Recently, Games Of Our Lives has looked back on some pretty sucky arcade relics. It's been fun to have a nice big laugh at their expense, especially since they can't defend themselves. But this week, we're going to remember one of the unheralded standouts from 1983: Bank Panic. It wasn't as ubiquitous as Journey, and it didn't have Spy Hunter's soundtrack, but it was (and is) a whole lot of fun to play.
Gameplay: You are a lawman (appropriately named HERO!), and you look very nice in your white hat, blue vest, and little red tie. No, really. You do. You're just precious! Aren't you precious? Yes you are! Yes! You! Are!
Your bank has 12 doors (apparently, security wasn't a concern when it was built), which you patrol three doors at a time. When a door opens, you'll see a friendly citizen who is there to make a deposit, or a surly bandit who is there to, uh, make a withdrawal.
You'll have to blast the bandits before they blast you, and refrain from blasting any innocent citizens. This is much harder than it sounds, because they all bought their clothes at the same dry-goods shop, and this can lead to tragic results when your twitchy trigger finger mistakes a hapless depositor for a nasty bandit. It's fairly easy to get through the first two levels, but by level three, you'll face a bit of mayhem as the bandits plant bombs, sneak up behind friendly citizens, and storm in through multiple doors simultaneously. If you can survive until level six, you'll experience some serious bedlam—as the Killer List Of Video Games observes, "It turns into a shooting gallery twitch exercise."
Could be mistaken for: Watching Back To The Future III with Patty Hearst.
Kids today might not like it because: If you shoot a bandit before he can draw his gun, the game complains that you're "unfair" and gives you a penalty. Oh. Excuse us while we give the bandit who is robbing the bank a "fair" chance to shoot us.
Kids today might like it because: They get to play cowboy without the fruity costumes. Not that there's anything wrong with fruity costumes.
Enduring contribution to gaming history: Finally, the Old West joined Outer Space as a viable gaming locale. If you're a fan of Red Dead Revolver or Cheyenne, you can deposit your gratitude at Bank Panic. —Wil Wheaton
Wil Wheaton is the author of Just A Geek. He lives in Rock Ridge.