Thursday, 4 January 2018

The Adventures of Willy Beamish (Mega CD / Sega CD review)

Developer: Dynamix
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1993

The Adventures of Willy Beamish is a point-and-click adventure game that was first released on the Amiga and MS-DOS in 1991.

Playing as the young Willy, your main objective is to win the Nintari Ultimate Champion of the World videogame tournament. Along the way you'll need to deal with various school and home life issues by talking to people, searching for clues, and making the correct decisions when required. The first thing you'll notice are the unbelievably long loading screens, and even during a conversation the action will pause for up to 10 seconds between each response. The gameplay fares no better, as you'll spend more time watching and waiting for choices to appear rather than interacting with the environment and meeting interesting characters. It can also be very unforgiving, as sometimes two choices can be incredibly similar in tone, yet selecting one of them will result in a game over; it's illogical and makes your first play-through feel more like luck rather than skill or strategy. Seeing the game over screen is a nightmare, as it takes such a long time to load your saved game and sit through the same cut-scenes (again, with more loading) before you finally reach the necessary spot to advance the plot. It's a real shame, as while the art style, animation and voice syncing are excellent, a simple option to turn off the audio in favour of subtitles would have greatly helped. On a plus note, each area is fairly compact, so back-tracking is minimal, and I like that you can save at any time. What's unforgivable though, is that unlike the original versions, this port completely forgets to wrap up the Nintari championships in the ending sequence... a glaring omission considering its Willy's main objective throughout!

The Adventures of Willy Beamish could have been a decent point-and-click game, but its technical shortcomings result in a totally miserable experience. Clearly, this is a rushed, unoptimised port for the Sega CD, and ultimately its biggest downfall is that it relies too heavily on multimedia.

Random trivia: Hilariously, the manual claims that a 'feature' of the game is looking at spinning balls while the next scene loads!

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