For some reason I have been finding myself drawn towards the antics of the wild west just recently. I don’t know if it was Red Dead Redemption that reignited this love of all things cowboy or if something else was responsible, but being given the chance to point a big plastic Winchester style Rifle at the TV screen was certainly enough to make me happy.
Western Heroes, from Bigben on the Wii, may not be the world’s most remarkable game in itself. But the fact that it ships with a massive plastic peripheral in the shape of a Rifle makes Western Heroes interesting. Sounds tacky? You may well be surprised.
Let’s face it, there are a huge number of crappy plastic peripherals for the Wii, and most of them are poorly made and don’t add anything to the gaming experience. This was kind of what I was expecting. But once I had assembled the Rifle, with the WiiMote slotted snugly into the barrel and the Nunchuk in the stock, I was impressed with how well it was built and how sturdy it was. This was a peripheral that I was really pleased to be using. What’s more, in an effort to make the Rifle more realistic, reloading is achieved by pulling down on the lever, much the same as real cowboys have to. Yeehaw!
The Rifle is well built and increases the enjoyment of the game no end. But it is not perfect. Firstly, the fact that the Rifle comes in the delightful “Wiiwhite” colour scheme is a real shame. I can understand that the manufacturers would not want the Rifle to look too realistic, but plain white is just so dull. The other problem that I have is that there is almost no feedback from the trigger, feeling as though you could blow on it to fire. It would have been nice if there were a click or something. However, these are both just minor quibbles and otherwise the Rifle is absolutely brilliant.
The game, on the other hand, is not as inspiring. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing broken about the game. There is just not that much to it.
The player takes on the role of one of four “Western Heroes” in this rail shooter, with bad guys popping up on the screen and the player having to point the gun and shoot them before they get shot. It is all pretty standard stuff for anyone who has played a lightgun game in the past, with the player slowly moving through different environments automatically, leaving them free to concentrate on shooting. Each area is scored and up to four players can join the fun, although the fun is obviously a lot less for the players without the Rifle peripheral.
The game is not especially long, but as the player progresses they will unlock a survival mode and some “target practice” shooting mini-games, which add to the longevity. Overall, the game is well polished and looks really good, with nice colourful cartoon-style graphics and a family friendly feel. The game is given a 12 certificate, which is understandable due to the player using a replica gun to shoot people.
The game itself is average. It is inoffensive and doesn’t do anything terribly wrong. It just doesn’t offer anything that hasn’t really been done before, multiple times. But by adding the Rifle peripheral, the game becomes so much more than average, offering a damn good time. The temptation to keep picking up the gun and trying to better your score, whilst simultaneously relieving tension and stress, is huge. There is something satisfying about using the Rifle that you simply cannot get with other gun peripherals that tend to be as unrealistic as possible.
Much like buying FlingSmash because you want a new WiiMote Plus, it is worth buying Western Heroes just for the excellent Rifle peripheral. If you own a Wii and fancy shooting stuff on the TV screen with a big plastic Rifle, then this is the package for you.