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Harlock & Rinku's 'Bill's Never Go West' vs. Shadowiii
Harlock & Rinku's 'Bill's Never Go West' The best mini-game ever.
Rinku
Download: 357 KB
V.S.
Shadowiii
Play Time: 0 hours and 5 minutes
Review # 14 for Shadowiii The best mini-game ever.
Them's Fightin' Words
    Ah, 48 hour games. Usually the creators of these games do one of two things: go insane on originality and make a really short game, or make a "full" game with nothing original at all. This would have to go under the "originality" catagory, but unfortunatly it is difficult to say exactly WHAT is original in this game.

See, Harlock and Rinku's "Bill's Never Go West" plays a bit like one of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books but, unfortunatly, doesn't turn out nearly as well. The story is poorly done (though executed well), the battles are crude, and the overall feel is that this game is full of holes.
Graphics
    The graphics range from good to unfinished. The walkarounds have detail and motion; there is an excellently done swordfight between NPC's in the opening. There are also various cutscenes integrated that help add to the story. The tilemaps too look supurb. But there is a major flaw in the graphics of this game: the battles. Another interesting point is this game is "dark." Unlike Rinku's previous 48 Hour release (&And), HRBNGW is not bright and cheerful, but dark and gloomy overall.

NPC's are executed with skill. They are a well done super-deformed (I think Bill's NPC is my personal favorite), and their movements seem fluid. The demon looks like Shishio from Rurouni Kenshin, but that's ok. Overall, there is nothing wrong with the NPC's.

Battle graphics, however, are bad. It seemed like a nice start, actually. The base hero graphic looked good, and the backdrops fit well (though I still don't understand the purpose of the "nEVER gO wEST" under each battle backdrop). But it was just a start. Every attack is the same, and it is basically just a bunch of red circles flashing around. The hero has only one graphic, so Vlad disappears when he attacks. Plus, there are no enemy graphics. Instead, it is just the word of the enemy ("cLOWN" in this case) done in the wacky title font. Overall, I think that there shouldn't have been any battles in the first place. Not only would that prevent the graphics from looking unfinished (it would remove battle graphics alltoghether :P) but it would make the game feel more "Choose your Own Adventure." Mock battles are simple anyway (like the final "battle" in Pitch Black) and can be used well. Overall, battle graphics take a big bite out of this game's graphical score.

Tilemaps are fantastic. From the subtle (and some not-so-subtle) blood stains, to the 3d looking walls, to the 4-player SNES; the tilemaps are great. Definatly worth looking at, even if there isn't much variety overall.
 
Storyline
    Now here is where I really start disliking this game. As stated in the description, this game was based of one of Harlock's dreams. It is also known by most people in this community that both Rinku and Harlock are Heroists, so you'd expect some of their beliefs and background to appear in their games (take "Tilde and the Mask of :P" for example). The game starts out seeming to have some deeper hero meaning, but overall it degrades into a mess.

The story is relatively simple, two friends are having a mock duel with a female friend judging. One of the duelests throws a knife, a dishonorable action. As he goes to pick it up, a demon appears from the nearby dumpster and flashes him back to his mansion. The two remaining friends go to rescue him. After that, almost every choice you make changes the ending of the story.

Up to this point the game is decently done. Though the fact that a demon randomly appears is a bit weird, I'll go with it. The dialogue is also well written up to this point. However, after this, when you start getting into the endings, it degenerates.

Let me just say what is bothing me about this game's story: there are no happy endings. Sure, there are endings that are happier than others, but in the end I believe all the endings end up with ONE of the three dying, and not in some glorified or "bitter-sweet" way. I can understand that the endings are, in a sense, realistic. Life usually doesn't suddenly become one big party after your 'quest' ends. But the reason people play video games, and espeically RPG's, is to live the life of someone else that they view as better than their own. So basically, to consider their time well spent, most players want an ending that gives them what they want: happyness. This game does not do that. Rather, it gives you a frightfully depressing ending almost any way you beat it, which makes the overal feel after you quit the game to be something around the lines of "man...that game was depressing...I sure don't want to play it again." The story would work well for an ironic novel, but not for a game.

My personal take is that I think I must have missed something...some hidden reference to heroism or some deeper lesson embedded in the story. As stated above, this is a game by two Heroists, so I'd expect something like that. But if it was there I certainly couldn't find it.

I'd just like to comment: Dialogue is used very well in this game, espeically with the conversation with Bill. That is one of my favorite OHR conversations...it is rather humerous actually.
 
Gameplay
    Eh. There isn't much along the lines of gameplay in this game. Rinku and Harlock seemed more intent on the story (which ultimatly wasn't wonderful anyway) so gameplay was basically thrown out the door. The choose-your-own-adventure idea was unique, though, and worked well for a short game. Also, the fact that you could blow up some boxes helped take away from the usually boringness of the "moveable NPC" puzzles was a nice touch. Also, adding multiple endings was a nice touch (even if all the endings were depressing). Oh, did I mention one of the endings isn't accessable because it is supossed to happen when you die, but the script was aparrantly never implimented? Overall gameplay was a drag.
 
  Battle
    Battles are space-bar smashers. I honestly don't even know why they are there. You have only one move: Vlad's Hit. That is it. Basically you hit the enemy, they hit you back 3 or 4 times, and you do it over and over. It is extremely boring, and I disliked it greatly. Also, random battles were set WAY too high for this game. You couldn't run from ANY battles, which means you died a lot if you didn't know where you were going. Oh, did I mention enemies don't drop anything? So not only are battles a tedious waste of time, you don't get any overall benifit from them. Bad move.
 
  Map Design
    Maps were ok, that is basically all I can say. There was obviously some effort put into some of the puzzles, but other than that the maps were very dull. There was very little to keep my excited besides the fact that they looked good, and even that got old soon.
 
  Balance
    Battles were...decently balanced. Though the balance certainly would have improved if there were less encounters, or if you could run every once in a while. The fact that you didn't get any items or XP EVER was bad; I usually died before getting back to the "healing flame." It was irritating, and not fun.
 
Music
    The music ranges from decent to brain-scratchingly aweful. The battle theme on VDMS is the most horrible thing known to man. There is a violin or SOMETHING that plays REALLY HIGH that reminds me of children with long nails scraping on blackboards. Besides that the music was selected decently, and placed decently as well. But the music didn't add any feeling to the game at all, which is what music is supossed to be there for. It was all ripped, but thankfully Rinku and Harlock avoided the horribly overused Dragon Warrior or Final Fantasy songs.
 
Enjoyment
    I can honestly say I did not enjoy this game at all. I went into it with high hopes (it is a Heroist game, and those tend to be very good), but overall I was completly shut down.

Well, when I say I didn't enjoy anything that isn't true. Bill's "Never Go West" is one of the coolest games ever. ;) An ingenious move was to put it in the title, because then when you finally discover what the game is (and after Bill hypes it all up) it is a laugh riot. That was certainly a defining moment in the game. Even though THIS game was bad, at least Bill's game offered me some enjoyment. If you play this game, you'll probably end up playing it only for "Never Go West." Funny.

But overall enjoyment was close to nothing. As stated before, people (or at least I) play games to escape their sad, depressing, mundane lives and envision themselves in the life of someone who does something more interesting (exceptions being games like Tetris, which people play simply because it is an enjoyable waste of time). But if a game quits leaving you hanging, the gamer is going to get angry. If the game quits leaving you off on an unsatasfying, disappointing, and depressingly dark ending, then the player will probably never play your game again.

Basically the first time I beat it, I thought I'd done something wrong and gotten a bad ending. So I played it again. Different ending, just as bad. Played it again. Again, a different ending. Again, bad. So I finally went into the game in custom and read all the endings HOPING that one of them was positive. Nothing. All negative endings. It was about this time that I deleted the game.
 
Final Blows
    This is a 48 hour game, so you are supossed to give it some slack. But this game didn't even pass on that. Bad battles, bad gameplay, and a story that leaves you feeling worse after you have beaten it don't make good combinations, and certainly don't make a good game. I honestly expected something dark when I entered this game (having played a few of Rinku and Harlock's games I have a feeling of what to expect) but this was over the top. I honestly can't recommend it. It just isn't a fun game.
His best friend (and possibly lover) just got killed, and he only feels let down. Now THERE is an emotional guy!

His best friend (and possibly lover) just got killed, and he only feels let down. Now THERE is an emotional guy!
Final Scores
Graphics: 5.5/10.0
Graphics look awesome at first glance, but after a while you are like "Huh? Why isn't it finished?" This "touch" degrades from the game greatly.
Storyline: 2.5/10.0
Starts out somewhat interesting (though a tad dark), and ends absolutely bad. The story is depressing, and because of that isn't fun to follow.
Gameplay: 3.5/10.0
Adding explosives was a nice touch. Adding inescapeable battles with overly-difficult enemies and only one possible attack was horrible. Bill's game was awesome though.
Music: 4/10.0
VDMS mames it, but I suppose other people might actually be able to experience the battle theme without their eardrums cracking. It fits the theme, though not wonderfully.
Enjoyment: 1/10.0
I had more fun playing Urban Fantasy. This is probably because I expected something great from this game and was let down, but mostly because you feel worse after beating this game then you did when you started! Why play a game that makes you feel bad? Beats me, but I'm sure not playing it again.
Overall Grade: D
Final Thoughts
    Bill's "Never Go West" is a fantastically funny OHR game. This game, however, is quite the opposite. Leaving you without any sense of fulfillment at the end, rather, leaving you feeling worse off then when you began, this game is simply not fun.  


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