Sunday, April 26, 2009

Searching for the perfect Wild West game.

"Why, you yellow-bellied no-good do-gooder sumbitch. I thought I done told you never to set foot in this town again."

"Well, you thought wrong."


Now, I've just written that off the top of my head but damn, doesn't it portray something that we are all familiar with? And isn't it awesome? Ever since people like Clint Eastwood said a whole lot of nothing but spoke with his trigger finger, the western genre has intrigued me. Naturally, I've wanted to experience this in video game form. Over the years, there hasn't been too many stabs at the wild west game and even less worth mentioning. But that might be about to change.

The first recorded video game set in the time of gunslingers and undertakers was 1971's The Oregon Trail. Based on a real event, you play a wagon leader traveling from Missouri to Oregon, presumably dealing with challenging obstacles along the way. Apparently you can download it for your iPhone now.

Best use of the return key, ever.

Eastwood Excitement level: 

1985 though, was when the real shit started. The humble Commodore 64 unleashed Law Of the West. A simple yet insanely addictive game.

Seriously, what was the town planner thinking putting those two buildings together?

The player took the role of a lonely, maladjusted sheriff who stood in the street all day waiting for people to come talk to him. And deciding whether or not to shoot them. (The above picture was the only screen in the game, just with different text and enemies). You met bandits, doctors, whores, kids and other townsfolk who wanted to a little chat to their local lawman - unaware that said lawman could shoot them in the head before they even started talking. When you decided to end their unholy existence (apart from the doctor, he could heal your wounds), you pulled down on the joystick and then up to aim. An EXTREMELY volatile crosshair appeared and you had a short time to shoot.

Eastwood Excitement level:

The early nineties saw the release of an arcade game that ate untold numbers of coins from young boys' pockets: Sunset Riders. Up to four players could assume the role of bounty hunters to hunt down the most ruthless bastard outlaws around and shoot them dead. Couple that with fun cartoony art and Shinobi-style gameplay  and it entered the realm of legend.

Words to live by.

Later, Sunset Riders was ported to the Megadrive and Super Nintendo. But by then, nobody cared. Nobody meaning me.

Eastwood Excitement level:

Rockstar Games took a stab at the genre next with Red Dead Revolver on Playstation 2 in 2004. A pretty damn fine game but bordering on repetitive in certain parts. You play as Red, a dude whose parents were killed by outlaws and he vows to...blah, blah, blah.

And you could use two goddamn guns.

The action is nicely done but the characters and the setting is one-dimensional. On the whole a great game but only in short doses. After you watch a cut-scene, you shoot everything. Repeat. The end. Now, you may be wondering what else would you want from a wild west game? Well, bear with me here.

Eastwood Excitement level:

So, after all these valiant but no-quite-there attempts, you'd think I would have give up hope. Not so. A couple of years ago, Call Of Juarez was released on PC and later Xbox 360. What initially seemed brilliant in this game quickly became broken. There were a lot of things wrong that game - awful enemies, dodgy physics - but it has one inventive thing going for it, the story. Now a sequel has been announced: Call Of Juarez - Bound In Blood. It looks like the bomb. Hopefully, it will rectify all the problems of the first game and finally satisfy my needs. Fingers crossed, kids.

Eastwood Excitement Level:



  2. Hmm, yes. Hopefully Rockstar can fix the issues of RD Revolver that made it slightly boring.