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Box artwork for Gumshoe.
Developer(s)Nintendo R&D1
Year released1986
Genre(s)Light gun
ModesSingle player
LinksGumshoe ChannelSearchSearch

Gumshoe is one of 6 NES games made by Nintendo that requires the use of the Nintendo Zapper. It was released in the US on June 6, 1986. It is one of the first games ever released for the NES outside of Japan that was not released for the Famicom in Japan. The exact reasons for this are unknown. But it is clear that none of Nintendo's later light gun games were released in Japan either, indicating that light gun games did not sell as well in Japan. Why they decided to stop with this game might be because for such an early game, it was too expensive to produce as it was a massive 160k, over twice the size of all 3 of the 24k Nintendo light gun games made at the time, Wild Gunman, Duck Hunt, and Hogan's Alley or 4 times the size of the 40k Super Mario Bros. It was also released in arcades using Nintendo's "Vs." arcade hardware system as Vs. Gumshoe. The player must help Mr. Stevenson, a former detective, rescue his daughter Jennifer, who has been kidnapped by a mafia boss, King Dom. Jennifer is being held for ransom, and Mr. Stevenson must retrieve five Black Panther Diamonds within 24 hours to give to him.

The game takes place across four stages; City, Air, Sea, and Jungle. Each stage has a diamond positioned at some point along the way. The fifth and last diamond has been eaten by a monster named Zulie, which Mr. Stevenson must defeat at the end of the Jungle stage in order to pay off King Dom and rescue his daughter. The game then repeats from the very beginning at a harder skill level, finally adding the bullet obstacle.

Gumshoe features no saves or passwords and 3 lives. The game does feature infinite continues though, as indicated in the manual. Without this feature, the game would be nearly impossible to pass.

Stevenson will lose a life anytime he collides with an obstacle, falls down a pit, or runs out of time to complete the stage. It is difficult for Stevenson to reach the end of any stage without dying, let alone make it all the way to Zulie at the end of stage 4 and then defeat him. Drinking a potion from a Lucky Bird will make this easier, but they are very rare and will really only be useful on the first stage's optional area, where 5 appear. Players must not only keep Mr. Stevenson alive, but must also monitor the number of bullets remaining throughout the course of the game. Balloons replenish bullets as having a lot bullets is essential for the final battle with Zulie.


Mr. Stevenson walks continuously to the right. The goal is the get to the end of each stage by keeping Mr. Stevenson from dying. If Mr. Stevenson does die, there are a number of continue points on each stage where he will continue from. In order to jump over obstacles or pits, or to reach higher pathways, the player must shoot at Mr. Stevenson. He can jump multiple times in midair if you continue to shoot him. You must also shoot any enemy that threatens to collide with him. The world is laid out like a platformer, reminiscent of the look, layout, and graphic quality of Super Mario Bros..

You always start the game with 50 bullets. Shooting Mr. Stevenson to make him jump will not subtract from the player's ammunition. So, you can still make him jump when you run out of ammo. Shooting obstacles, or an empty area, however, will subtract one bullet from the total. Having Mr. Stevenson grab red balloons will add three bullets.

Optional Areas[edit]

For each stage, there is an optional area that can be reached in the middle of the stage. These areas are never mentioned in the manual. You know you've reached one of these areas because it is always is filled with lots of balloons and/or lucky birds. To get to the optional area of a stage Mr. Stevenson needs to pick up 20 balloons before getting to the area. It's absolutely essential to make it to this area in the last stage if you have started your game on that stage or you will not have enough ammo to defeat Zulie.

Optional Area descriptions:

  1. City Stage: Lot's of balloons and Lucky Birds in the desert
  2. Air Stage: Large benign Skull Blocks
  3. Sea Stage: "Dance Hall Stylee!!" signs and dancing rastas
  4. Jungle Stage: Lot's of balloons

The Lucky Bird[edit]

Rarely, Lucky Birds fly above Mr. Stevenson. Shooting the birds reveals either a roast chicken (collected for bonus points) or one of 3 power-ups (most likely a Power Drink). If Mr. Stevenson catches them, he gains special abilities, signified by the color of his trenchcoat. For example, if Mr. Stevenson's trenchcoat has changed to pink, he can absorb one hit and survive. If he get's 5 Power Drinks, his trenchcoat will turn green.

Only roughly 8 Lucky Birds appear in the game. 5 of them appear on the first level and they reveal either Power Drinks or roast chickens when shot. The Helmet appears on the second level. The Super Shoes or another Power Drink appear on the third level. Sometimes, a Power Drink appears on the fourth level. If Stevenson bumps into the Lucky Bird, he dies.

Lucky Bird item Description
Roast Chicken When Stevenson eats this, 200 points are earned.
Power Drink When Stevenson drinks this, he is energized until he hits an obstacle. He turns pink allowing one free hit. If he drinks 5 Power Drinks, he becomes green allowing 5 free hits. To win, it is very helpful if Stevenson can become green on the first level.
Helmet When Stevenson wears this, it increases his power of resistance against Falling Rocks and Time Bomb attacks.
Super Shoes When Steveson wears these, he cannot be harmed by some skulls.

How to Continue[edit]

Unfortunately, the wording in the manual for how to continue is unclear, leading to a lot of confusion. The correct way to continue is to simply shoot any of the letters of the word "GAME" or "OVER" when the GAME OVER screen is shown. You get one chance to do this. If you miss, you have to start from the beginning, so it's suggested that you put your Zapper up to the screen. Don't shoot the area between the words!

The Battle With Zulie[edit]

Just before Mr. Stevenson reaches Zulie, he enters a telephone booth where he is given a machine gun. Only Mr. Stevenson can damage and eventually defeat Zulie using this machine gun. He must shoot Zulie in his eye to damage him. This will require shooting Mr. Stevenson to make him jump as Zulie is taller than Mr. Stevenson. Whenever Zulie is shot in the eye, Zulie jumps back. Zulie is defeated when Mr. Stevenson hits his eye 20 times. Zulie shoots fireballs at Mr. Stevenson which must be shot with the Zapper in order to protect Mr. Stevenson.

Table of Contents


Gumshoe/Table of Contents