Wild Gunman Arcade Game

Wild Gunman replica


Marty discovers the Wild Gunman arcade cabinet in the Cafe 80's in 2015.

" Hey! Now this was more like it. Over in the corner was an old arcade video game called 'Wild Gunman' that Marty used to play in the Seven-Eleven, in 1985. / A kid of eight or nine stood in front of the game, looking thoroughly confused. The kid glanced up as Marty walked toward him. / "How do you play this thing?" the boy asked. / Marty grinned. Now this was something he knew about! "I'll show you, kid. I'm a crack shot at this one." "
—From Back to the Future Part II by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, page 36)
Kid #1: "You mean you have to use your hands?"
Kid #2: "That's like a baby's toy!"
— Cafe 80's in Back to the Future Part II

Wild Gunman was a target shooting video game that was housed inside an arcade cabinet, and was played using a light gun. The original 1974 release was the first full motion video game, as it was played by on a film projected onto a screen, and would detect if the light from the gun hit the target at the right point.

Nintendo re-released it on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985 in an updated format (as well as on the Japanese system the Nintendo Famicom in 1984), replacing the video of the original with cartoon-like sprite graphics. It was also released in arcades in 1984 via the Playchoice-10 system. In Hill Valley, Wild Gunman was released as a dedicated arcade game. One of the machines was located in a 7-Eleven store, where Marty McFly would hone his shooting skills.

On October 21, 2015, when Marty entered the Cafe 80's, there was a Wild Gunman arcade cabinet, which was started not by inserting a quarter as Marty had been expecting, but a version of the thumb pad. Marty proceeded to play the game in order to impress some kids with his shooting skills, but they were nonplussed, comparing the game to "a baby's toy" due to the fact that you had to use your hands to operate it. How electronic games worked in 2015 was unclear. Perhaps they were controlled by voice (similar to the speech recognition used in 2015 technology such as the McFly family's multi-channel video screen and video telephone), a motion-sensing input device, or even the player's thoughts.

On September 5, 1885, Marty played a gear-operated shooting game, which strongly resembled Wild Gunman in concept. The gun salesman, operating this game, echoed the 2015 comment, telling Marty that "It's so easy, a baby could do it."

In 1984, Marty McFly played Wild Gunman at 7-Eleven, where he met Jennifer Parker and was going to ask her on a date. However, he was interrupted by Douglas J. Needles, who mocked him because he didn't have a car — which embarrassed Marty, as he was afraid that Jennifer would reject him over someone who had their own vehicle. After deciding against stealing Dr. Emmett Brown's DeLorean DMC-12 to try to impress Jennifer, he took Doc's advice and asked her out. They then went on a date to see a Clint Eastwood movie.

Sometime by May 14, 1986, Starbase Zero had a Wild Gunman arcade cabinet that was in need of repairs.

In the 1986G timeline, an arcade cabinet of Wild Gunman was among the many contraband items confiscated by Edna Strickland, under Kid Tannen's former speakeasy.

Behind the scenes[]

  • On the DVD commentary of Back to the Future Part II, Bob Gale stated that the arcade cabinet used in the movie was made specifically for the movie, as Nintendo had not released a dedicated Wild Gunman machine into arcades.
  • Marty's confrontation with the cartoon Wild West villains, in Part II, foreshadows his showdown with a real Wild West villain, Buford Tannen, in Part III.
  • On October 21, 2015, for Back to the Future Day, Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System version of Wild Gunman for Wii U via the Virtual Console in Europe. A North American release followed on January 7, 2016.
  • In the novelization (see Quote above), there is only one kid at the Wild Gunman arcade cabinet rather than the two seen on-screen.


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