon before the sheriff’s office, since one of Mad Dog’s goons in the bar has the keys to the jail cell where the sheriff is being held. The inclusion of things like this help Mad Dog McCree stand out a bit against other interactive movies, which tend to be very linear. There are also moments where a townsperson may give you a hint about what to do in the later stages (i.e. attack Mad Dog’s lair from either the front or the rear), which can vary across your playthroughs, and may even require some note-taking.

You will see this screen a lot and it will not help

Each stage has a set number of goons that must be shot as they pop up into frame, though many of the stages present said goons in random order. Occasionally a harmless townsperson will pop-up instead, and you’ll lose a life if you shoot them. The main problem with the game is that the shooting is so inaccurate and finicky that you can find yourself aiming directly down the sights at an enemy’s midsection, even see a little burst over their body indicating where the “bullet” hit, and still get shot by them and have to start the stage over. If you’re lucky enough to have a CD-i that can save games, it is possible to mark your place, but it also records how many lives you have, so you’re somewhat incentivized to re-load your game when a stage goes poorly if you ever want to see the end of this thing.

This guy fell off a roof to entertain you

Besides standard shooting gallery stages, you’ll also be dropped into “showdown” stages from time to time (including every time you re-load a saved game). In these you’re facing off against a single opponent and have to wait until you’re allowed to draw before you can shoot them. You draw by shooting the holster in the corner (which is also how you reload your gun during normal stages), and there’s no penalty for shooting at the holster too early, so continuously firing at it is the easiest way to ensure you’ll draw the moment you’re allowed to and be able to get the drop on your dueling partner.

A showdown stage starring one of the many men you will murder

Live-action FMV games like Mad Dog McCree are mostly played nowadays to enjoy (or mock) (or enjoy mocking) their acting, and I think this one acquits itself fairly well, as far as those things go. I’m not saying the acting is good, nor that the story is interesting, but the sets are large and impressive and classically “western”, and they do throw a guy off a roof now and then, which at least indicates they were trying, and sometimes that’s enough. As frustrating as it is to actually play Mad Dog McCree, the Mad Dog McCree experience is an enjoyable one.

Graphics – 8
You can’t get realer than real

Sound – 8
The dialogue is clear, which is good, as there are no subtitles

Gameplay – 3
The Peacekeeper controller is simply not accurate enough to stand up to the odd timing windows and small hitboxes the game presents

Value – 6
If you’re not constantly re-loading your save and brute-forcing your way through, it’ll take days of practice to get good enough to see the entire game

Reviewer’s Tilt – 7
I found it charming, and I like seeing stuntmen fall off of things

Final Score – 5.9