The Nintendo DS could be a really fun system for light gun games. There are a couple titles out that try that and they do a decent job. But just because the touch screen lends itself well to tap-shooting doesn't mean it should be used for every type of shooter, especially if the developers seem to know nothing about shooters. The Wild West, a western style shooting mishmash by Happy Happenings, proves that a developer can take a seemingly simple idea and screw it up in every way.
The Wild West attempts to have an epic story of justice and revenge, but is done so poorly that it is actually hilariously bad. First off, talking animals should not try to be serious. Everyone knows that when talking animals get serious, the result is just creepy. Like, Fritz the Cat creepy. The writing is so tremendously bad, though, that it's sometimes even hard to tell that they are being serious. Whether players choose to be the wolf bounty hunter named, get this, Wolfy, or they opt for the cheetah girl, wait for it, Catty, they're given a tale fill of woe and bad dialogue. Lines like, "I hear they call you 'Wolfy the Coward!'" are made even more ridiculous by rebuttals like, "No, they call me 'Shooting Star Wolfy!'"
The clearly Japanese character design isn't bad, though there is nothing to actually relate the main characters to their animals. The enemies have a lot more character to them. Vultures swoop in through the air, and the first boss is a porcupine that rolls around and shoots spikes. They all act like their characters they personify, yet the protagonists may as well be dorks in costumes.
The only thing worse than the dialogue is the actual gameplay, which is a mishmash of a few different types of touch screen controlled shooter games. Some levels have the character walking around on the bottom screen in a top-down shooter. Most of the enemies are on the top screen, making it hard to aim at them. Other levels are light gun style shoot-em-ups, or horse chases, or runaway mine carts. Nearly every level is a different type of game, and at best they're mediocre, but most of them are just plain awful.
The one thing each level has in common is a near relentless barrage of enemies, which turns the game into a tap-fest. The game is less about skill and more about frantically trying to tap everywhere at once to kill lizards and boars.
Some of the levels allow the player to run and gun, yet others limit the character's ability to dodge enemy fire. Why can the character strafe around in one level, but seem to lose their ability to multitask in the next? The inconsistency makes the game feel like a different team developed each level, and is thus a loosely tied together string of minigames, rather than a story driven action title.
The constantly changing art style doesn't help much either. Some times Wolfy and Catty are little sprites, other times they're far larger more detailed. The only consistency is that the graphics are bland and unimpressive throughout the experience.
If players get far enough in the game and do well enough, they can unlock bonus minigames that can be sent to friends. The game is bad enough that the motivation to even try for these is low, but The Wild West also happens to be unforgiving with its difficulty. Enemies constantly maim the characters with unavoidable barrages of gunfire. The controls are so clunky, that even the roll dodge move doesn't work and players will die needlessly over and over.
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