(WiiWare)

Game Review

Fenimore Fillmore "The Westerner" Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Patrick Elliot

A cowpoke past his prime

Fenimore Fillmore lives by the gun, namely Chekhov's Gun – the assertion that if in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. In Fenimore Fillmore "The Westerner", this trope surely rings true, as most of the seemingly insignificant items you encounter serendipitously gain meaning and purpose later in the plot. In this case, though, a more appropriate title for the phrase would be “Chekhov's Dirty Sock” or “Chekhov's Climbing Belt.”

That's not to say it's any kind of literary or visual masterpiece. It was originally released in late 2004 for PC by Spanish developers Revistronic under the name Wanted: A Wild Western Adventure. With six years separating the game from its original incarnation, you'd think that it would receive some technical upgrades and TLC in its transition to WiiWare, but sadly, for the most part, this isn't the case. While series like Monkey Island have evolved accordingly over time with upgraded music, graphics and controls, the same cannot be said for The Westerner, as the game simply strolls into town on the same old, tired horse it did six years ago.

Motion controls have been added for the pointing aspects of the game, including those of minigames, and accessing the inventory is done by moving the pointer to the top of the screen, but the basic controls remain the same. You click with A and toggle the choice of action with B, basically between “use” and “look” and sometimes "open" or "take" depending on the situation.

Aside from new control scheme, it appears that nothing else was updated, delivering the player a somewhat colourful yet thoroughly bland western town that suffers mostly from the ravages of time. In 2004 this game may have been pleasing to the eye, but nowadays the blocky trees and jagged horses that populate this world just don't cut it, and the characters remain overlaid in an aged lighting effect that just makes them all look greasy.

The story begins when you stumble into a dusty western town one night and witness the shakedown of a local farmer. Some goons hired by a local wealthy stockbreeder named Starek are trying to muscle him into selling off his land, and they threaten to burn down all the farms in town if he and the other farmers do not comply. He refuses and readies his shotgun as our hero Fenimore Fillmore spies the standoff from around a corner, eventually falling into the scenario after pricking his behind on a cactus thorn and leaping forward, tumbling to the ground. This is the kind of humour you can expect throughout the game, which is more liable to get your eyeballs rolling than your laughter.

Flustered by Fillmore's sudden appearance, the goons become startled and a standoff ensues. The cut-scenes are all done with the in-game character models, which, as stated earlier, are a bit bland and operate with an eerie stiffness. These cinematics really start to show their age when they reference The Matrix, sending Fillmore into a bullet dodging sequence in which he bends around like Neo and shoots the hats off of the goons in the middle of a back flip.

With the bad guys temporarily scared off, Fillmore eats dinner with the farmer, Bannister, who explains his plight over a bowl of soup. Fenimore then says he is allergic to artichokes and passes out, leaving you to assume he was eating artichoke soup. You wake up the next day in the room of their child, Billy, who has stolen your guns, and this sets you off on the seemingly endless chain of chores the make up the bulk of the game. Your first goal is to get them back, but in order to leave the Bannisters' yard you'll first have to find your holster, hat and saddle, water some crops and pluck carrots for your hungry horse. These small environmental puzzles serve as the bulk of the gameplay for the most of the experience, consisting of finding an item and either giving it to the right person or combining it with the correct object.

Once you feed your horse you are able to leave the farm, taking you to the world map. From here, you can travel to the school to try to retrieve your guns from Billy, explore the town, check out the fair or head to the neighbouring farm that Bannister is visiting. Here you learn that Starek plans on burning down the farms that night, and the farmers lay out the four main objectives of the game: stop the train from transporting Starek's men to the area, find another guy to help fight off his men, gather some ammunition and reinforce the farms' borders.

To accomplish these tasks, you'll have to complete the same kind of object based puzzles as before, finding things that someone wants or using items to create specific environment-based scenarios. The pacing of the action is rather slow, and to complete big goals like buying dynamite, you need to perform several smaller tasks, which in themselves consist of even smaller tasks, and so on and so forth.

This repetition makes the game feel more like one unbearably long errand rather than a sequential chain of events, as you are constantly chasing items just to be told you need to find more items. This nonstop back and forth gets tedious, especially since to travel anywhere you need to feed your horse carrots, and to get more carrots, you have to repeat the same crop watering mechanic over and over. This wouldn't be so bad if there were anything entertaining about these actions, but the dull animations, poor music and lack of any voiceovers make it a thoroughly numb affair.

That's right: like most aspects of this game, the dialogue has not been updated with voiceovers – or even a decent spell-checking. This might have been fine if the pace could be controlled, but instead you are given an indiscriminate amount of time to read each chunk of text before the game moves on to the next. While this is generally not an issue, it does get a bit annoying when the camera starts switching from character to character, or when a huge bit of conversation is breezed over quickly.

Still, The Westerner does attempt to recapture the tongue-in-cheek comedy of classic adventure games, and the dialogue is resultantly filled with desperate attempts at non sequiturs. There are even insult duels with Starek's goons in the form of rhyming battles. In another sequence, Bannister tells another farmer that he just watered his carrots, to which he agrees that watering carrots is necessary if you plant them. A confused Bannister then asks “you plant them?!” For all that work, the payoff just isn't worth it. Another gem includes an exchange between Fillmore and the sheriff. At the end of their conversation, Fillmore says “I need to go,” to which he replies that he cannot help him with that, but that the saloon should be able to. Apparently, the sheriff thought that Fillmore needed to go to the bathroom.

Conclusion

Being six years old may be this cowboy's biggest crime, and the bevy of “Adventure Awards” that the debut WiiWare trailer shoots across the screen are obviously outdated. The cheesy music, dull story and lacklustre graphics complete an uninspired package that is guaranteed not to win any in its second time around. To ask 1000 Points for a port this lazy is surely a stretch, and fans of adventure games can find plenty of better choices on WiiWare.

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User Comments (38)

wes008

#1

wes008 said:

I guess they saw Telltale charging 1000 points an episode (which is reasonable because they're quality games) and they thought they were giving us a good deal with a "full game" for the same price.

Sneaker13

#2

Sneaker13 said:

I haven't played the game (hope we get it in Europe soon), but a 4/10 feels a bit harsh? Don't forget that it is a six year old FULL game. The comparison with TellTale games is weird. Not only are the games more recent, it are also episodes with less content then this game. Is it a lazy port? Don't know, it got pointer controls, something that can't be said from the lazy port that's Phoenix Wright WiiWare.

Again, I haven't played the game, but I will get it for sure when it gets a European release.

Zach

#3

Zach said:

@Sneaker13 4/10 is just below average in our books, and a game that sounds as dull as this one definitely would be below average.

Azaris

#5

Azaris said:

i was hoping this would be good being a 40 hour game on wiiware(that's what i heard) so out of curiousity if this were 500 points would it still be a 4/10?

Sneaker13

#6

Sneaker13 said:

@zkaplan, I'm not sure about the rating system. We use the 1-10 scale too in Holland, but a 5 or lower is not a good grade, 6 is mediocre and 7 and higher is good. Again, I haven't played the game (also didn't play the original), but the whole review it just seemed that this game has been attacked because of the old looking graphics. There is even the comparision to the Telltale adventures. And then there is a complaint about the lack of voiceovers. They were in the original but, as the news post on NL said, they have been removed to cram the whole game in 40 MB. So it's weird to attack the game on that point.

LuWiiGi

#7

LuWiiGi said:

Well, well, well, what a surprise. There are some games you can judge by their cover art.

Omega

#8

Omega said:

The biggest problem is that the game is six years old? I don't know how you see that but many PC games from 2004 were already pretty good in my opinion. There are even much older titles from 1998 and before that I would buy immediately if they were re-released on WiiWare. - I still think the game looks like fun. But as always, I wait for more reviews before I make a decision.

PatrickElliotStaff

#10

PatrickElliot said:

@ Sneaker13
The game certainly is long, and if length is what you want from a title, than go for it. Some prefer quantity over quality. But while the frequent back and forth and endless carrot growing may add length to the game, that doesn't necessarily equal fun.

Also, you may want to read our scoring policy.

Sneaker13

#11

Sneaker13 said:

@10, it's not really length I want (I've never said that), but comparing a full length game with a episodic game isn't fair. They have to make sacrifices and have done that by leaving out the voice overs. A shorter game (like the Telltale adventures) have less content and can get them out more complete.

But again, if you don't like the game because of repetition or bad story line, that's fine by me (again, I haven't played the game, so I can't judge it for that). But the review gives more emphasis on the graphics, lack of voice acting and almost no updates. Which is logical since it's a port and they re-did the controls (which sounds great). That's more that can be said for the Phoenix Wright titles on WiiWare, that really is a lazy port.

Zach

#12

Zach said:

@Sneaker13 If you watch the trailer for the original Wanted of which this is basically a port, the very first quote they use to describe the game compares it to Monkey Island, so I really think that they themselves wanted this.

RaylaxStaff

#13

Raylax said:

Still can't get over how bad those models are. They remind me of the things EA Bullfrog used to use in its cutscenes in the Theme Park/Hospital series. But not in a good way.

Omega

#14

Omega said:

I remember that this game had some pretty good reviews in german game magazines. PC Action (05/2004) gave it 86%, GameStar (04/2004) gave it 85% and PC Games (04/2004) gave it 83%. Can't be that bad, huh?

Zach

#15

Zach said:

@Omega IGN gave the original I believe a 7.5 and the new one a 5.5. Anyway, these are all just opinions. And he never said that its age was its worst flaw, just that it may be its worst flaw. On the voiceover restrictions, @Sneaker, it's a flaw regardless of why it's in the game. Anyway, I don't want to argue on a comments thread. Play the game for yourself and post here or in the forum if you'd like to debate the review.

Sneaker13

#16

Sneaker13 said:

@zkaplan, I can only find the trailer for the WiiWare version, but I think we can be sure that in 2004 they don't mean the Tales of Monkey Island serie from Telltale Games ;).

Sneaker13

#17

Sneaker13 said:

@zkaplan. Bit weak to end a discussion this way. I thought the comment section was to comment on the review. Besides, I can't play the game since it isn't released in Europe.

sonic_brawler95

#18

sonic_brawler95 said:

Wiiware to me is 85% crap, which is why I don't really buy Wiiware games. I already have World of Goo, Excitebike, Cave Story, and MM 10, so I have most of the good ones.

Don't know why I brought that up, shame that this turned out bad. The graphics remind me of Tales of Monkey Island.

Zach

#19

Zach said:

@Sneaker I think that the reference to Tales of Monkey Island is justified, and that people will understand the fundamental differences between an episodic adventure and a full game. His comparison is purely to their similarity style-wise, I think, (and he's not the only reviewer to compare the two), but I think you were right in pointing out that they couldn't have meant the Telltale games in the preview. Also, re: the dialogue, a flaw is a flaw no matter whether it's the developer's fault or WiiWare space limitations are to blame.

As an administrator I try to keep it professional and not get too involved in disputes over comments threads, especially about the reviews themselves and not the games. If I think that the style of the review befits the game and a user does not, why try to convince them otherwise? A review should speak for itself, which I believe that this one does.

This post was a bit longer and haughtier before, but that kind of defeats my efforts to be professional and let the review speak for itself.

Sneaker13

#21

Sneaker13 said:

@zkaplan, my point was not that the reviewer is wrong. Reviews are opinions. So if the reviewer don't like the game, that's fine by me. My point was that the comparision between Tales of Monkey Island is just wrong. Full game versus episodic games and especially old game versus new game.

This is not mentioned in the review very well. A quote from the review:
"While series like Monkey Island have evolved accordingly over time with upgraded music, graphics and controls, the same cannot be said for The Westerner, as the game simply strolls into town on the same old, tired horse it did six years ago."

Sure the serie has evolved. But Tales of Monkey Island is brand new and not a port of a six year old adventure game. This is not clear in the review and you see that back in the comments. All the comparisions are with Telltale Games ToMI and not realising that this game is six years old, just thinking it's "really" new. It's a port (eg. same story, same dialogue, same gameplay elements, same graphics and same music) with better controls and maybe they shouldn't have removed the voice overs. But concessions had to be made to cram it in 40 MB, sure it wouldn't make the game better when you compare it to the PC original, but there are many games (especially adventures) that don't have voice overs (the Another Code and Phoenix Wright serie just to name a few). I don't know how the original voice overs are, but bad voice acting could be even worse then no voice acting at all.

Again, I haven't played the game since it's not available in Europe yet and I haven't played the original either. And if I don't like the game either, I will hold the game responsible for it and might give it a four as well (if not lower). But comparing it to Tales of Monkey Island is just unfair in my opinion.

Zach

#22

Zach said:

I don't think it's a big leap. I think the lack of voiceovers is a flaw regardless of why it's a flaw.

PatrickElliotStaff

#23

PatrickElliot said:

Comparing two games of the same genre, that are on the same distribution service for the same price is far from unfair, regardless of age or length.

Porky

#24

Porky said:

@11 "Phoenix Wright titles on wiiware, that really is a lazy port." Not quite. Motion controls were added and case five, Rise From The Ashes, in the first title had similar features to the ds game. I admit that they are lazy ports, but not 'really lazy ports'.

Sneaker13

#25

Sneaker13 said:

@zkaplan. It's a leap of only six years ;). I agree on the lack of voice overs being a flaw (never said otherwise). IGN's review said it was one of the strong points of the original. But that's only noticable for people who played the original. Besides, lack of voice acting is not a game breaking element, as some of the earlier games I mentioned proved.

@SuperPowerBros. I think it's perfectly fair to compare games of the same genre on the same service, but only when they are made around the same time. Back then, 3D was a new thing in adventure games. In ToMI, 3D has been longer around, is further developed, looks prettier and cost less to make. So it's unfair to compare it that way. Besides, if you follow your words strictly, you can even go as far as comparing an indie game to a game from a million dollar company. Which just isn't fair either.

@Ezekiel. You mean that unresponse waggle thing for Hold It!s and Objections. That's not really motion controls to be proud of. I haven't played the fifth case yet on WiiWare (I have bought it though), so I can't judge it.

Zach

#26

Zach said:

@Sneaker This is WiiWare, not Virtual Console. You can update old games, and if you don't then you'd better expect them to be judged by today's standards.

Sneaker13

#27

Sneaker13 said:

The Virtual Console doesn't included PC games ;). Updating a six year old game graphics wise, audio wise, gameplay wise, story wise etc. is just remaking the game, of making a whole different game altogether (which probably wouldn't have been released on the Wii). They have added pointer control which is a perfect fit for the Wii (something that Phoenix Wright WiiWare should have done).

On a side note, everyone is going crazy about games like Cave Story, Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth, La Mulana, Super Meat Boy, Mega Man 9 and 10 about them being Retro. Those games are far from meeting today's standards. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I enjoyed Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth a lot for example. Sure the games don't meet todays standards graphic and audio wise, but are fun to play. The same with this game. If it isn't fun, I can agree with the review (and probably will when the game reaches Europe). But comparing it to a recent game is just not fair because of better and more developed techniques but which is also shorter because of being splitted up in episodes.

Damn, I write long posts btw :D.

Zach

#28

Zach said:

@Sneaker Doesn't matter that the VC doesn't include PC games. A new WiiWare game is a new WiiWare game, regardless if they've just repackaged an old one. If you walked into the toothbrush store, bought a toothbrush alongside all the other toothbrushes and at the same price, and then noticed it had food in it when you got home, you would still be upset even if you found out that it was someone's old toothbrush repackaged.

akacesfan

#29

akacesfan said:

Lower than I expected. I was honestly expecting a 5.

By the way, Fenimore isn't a cowboy name. Somebody needs to agree with me on that. :P

Omega

#30

Omega said:

I don't want to argue about the review. Reviews are always peoples opinions and I accept that. But for all who are still interested in this game (I am) I have composed some links of places where you can read other reviews in german and english.

(Note: These reviews refer to the original PC release which is also known as Wanted: A Wild Western Adventure in the US. They don't refer specifically to the WiiWare title but I think they are similar except for the voice acting which was naturally omitted in the WiiWare release.)

German Reviews
90% German Review 1 (Adventure-Archiv)
83% German Review 2 (4players.de)
80% German Review 3 (gamecaptain)
87% German Review 4 (adventure-treff)
88% German Review 5 (Adventurecorner)
77% German Review 6 (justgamers)
81% German Review 7 (demonews)

English Reviews
90% English Review 1 (adventure-archiv)
B+ English Review 2 (justadventure.com)
8/10 English Review 3 (Gamezone.com)
6.6/10 English Review 4 (Gamespot)
6.5/10 English Review 5 (IGN)
78% English Review 6 (Game-Over.net)
NA English Review 7 (MrBills Adventureland)

I think it's pretty interesting if you like classic adventure games. I'm definitely looking forward to the european release.

HugoSmits

#31

HugoSmits said:

@zkaplan:

How can you even say "flaw regardless of why it's a flaw."

I mean... PS3 games have better graphics than Wii games, so should all wii games get a 5 for dull graphics, because it's technological impossible to make it up to par with PS3 ?

Same goes for the 40 mb limit. I mean, everything has to fit in, and sometimes something has to give.

In case of TellTale it's content, in case of this game it's voice-overs.

I think it's very unfair to judge a game on that part.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#32

Philip_J_Reed said:

Regardless of things like voice acting, visual presentation, and so on, I think the review makes it very clear that the game itself wasn't much fun to play. That in itself certainly justifies a below-average grade (unless, for some reason, "fun to play" is no longer an important aspect to consider when gauging a game's quality), and the rest of this "Shall I compare thee to Monkey Island?" debate is really just tail chasing.

The Westerner didn't get a 4/10 here because it pales in comparison to Monkey Island. It got a 4/10 here because the reviewer felt it wasn't a very good game, and he happened to use Monkey Island as a textual example of how things could have been handled better. That example is entirely separate from the score; it's clear enough there that whether Monkey Island or any other game ever existed in the first place, The Westerner just simply wasn't all that much fun for Patrick to play.

FFL2and3rocks

#33

FFL2and3rocks said:

I bought the game and enjoyed it quite a bit.
I'm surprised the review didn't mention how often the game freezes, though. It took me 12 hours to beat, and the game froze on me 4 or 5 times.

Sneaker13

#34

Sneaker13 said:

@zkaplan. The toothbrush story is just too weird. So you are comparing a WiiWare game to a secondhand toothbrush?

@ChickenBrutus. I have no problem with the grade of the review. Like I said before. I haven't played the game (can't since the lack of a European release) but if the game isn't fun, I have no problem giving it a 4 or lower. But the comparison to a new game which uses better technology, has a bigger budget and is an episodic release is just wrong. It's a port so is logical that they don't change anything to most aspects of the game. Controls have been improved though (which can't be said of Phoenix Wright's WiiWare port). If they would have changed the game, it would be a entirly new game or a remake and not a port.

Zach

#35

Zach said:

Every single bad game is bad for a reason. No one sets out to make an unimpressive product. :-)

SKTTR

#36

SKTTR said:

So I bought this game, and tried to complete it, but it always crashes in last action scene. Can't get the mission done, it freezes with a highpitch sound every single time which is really frustrating so close to the end.
There were plenty other bugs as well, some gamebreaking like glitching into a manhole.
Also, you can manually save your game and make it unwinnable (so don't spend all your money on random stuff, just buy things you really need and always carry enough carrots around).
It's not just missing the voices but also a few scenes (interiors) from the PC version (they just locked some doors and put the items elsewhere) and most likely some music is lost as well.
The game is alright, a 6/10 ok point&click adventure, plagued mostly by a bad framerate, horrible camera angles, and glitches, but this is a dumbed down port with some heavyweight issues that don't just come from a 40MB limit.

Has anybody actually beat the WiiWare version? If so, what exactly did you do to make the game not crash in the last battle?

PS. The save data of this games takes up an entire 100 blocks of Wii memory. Just so you know.

SKTTR

#37

SKTTR said:

Turns out I had to change the screentext in the language settings to English. No German ending for this game. Funny(?) thing, after the credits it still froze so I had to unplug the console.

Omega

#38

Omega said:

I have finally played and beaten this game. There were indeed a few glitches but nothing too bad. Similar games on PC like Monkey Island IV have at least as many or more bugs.

Here are the problems which I had:

On three occasions the game froze and I had to turn the console off. After loading the last save-game everything was fine.

In some cases the graphic was distorted but after changing the location and coming back the distortion was gone. (Always happend at the entrance of the town- nowhere else.)

And one time a character (Stella) blocked the entrance door so I couldn't leave the house.

On the last battle there were no problems with the german language. (Played this part two times to be sure). I did not had to set the language to english. (Maybe they recently updated the game?)

Only at the very end of the game it froze again. But that was after(!) the outtakes and after the credits,- so no problem.

My conclusion:

All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised with the game. It is a good Point & Click adventure with graphically very detailed locations and characters. For a WiiWare game it was much more than I expected. And other games have glitches too, even the ones from Nintendo.

Without the glitches it would easily a 9/10 in my book. Even with them it's still enough fun. It's a game for those who can appreciate a good mouse-driven Point & Click adventure with 3D environments.
My only advice: Don't forget to save often!

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