Since my last post about Ready Steady Play, I’ve had time to play each of the different mini-games and figure out how each of them differ in their gameplay and mechanics. My initial instinct to compare these games to a fairground has led me to thinking about them as more of simulacra than as actual games that you might find at a county fair. Let’s go over what each of the games are:
- An addictive, fast-paced game similar to whack-a-mole. The player has to accurately tap on enemy cowboys to shoot them, while avoiding women and children. Reloading is important and the cowboys will shoot you if you take too long to shoot them.
- Ride your stick horse across the desert, jumping over cacti and canyons in order to keep going and pick up speed. Jumping on TNT barrels will propel you forward through the air, and landing close to the edge of a canyon enough times will net you a speed boost.
- Juggle coins in the air by shooting them with your six-shooter. Reloading is important, as you will drop the coins and lose your score if you don’t reload before trying to fire. Hitting multiple coins at once combines them into larger, more valuable coins, while shooting the cowboy who tosses each coin to start will prevent new coins from being added.
- Like ring toss, but with cattle running across the screen instead of stationary bottles. Toss your lasso onto one or more to stop the cattle from getting away.
- Dance Dance Revolution, but with cowboys and guns. Hit the right moves at the right time and the cowboy dances. Miss the beat or hit the wrong move, and your shot hits the cowboy instead.
The way these mini-games play, each of them feels familiar, though I’m sure I’ve never lassoed cattle or juggled coins in the air with a pistol. I think this sense comes from the similarity of these mechanics to other arcade or county fair style games, yet it is tinged with a new flavor. The cowboy theme in each game feels odd because I’m fairly certain that nothing like these mini-games ever took place in the Old West, so their caricaturization of that place and period strikes me as one of Baudrillard’s simulacra, not only imitating the real, but utterly changing and seeking to replace the real in our minds. It is unrealistic to expect such feats as in the game could have ever been done in real life, but the game is not even imitating reality. The game is imitating other cultural productions like films and legends, where characters are already removed from reality by some degree. This means that the reproductions of the Old West in RSP are even further from the historical reality of that time. Does that make these mini-games any less fun? No, not at all.