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Buckmasters Huntin' was made in 2000 by Radica, together with Xavix. The software portion was done by Presage Studios Human Code. Xavix is notable for doing a Nintendo Wii like console, called the XaviXPORT two years before the Wii [show picture].
Huntin' is a plug and play hunting simulation sold within the Buckmasters brand. Buckmasters started as a magazine in 1987 but since then grew a lot, releasing video games, toys, books and videos. The gun is, like every Radica light gun, very well made. Just like the Nintendo made Rifletronix the gun has a recoil system which is put under tension when actuating the pump handle. Next to the trigger is a fully functional safety button which is used inside the game. Below the scope are four buttons and a D pad. Besides these there are an on/off button and a reset button. The two part reticle inside the scope allows for very accurate shots. Sadly for an adult the particular cross hair style is hard to focus because of the short butt stock. The successor Huntin' systems went on to use circle based reticles which makes aiming a lot easier. The system is either powered by four AA cells or a six volts DC center negative power supply unit. The unit is connected to the TV via RCA connectors providing composite video.
From the start menu the main game can either be played normally or in a tutorial mode. The founder of Buckmasters Jackie Bushman gives tips and teaches details on hunting during the tutorial. The game defaults to beginner difficulty and is limited to a one day hunting trip in this mode, but offers the same options as in the main mode otherwise. The player may choose from one of three locations to hunt deer, elks or bears. The even-toed ungulate can be hunted in one of three states relative to their mating seasons. Four different weapons are available.
During gameplay three views are available. In the map screen the player can see locations on which animals were killed or special places were found. A cursor can be placed here, which is then visible as a reference point in the top down view. The top down view is the main view. Here the player, who is shown as a yellow arrow, moves, finds animal traces and the animals themselves. The animals will be audible if the player moves to a tile which is nearby. The player can then go into the first person view. From here a binocular is used to find out the direction and distance of the animals. If the player is close enough the animals can be lured closer by using sound items. As soon as the animal is visible in first person view without binoculars it can be shot. Depending on the weight of the prey it is written into a score table. The bigger the animal the more shy it is in this game and the harder it is to stalk. Therefore bigger animals mainly occur at the harder difficulty settings.
The player should never walk into the same direction as the wind blows because the animals will smell the player otherwise. Furthermore too rapid movement will scare the animals away. The game forces the player to always engage the rifle's safety button when not taking aim. In the first person view two scent items are available in limited quantity. One masks the smell of the player and the other one is a scent bait which can be dropped onto any tile of the level.
The shooting is very accurate as for the six points calibration which can be done at any time. Besides the rather calm and campy hunting simulation there is a target range mini game, which has a dedicated score table.
Personally I like the Huntin' system. It leans strongly towards the simulation side of things and is no typical light gun game. Furthermore it is so simple in its graphics and sounds that it takes a lot of imagination to get involved. Nevertheless the game is very competent in what it does and it grew on me even though I am no enthusiast of sport hunting.
Sadly I don't own the box myself. I think it looks very attractive. Presumably it shows Jackie Bushman himself taking aim. In some pictures on the backside the TV is shown with all three RCA sockets, whereas just two sockets are shown on the front in the main artwork.