Gaming "Curses" and the Wild West.
September 29, 2007

I watched Blazing Saddles last night, and silly though it was, it got me thinking for a moment: "There ain't no decent Western game out there. I ain't talking bout no Wild Arms, where they throw in the kitchen sink o' fantastical creatures, but I'm talking about a doggone romp through the West where you can shoot, lasso, and dynamite your way to glee."

I believe that the Western, like the Movie Game, the Star Trek Game, and the Superhero Game, is worthy of being classified with its own Curse: The Western Curse. After Lucasfilm did Outlaws Ltd, then the genre remained more or less untouched. Of the many items that appeared, High Noon by Six-Shooter Studios appeared to have promise (free-roaming FPS/RPG hybrid built on the Lithtech Engine?) but without being able to find a publisher, Six-Shooters went kaput. After this, we've got games that either are mediocre (Gun!), or place the West as a smaller sidenote in a larger game (Timesplitters series, Age of Empires 3).

The other three curses were eventually broken at some time or another. When Goldeneye 64 came out, everyone was shocked to find a legitimately awesome game...though most games based on movies still suck, I'm sure somewhere there's one that's decent enough...Star Trek games constantly flopped, then suddenly Starfleet Command and Elite Force shocked Star Trek fans...and Superhero games are actually decent now, what with the console adaptations of Marvel characters (Hulk and Spiderman 2 come to mind), or the awesome tactical gameplay of Freedom Force (and its semisequel Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich). So why can't the Western break its curse?

Is it because even more than the aforementioned three cursed groups, the audience is even more niche? Like movies/games based on the Roman Empire before Gladiator came out (think hard about this: Without Gladiator, would we have Rome: Total War?f The chance does exist but it probably would have been less of a seller now that stuff Rome-based is relatively more popular). What would it take to fix this?

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Felix_Arabia Felix_Arabia - September 29, 2007 (07:40 AM)
Here's what surprises me: there isn't, to my knowledge, a single Star Wars based shmup. And I think that would be a really cool game.
joseph_valencia joseph_valencia - September 29, 2007 (10:34 AM)
Sunset Riders by Konami was awesome. There haven't really been many good recent Western games, though.
magicjuggler magicjuggler - September 29, 2007 (01:53 PM)
Well, I can posit why there aren't any Star Wars shmups...Shmups tend to be almost universally Japanese-made nowadays, and Lucasfilm/Lucasarts is a primarily American company, and the shump genre isn't as well-known here...and besides, who'd want to play Star Wars Raiden when one could play X-Wing or Tie Fighter?
Felix_Arabia Felix_Arabia - September 29, 2007 (02:00 PM)
I would like to play that.
honestgamer honestgamer - September 29, 2007 (02:36 PM)
Wasn't Empire Strikes Back on the Atari 2600 a horizontal shooter? I remember playing it back then and it sure felt like one to me at the time! Well, maybe more like Defender, but still...
Felix_Arabia Felix_Arabia - September 29, 2007 (03:06 PM)
Yeah, it is, but I was referring to something vertically scrolling and manic. I understand why it hasn't been done (what magicajuggler said), but I can still wish that it will happen.
magicjuggler magicjuggler - September 29, 2007 (04:57 PM)
One can only make the Death Star Trench run so many times before it becomes tired. Turning into something like Thunderforce III or Radiant Silvergun, I doubt would make much difference...though it might make for an entertaining fan-project (Lucasfilms is rather unapproving of fangames though, like when they cracked down on the fanmade sequel to Indiana Jones and the Quest For Atlantis)

But I'm afraid this topic has been hijacked...I wanted to decry that there isn't a decent Western game and that if all these other game-types broke their curse (the moviegame, the superhero game, the Star Trek game, etc), then why can't there be a title set in the West that's mediocre at best? I don't want a linear ultrascripted title like Gun. Part of the Western appeal is that its supposed to be a great unexplored frontier and that one should have the freedom to roam about, form your own city or religious society, sack another city, ally/war with the Comanches/Sioux Nation, or even do something crazy and form your own nation and secede from the United States.

High Noon looked to be something like that, back when it looked like it had promise (in 1999)...you were an ex-Confederate soldier who tired of his prospects in the reconstructionist South and so went Westward. Depending on your actions or which quests you attempted, you could become a bounty hunter, an outlaw, or even sheriff of your own town, and (similar to Sid Meier's Pirates in a way) everything else interacted with each other, so if you were feeling suicidal and wanted some Gatling guns to defend your outlaw hideout, you could learn of when a certain army convoy was on the move and attempt to ambush it.

I'd play a game like that! Keep everything open-ended, with maybe an optional plot (I don't mean like GTA where you need to do it to unlock stuff, I mean TOTALLY optional like in Wing Commander Privateer, or Fallout 2), throw in enough toys to make your trigger-finger happy (from the aforementioned gats to being able to mail-order Krupp-manufactured breechloaders, to going cliche and being able to lasso your foes), and add a proper system for horses/carriages (as well as the ability to jump from them, for those hi-tension stagecoach robberies), and you're set.
johnny_cairo johnny_cairo - October 02, 2007 (01:36 AM)
Dust was cool. It was a realistic Western adventure with only minimal amounts of shootouts and no bullet-time or vampire ninjas or what have you. Nothing like it has come out in over a decade.

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