Saturday, September 1

Review: Western 1849 Reloaded [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Light gun games used to be a staple in the arcades and at home, and Nintendo certainly had a bit part to play in that with the NES zapper and Duck Hunt. In recent years there haven’t been many examples and in general pointer-controlled games took a hit after the Wii somewhat wore that trend out. With the motion sensors in the Switch joycon those controls are back and now we have a title, Western 1849 Reloaded, that is dipping its toe into that classic light gun shooting genre once more. The result, while working pretty well, works to a degree but be prepared for some frustrations.


In the game you’ll be playing the part of a sheriff, looking to gun down the nasty gunslinging customers looking to threaten your town. Armed initially with your pistol, an alternative rifle, and even some sticks of dynamite, you’ll need to make smart use of cover and pick off the bad guys one by one. With each new difficulty level you’ll need to make it through a new area, each consisting of 3 stages. As you complete each stage you’ll get to choose from 3 different perks which can help you offensively, keep you alive, or give you benefits like not needing to reload. As you play you’ll then accumulate currency you can use to upgrade yourself with new equipment and upgraded gear, and once you unlock enough achievements new packs of perks will also become available to you. In general it’s a challenging game but at least you’ll generally feel like you’re slowly making progress and getting help to survive longer.


While the core game experience, though a bit repetitive, works well it is the controls that can make or break a game like this. The good news is that the controls are generally pretty decent, and you should be able to make some accurate headshots pretty quickly once you get used to them. The bad news, and this is less on the developer and more on the core system and its control APIs, is that consistent with all games using the Switch joycon as pointer controllers you’ll need to recalibrate regularly without fail. This can be worked around, as unlike pointing a light gun literally at a point on the screen you’ll see the crosshairs moving and you’ll learn to make it point where you want it to, but there’s no getting around it being a nuisance. From the software side there are some more extreme angles you need to work at so the game does itself no favors in that case. With patience and a quick tap of the button to recalibrate you can have success, just be ready for periodic frustrations. In handheld mode joystick controls are supported, though there’s currently no Pro Controller support, but even with the recalibration issues the pointer controls generally work out more effectively.


All in all the sheer novelty of the title helps it stand out, and at its relatively low asking price it represents quite a lot of content if you’re determined to gut it out and learn to live with the controls that like to go wandering on you periodically. The fact that there’s so much to unlock, and options for catering the game to your preferences and needs, will also help smooth over frustrations. If you’ve been itching for a throwback title to help you remember those classic arcade shooting titles like Mad Dog McCree and Time Crisis though Western 1849 Reloaded may not be perfect it gets enough right to be worth a pile of quarters to enjoy for a while.

Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • Nothing quite like it on the Switch
  • Uses a nice cover system to allow you to bide your time before shooting back
  • Perks and upgrades to choose from in-game and enhance yourself with keep things feeling fresh and provide opportunities for greater longevity

Cons:
  • Consistent with other pointer games on the system the need to regularly recalibrate is very real
  • No support for the Pro Controller, though in handheld mode you can use the joystick
  • While every new difficulty level a new location is added to the mix you’ll spend quite a lot of time in the same locales shooting the same bad guys in the same spots