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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
  • Westward II: Heroes Of The Frontier
  • Westward III: Gold Rush
  • Westward IV: All Aboard
  • Westward Kingdoms

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.
  • Genre Shift - Kingdoms, despite keeping the Westward title, moved the action back a few hundred years to medieval Europe
  • Hey, It's That Voice! - Eh. The only actor in the cast with a major acting credit is Bhama Roget, who voiced most of the fame cast in all five games, but you might not really recognize her voice. Most of the voice work is done by in-house actors or other unknowns.
    • Though Daniel Bernstein's presence in the series might gain some note. Bernstein is the founder of Sandlot, voiced characters in all five games and composed all of the music. He's noteworthy for composing the soundtrack to Blood and Blood 2, as well as creating the cultist language from the Blood series.
  • 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.
  • 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, 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.
    • 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.
  • 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. Perhaps played straight with female bandits to some degree.
  • Shout-Out - Probably far too many to list or even notice as these games seem full of them-
    • The first game features 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".
    • In the second game on, many random quotes are said when characters finish constructing buildings. If a male settler builds the blacksmith building, he may sing "I am Iron Man!" to the tune of the Black Sabbath song.
    • Game 2 parodies the Lumberjack Song. Building a lumber camp will often result in a character singing the first line and the male lumberjack's portrait ha shim holding a book with a pressed flower hanging out of the pages.
    • As with the above, in the fourth game, a male character may say "Mr. Plough, that's my name, that name again is Mr. Plough" after finishing a farm or ranch.
    • Haris Pilton, a male parody of Paris Hilton that appears in all four games that is famous for being the son of hotel owners and... not much else. In the first 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.
    • Polly Hatchet, a Hero character from game 3, is named after rock band Molly Hatchet
    • The horseback bandits in game 3 will say various George W. Bush quotes when killed
    • The accent of the female sheriff in game 4 imitates that of Marge, the female sheriff in Fargo (1996), played by Frances McDormand.
    • Various references to Monty Python & The Holy Grail can be found in Kingdoms. This is perhaps to be expected.
    • One of the random character names in Kingdoms is "Marcus Carlson". "Marcus and Carlson" was the name of a medical supply firm in the Columbo episode A Stitch In Crime.
  • 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.
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