They all fall down!
If there was any type of person you’d expect to enjoy the simple things in life, I have to imagine that a cowboy would be high on that list. Sunsets in the desert, forging a close bond with a horse; just generally living day-to-day by hunting bounties and moving from town to town. As a shooting gallery, Western 1849 Reloaded knowingly cuts out all those parts, stripping the cowboy conceit back to its core by requiring players to be quick on the draw. It’s a novelty, but one that will only keep you entertained for a short while.
Western 1849 Reloaded sees you take up the role of a lawful sheriff, hired to take down a gang of bandits known as The Quicksilver Guns who have taken over town after running out decent citizens. How do you do this? Seemingly by cosying up to the nearest possible cover, bobbing and weaving out of it to take pop shots at enemies – all in true Light Gun-esque fashion. It’s a simple gameplay setup, made just a tad more frustrating by hit box inconsistency.
The main thing Western 1849 Reloaded has going for it is the element of choice. You see, whereas most shooting gallery games on other consoles were limited by controller or mouse-and-keyboard interaction, Western 1849 Reloaded on Switch allows you to point and shoot using the Joy-Con using motion controllers. It’s a nice nod back to when Nintendo relied so heavily in them during the Wii era, but sadly there’s nothing as visually exciting going on here as, say, even Link’s Crossbow Training. Better still, with both control setups, there were too many times when firing at enemies on target just didn’t register.
It isn’t all shooting and looting while moving between cover spaces, however, Western 1849 Reloaded presents players with all they need to be a better, more badass cowboy sheriff. Completing a round within each stage will see you get a choice of three perks; the benefits of which roll over into the next. Some are as subtle as not having to reload until the end of the road (handy!), and others help you unleash hell by giving you more dynamite sticks to throw out or a one hit kill bomb that simply wipes out everything on screen. When you’re getting swarmed by bandits on all sides, you’ll be glad to have such tools to hand.
Most of your actions in Western 1849 Reloaded will result in you accumulating gold – the game’s currency which can then be used to upgrade your sheriff character. This is helpful due to how challenging difficulty can be in some of the later stages; to the point that improving your alternative rifle, trusty pistol, and vest’s defence capabilities is almost required for you to progress. Should you die in the midst of battle you can spend gold to revive yourself, but it’s far more effective to invest it to do better next time around.
Outside of the Steamworld games and maybe the odd retro game release, there aren’t too many games on Switch that allow you to step into the shoes of a lawful gunslinger in the West. Western 1849 Reloaded offers you up this fantasy, albeit a very stripped-back version made slightly cooler by the fact that you can point and shoot your gun in real time using the Joy-Con. The novelty will wear off eventually and not hitting people you swore you did can be frustrating, but as a shooting gallery Western 1849 Reloaded delivers more than is perhaps needed.