Bigben Interactive – Western Heroes review

Arcade style Wild West shooter
Photo of Bigben Interactive – Western Heroes

Shoot-’em-ups are comparably rare games on the Wii, and old arcade-style shooters rarer still – so it was with some sense of curiosity and expectancy that we looked at Bigben Interactive’s take on the cowboy myth, Western Heroes.

Hopefully you haven’t just picked this game up from a pal rather than buying the full package from a games outlet, as the unique selling point of Western Heroes is the fact that it comes bundled with a physical recreation of a Winchester rifle. This is cleverly designed so that the Wii remote fits neatly into the barrel, and the Nunchuck inside the butt. You can then programme different buttons for firing or menus, while the lever beneath the rifle’s trigger performs a reload, exactly like the original firearm.

Once set up, the action then becomes a classic on-the-rails shoot-em-up, with enemies popping up out of moving rail carriages, out of the river, leaning from windows and even out of crazy flying machines. Oh yes, this isn’t entirely your stereotypical cowboy drama.

The plot of the game involves chasing mad scientist Professor Molina as he powers across the Wild West in his scary SteamBane train, which – naturally – is carrying the most destructive bomb ever invented.

However, only part of the chase takes place alongside the train itself. You’ll also enter mining towns, travel on a raft down the river and ride on the back of a stagecoach. Points are gained for the number of kills, for headshots and for destroying vehicles or enemy installations. Naturally, it’s minus points for killing civilians – but you can also pick up extra health and ammo by striking appropriate icons. There are even bullet time’ bonuses that briefly put enemies in slow-mo.

Up to four people can play at once (although, obviously, only one gets the Winchester unless you want to shell out extra), with four multiplayer options including Survival (self-explanatory), Ball Trap (hit the most targets in the time limit), Co-op (for two players) and Competition (replaying a level to up your points). The gameplay is rounded off with some mini-games in which you can practice shooting plates or barrels thrown in to the air.

The graphics are extremely basic, the overall game time is pretty short and – bearing in mind the utterly inoffensive cartoon nature of the storyline – it’s a complete mystery why Western Heroes has been given a 12′ PEGI rating. The main frustration of the game is the calibration of the rifle itself, with crosshairs moving too sluggishly across the screen to match the speed of the unfolding action.

Company: Bigben Interactive

Bigben Interactive should be congratulated for introducing a clever new application for the Wii control system, yet despite the general fun and variety of the gameplay, Western Heroes is ultimately too short and its rifle too ungainly to be an instant hit.