Western Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Western RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Red Dead Redemption 2 Could Be Taking Its Cues From These 8 Westerns https://www.gameskinny.com/48xwm/red-dead-redemption-2-could-be-taking-its-cues-from-these-8-westerns https://www.gameskinny.com/48xwm/red-dead-redemption-2-could-be-taking-its-cues-from-these-8-westerns Tue, 28 Aug 2018 12:47:01 -0400 Fenislav

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Rockstar Games is known for getting their inspiration from movies and popular culture. Sometimes it’s the general outline of the entire main storyline (Red Dead Redemption and Wild Bunch), sometimes it’s the art, setting, and ambiance (GTA: Vice City and Scarface). The way they mix tropes and memes and create new ones in the process is always a joy to watch. If and how much they’ll draw upon any of the movies from this list in Red Dead Redemption 2 still remains to be seen. Whatever the outcome, we can’t wait to find that out when the game comes out on the 26th of October.

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8. Django: Unchained (2012)
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You might be forgiven for thinking that not much has changed in the western genre since the original Red Dead Redemption came out in 2010. In case you weren't paying attention to the other audiovisual medium, this happened: a groundbreaking spaghetti blaxploitation western written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.

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Django: Unchained is at its core a universally relatable story of vengeance, love and freedom. As such, it is just an amazing movie, period, and anyone designing a narrative could benefit from analysing how Tarantino wrote it.

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It’s also the first popular movie that depicted racial tensions in the Old West in a work of fiction meant mainly for entertainment.

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Red Dead Redemption's producer and main writer for both games, Dan Houser, said back in 2009:

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We didn’t fully represent era-appropriate racial attitudes because it’s too unpleasant to deal with, but we touch on those issues

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The first game dodged this aspect of the Old West. In 2018 it’s safe to say that we’re ready to face at least some of that unpleasantness and that the general public appreciates inclusive stories that try to maturely approach all intricacies of their chosen setting.

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7. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
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This one’s pretty obvious, since we already know Red Dead Redemption 2 references The Assassination, at least in its trailer.

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The legendary Jesse James (Brad Pitt) is followed by a starstruck fan, Robert Ford (Casey Affleck), who tries to join the James-Younger gang. Train robberies, a botched heist, infighting within the gang, conflicting loyalties and honor among thieves — there’s a lot in this movie that could inspire a story beat or two in RDR2’s depiction of the dissolution of the Van der Linde gang.

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For now, at least the film's beautiful cinematography made it to the game's trailer, which leads me to believe Red Dead Redemption 2 may be the second game with movie-grade visual storytelling coming out this year.

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6. Justified (2010–2015)
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Neither a movie nor a western, Justified tells the story of Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) as his over-the-top Wild-West brand of justice gets him sent to his backwater home county of Harlan, Kentucky.

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For many viewers, though, the real hero of Justified is Raylan's friend from the old days, Boyd Crowder. Played with equal parts ham and finesse by Walton Goggins, the sly, affable, entrepreneurial criminal displaying model Southern manners arguably steals the show from the second season onwards.

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Even though Justified has a contemporary setting, it's so intent on depicting the rural US as the modern frontier, that it's a western in all but the appearances. Red Dead Redemption 2 would do well featuring a slightly larger-than-life magnificent bastard with Goggins' voice, no matter which side of the law he would occupy.

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5. Unforgiven (1992)
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It’s the last Clint Eastwood movie on this list, I promise! Stay with me though, cause this one’s a real diamond and a Best Picture Oscar winner.

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Let’s face it, if Red Dead Redemption had one flaw, it was the way it dealt with morality. The game just doesn’t work well if we’re trying to make John Marston a bad guy. It even sent us to perform honorable genocide on a band of cattle thieves (quite literally rewarding us with Honor points for murder) in the name of the law as soon as its fourth story mission. Red Dead Redemption 2, on the other hand, is set to feature alternate approaches to conflicts and more interesting ways to be a bandit. It would be a waste if its story didn’t depict a complex society where good and evil are about more than the color of one’s hat.

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Like The Missouri Breaks, Unforgiven makes sure your sympathies don’t completely agree with the legal delineation, though Gene Hackman is a very convincing and layered character as the movie’s sheriff. This film is also a deconstruction of iconic western tropes and features an absolutely badass portrayal of the outlaw archetype. Since we’ll be able to pick between good guy and bad guy lines in Red Dead Redemption 2, we can only hope they’re as powerful as the final dialogues of Unforgiven.

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4. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
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Eastwood’s directorial debut is a simpler and more straightforward vision of the outlaw life, that also has some pacing problems. The heart of the story, however — a chased man’s search for a semblance of family and home, is very much in line with what we’ve seen in the trailers for Red Dead Redemption 2 so far.

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The movie's not perfect — its action scenes and dialogues are a bit stilted by today's standards. Eastwood's Confederate sympathies are probably at their strongest here, which harms the story by crudely drawing a very thick line between good and evil. It's a beloved classic, though, drawing upon as well as cementing many tropes of the genre.

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3. Hang 'em High (1968)
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One of the first revisionist westerns. It features Clint Eastwood as Jed Cooper, a man first wrongly accused of stealing cattle and lynched, then saved from near-death by a marshal and offered the chance to take vengeance with a badge in his hand.

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Not only does the movie set up a grey morality from the very beginning, it proceeds to point out the hypocrisy of its lawful society, where a desire for vengeance, influence and a sense of belonging are passed off as longing for justice. 

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Back when Rockstar was making the original game, Rob Wiethoff, the voice actor portraying John Marston said of the character’s past:

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I think John made some decisions in his life that made him feel accepted. I don’t know if he knew that what he was doing was wrong or not. I don’t know if he cared until, one day, he realized he didn’t want that life anymore.

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Those words aren’t exactly canon, but if Rockstar proceeds with that or a similar interpretation of Morgan’s and Marston’s actions in RDR2, they’re going to need to picture a society that pushed them into this life. A society as flawed as the one depicted in Hang ’Em High.

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2. The Missouri Breaks (1976)
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Speaking of bounty hunters, it takes a really unsavory character chasing after outlaws to make the audience sympathize with the gang instead of the law. Marlon Brando was just such a character as a regulator who hunts down Tom Logan’s (Jack Nicholson) jolly band of rustlers.

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The Missouri Breaks matches the freedom vs order theme of the dying frontier that Red Dead Redemption 2 seems to be going for. Nicholson’s character is a semi-decent guy who just happens to be stealing horses from a land baron that has enough money to have him and his friends all killed. Plus, you can’t help but notice that he even looks a bit like both RDR protagonists. If the young John Marston had his own gang, this is how I’d picture it.

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There's also the fact that Rockstar blogged about the real-life inspiration behind Brando's character back in the RDR days.

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1. For a Few Dollars More (1965)
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All signs point to Red Dead Redemption 2's main theme being gangs of the Old West. There’s plenty of inspiration the game could take from a movie about two bounty hunters infiltrating the gang of a ruthless, sociopathic murderer haunted by the sins of his past. Perhaps we’ll see Arthur Morgan and John Marston worming their way into a rival outfit that threatens the Van der Linde gang? Or maybe Dutch will ally them with another band that will turn out to be out of control due to its leader smoking opium to cope with his animalistic nature?

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Red Dead Redemption is an open-world masterpiece and, arguably, the best story ever written by Rockstar. The development team took field trips to the Library of Congress to learn from history and watched countless western films to inform and inspire the journey of John Marston as he hunts down his former gangmates across the dying Old West of 1911.

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The original game’s narrative took cues most ostensibly from Wild Bunch and A Fistful of Dollars, with more than a hint of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid in its finale. Red Dead Redemption 2 has a different story to tell, though, and it can draw upon the following westerns to shape the fate of its new protagonist, Arthur Morgan.

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Top 5 Free Otome Visual Novels for and by a Western Audience https://www.gameskinny.com/fbmv9/top-5-free-otome-visual-novels-for-and-by-a-western-audience https://www.gameskinny.com/fbmv9/top-5-free-otome-visual-novels-for-and-by-a-western-audience Thu, 20 Oct 2016 10:26:32 -0400 Rena Pongchai [Kazurenai]

It was only a few years ago that the concept of a "Visual Novel" (VN) or "Dating sim" was scarce on the Internet -- in English anyway. I remember scouring the internet for any crudely made flash games on Newgrounds or DeviantArt that would satisfy my need for not just visual novels, but anything that was narrative-filled and RPG-based... which were next to non-existent at the time. 

"My Candy Love" (2011)
An online episodic dating sim also available on Android

Nowadays, these are games are abundant -- with many titles such as Amnesia or Hakuouki being localized on a variety of platforms. This has even extended to mobile gaming, such as the Shall we Date? series which is incredibly popular, even with microtransactions.

However, while popular in Japan and for those that like VNs, there are still certain elements that western audiences may find a little disdaining, such as the common weak, meek heroine. Another is the popular 'yandere' trope, whom often treats the heroine with abuse, violence, or even rape -- all of which are understandably sensitive topics disapproved by many people.

"That Cheap and Sacred Thing" (2011)
A kinetic novel about the bond between humans and robots.

On the other hand, more and more visual novels are also being created by western fans, both commercially and for free. These creations show a diverse range of stories that are more well-versed and demonstrate clear understanding of the VN audience.

I have hand-picked a list of great western-made visual novels, which are not only fun to play but are also completely free. This would be a great list to recommend for people who are new to the genre, as they offer different types of narratives, lengths, and gameplay elements.

1. Halloween Otome

Halloween Otome is a visual novel with puzzle elements, situated around a normal girl who wins a contest to a masquerade where only the rich and famous are invited. Forced by your best friend, you don an Archer costume and team up with a werewolf, a zombie, and a vampire to work together in order to win the game -- and possibly the heart of one of your teammates. 

This game takes a more traditional route, showing clear influence from Japanese visual novels with the art-style and character tropes, but incorporates them well into the plot in terms of how their personalities relate to their jobs. The puzzles are also cleverly integrated, making them actual puzzles that the characters go through, rather than out-of-story hurdles. Best of all, the heroine is very head-strong and provides an entertaining back and forth that is very enjoyable to read.

What gives this game bonus points is the extra content provided. This includes two addicting soundtracks made specifically for the game, a digital fanbook that features more art, and an 'Extras' sections on the game's website consisting of bonus scenes and what-if scenarios. These remind me of the bonus content, such as traditional fandisks and drama CDs that commercial games release -- making it that much more professional and commendable, especially given that these are all provided for free.

2. Asagao Academy

Asagao Academy is essentially a 'fanmade' visual novel, as all the love interests are based on real-life youtubers that belong to their own gaming group called "Normal Boots". However in this game, they are fictional characters in a gaming club of the same name who are the most popular students in the school, and you want to be one of them.

Although their designs are based on their real-life counterparts, the characters themselves are fictionalized, having their own personal issues. These issues run deep and actually touch upon relatable problems -- particularly the main heroine, Hana, who has a history of bullying and lack of confidence. The plot explores Hana and her chosen love interest's story and their journey of love, growing up, accepting themselves as they are -- especially during the age when one would find themselves questioning their identity. 

This (free) game was the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign that not only showed the loyalty of its fans, but also the great prospect it had to offer. The game stuck by its word and delivered a brilliantly written and unique story that, despite being based on something else, still delivers a powerful and touching story as its own entry.

3. Aloners 

Aloners is an apocalyptic-themed visual novel where you wake up from a long sleep in world much different from your own, and try to survive with one other human called Trash.

This VN has minimal graphics because it uses free-sourced backgrounds and music, and only one character (Trash) that you visually see throughout the game -- with other characters being left to the imagination. But this emphasizes that apocalyptic feeling of being alone and ultimately makes you become attached to him. 

What definitely shines through is the unique and thrilling narrative of both the surroundings and the character interactions. The options you choose throughout the game will affect your character's actions and the reactions of others, which is a nice touch that allows you to have a more unique experience.

I will definitely say that the star of the game is Trash himself. If he doesn't grow on you with his looks, his personality will definitely make you take a shine on him. His character's whole aesthetic brings him to life, making him a lovable character you can't not be drawn to, especially since he is your only friend in this abandoned wasteland. This game is a great example that shows that you don't need fancy graphics to make a visual novel great and emphasises the appeal of a visual 'novel'

4. Cute Demon Crashers! (18+)

Cute Demon Crashers! is a moderately short visual novel that is a little on the adult side, but I included it on this list precisely because it is a great example of a visual novel that understands its western audiences.

Its plot is situated around a virgin heroine, who has 4 attractive succubi crash into her house as they sense her need for a 'summer fling'. Unlike many otome games that have the romance-able males force themselves onto the heroine (sexually or flirtatiously), it focuses on sexual relationships but emphasises the heroine's (or player's) preferences on how they prefer to go about it. The game's description says that there is a "need of consent and safe spaces in 18+ VNs for women" showing that western perspective on sensitive topics.

The 4 main demons all represent a specific personality -- and by extension, sexual preferences,  with each one exploring different experiences such as same-sex, BDSM or even a fellow virgin succubus. With beautiful graphics and CGs, it also includes the option to censor sexual images, once again taking its western audience into consideration (although I recommend experiencing the game fully).

All in all, this is a short but touching visual novel with characters that are very fleshed out and a plot that is sweet. The dialogue and writing doesn't patronise the player when it comes to talking about sex.

5. RE: Alistair++

This game is one of the forefronts to western visual novels and also the first game created by indie group Sake-Visual. RE: Alistair++ is one of the first "high quality" free visual novels made that many can agree definitely helped the popularity of visual novels in the west. 

The game is beautifully constructed, especially given its time of release, that it's honestly surprising it was free. You play as Merui, an avid fan of MMORPG Rivenwell Online. One day while fighting a powerful boss, another player called Alistair steals the finishing blow from her and takes her loot. And she soon learns that it's someone she knows from school -- and must find out precisely who.

The heroine herself is relatable because of her hobbies and likeable due to her honesty and brashness, which sets her apart from the docile protagonists in common otome games.

RE: Alistair plays on the classic stat-building mechanic to trigger events and unlock CGs of the love interest you want -- and this creates a perfect balance to the length of the game as a whole, because it gives you a sense of free will in the game. The narrative is well-written, the graphics beautifully drawn, and the aesthetic and interface ties it all perfectly into a classic otome game for westerners.

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Do you agree with this list? Are there any other visual novels that you recommended to both veteran and new players alike?

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Early Access SNOW https://www.gameskinny.com/asiqo/early-access-snow https://www.gameskinny.com/asiqo/early-access-snow Tue, 01 Mar 2016 05:29:32 -0500 Oliver James-Clarke

There’s something soothing about skiing on the open mountain, exploring off the beaten track and finding new areas; frozen rivers, lakes or just a set of trees to ski through - all this without having to leave my front door. That’s not to say that staying on one of SNOW’s many set slopes isn’t entertaining too. SNOW is an early access snow sports game by Poppermost Productions which they claim is “the only free-to-play, open world, winter sports game” ever.

Many roll their eyes at thought of yet another free-to-play, open-world, early access game and, like most of the others, SNOW does feel empty. 

You’d think this should be a massive problem with the game, but unlike so many others SNOW’s emptiness is one of its greatest advantages. Why? The act of moving alone is enjoyable: gaining speed, jumping off cliffs, and landing tricks are among the game's strongest moments.

SNOW gives the player options, go off-track and explore, ski from the top to the bottom or visit a snowpark to do flips, grinds, and tricks. SNOW has a level system in which points go towards leveling up - this feature isn’t fully fleshed out just yet but does allow players to amass points which can be used to unlock cosmetic items.

The elephant in the room is that, from what has been seen so far. SNOW’s free-to-play model is mostly cosmetic other than a few challenge type missions, which allow the player to compete against other players on leaderboards. Nothing the game offers in exchange for real money cannot be gained through simply playing the game. At the time of writing, the game doesn’t require a huge amount of time to gain points. Levels and in-game currency - the points - can be acquired though all means including distance traveled. It’s odd to say that a sports game accommodates all play-styles, but SNOW does.

SNOW also has VR support, offers first and third person camera options and features a large map as well as a few smaller ones. SNOW is made with CryENGINE and, although the game isn’t breaking boundaries in terms of graphical prowess, it still manages to be easy on the eyes.

Unfortunately, SNOW isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and does have some issues. SNOW has some issues with is UI; it can often get stuck, disappear or stay on screen, requiring a game restart. There are also a limited number of servers at the time of writing, without an option to host your own, which often makes SNOW very hard to play with a friend. You have to hammer the enter key until there’s a free space available. Although minor, it’s worth mentioning there are occasional physics bugs as well as odd terrain and textures in certain areas - however, these are few and far between.

SNOW shows a lot of promise right now, but it still has a long way to go in terms of tweaks and bug fixing. The core gameplay and mechanics are solid and the game is a joy to play - and once the networking issues are sorted out, and with the promise of snowboards, this game has the potential to be one of the best sports game we’ve seen in years.

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What's your favorite moment from a video game? https://www.gameskinny.com/w42va/whats-your-favorite-moment-from-a-video-game https://www.gameskinny.com/w42va/whats-your-favorite-moment-from-a-video-game Mon, 15 Apr 2013 15:25:21 -0400 LeviHaag

Yesterday I was wondering when the movie Django Unchained came out on Blu-ray and started to think about westerns. I really enjoy the genre, the stories, the scenery, and the music they all bring a smile to my face. But what made me smile most was thinking about one of the greatest moments from any video game I have ever played.

Anyone who has played Red Dead Redemption can tell you exactly how it feels when you cross into Mexico for the first time, and it is by far one of my favorite moments. For those of you who haven't and have avoided spoilers this whole time, I'll do my best to avoid any spoilers.

Red Dead Redemption is a open world story driven game by Rockstar, and similar in many ways to Grand Theft Auto 4. But it's main difference is setting. Rather than another present day or fantasy setting the Red Dead Series takes place in the historical "old west"complete with horses, cowboys, and indians. The story itself is heavily influenced by the "spagetti western" and to me stands out as one of the better stories told in any single game of this generation of consoles.

The game centers around the character John Marston, who is ordered by the government to hunt down the remaining members of his outlaw gang to save his family. For the next few hours you ride across the country side doing side quests and following leads.

During this time you really start to understand John more as a character, and who he is. You discover that he really is just a good guy doing whatever it takes to make a better life for his son. While you play you start to hear more and more about Mexico, and eventually you get the chance to attempt crossing the "San Luis" river. The only way across ends up being a raft and a rope to pull it across. Of course while you are crossing the raft gets attacked, and you end up floating down the river trying to fend off the bandits, and make it to the other side.

Eventually after several minutes of shooting and floating you make it across the river and onto solid land. The whole experience feels draining, and exhausting.  By the time I got onto one of the bandits horses I just wanted to get to a town and save the game. But then as I started riding, the sky started to brighten up, and a soft acoustic guitar started playing. (Far Away for those interested in hearing the song) I kept riding and realized that I was tired of the game by design, the developers wanted me to feel the sense of exhaustion and near hopelessness that my character felt. It is wonderfully crafted, the scenery is amazing, the song is perfect and it made me realize just how good the story in some games can be.

It is still one of my favorite moments from any game ever. Narrowly beating out the moment when you pull the Sword of Time from its pedestal in Ocarina of Time.

So that's my favorite moment, I would love to hear yours in the comments below!

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