Great cowboy games for iOS

This week's collection of iOS apps: sharp-shootin' cowboy games. The first is a target shooter with extra elements that make it extra fun. The second is a dual-stick shooter with missions and evil bosses to gun down. The third lets you explore a huge and open 3D world on horseback--and it won't cost you any gold (or cash) at all.


Ah, the Old West. Things were simpler (and a lot more dangerous) back then.

Your main means of transportation was your horse, a vast frontier was open to explore, and problems were solved with a six-shooter. At least, that's what it was like in the movies. But now you can bring that world and mentality to your iPhone.

This week's collection of iOS apps: sharp-shootin' cowboy games. The first is a target shooter with extra elements that make it extra fun. The second is a dual-stick shooter with missions and evil bosses to gun down. The third lets you explore a huge and open 3D world on horseback--and it won't cost you any gold (or cash) at all.

In this level you're riding at high speed while you shoot bandits on a moving train. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

McGyro (99 cents) is a fun target-shooting game where you tilt your iPhone to aim at targets in an Old West setting. You play as the Sheriff McGyro, and your job is to blow away bad guys that appear as wooden targets.

The storyline is presented in comic book format between each part of the three-part missions. Each mission follows a simple formula: the introduction of a bad guy, traveling to the destination, killing the bad guy's evil henchmen, then killing the bad guy. Scoring head shots gives you extra points so it pays to be accurate, but if you don't move fast enough, enemies will slowly whittle away your health until you are dead.

McGyro's default control system is to use the iPhone's accelerometer to aim, then touch the screen to shoot. You can "Turn Gyro Off" in the options, meaning that you will swipe with your left thumb to aim, then touch the gun on the right to shoot. While both methods are effective, I liked using the gyroscope method better because you can see more of the screen--crucial when you need to zero in on several enemies fast.

What makes this game more interesting than other target shooters are the unique settings. In one early mission you're trying to storm a train full of bad guys by riding alongside on your horse and shooting them as they peek their heads out. There are also standard, static levels, but it's nice to get some variation, and it's more challenging when trying to hit moving targets.

Overall, McGyro is a fun diversion and adds a little something more than just target shooting. If you like target-shooting games, this one has a fun storyline, challenging gameplay, and unique settings that add to the fun.

Cowboy Guns
Guide your little cowboy through several quests with plenty of gunslinging. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Cowboy Guns (99 cents) is a dual-stick shooter set in the Wild West with quests, guns you can upgrade, and a few gameplay modes to keep you interested. Along with the dual-stick interface (standard movement on the left and firing on the right), you can switch to a different gun by tapping its icon in the middle; use thrown weapons like dynamite with a button on the right; or gain health back by tapping a first-aid icon on the left.

Adventure mode takes you through the storyline: you're a cowboy who faces a deadly gang of criminals called the Crimson Jackals. You're challenged to follow leads, talk to people at various locations for more clues, and eventually to kill each of the four leaders of the gang. All the while, you'll be sent on side missions giving you plenty of opportunities to blow away bad guys.

As you progress through each area, you can collect gold stars placed around each of the maps that you can use to buy new weapons and upgrade the ones you have. You start out with a handgun that has an infinite supply of ammo, but with the more-powerful weapons you'll unlock--like shotguns and machine guns--you'll need to use your stars to also buy ammo. This forces you to use your handgun primarily, but you'll always have the bigger guns when the fight gets particularly crazy. Thrown weapons like Molotov cocktails and dynamite add to your arsenal.

Cowboy Guns also lets you play a couple of other game modes. Survival mode drops you in the middle of the fight, with endless enemies coming from all directions, to see how long you can last. Bounty hunter mode has you chasing down more than 20 wanted criminals and adds to your star total so you can buy more weapons and ammo.

Cowboy Guns is a fun dual-stick shooter, with tons of weapons and upgrades to experiment with, and plenty of action including four different boss fights. If you like dual-stick shooters, this game has plenty of content and endless gun-shooting action.

Explore a huge open world as you complete quests and upgrade your arsenal. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Six-Guns (free) is a freemium sandbox cowboy game that models itself after the popular console game Red Dead Redemption. While it may not be on par graphically with the game it resembles, Six-Guns definitely has good-looking graphics as you explore a huge world and complete quests. The control system is like in many first-person shooters on the iPhone: move your character using a control stick on the left side, and look around by swiping the screen on the right.

The game is set in both Oregon and Arizona (with a way to fast-travel between regions). As you explore, you'll come across towns and people with missions that span the entire map. Fortunately, you have your trusty horse who's only a whistle (button push) away. There are 40 missions in Six-Guns, with some as simple as delivering an item and others that have you racing horses for cash.

The freemium model here is very generous--you can play the game to the end without ever spending a cent. But if you want a leg up, you have the option to buy extra coins, extra stars (for premium items), different horses, and extra health packs. You can buy single items or buy package deals that unlock a group of items, all of which can be found in the Shop (button in upper left corner of the screen). To unlock everything at once, it costs $99 through in-app purchase.

Six-Guns is one of the best games we've seen on iOS devices and the fact that you can finish the game for free makes it a must-download for any iOS gamer.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.