Great Moments in Multiplayer Gaming: Sunset Riders (SNES)

It is that rare 16-bit title to not let you kill everything that moves. Konami’s platform shooter western Sunset Riders spares an Indian’s life, Chief Wigwam, if not his stereotyped status. It is not as simple as letting him go, but presumably his daughter who dives into the fight, announcing in wonderfully retro compressed speech, that Wigwam was only following orders. It would have been far kinder if she had stopped him before he threw countless knives at the player, but it is still a change of pace.

There is little doubt Sunset Riders was born from Contra, or more specifically Contra III. At times, Sunset Riders feels like a bit of an expansion, adding different characters (really two split into four thanks to sprite swaps) and settings. That is not being fair to Riders however, which differentiates itself in terms of pacing, color, and character.

Nothing in Contra carries much personality. Faceless aliens, giant peering eyes, UFOs, and other Red Falcon lackeys exist to shoot at. Riders’ spends time, however minimal, with its bosses. Each is given an introduction, particularly the Smith brothers who throw a helpless woman out of a swinging door. It adds to the parade of pink and green bullets, giving it a small purpose and story impact.

Riders is infinitely more colorful as well. Despite the specifically hot, grungy appearance of Contra III, Riders is more of a pastel, that colorful western Hollywood loved to produce on a dime to an eager audience. You can imagine John Wayne rejecting a script involving a 500-pound behemoth with big red lips named Paco Loco, but a studio producing it anyway for the money.

It is cheap, but in a respectful way, a loving homage to those spaghetti westerns mixed with a wonderfully smooth, satisfying shooter. Riders is almost casual in its nature, the slower pace (significantly so compared to the arcade) lending a gentler air to the proceedings. Even the characters play casually, the pink-pancho wearing Cormano shoving his dual shotguns under his shirt as if no one saw him kill the 60 enemies prior to the boss.

Sunset Riders was censored for its home ports (Genesis and SNES), removing a full plate of Indian and female enemies, dressing the few woman who remain more conservatively, and changing Chief Scalpem to Wigwam. The effect on gameplay was negligible at best, the major change being the removal of a four-player option, although this was more for profits than any gameplay benefit. With crowded real estate, players feel less involved, and the pacing feels off as well.

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Buzz good for Bayport barber

Long Island Business News October 30, 2009 | Ambrose Clancy Lisa Sesso wasn’t going to be shut out this time.

After working for 23 years cutting men’s and boys’ hair in other people’s shops, she had a chance awhile ago to open her own place. But someone beat her to the punch to buy the established barber shop she’d had her eye on.

“I decided the next opportunity I got I was going to jump on it, so I’d never again say, ‘Shoulda, coulda, woulda,'” Sesso said. web site new york state department of education

Her opportunity is now a reality in the form of an 800-square- foot space in Bayport called Hats Off. Sesso welcomed her first client two weeks ago.

She did her homework, scouting the area thoroughly before deciding that a small barber shop would survive in her location.

The startup cost was about $8,000 and Sesso is marketing herself to the tune of about $400 a month, mostly through flyers, print ads and the Internet.

The nearest chain salon, a Head Cutters, is about half a mile from Hats Off. Sesso will compete with the big boys by pushing personal service even while charging a bit more. Head Cutters generally charges around $10 for mens’ and boys’ cuts, while Sesso’s rates are $12 for men and $10 for boys.

She also has a policy of honoring any coupon that is given out by the big chains.

Independent barber shops seem to be holding their own against the chain salons. Figures are difficult to tease out from general data, but people spent about $45.7 billion taking care of their hair last year and the chain salons raked in about $10 billion of that.

Christopher Felder, owner of Hempstead’s Long Island Barber Institute, a New York State Department of Education-licensed school that trains master barbers, said he’s seen enrollment swell the last three years. The past year he’s spotted a trend of older students, those in their 40s and 50s, applying.

“In hard times people always look for a trade,” Felder said.

The advantages of a chain salon for those who have achieved a master barber’s certificate from the state is that most of the big outfits offer health insurance and other benefits, while traditional four-seat barbershops don’t, Felder said.

“They’re also good places to get real work experience,” he added.

Mark Borukhov has run Syosset’s Mark’s Barber Shop for nine years and said business has slowed due to rising unemployment rates. “If you’ve lost your job, why do you need to get your hair cut?” he asked.

But he had no fear of competition from large salons. Long-time clients have defected to the chains but they were soon back in his fold. “The big chains don’t know how to cut hair,” he said. “We know what we’re doing.” Sesso’s made her shop inviting and low key, she said, with warm colors and a totally modern look from the mirrors down to the flooring. “I wanted people to come and say, ‘Wow,’ and that’s what I’ve been hearing,” she said. see here new york state department of education

Asked why she preferred cutting men’s hair as opposed to women’s, Sesso said it was a matter of where her talents have taken her. “Some people can do some things better than others,” she said. “It’s so much easier for me to do a flat top or a fade then to do a Jennifer Aniston look, and other people it’s just the opposite.” Being successful means being current with styles, and Sesso said she easily mastered the hottest look for teenage boys.

“The boys are wearing their hair longer these days and want the messy look, the beach look,” she said.

Times have changed since she started two decades ago. “We’d have men come in and ask for the barber, and when you said you were the barber they’d walk out angry,” Sesso said.

But these days only about 5 percent of men won’t let a woman near their hair, she said.

“And there are men who don’t want a man to cut their hair but prefer a woman,” Sesso said.

Ambrose Clancy