In spite of the two exclamation points in the title, Gotcha! The Sport! is not a very exciting game. Compared to other NES game I received from my brother’s trip to a retro game expo, The Mafat Conspiracy, this is downright dull. Considering it is a game from LJN I guess I should just be thankful it isn’t a complete unplayable mess like all of their licensed Marvel games. I first heard about this game in Chrontendo, but when I was handed the cartridge I couldn’t remember it at all. You’d think a paintball based light gun game would be more memorable.
The game is basically a simple version of capture the flag. The game is unique in that it uses the light gun in conjunction with a regular controller. You use the regular controller to pan the camera left and right, and obviously, you use the light gun to shoot enemies. Your goal is to get all the way to the other end of the level by scrolling to the right, which picks up the flag, and then you return it to where you started. If you see a guy running back to the enemy base with your flag you need to shoot him.
That is really all there is to the game. The graphics and sound are okay, but nothing memorable. There are three levels that repeat, with the enemies drawing down on you faster and faster as you get further into the game. The most efficient way to get through a level is to never stop moving, though this can make things tougher because it means your targets are also moving. There isn’t much to it, but then again, there weren’t any deep light gun games for NES anyway.
Probably the most interesting thing about Gotcha! The Sport! is that it is part of a multimedia franchise. It is apparently based on the movie Gotcha!, which also assumed exclamation points equal excitement. Anecdotally I can say that it wasn’t a particularly memorable movie considering I’ve never heard of it. Along with the game there were also officially branded paintball guns and other paintball accessories, which, seeing as LJN was always more of a toy company than anything, makes sense.
I’ll probably remember the game for its terrible box art in which the paintball gun in the hero’s hand makes no geometric sense, and he appears to be quite intrigued by the load being shot all over his back. Also on the cartridge you can see it was developed by LJN’s EnteractiveTM Video Games, a fact somehow left out of the half-screen full of copyright on the title screen. I suppose this is supposed to be a portmanteau of entertainment and interactive for the sake of marketing, but isn’t calling your video games interactive kind of redundant?