Kieren has been writing about video games for over 15 years working for publications and websites such as Bitmap Books, RETRO, Pixel Nation, Atari User, What Culture, Hey Poor Player, GameSpew, Retro Fusion and the award winning Retro Gamer magazine. Other previously published works include his "A Compendium of" series (Atari 2600, Atari 2600, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 etc.), "The A-Z of" series (which covers almost every retro system you can think of!) and Homebrew Heroes, a digital book from 2013 about the world of homebrew gaming. He was also contributing author on such books as The SNES Compendium (Volume 1 & 2), Attack of the Flickering Skeletons, Let's Go Dizzy: The Story of the Oliver Twins and The Story of the Commodore Amiga in Pixels.

He has also appeared on the prime time Sky News technology themed TV show Swipe as well numerous podcasts as both a guest and co-host. His You Tube channel, The Laird's Lair, features a wide range of different videos focused on the world of retro gaming including his popular "The Story of" documentary series.

Trivideo Games - Video Game Trivia! by Kieren Hawken

Trivideo Games

Trivideo Games is a collection of the best features and articles written over the years for various websites and publications by award winning author Kieren Hawken. It's jam –packed full of interesting stories, fascinating facts and terrific trivia that should appeal to all fans of retro gaming everywhere. It's both trivia and video games – so Trivideo Games!

Inside this fascinating book you'll discover obscure gems, horrendous errors of judgement, popular classics, box office blockbusters, mysterious legends and so much more. This book is a real retro gaming treasure trove!


Everybody knows Super Mario Bros. 2 USA started out as a completely different game, but historian Kieren Hawken digs deeper to bring you some of the industry's more curious and outlandish video game trivia. – David L. Craddock




Before Red Dead Redemption:

10 Great Wild West Themed Video Games

The release ofRed Dead Redemption 2 sent the gaming world into a frenzy with many people proclaiming it as the best game ever made. And let's be honest, there are very few franchises that have had the impact and popularity of Rockstar's three Wild West outings. Indeed I have to confess that I myself became utterly consumed by both Red Dead Redemption 1 and 2 and am still playing the online mode of the latter.

There are very few video games in my life that I have enjoyed more than the twoRed Dead Redemption titlesand so that got me thinking about the many Wild West based games of the past. In fact cowboy-themed games have been around since the very dawn of our favourite hobby in one form or another, and so I thought now would be a good time to look back at what came before.

So shine up those spurs, pack your saddle bag and get your six shooter loaded because we are going to have a rootin' tootin' gun shootin' time as we look though this list of ten games that paved the way to theRed Dead Redemption series.

Boot Hill – Arcade

Midway'sBoot Hillwas the sequel to the revolutionary 1975 coin-opGun Fight, which was not only the first game to feature human combat it was also the first to have a microprocessor.

Arriving two years afterGun Fight, this follow-up was pretty much more of the same, only a bit better done, becoming an equally huge success for the company. The main difference between this game andGun Fightwas that you could now play as against the computer, as opposed to the two-player only action of the original. As well as the two cowboys trying to shoot each other you also have some scenery to hide behind.

The game inspired many clones and copies, most notably Atari's ownOutlawthat will be well remembered by owners of both the Atari 2600 and Atari 8-bit computers. It might seem simplistic by today's standards, but back thenBoot Hillwas a real blast and set new standards for competitive arcade games.

Wild Bunch – ZX Spectrum

Released in 1985 by Firebird Software for both the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC,The Wild Bunch represents my earliest memory of playing a Wild West themed video game.

The Wild Bunchis a highly original combination between a text adventure, strategy game and arcade game that sees you framed for a murder you didn't commit. With the local Sherriff on your tail you must search the local towns for clues and try to track down the real killer before it's too late! There are many locations that feature different ways to interact with the game; the bar serves drinks for health, the shop sells ammo for your gun and the telegraph office gives you clues to your assailant's identity. The real fun comes in the form of the first person gun fights however!

The Wild Bunch was one of the very first games I bought for my Speccy back in the day and really made me feel like I had been transported into a TV western, just as Red Dead Redemption did some 30 years later.

Gun.Smoke – Arcade

In 1985 Capcom took their already successful "one man army" arcade gameCommandoand adapted into a new game set in the Wild West called Gun.Smoke.

The formula is exactly the same: walk up the screen shooting the bad guys and rescuing the hostages while trying not to get killed yourself. Like Commando there are various power-ups available to increase your firepower as well as bonus items like the horse that allows you to take an extra hit. One unique aspect ofGun.Smokethat set it apart fromCommando was the way you fired your weapon. InGun.Smokeyou always fire two guns at once, one in each hand, and can only fire in three directions; straight ahead, left diagonal or right diagonal.

Gun.Smoke was also converted to a host of home systems including the Nintendo NES, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC as well as appearing on several of Capcom's home arcade game compilations for newer machines.

Apache Raid – ZX Spectrum

One of the more obscure games on this list,Apache Raidis a 1987 game by obscure budget label Pirate Software and was released exclusively for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

Also known under the titleCowboys 'n' Injuns(which it uses on the title screen) this one is interesting in that you get to play as an Indian for once instead of the usual and very clichéd cowboy. The plot from the game is pretty brief– you play as Nigel Navahoe (yeah great Native American name that!) who is out to save his tribe from the invading cowboys. In essence, it's just a flick screen shooter where you run around the reservation shooting the colourful cowboys and collecting items. You have an energy meter that reduces each time you are hit, three lives and a limited amount of arrows. Many of the screens are actually maze-like in their nature so it's easy to get trapped.

Apache Raidis pure nostalgia for me, so might not hold the same amount of enjoyment for others, but if you are a fan of 8-bit computer games then it offers some good mindless fun.

Sherriff – Arcade

One of Nintendo's earliest arcade games,Sherriffwas actually designed by none other than Genyo "Punch Out!" Takedaandthe legendary Shigeru Miyamoto himself!

Re-released by Exidy asBandidoin the west,Sherriffis one of the very earliest Western themed video games, first moseying into arcades in 1979. The game puts you in the spurred boots of the titularSherriff,trying to defend his town against a group of bandits. These ruthless villains are circling the city and you must shoot through the fence to take them out. This fence also acts like a shield, so every time it's shot (by either you or the enemy) it leaves a hole, making you more vulnerable. As the game goes on, the enemies will also start to cross the boundary into the city, making things tougher still.

The game proved to be unpopular with arcade audiences due to the complicated controls, so has now become very obscure. But there is no doubtingSherriff'shistorical pedigree and it's an interesting curio for Nintendo fans especially.