Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode
Watching Westerns as children, we always wanted the Indians to win. They were so much cooler than the Christians in the wagons. We hated those stupid white settlers, with their horrible beards, no moustaches, their in-bred children, their appaling quick-release dungarees and their propensity for having sex with farmyard animals. Whenever one of them knelt behind the wagon to pray and copped an arrow in the face we laughed till we were sick. It was almost as funny as when the entire cast of Little House on the Bloody Prairie died in a multi-wagon pile-up.
As for the Waltons, all sleeping in the same bed and feeling each other's banjos under the quilt, there was nothing wrong with them that a Kamikaze pilot diving out of the sun above Walton's Mountain wouldn't cure. But that's another matter. In fact, let's get back to Western pioneers, and their charming ways of dealing with the people who already live somewhere that they want to "settle". (As in "Bang - you're dead and I live here now. That's settled...")
God bless America
The settlers in Silverload discovered that the land where the Indians lived contained a great deal of silver. (As in the valuable metal - nobody's been redistributing the Lone Ranger's horse with a hacksaw.) So what do the heroes of the American West, who made the country what it is today and whose spirit lives on in the form of travelling insurance salesmen, do? They wiped out the Indians, razed their tepees to the ground, drew moustaches on their Elizabeth Hurley posters (not that she needed it) and violated their ponies with firemans' hoses. And then they built a church, and went and sang songs to a fictitious all-seeing fairy-character about how good they all were.
Needless to say. this didn't please the few remaining Indians. Especially the firemans' hoses. So they put a special Indian curse on the inhabitants of the town, which ensured that the people therein would never be able to touch the silver. Magically, overnight, the settlers' hands were superglued into boxing gloves. (No they weren't. Ed.) Oh. alright, they turned them all into werewolves. Apparently, one of the Indians had done a correspondence course in Middle European folklore, and knew that werewolves prefer gold. (They'd rather die than be seen wearing silver because they don't think it looks expensive enough.) So there we have Premise One: Scary Town.
Premise Two: Gophers
If it weren't for Gophers, half the Western people in the world would be much shorter, with people getting clean away during horse chases. (Note for cyberpunks: a "Gopher" wasn't always something you use to "surf the "net". In fact, it used to be a big hairless bird that specialised in digging holes in the desert for horses to fall down.) Thus, the hero of this game was riding about in the desert when his horse fell down a 70-foot gopher-hole and broke its leg. Quickly, he shot it and ate its saddle (Western tradition). Before you know it. he's lost, near to death, and Premise One and Two are joined: he's offered the chance of a replacement horse (and saddle) by some wagon train-type Christians who've had their child stolen by bulletproof monsters, but only if he finds and saves the kid. Game on.
Well, sort of
Deducing that the monsters came from the nearby town of Silverload, you set off in that direction. In fact, you soon find out that if you try to go in any other direction, you die. Suddenly and annoyingly. This happens all the time, throughout the game. You might have two (or. on special occasions, three) options open to you. but only one is correct - get it wrong and it's instant death. Just a single badly drawn picture and you're dumped out of the game into dos. Imagine the most annoying thing you can think of - any sentence by a children's TV presenter, say - and double it. This is worse than that.
This linear approach and unforgiving design isn't the only thing wrong with the game, by any means. The graphics are risible, taking the form of badly drawn still pictures. That's all. Retro, eh? Occasionally a drawing wobbles about by way of acknowledging the development of animation, but generally the message seems to be that games should have no truck with newfangled experiments of that ilk.
The Quiet Man
You interact with other characters by selecting a question at the foot of the screen - which, being a Clint Kastwood-type. you ask silently. They respond, generally at some length, the last phrase of their answer appearing in a speech bubble. If there are further details available, you'll see a highlighted word to click on. A straightforward system, if hardly new. But even this is frustrating, as clicking on one question sometimes elicits an answer to a different one. Believe it or not. there are problems with "collision detection" (for want of a better phrase) on the questions. And it's not as if they're jammed together, either, they're inches apart on screen. And even if you don't click on the highlighted extra info in the speech bubble, you still sometimes get the extra dialogue.
The graphics are so bad that some of the characters look different from picture to picture, so that you wonder where the new guy popped up from. And there are "disappearing people": a man stands behind a counter, you click to move behind the counter and he disappears. You click to the front and he's back. Then there's the floor. Wherever you go. if you look down at the floor, you'll see wooden floorboards. Obviously sensitive about sullying your nice booties on nasty sawdust, sand and horse crap, you take a few planks with you to fling beneath your feet as you move about. You lateral thinker, you.
A classic, then?
It's linear, poorly implemented and so frustrating your brain will shrivel to the size of a raisin. It's touted, in PR-speak. as an "adventure game for beginners". This is accepted code for "it's crap". And it would put the average beginner off adventure games for life.
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