Title: Western Guns!
Developer: Chuo Team, Glowbe USA
Publisher: Glowbe USA
System: Musjido Multimedia System (MMS)
Release Date:
NA: November 11, 1990

Glowbe USA was an arm of Glowbe Co. Ltd. in Japan, founded primarily to localize Glowbe’s original games for the North American market. During the latter part of 1989, Glowbe learned that it would be getting more North American Musjido MMS cartridges than it had initially anticipated. There had been a chip shortage throughout 1987 and 1988 that had impacted the available quantities of games in North America, so Glowbe had been deliberately over-ordering in hopes of receiving more units to sell. When the shortage ended, they found themselves with more inventory than they knew what to do with, and thanks to the policies of Musjido at the time, Glowbe was locked into the sale.

With their existing games selling modestly and any new titles at least a year off, Glowbe USA began looking to purchase the rights to a cheap Japanese game it could localize to use up additional stock. After watching a double feature of Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven, Glowbe USA manager Ken Nakayama instructed his team to look for a samurai video game he could remake into a western; they returned with Samurai no Densetsu and Nakayama immediately bought the international rights from Chuo for $5000.

In Glowbe’s hands, the Sengoku Jidai game was reimagined as taking place in 1880, with Civil War veteran Ken (named after Nakayama) searching for the daughter of his late commanding officer, assisted by bounty hunter East, bar maiden Viki, and crazed miner Zeke. The game’s visuals were extensively overhauled into a western theme, with most sprites redrawn from scratch, a process that only took two months. The Joytana accessory had never been released in North America, so Glowbe replaced it with the light gun that came with the MMS, the Musjido Buzzer. The game was also rescored, replacing the 8-bit adaptations of classic kabuki music with a western-influenced score inspired by Bernstein and Morricone, at least insofar as the onboard synthesizer would permit.

Western Guns! was released in time for the holiday season, and was a surprisingly strong seller in North America. In fact, it outsold all other Glowbe games that season, thanks in part to a strong marketing push and a front-cover feature in Musjido Might magazine, complete with maps, strategy, and a fold-out poster. In fact, one Glowbe had run through its leftover cartridges, it authorized two more print runs to meet demand, which only started to flag as consumers began losing interest in the Musjido MMS in favor of the new Ultra Musjido which was released the following year.

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