games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Western Games

January 31, 2017 | Posted by Marc Morrison

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week I’m here to talk about Western games, but not specifically cowboy games. The crux here is that I’m mainly talking about games that either take place in the west, or have traditional “Western” style motifs throughout the game. If I had to pick a ninth game for this list, it would probably be Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, but that is just my opinion. Let’s begin:

#8: Mad Dog McCree

Ol’e Mad Dog could kind of barely qualify as a game, but it’s still here. I don’t mean to besmirch it, but I think I only ever played it once or twice, on arcade hardware, which was…not good. Combining a light gun game with a laser disk player was not a happy combination. At least with Dragon’s Lair, you had a joystick in your hand, and not a finicky gun. Still, if you’re from that era, and you dumped over five bucks in the machine to even glimpse the second stage, this game still holds find memories for you.

#7: Westerado: Double Barreled

There’s something off about Westerado, at least in my view. I think for me, the action gets too hard when you have to contend with both aiming and reloading, at least when I use a controller. It’s a shame too, since I really dig the art style, the music, and the idea of narrowing down the list of suspects by getting clues from the townspeople and doing quests. Also, you can just pull a gun on anyone during a conversation and ice them. That’s a gameplay mechanic every game needs to have from here on out.

#6: The Wavy Tube Man Chronicles

The Gunstringer is fine enough, but Wavy Tube Man Chronicles elevates the game into something worth owning. It is a Troma-produced take on Mad Dog McCree, complete with some of that hot Lloyd Kaufman action everyone loves. It’s basically a much better playing version of Mad Dog, since it doesn’t have to load everything off of a spinning disk whenever an action is performed. The game is really whacky and far out there, even by Twisted Pixel standards, but that’s honestly why I love it.

#5: SteamWorld Dig

SteamWorld Dig, as the title suggests, involves a whole lot of digging. In fact, it’s the whole purpose of the game, to dig deeper and deeper into the mine, to earn money and bring back prosperity to the town. You can also buy upgrades, both offensive for dealing with the monsters in the mine, and digging-centric, to let you dig faster and more efficiently. I haven’t played SteamWorld Heist yet, but if it’s anything like Dig was, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

#4: Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

Gunslinger is not just a good Western game; it’s a good FPS game in general. The cel-shaded graphics add a nice sense of depth, which even other cel-shaded games don’t quite hit, due to most of them taking place in otherworldly settings. It has a really good sense of speed, which because of the arcade-style action the game has. Aside from that, the level up system and historical curiosities make replaying the levels a must, especially since the game is a bit on the short side.

#3: Fallout: New Vegas

While it takes place in a science fiction setting, New Vegas is still classified as a Western game. You literally wake up in a town with a saloon in it, after getting a bullet in the head from a courier job. New Vegas still has the trappings of a Fallout game like killer robots, Super Mutants, and mutated animals, but the western influences are clear with some of the guns you can get, the outfits, and a lot of the cooking elements. It’s a weird but interesting fusion of an old world but with a slightly steampunk/nuclear holocaust setting.

#2: Oregon Trail

The whole point of the game is heading west, specifically to Willamette Valley in Oregon, during the mid-1800’s. Your job dictated how hard/easy the game would be, with the banker having loads of cash but not great repair skills, and the farmer having not a lot of cash, but you earn more overall points with it at the end. You had to deal with your family members getting sick, crossing rivers, your oxen dying, or possibly getting robbed as you travel across the country to get to your destination. The obvious highlight of the game though is hunting, and while it seems weird and archaic now, back in the day it was probably the most fun you could have on an Apple IIe.

#1: Red Dead Redemption

Yeah, “shocker”, I know. Redemption does the nigh-impossible of having a cowboy game but made with modern gameplay systems. Built with the RAGE game engine, which started with Rockstar Table Tennis, Redemption is built on a solid foundation to give people a vast world to explore. From hunting, to gathering herbs, to just riding around on your house, it feels like you’re really in a Western world. The game is chock full of great characters like Bonnie MacFarlane, Abraham Reyes, or Harold MacDougal that really make it memorable. On top of that, the shooting in this game is arguably Rockstar’s best, giving the weapons a weight, but making it easy to target enemies, especially with bullet time. A lot of people consider Redemption to be Rockstar’s best game, and while I may not entirely agree with that (I like Bully and maybe San Andreas more), it’s still one of the best games they have made.

For comments, list which Western games you’ve enjoyed and why.

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article topics :

The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison