Console: Commodore 64 Date Released: 1985 Date Reviewed: January 16, 2012 Reviewer: Jon Pros * Branching dialog choices provide a variety to conversations * Ability to draw your gun and shoot anytime is amusing * Bank robbery sequences can provide a challenge Cons * Only four backgrounds * Not much content here * Once played through a few times, gets old fast Law of the West for the Commodore 64 brings back a lot of old memories for me. This was another one of those treasures that I spent many late nights playing. Excitement of keeping banks safe and taking down the unlawfuls with an itchy trigger finger riddled my childhood. This was the game that made me fall in love with the wild west. The question I had when I set out to do this review was did this game still have any life in it?
Presentation : C
Graphics / Animation / Sound
The visuals of the game consist of mostly static drawn images. The Sheriff remains faceless with the player only seeing his back, right arm, and the six shooter on his side. When it comes to animating the Sheriff, the only thing that ever moves is the lower half of his arm below the elbow. The quick animation occurs when triggered to draw his pistol which puts a reticle on screen that can be moved around freely.
Text on the bottom of the screen showcases both the Cast’s statements and the Sheriff’s multiple choice responses. Backgrounds were drawn fairly well for 1985 and even now, while they aren’t the beautifully rendered landscapes that populate today’s games they are still effective and clear on their intent. The downside to the backgrounds is that there are only four of these screens which can get old pretty fast. The members of the Cast are very basic in their appearance. There is only ever enough detail to make out what kind character you are dealing with. (Kid, Woman, Man with a shotgun, etc.)
Once you move through these basic elements there isn’t anything else to the game. Sound consists of midi music that actually does a pretty good job at setting the tone for each character as they are introduced, and the main theme which can become iconic after multiple playthroughs.
Single Player : C
Game mechanics / Length / difficulty
Gameplay for Law of the West is as basic as they come. Each scene consists of one of the cast members walking out in front of the Sheriff and delivering the first line of dialog. Four responses are then presented to the player. Each one of these carry a different demeanor that can set the tone for the rest of the conversation. Once the player has chosen the desired response the conversation progresses with that process being continued until the end of the scene. Now these conversations can end a few different ways depending on who the Cast member is. The complete character list consists of
Sheriff – The player
Belle – Cowboy Rustler
Willy- Little boy with a secret
Deputy – Chip on his shoulder
Doc – Alcoholic
Mexicali Kid – Gunslinger
April – School Teacher
Rose – Seductress
Gambler – Cheat
Guy with a shotgun – Dangerous
The objective of the game is to make it to sundown alive. The secondary objective is to obtain the highest score possible. Depending how you handle the conversations this can actually change the outcome drastically. Say the wrong thing to the Mexicali Kid for instance and he will draw on you, forcing you to shot or be shot.
Shoot him and the game moves on by progressing to the next scene, but get shot and that is a whole different situation. The screen goes solid black, the dramatic music starts to play and your heart begins to pound. The question of “Will I live?” is actually a valid one as this depends on your previous actions. If you shoot too many people, or call the Doc a drunk he might not save you. If you killed the Doc obviously he won’t be able to save you, or perhaps he just hasn’t made it to town yet. The fact that this situation has a few variables helps to create tension that is a welcomed feature in any game. If the Doc doesn’t save you the game will end and take you to a screen that displays your score and various icons representing your in-game actions.
The rest of the gameplay is mostly the same. Rinse and repeat for each character you come across with the exception of the women (which you can make dates with) and Willy the kid who can tell you his secret. I am not sure that a game from 1985 has any major spoilers, but I won’t share the secret just to keep the mystery alive.
There are actually bank robbery scenes in the game that can mix things up for a few seconds. (that’s how long they last) They consist of the scene above including the bank with a stick figure running out firing at you. You can shoot them if you are fast enough, or they can either get away or shoot the player. Surprisingly these scenes can be tough only because they require a quick response.
Multiplayer : F
Game mechanics / features / Online features
No multiplayer for this game.
Replay Value : D
Lasting appeal / Bonus Content / DLC
I have a lot of love for this game regardless of whether or not the scores show it. It has a lot of nostalgia for me, however in order to give a fair review I have to maintain a honest approach. While the game has a few moments that are enjoyable, replaying the game has proved to be more of a task. Once the game has been played through a couple of times it seems to lose it’s appeal rapidly. The only variation aside from experimenting with different dialog choices comes from the ability to pull out your gun and shoot someone at will. While this is fun the first few times, it quickly gets boring. Trying to obtain the highest score possible could be motivation to replay the 20 minute game more than a few times (including simulated load times), however since you are unlikely to find anyone else you know playing, this could prove difficult for the score to hold much weight.
Overall : D