Now it's time for the first of two arcade-exclusive stages, the Department Store!
Mel's Department Store, to be specific. That's world-building, right there.
You start this one in what I guess is the back end of the store, full of boxes and storage materials, with a guard taking a nap next to a bus (?). You'll have to hop over the drink can but even if you dodge it, you might wake him up- he will shoot immediately so don't mess about. Now, you have a choice here- you can either stay in the storage area on the left side of the building and work your way upwards, then head all the way back down to grab the treasures in the store itself, or head to the right as soon as you can and get straight to the money. I would say heading to the right as soon as possible is a little easier, because of one room in the storage section with a pick-up truck and two very trigger-happy guards- the blue one will shoot on sight and there's not much room to move around in that place. Heading to the right is a little easier, but the security is still awfully tight for a department store, mostly very jittery normal guards and shield guards.
This is one of my favourite stages in terms of presentation though, because as you make your way over to the store section, you'll see they really went to town on the department store angle, with multiple unique settings. There's a perfume section, a top hat department, a fruits stall, and some very dapper clothes to look your bonanza best. This also introduces one of the funnier game mechanics- in the fruits stall and the top hat emporium, hiding in an alcove next to fruits or a hat has your brother 'hide' by placing a nearby object on their head, either a pineapple or a top hat. Yes, it's just as silly as it sounds, and it's pretty funny! It's not especially useful most of the time- while it will get chasing guards off you, you have to hide in the alcove and you can't move while you're doing it- but it very much speaks to the design philosophy of this game, putting little, comical details in for the fun of it. It's what makes this a comical 'reaction' game, after all! However, I imagine details like these were part of the reason this stage was cut from the Mega Drive port- because of all the different stores in this one stage, there's a lot of unique graphics, treasures and elements here, so bringing it over in a more compromised form for the Mega Drive would've removed a lot of the charm. That and, of all the locations seen in the game, the Department Store is one of the more mundane, normal- it's not like the Art Gallery or Deluxe Liner. Don't worry though, that hiding mechanic will be showing up in the Mega Drive port, just a little later.
Underground Gold Bars is up next, fortunately the boys won't have to grab their mining gear for this one.
After an automated minecart ride that gives you a tiny peek at the stage ahead (seconds before the mine cart crashes into bits) you'll find yourself deep underground, having to make your way back up, with one gold bar treasure to pick up on each of the four floors. This is a more linear level, closer to the Casino than the others, with the only meaningful choice being whether you take the stairs at the start of the first floor or make your way to the right and go up that way. I feel you're best off heading all the way to the right because taking the early stairs leads you to a corridor with a dog and four guards in a row, including two lean blue guards. You really don't want to deal with that, especially since by this point, it feels like the blue guards are even faster on the draw now and shoot the second they see you. So, make your way to the right instead, and sneak past a few guards to grab the treasure on B3. From there, make your way up to B1 for the treasure and then back down so you can make your way to the exit- the bridge is crawling with shield guards though, so have fun with that.
(Oh, and you can, if you want, climb all the way back up the mine cart track! It leads nowhere, you're just wasting your time.)
Now, the Mega Drive version has one of my very favourite changes, the intro to this stage.
In the arcade game, the minecart ride is down one single hill. In the Mega Drive port...
Yes. It's now a series of straight rails with walls at the end, and you hit every single wall on the way down.
It's perfect, very Looney Tunes, and much more fitting for a game like this.
As for the stage itself, it's pretty much the same as the arcade version, but a lot easier- the fact that guards don't shoot you on sight means you're able to approach things in more carefree way, although there's still plenty of shield guards on the higher floors. One amusing little detail is that in the arcade version, when your mine cart crashes the nearby guard continues to stay on his break. Here, though, the crash wakes him up (although he spends so much time firing in the air he can't sneak in a hit before you're ready, at least). Finally, despite being called Underground Gold Bars, all the treasures have been replaced with... Explosives like bombs and dynamite?! Be careful with that stuff, lads!
In the arcade version, after Stage 6 we get another Bonus Stage. This time, you're grabbing gold bars!
That's it, nothing else to it.
As for the Mega Drive port, we get our second interval after this stage.
Something a bit more down-to-earth for the next daring heist- the Jewelry Store, specifically Ages Jewelry.
Get it? Ages is Sega backwards!
You don't actually start in the store this time, so you'll have to make your way through the car park first. Luckily it isn't too well guarded, but jumping on top of cars to get past them means that you don't have nearly as much room to manoeuvre, as you can't jump very high when you're on some of them. You can mostly just zip by though, the only thing you need to watch out for being a shield guard at the end (and you can use the temporary invincibility you get when grabbing treasure to get the drop on him). When you're in the store itself, this is pretty breezy compared to some of the previous levels, but there's still stuff to watch out for- the second floor has a shield guard who might open a door and slam you in the face with it and a lean blue guard to worry about, and the third floor has a bomb-thrower and shield guard looking after the final treasure. Also watch out for the final room, there's a shield guard very keen on slugging you as you make your escape. Again, though, unlike the earlier levels, there's not much consideration for different routes- there's only really one way around, so in co-op you're best sticking together.
This stage does have a great background though- see if you can spot the Comet Cigar and Moon Hotel buildings!
The Mega Drive version adds an extra treasure on the third floor, incentivising you to go up to that floor first via the stairs on the right and clear out the second floor on your way out instead, but other than that this has been made considerably easier than its arcade equivalent with all the general changes to the game, but also a few other ones. In particular, the shield guards have been removed from the car park and the start of the second floor, with most of them found deeper on the second floor and in their usual places on the third floor, so the approach for our lads is a little easier. Sometimes it's nice to be a Bonanza Brother.
This stage demonstrates one of the few genuine regional / revisional differences, though- in the Japanese version (ROM listed as JE, as this is the one that has the original arcade story in the intro), the buildings in the background read Cigar and... Woon Hotal (it's almost like they flipped it vertically by mistake, or maybe it's just an import from Moonside) but the US version gets rid of the Cigar sign entirely and changes Woon Motal to just Hotel. Weirdly, it seems most rereleases of the game use this version, so you can spot Woon Hotal in them too.
I'm not sure I'd trust the Bonanzas with sensitive scientific equipment, but they're heading to the Laboratory anyway.
Specifically, the M.D. Laboratory. That's another Sega reference, I'll let you figure that one out.
The laboratory is heavily defended not just by shield guards, but the Bonanza Bros.' greatest enemy: doors. Especially on the second and third floors, there's a lot of small rooms bookended by doors, and guards alerted to your presence will open any doors on their way to you. If you happen to be behind them, you're kissing the wall and that's one life gone. Be careful, especially if they're actively looking for you! The first floor is a little less rough, at least- there's a row of robots that, like the fruits and top hats in the Department Store, you can slip the head off the robots by hiding in the alcoves, making a perfect, flawless disguise. If you're very slick, you can catch a guard's attention, pop the robohead on, then emerge and stun them with some deft joystick-wiggling to get in position... It's tricky though, and messing up will lead to a club to the face.
While technically optional, I would take the long way to the stairs on the right on the first floor, because grabbing the two treasures on the second floor is a lot more difficult approaching from the left due to all the guards and doors packed tightly on that side, and by this point you can't rely on catching shield guards with a bullet after they've spotted you- they're too fast at turning around now. Moving on, whichever side you approach the third floor from leads to a gunfight with two lean blue guards (lure one out and shoot as you head to the back lane, the first one from the left will always pop out first so you can nail 'im) and some tiny rooms hiding treasures (again, watch out for the doors!). The final floor is mostly just a dash to the final treasure, but a shield guard with a gun is definitely the biggest threat here- they're getting even more itchy with that trigger finger.
The Mega Drive version is a lot easier in a lot of respects. The less-aggressive enemy AI means that you have far more time to run away if you get spotted, which is very helpful on the first floor here. The shield guards that would otherwise patrol the corrdor a little while after losing your trail now just hide in their alcoves and occasionally peek their head out, while instantly returning to that alcove once you hide. As a result, the robohead is perhaps less useful, which is a bit of a shame. Also, the amount of guards is reduced across the board (there's fewer shield guards, there's only one blue guard on each of the third floor stairwells) so it generally feels way less cramped here (and you're less likely to get a door slammed in your face). The boys have another easier time on Mega Drive, and I bet that probably suits them.
One last set of jobs left for our lads. They can do 'em all in three minutes!