Video Game: Westward

The Westward game franchise is a series of games developed by Sandlot Interactive beginning in 2006. They are based on the idea of the game Virtual Villager and its clones, but they feature a lower emphasis on the population and society aspect with a better focus on resource gathering, town growth and combat. As their title implies, the series is set in the American Old West, sometime in the late 1800s, on the west coast. The first two games are directly connected by a running plot, while the third and fourth titles are unrelated but feature cameos.

The fifth game in the series, Westward Kingdoms abandons the Old West theme in favor of a medieval plot. As one would expect with such a genre shift, the plot and characters are unrelated to the previous titles.

The five games are-

  • Westward: Build your settlements and fight against the Copperhead Gang, led by the evil Doc Vostrikov.
  • Westward II: Heroes Of The Frontier: A direct sequel to Westward, take control of one of the citizens of Westward as you try to build a new town while dealing with Vostrikov and a reorganized Copperhead Gang.
  • Westward III: Gold Rush: Play as either Polly Hatchet, Amos Cutter or Shawnee Longfeather, mining gold in California while working to fight a greedy politician who wishes to become the new governor of the state.
  • Westward IV: All Aboard: Expand the railway west with either Anne or Henry Turner as they rebuild their family's rundown rail line and fight against a vicious rail tycoon.
  • Westward Kingdoms: A prequel set in medieval times, take control of either Prince Fenwick or Princess Catherine as they travel the land, rebuilding broken down kingdoms while they uncover a plot by an evil warlord and his army of barbarians to take control of the land.

The games are primarily released for the PC through digital sale and download, though the first game has seen ports to the iPhone and Windows Mobile platforms and the second game saw a Mac release.


Tropes include:
  • Alcohol Hic: If a citizen is jobless for too long, they will get drunk and will remain so until dragged off by a sheriff or deputy to sober up.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: Pretty badly done. You may even find them in heavily forested areas.
  • Badass Princess: Princess Catherine in Kingdoms. She sword fights.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Gunslingers, lawmen and bandits can be killed in gun fights but there is no blood. They simply fall over and vanish.
    • Starting with game 2 and the Hero system, Heroes will fall over if severely wounded but will heal and get back up. They do not bleed.
    • This is lampshaded somewhat in Kingdoms. When Princess Catherine is knocked down, she will often quote, "It feels as if some precious life-sustaining fluid is draining from my body...", though she still doesn't actually bleed.
  • Chekhov's Volcano: One of the optional levels in the fourth game is to build a town at the base of an active volcano. It erupts every few minutes.
    • This also serves as a Chekhov's Gun, as it was mentioned in the third game that this would be happening.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Westward IV features an optional side quest through the entirety of the main story mode to find 36 hidden fossils. Finding all of them will unlock a velociraptor which will serve as a "gunslinger" in any subsequent playthrough. It is exceptionally strong as it's bites do heavy damage and it also has very high health.
  • Expy: Amos Cutter, a Hero from game 3, is a loose expy of General Custer. By loose I mean they have very different personalities and historical roles. Amos Cutter is actually friendly with Indians
  • Fanservice: The female bandits in 3 and 4 have rather heavy cleavage in their portraits.
    • There may be some aimed at female players as the portrait of a male farmhand/ranch worker in 3.
    • And the male bandits w/ their shirts open to their (non-evident) navels over pretty good torsos.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Not exactly, as they don't affect the main quests, but a side quest in III involving a sunken shack can often become unwinnable to many players because of a bug involving where to build a well(the going theory is that if any part of the quest chain is done out of order, things become broken), and in certain earlier release versions of the first title, using the irrigation tool in certain spots will crash the game.
  • Genre Shift: Kingdoms, despite keeping the Westward title, moved the action back a few hundred years to medieval Europe
  • Guide Dang It: All 5 games feature secrets that are not in the least bit obvious, either to their solutions or that they exist at all. None of them are required to beat the game's story mode, but may be needed to unlock certain buildings or achievements.
    • ... and thanks to II's untested and difficult experience system, it may be required to use a guide to even play that game properly as it is very easy to render the game unbeatable.
  • Humans Are White: Games 1, 2, 4 and 5 feature entirely white casts. Game 3 is the only game to feature any other races- Polly Hatchet is black, Shawnee Longfeather is American Indian, (Wordof God is that these two were meant to have separate story lines from the Custeresque cavalryman but scheduling forbade), and the male gunslinger is black. This could also be a result of Inexplicably Identical Individuals — see below.
    • The original design of the female gunslinger in 2 seemed intended to be Hispanic judging by the saloon portrait and 3D model skin, but the main portrait is of a white woman. Strangely though, the saloon portrait and model have blue hair, while the portrait has brown hair.
    • Although considering that one of the optional gunslingers in game 4 is a dinosaur of all things, and the number of modern allusions in all games, the designers never intended these games to be a serious take on the Old West anyway.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Settlers, citizens, gunslingers, bandits, lawmen and mayors will all use one character sprite set/model for each character of that type. In fact, the only characters who do not get recycled are the major Hero characters and villains.
    • Lampshaded in a quest where 2 identical mayors are rescued and whichever one you pick is always right.
    • The only character in the first game with unique sprites is Doc Vostrikov. The tutorial instructor gets a portrait but not sprites.
  • Infant Immortality: Played straight by simply not having children appear. The issue of village population is fixed by abandoning any sort of childbirth system in favor of having new settlers simply movie in automatically whenever a new home is built, and the only characters that can actually die are outlaws, gunslingers or lawmen.
  • Instant Illness: In game 4, citizens can suddenly become sick, rendering them unable to work. They either heal after so many minutes or can be taken to the doctor's office for a quick heal.
    • Kingdoms adapts this from a simple illness into being turned into a frog by means of a curse, for the same effect
  • Lovable Coward: The deputies in game 3 seem terrified of their jobs but do them anyway because you're paying them.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: The setting of game 5.
  • Mythology Gag: Quite heavy-
    • Game 2 follows directly from game 1 so many cast members reappear
    • Haris Pilton appears in all 4 western games
    • The main villain of games 1 and 2 is Doc Vostrikov. One of the random building names for the stables in game 3 is "Vostrikov's Stables"
    • Joe-Jack Jebediah, a quest character that appears early in game 2, is followed in game 4 with Joe-Jack Jebediah, Jr., for a similar quest.
    • The crazy-eyed old prospectors from the first game show up again in 3.
    • This may be due to lazy programming but many of the building names in game 2 show up throughout the rest of the series. Though it's a bit odd for a medieval gold mining operation to be named "Clementine's".
  • Nintendo Hard: The second game. This entry introduced the experience system to unlock new buildings. The problem was that many buildings and upgrades must be unlocked to advance the game's plot, but there was never any indication of what needed to be unlocked until a certain point. This was complicated by the fact that many buildings serve no plot purpose and luxuries used to raise town happiness rarely were required. Experience gain was also limited due to a low amount of optional side quests which could render a game unwinnable if the player did not unlock all the right buildings. This was fixed starting with game 3 which added extra side quests to help with unlocking necessities.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Subverted, technically, in all the games as 1 through 4 have ranches that raise animals for food. Starting with the third game, animals running around on the level map could now be hunted for extra food stocks and fish in streams offered fishing opportunities.
    • Kingdoms abandons ranches in favor of vegetable farms exclusively, but keeps hunting animals and fish that can be collected on the town map.
    • A side quest in game 4 has the player hunt multiples of several types of animals for a fur trader. This is almost borderline cruel as the trader actually claims that rabbit fur must be warm because of "the concentrated cuteness" which implies that the fur trader knew this was cruel but she didn't really care.
  • Obvious Beta: In line with the Nintendo Hard entry, the experience system in Westward II felt untested, mixed with a touchy town happiness system that, one or both, could trash your town's productivity or make the game basically unbeatable. Westward III enhanced this with more options for experience points to keep the game at least playable without a guide, Westward IV further enhanced things with the career system allowing every citizen to become skilled in each type of job with bonus experience awarded AND removing the need for the hero to consume food, and Kingdoms kept many of these enhancements with a further expanded skill system and totally abandoning the town happiness meter.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: There is no functional difference between male and female versions of settlers, sheriffs, bandits or gunslingers. All combat units have the same abilities and all citizens function identically, and the game lacks any sort of marriage or childbirth system whatsoever. Even Princess Catherine and Prince Fenwick of Kingdoms are functionally identical. Semi-subverted in II and III as each hero unlocks a specific building at the start if the game, and in IV each character has their own unique main town map.
  • Rich Bitch: Subverted in 1 and 2 with Maureen Fitzsimmons, the daughter of a banker, but she's rather kind and protective of her town. Played with in Kingdoms as Princess Catherine starts out as spoiled royalty who thinks every peasant should fawn over her but this quickly changes as the story progresses(Prince Fenwick is about the same). Perhaps played straight with female bandits to some degree.
    • Every male villain is an example of this.
  • Shout-Out - Probably far too many to list or even notice as these games seem full of them-
    • Westward-
      • A rugged male character named Marion Morrison. Another character ridicules the name asking why he can't have a "normal" name like Wayne... or John.
      • One plot-relevant side mission parodies both the Blues Brothers and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure- Bill & Ted Brown, the Brown Brothers, must go on an "excellent adventure" to "get the posse back together". A character in this mission is named Jalisco County, Jr.
      • Recurring characters Haris Pilton, a male parody of Paris Hilton is famous for being the son of hotel owners and... not much else. In the first game he teaches how to build hotels. In the second game he appears again with the goal of building towns in dangerous locations and does so in the next two games. These locations go from tornado valley to an earthquake-prone valley and finally to the base of an active volcano.
    • Westward II-
      • If a male settler builds the blacksmith building, he may sing "I am Iron Man!" to the tune of the Black Sabbath song.
      • Monty Python's "The Lumberjack Song" is referenced. Building a lumber camp will often result in a character singing the first line and the male lumberjack's portrait has him holding a book with a pressed flower hanging out of the pages.
    • Westward III-
      • Polly Hatchet is named after rock band Molly Hatchet
      • The female sheriff will reference Judge Dredd by proclaiming, " I AM the law!"
      • The horseback bandits will say various George W. Bush quotes when killed
      • when a general store is damaged sufficiently, the sign switches to read S-Mart, from the Evil Dead franchise- this may have been intended as the building's original sign, with a single beta texture remaining
      • a potential name for the blacksmith is "Hammer Time" and the citizen that builds the shop may even say "it's hammer time!" when completing the build, referencing the M.C. Hammer song
      • "The Lumberjack Song" is referenced again, this time with a lumberjack making a reference to flowers.
    • Westward IV-
    • Westward Kingdoms-
      • Various references to Monty Python & The Holy Grail. This is perhaps to be expected considering the game's setting.
      • In a side quest to defeat a tree-loving giant, a traveling bard makes a reference to vegetable mascot Green Giant.
  • Spell My Name with an "S" - "Harris Pilton" in the first and second games, "Haris Pilton" in subsequent games.
  • Take That - Haris Pilton is an obvious jab at Paris Hilton and her fame for simply being the daughter of famous people. This is even lampshaded as characters in the first game know he's famous but don't have a clue as to why. This is turned rather vicious in the second game as one side quest mentions his upcoming wedding and games 2, 3 and 4 all deal with him taking on various useful ventures of building towns.
    • They may have also been jabbing at the Haris Pilton character seen in World Of Warcraft, which showed up 2 years after Sandlot released the first Westward.
  • The Wild West - The setting of the first four games
    • Games 1 and 2 have generic Western references and scenery
    • Game 3 definitely takes place in California with multiple Gold Rush references.
    • Game 4's volcano might place the action in Washington state near Mt. Saint Helens, the only active volcano in the US. The North Dakota accent of the female sheriff and the general Artistic License - Geography ambience (see below) militates against this.
  • Valley Girl - The female bandits in 4. Definitely. Their dialog is hilarious.
  • Artistic License - Geography - Averted in that Games 3 and 4 feature snowy scenes in close proximity to scenes set in hot deserts, very like the mountainous "high desert" of the American West (e.g., in Utah and Colorado) with its dramatic variation by elevation, which may surprise some Easterners. (Admittedly, there is extreme time foreshortening between these scenes.) However, the active volcano in the 4th game more closely resembles a level from Diablo than it does any actual volcano in the US.
    • And good luck figuring out just where in Europe (or in what specific century) Kingdoms is supposed to take place.
  • You Fail Religious Studies Forever - Churches exist in games 1 and 3 but don't seem to serve any religious purpose.
    • In game 1 they exist as a destination for any citizen to sober up drunks, where the sheriff's office is usable only by peace officers. And they give one more employment slot for a pastor.
    • In games 2 and 3, building one raises town happiness a bit but it's only real purpose is allowing the building of cemeteries which is necessary only on one side quest in game 3.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Outside of combat parts, this is a primary element of the games-
    • Water- obtained by building wells, which supply an infinite source. Used mostly by farms and ranches to generate food, although certain other buildings may also use water. Technically abandoned in Kingdoms, though wells still must be built as farms must now be built next to them. Wells only allow a certain amount of reserve storage with water towers expanding your capacity.
    • Wood- a main building material. Found by harvesting trees with a lumber camp, chopping up stray logs or by collecting item pickups on the ground. Trees offer a limited supply of wood, though starting with Westward III and onward, trees can be replanted using an item that may be purchased. Kingdoms adds in stumps, which may be harvested separately after a tree is fully harvested, for a little bit of extra wood. Trading posts also sell wood if you need it and have gold to spare. Storage capacity is infinite.
    • Gold- used for building structures as well as buying supplies via stores, hiring gunslingers or lawmen, etc. Mined mainly from gold deposits, but can be picked up as stray loot, loot from defeated bandits, generated by certain buildings or via animal skins. Deposits have a non-renewable finite source of gold and will eventually exhaust themselves, rendering a gold mine useless. Food and wood may be sold at a trading post as a further means to generate this, and if deposited in a bank it may generate interest. Storage capacity is infinite.
    • Food- used to feed the citizens. Generated mainly by farms, which is produced in infinite supply but depends on how well each farm is employed as well as what specific crop/animal they are producing. It may also be collected by stray item pickups, hunted via animals or purchased through a trading post if you absolutely need it. Gunslingers and lawmen may also consume this even if they do not count towards the population total. You have limited food storage per farm, which can be expanded with granaries.
    • Population- Your town's citizens. They move in mostly when homes are built, but may already be there and require a house to be built quickly. They work the buildings, but the population will be capped until other specific buildings are placed. If left homeless, unemployed or starving, they will most likely move out. They may also become drunk if they're jobless, requiring a lawman to deal with them, and in IV and Kingdoms, can become sick, which renders them temporarily unable to do anything. Also separate from lawmen, gunslingers and your main hero in that they are not combat units.
    • Coal- exclusive to IV, it is functionally similar to gold in how it is collected and how finite it is. As IV's main theme is trains, this is used mainly as a resource to operate your rail line, though factories will also use it. Trading posts also sell coal if you need it and have gold to spare. Storage capacity is infinite.
    • Stone- exclusive to Kingdoms, this is yet another building material thrown into the mix and used by all but the simpler early structures(at the exchange of removing water as a resource). It can either be mined from large rocks, collected as stray pickups or gathered from chunks of brick wall or purchased with the right building. Storage capacity is infinite.