games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Western Games – Oregon Trail, Call of Juarez, More

October 23, 2018 | Posted by Marc Morrison

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! With a certain game coming out this Friday, Castlevania Requiem, I thought it’d be fun to take a stab at Western games. Oh, I think Red Dead Redemption 2 is also coming out then, but who cares about that? I get to buy Castlevania: SOTN for a 4th time! For this list, I purposefully did NOT use Red Dead Redemption 1 as my top pick. It obviously is the current best Western game, but I wanted to go outside of that a little. Keep this in mind when there are a lot of “Where’s Red Dead Redemption?!” comments down below. Enjoy:

#8: Sunset Riders

This was the usual arcade-style action game was generally putting out in the late 80’s to mid 90’s. Sunset Riders is a run and gun style game where you play a bounty hunter on the hunt for some elusive criminals. How you find them is generally gunning down every other criminal you meet until the end of the game. It’s basically a better looking Contra, only instead of aliens, you are fighting cowboys but it’s still a pretty solid game, all told.

#7: The Wavy Tube Man Chronicles

What’s the ONE thing that can make any FMV game better? Adding Troma Entertainment into the mix! As DLC for The Gunstringer, Wavy Tube Man Chronicles is a delight in farce in the highest order. Lloyd Kaufman plays “Doc Lloyd”, as his Time Traviz Machine is stolen by Wavy Tube Man Jr to try and mess with the past. I wouldn’t suggest playing this on Kinect, since Kinect blows, but you can find it on the Windows 8/Windows 10 store and using a mouse makes this game a breeze. It’s really goofy but has to be seen to be believed.

#6: Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath

Stranger’s Wrath was quite a departure from the usual Oddworld formula of taking to creatures, telling them to Wait, and usually getting killed by something you didn’t see until it was too late. Stranger’s Wrath is a bounty hunting game where you have to capture various criminals within the Western setting of Gizzard Gulch, Buzzarton and New Yolk City. You could bring bounties back dead or alive, and if you bring them back alive, you suck them up in a magical vacuum. I never got too far in Stranger’s Wrath but I did like the main character, the setting, and the live-animal ammo you use. It’s just a very tough game to actually play, I found.

#5: Hard West

Hey, what if we made an XCOM game only it’s not as good? Well, I’m sold! To be fair, Hard West isn’t a “bad” game it’s just not as good as its inspiration. The biggest problem is that it doesn’t have a manual save option, so if a mission goes bad, you can’t roll it back. Also, the weak stealth system seems pointless. Still, it has a great look to it, your abilities are interesting and the story is moderately good.

#4: Fallout: New Vegas

New Vegas might not entirely fit but it’s my list, so oh well. It has the traditional Western story arc type of the “hero” being left for dead and then having to hunt down the guy who tried to put you in the ground. Alongside that, there are cowboy hats, revolvers, Sarsaparilla and some of the towns really evoke a “Wild West” feel, notably the first town you start off in. New Vegas is very much a scifi-Western, like Firefly: elements of both future tech but most of the story has a traditional Western story.

#3: Westerado: Double Barreled

Man, Westerado is a cool game. Your family is killed in the intro by a mysterious criminal. You don’t know who he is but the ghost of your uncle tells you to find their killer. You do this by generally completing side-quests and main quests from the townsfolk to get more clues as to the killer. What type of hat they have, the outfit, belt color/size, etc. The gunplay is really weird, you can only shoot left or right, you have to move up and down to shoot enemies on a different level. It’s a game with a lot of neat ideas in it.

#2: The Oregon Trail

This game is on here because the topic is “Western” games and not “Cowboy” games. The whole game is about moving from the middle of the country (Missouri) to the new state of Oregon in a quest to start a new life. You and your family ride your wagon across hazardous terrain, deep rivers, and through many cases of dysentery. Hunting is the thing most people remember from the game, shooting a ton of animals but only being able to carry back 200 pounds of food back to your wagon. This game probably doesn’t appeal to kids these days but for folk over a certain age it is a very fond memory.

#1: Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

Gunslinger is probably the second best Western game I’ve played, aside from the obvious choice at number one. You play Silas, a bounty hunter (of course) near the end of his life. He’s in a tavern and is regaling various patrons with his exploits in the past. The thing with this game is that because it’s a level-based shooter, there’s not a lot keeping you in one place. One level might be in a town at night and another might be in a logging camp filled with enemies. You have some fun abilities like bullet time and a dodge mechanic to get out of the way of enemy shots. I’d happily take another Gunslinger game but Ubisoft seems to have forgotten it.

For comments, list your favorite Western games and why.

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Top 8 Video Game Prequels

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison