REVIEW – Johnny Hotshot (3DS eShop) Review

Help Me –

UFO introduced Johnny, their “Mario,” with Johnny KungFu over the summer.  While Johnny’s original adventure depicted him as a retro fighting master, this blond haired hero makes his return as a wild western sheriff in Johnny Hotshot, a $5.99 3DS eShop download.  But like pretty much every other UFO game, the quality is subpar thanks to balancing issues and poor design choices.

Johnny Hotshot is essentially three mini-games in one: Shooting Gallery, Saloon Shoot Out, and Cath’em All.

Shooting Gallery gives the player control of a targeting reticule that can only be moved in limited set positions.  The goal is to shoot the bad guys while avoiding the civilians as they appear.  However, in order to proceed to the next stage, the bandit leader might be shot.  The problem is the leader only appears for a fraction of a second, making it nearly impossible to progress in the game   Only after playing this first level over a dozen times was I finally able to proceed to level 2 by shooting the leader through memorization. But even though I knew when and where to shoot, the game’s finicky hit detection made this whole mini game way more frustrating than it needed to be.  For a game that is so simple and basic, its frustratingly cheap difficulty should be enough to make gamers delete the game from their SD card before the other two-thirds of the game are seen.

These Shooting Gallery stages also feature a timer that really just doesn’t make any sense.  If you do not shoot the leader, the game will just end when it wants to.  One time the game ended at 43 seconds, the next at the 1 minute mark.  I thought this might have something to do with the number of enemies you shoot but there is no indication of being rewarded extra time.  The complete lack of a How To Play option and the inconsistences leaves more questions than answers.

Johnny Hotshot also hates anyone who plays this game.  You see, in order to progress to the next set of stages, a certain number of stars must be collected.  And the only way to get stars is to perform well during each mini game.  But it is impossible to earn a high score because the game is unfairly difficult.  If all the stages were unlocked from the beginning, players might actually be inclined to at least test out the other stages.  But since it is doubtful that most gamers will even see the second stage, it is a never ending circle of frustration.

Beating level 1 requires patience and determination.  Unfortunately, the pay out of having the chance to play the second mini game does not justify the frustration of actually completing the Shooting Gallery stages.  Saloon Shoot Out is similar to Shooting Gallery except instead of controlling a targeting cursor the player actually controls Johnny through lateral movement with the goal of shooting certain targets while avoiding others.  While nowhere near as difficult as the first mini game, these shoot outs are bland and cheap as well.

The third and final type of gameplay is Catch’em All.  Here, Johnny chases the bandit leader on horseback by moving vertically and attacking him with his pistol.  Once he does enough damage, there is a limited time to lasso the bandit by button mashing the attack button and releasing at the right time. The problem with this mode is that the enemy is generically reactive to the player’s movement – if you move up, the enemy moves down.  This means there is only that one opportunity to actually connect a bullet in that brief moment when paths cross.  Like the rest of the game, it is not fun and only frustrates. In fact, you know it is going to be a problem when the game’s one and only instruction message states – “Need to be exactly the boss position.”  Either this game was made carefree or with the complete lack of basic translation.

The only type of replay value comes in the form built-in Achievements.  But since the gameplay is so terrible, there is no reason to even attempt at unlocking them all… that is unless you hate yourself.  It is also worth pointing out that skilled players can literally beat the entire game in under 5 minutes (there is an achievement for it so I am assuming it is possible).

Noteworthy, that this is one of the few UFO downloadable games to actually support polygonal 3D elements. But the addition of the 3rd dimension does not increase presentation values in any way.  The soundtrack is also annoyingly repetitive and the innocent civilians’ “help me” cry is misleading and irritating.

UFO has been releasing downloadable games on the 3DS eShop and DSiWare marketplace consistently over the last several weeks.  And just like those titles, Johnny Hotshot lacks any sense of quality or depth.  This game was clearly made on a tight budget but there are much better ways to spend $5.99 on the eShop.


On Par With: pretty much every other UFO game

Also Try: Point Blank DS

Wait For It: the next Johnny game

By: Zachary Gasiorowski

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