Gremlin Graphics have acquired the English rights for yet another game written by the Spanish software house Dinamic. (Remember Rocco?) In West Bank you take on the defence of a Wild West branch of a bank. Your task is to prevent a whole range of baddies from robbing the bank while letting the nice guys in town leave their money safely with your employers.
The bank has twelve doors in all, though only three doors at a time are displayed on screen this three-door 'window' can be scrolled left or right during quiet moments, when all three doors are closed. The aim of the game is to allow the good guys (and gal) to deposit loot in the bank: each of the nine phases of the working day lasts until some money has been deposited by a customer through each door. The doors swing open at random intervals to reveal either an honest customer clutching a bag of money or a baddie, intent on pumping you full of lead.
Understandably, the bank manager is not too keen on having his customers blown away shooting an innocent depositor results in the loss of two lives, one of which is yours. On the other hand, if a baddie is allowed to stand on the threshold for too long, he loses off a shot, the screen goes black and "BANG" appears in blood red. He got you. To complicate matters further, not all the baddies are out and out wicked. Julius the dandy, for instance may deposit some money or he may pull a gun on you.
Shooting the baddies who draw a gun on you before they've got a gun in their hand is simply not cricket old boy and once again two lives are lost. Now and again one of the honest citizens will appear at an open doorway, only to be robbed and replaced by one of the bad guys and if you don't watch out...
There's also a comedian for a customer Bowie the dwarf. Bowie appears in an open doorway with seven hats piled on his head. To join in his joke you need to shoot his hats away the seventh hat reveals either a bag of money, which he'll pay in if you shoot it, or a bomb which blows everyone to kingdom come if a bullet bounces off it, At the bottom of the screen, a dollar meter clocks up how much money has been paid into the bank so far giving a measure of your ability as security guard. Bonus dollars are added for shooting the bad guys and for each hat shot off Bowie's head. To the right of the cash register is the display which shows how many lives you have remaining. The goodies and baddies are reincarnated each time they're shot indeed they must all be triplets, for the same character can appear simultaneously in all three doorways.
At the start of each phase of the day, there are twelve empty boxes at the top of the screen, numbered according to the doors of the bank. A red cursor straddles three of the boxes to let you know which three portals you are currently defending. A little rolling window above the middle door registers the arrival of money as a door closes behind a depositor, and the box corresponding to the door though which the cash was paid displays a dollar sign when some cash has arrived.
When all twelve doors have been used to pay in cash and the row of boxes is full of dollar signs, it's time to earn a little bounty money in a shootout with three bad guys on the bonus screen. The display changes and it's a good old fashioned three on one shoot out. A counter decrements to zero and the three guys draw guns the quicker you shoot them the more bounty you win, but remember: shooting a chap who hasn't got a gun in his hand loses you a life. As the baddies turn up their toes to reveal the soles of their shoes, your score appears in the air above their corpses if you're really quick on the draw "EXTRA" appears above a vanquished lawbreaker to indicate that you have won an extra life.
At the beginning of the game it's possible to choose what time to clock on for work you can begin at phase 1, 3 or 6 of the nine phase day and, true to life, the further into a day's work you get, the harder it is. Phases 8 and 9 are overtime it's dark outside and the doors open to reveal shadowy figures against a blue background. Dangerous times indeed. No wonder they invented the Autobank.
Control keys: O-P, Left-Right, 1, 2, 3 fire through left, middle and right door, N to choose level
Keyboard play: well placed keys, responsive
Use of colour: bright and cheerful, no clashes
Graphics: large and clearly animated, very jolly
Sound: spot effects only, no tune
Skill levels: 9 phases to the day, getting progressively harder
Screens: scrolling bank screen and shoot out scenes
'Espanola por favor! this is a great little game! Despite the instructions on my copy being in the language of senoritas and bullfighters, I managed to get into it quite quickly. The graphics are big (I mean BIG), very western like and pleasing. The action required on level 6 is fast and furious - thank heaven for fast key responses. All you budding Billy the Kids had better mosie on down to the gen'ral store and pick up a copy of this one!'
'I liked West Bank It's simple and straightforward but nicely presented and addictive to play. The characters are nicely drawn and there's enough variety and surprise elements in the game to keep you on your toes for a long while - no matter how much you practice there's always going to be room for improvement. Lots of fun, and ideal for sharpening reactions.'
'This is a funny sort of game which involves some very repetitive action but is highly addictive and enjoyable nevertheless. West Bank requires some pretty neat finger work and gets incredibly fast and furious on later levels. The characters are massive and excellently animated and the scrolling, although blocky, is fast. The whole game has a great atmosphere as you wait to see what is revealed when the door opens- will it be someone who draws a gun or just a harmless li'l lady ... It's a change to play something nice and mindless rather than having to wade through reams of instructions before being able to get started'
A kinda spaghetti computer game without the parmesan or the doi-oing sound each time you see Clint Eastwoods boot. West Bank has nothing to do with the middle east and everything to do with a hot-shot winner. It brings a bar room brawl into your front room without your getting a black-eye, or spilling red-eye on the carpet yet still letting you be the quickest dead-eye west of Wapping.
The screen shows three saloon doors, each assigned a key. Any could swing open at random. Press the appropriate key and you could blow away whatever's behind it. If it's a low down, no good sidewinder of a bad man then watch your bounty money tot up as indicated by the dollar bags above the doors. But if you're too quick you might shoot the Mae West proportioned bar maid, and that'll cost you, as well as her, a life. But before she can ask whether that's a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see her another door swings open. This could be the clown with five hats. Shoot 'em' off - but watch it - under the last could be money or a bomb. One's a winner - the other could cost a life.
The greater your first round success, the less baddies you'll meet in the second round, which is marginally faster then the first. If you're top drawer here, then shoot through the final showdown at the Pretty OK Computer Game Corral. Now, instead of doors, three heavy dudes confront you. You can't draw before them - and you don't know who'll draw first, so your reactions have to be razor sharp, then banga-bang-bang and mash all three - the faster you do it the higher your bounty bonus.
This one you'll all be gunning for - it combines larfs with thrills, quick reactions with brains.
THE SMELL of gun powder hangs in the air of Soft City, a community, born of the gold rush which has swept northern America.
As one of the few do-gooders in town you must protect the offices of the West Bank, there are 12 but you can cover only three at a time. The game is played in phases. You can only pass from one section to the next when at least one of the western characters has delivered gold to each door.
There are nine obnoxious characters in the game - four are introduced in the first phase. Each opens a door and either deposits money, a bullet or a bomb before the door is closed again.
The goodies in phase one are Green Jordan (Jordan? West Bank? Some kind of political message here? Ed), an untiring farmer who puts his life savings into the bank, and Daisy, the beautiful daughter of the city jeweller who mustn't be hurt.
The baddy in the same section is Jack Vicious. You have one chance to shoot him. Use your official bank gun using the one, two and three keys. Shoot to the left, right and straight ahead. If you're quick enough you will see Jack fall - hesitate for a moment and BANG! You are dead. He may also cosh Green Jordan on your doorstep, take the bag of money and try to shoot you, but he will never attack Daisy - such an old fashioned sense of morality.
The joker of the pack, a dwarf named Bowie, is neither good nor bad. He likes to wear a stack of hats which you can shoot off his head to gain points. The last hat contains either a bag of gold or a bomb, so be careful.
Once you have filled all the boxes above the doors with dollar signs, a quick shoot-out between you and three gunslingers starts with a countdown. When zero is reached they will reach for their guns. Shoot them when they make a move, not before or you will be killed.
Next is phase two which is faster on the reflexes and introduces another difficulty - the rest of the characters are masters of the quick draw. Alfred and Joe Dalton are real handy with their guns, as is Mackeyham, a bloodthirsty villain who doesn't even bother to think afterwards. Julius is a bit of an odd-ball, and a dandy. He could give you a bag of gold, or a permanent cure for a headache.
Apparently there is a ninth character but I have not survived long enough for a close encounter. Whoever he, or she is, if your aren't quick enough on the draw you will be the victim of a whodunnit.
The wide variety of characters makes the game enjoyable rather than just a three key shooting match. I found it best to play with a joystick in one hand - which scrolls new doors onto the screen - and three fingers on the firing keys for each room.
The Spanish software house Dinamic is responsible for West Bank. Those of you who are familiar with Gremlin Graphics will know that Dinamic has also produced Rocco, the boxing game, and Abu Simbel Profanation. More power to their Spanish elbows.
Publisher: Gremlin Graphics
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair
MACHINES: CBM 64/Spectrum
SUPPLIER: Gremlin Graphics
VERSION TESTED: CBM 64/Spectrum
Why are you reading this when you could be playing West Bank?
Here in South Dakota men are men, women are women and reviewers are reviewers. A man lives by the gun and if you don't watch your lip you're gonna eat lead and bite the dust.
Gold fever is in the air and there's a mean bunch of peskey varmints out to get their thieving hands on your gold.
West Bank has 12 doors. You must get the money deposits from each of these doors. Three doors appear on the screen at any one time.
The doors open in random order. A figure appears. You must make a snap decision: Is that person a baddie or innocent? You have to control your itchy finger. Shooting the innocent does you no good whatsoever. If a baddie appears in the door don't shoot too soon. Wait for him to draw before opening fire.
Get the money from the first three doors and you can then move onto the next three, all the way up to 12. Survive and you move onto the next stage.
Between each stage you have to fight a duel with three paid assassins. Again wait until they draw before firing.
It's pretty nerve-wracking to find yourself facing three killers, waiting to see which one will shoot first. Even if an innocent person appears in the door don't let you guard down. Baddies have been known to push them suddenly aside and blast you.
The people you'll meet are Green Jordan, a good-guy farmer; Jack Vicious, a swindler; Daisy, the beautiful daughter of the city jeweller; Alfred and Joe Dalton, both meanies; Bowie, a dwarf, whose hats make ideal target practice - except that one may contain a bomb; Mackeyham, another villain; Julius, he may shoot or give you gold. There is a final mystery character.
The graphics in West Bank are highly detailed and realistic. There's real tension in the air as you wait for the door to swing open.
Excellent fun and excellent value. Buy it and you won't be disappointed.
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