Where do I begin? No, seriously, I don’t know where to start when it comes to reviewing and analysing The Town With No Name. So, let’s take some time to set the picture of what we are getting into here.
The Town With No Name is a Western-themed game released in 1992 for the Commodore CDTV. The game features some of the most incredibly well-thought-out namings of characters and locations, and that is entirely sarcastic.
You play as The Man With No Name (not to be confused with the Clint Eastwood character, although a Clint Eastwood inspired NPC does appear in the game). The nameless man arrives on the train, pulling into a town called (surprise) The Town With No Name. So, instantly, I found myself questioning the level of thought and planning that went into the game.
So, with that, let’s talk about my first impressions of The Town With No Name, shall we?
As I said earlier, I really don’t know where to really start with this game. So, I’ll kick things off with a description that I was given by community member Virrad (who selected this game for us to play on Twitch);
The game is like a TellTale game.Paraphrased from Virrad
This is actually pretty accurate in a sense if you wanted something more modern to compare the game with. We’ll cover that more when it comes to gameplay, but that information helps to set the scene of what was in my head going into The Town With No Name.
Once again, this was a game I had never experienced before – I hadn’t even tested out the emulation yet. So, when we started the stream, we suddenly found that the audio wasn’t playing correctly. Specifically, only one audio track seemed to work, meaning the background music played but the vocals and some sound effects did not.
That’s actually pretty important to know if you are planning to play this game. After all, not many people will have a Commodore CDTV and fewer still will actually have a copy of this game. So, emulation is most likely the way you’d have to experience it.
With that in mind, it is important to note that you need to make sure you have the right emulator and the right type of ROM. I won’t be telling you how or where to get those, but just make sure you have an ISO version of the game and a CDTV emulator that plays ISOs. Otherwise, you’ll find that it simply won’t work.
In fact, the game is infamous for being one of the more difficult games to emulate. And honestly, it really doesn’t earn that…
Moving on to the game itself, I was instantly blown away by the presentation – specifically, how ugly the game looked. Graphics are easily the most forgivable aspect of a game for me, but honestly, The Town With No Name makes The Wand of Gamelon look like a work of art.
People have said that The Wand of Gamelon looks like it was made in Microsoft Paint, but honestly, The Town With No Name takes that medal! The 3D aspects look pretty good for the system, although they definitely needed better (or rather, some) textures on a number of models, such as the train. The issue comes with the characters. They all look atrocious.
On top of that, the menus were an eyesore and the music was just grating. From a first impressions point of view, the game wasn’t off to a good start.
Switching gears now and looking at the gameplay of The Town With No Name, I’ve already said that it can be compared to a TellTale game. However, that’s really only is base-level execution. You see, with The Town With No Name (and I am going to get sick of writing that name), you interact with the game by selecting places in the town to go, choosing from a set number of options, or by aiming at someone and clicking to shoot them.
That’s the entirety of the gameplay look for this game. There are no real puzzles to speak of, except for having to take a bath before you visit a woman in the Tavern otherwise she will push you away because you smell too bad.
Gameplay for The Town With No Name is simplistic in every way. There’s no learning curve at all, and the only challenge we faced on stream was because of emulator glitches. Specifically, the mouse cursor would just randomly turn invisible every screen, so I had to completely guess where I was clicking or shooting. Apart from that, anyone could play the game.
But as the saying goes; “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
Now, I’m being rather negative here and there is reason for that. I spent two days after playing The Town With No Name just trying to work out what I actually thought about it. You see, it is absolutely a bad game, completely. From a gameplay perspective and in terms of presentation, it is simply abhorrent.
Yet, I had fun experiencing it – not because it was inherently enjoyable to play, but because of the outright nonsense that happens within the game. So, with that, let’s mosey on over to the Entertainment portion of this review!
This is where things get a bit more complication. As I said earlier, The Town With No Name is an objectively bad game. The graphics are terrible, even for the time. The music is recorded at extremely low quality and repeats in a taxing manner. The gameplay is so simplistic and repetitive that you get nothing in return for your time.
However, you can still have a good laugh at the game’s expense. This mostly comes from the outrageousness of the events or the stupidity of the game design in general.
For example, it is entirely possible to finish The Town With No Name in under 2 minutes! How? Well, when you first get off the train, there is an option to just turn around and get straight back on it. Doing that will activate the following scenes;
As you can see, that is a very strange set of events that take place, leading to an extremely odd and abrupt ending to the game. This is the sort of “humour” that you can see through The Town With No Name.
Another example comes from the very first “fight” that you have with an antagonistic NPC. If you shoot him correctly, he will just die. However, if you miss, another set of scenes play out, which are as follows;
- Your stray bullet hits and kills a vulture.
- The vulture starts to plummet towards the ground, with a sound effect similar to a nose-diving plane.
- The vulture’s dead, falling body dives straight into the NPC, killing him.
Seeing that for the first time, I was utterly confused and also amused. And that’s a pretty good way of explaining the entertainment factor of The Town With No Name.
It is also worth mentioning that the developers attempted to put tension into the game through music and voiced dialogue. However, the word “attempted” is paramount in that sentence. The choice of when to add said tension is also extremely questionable. Just take a look at this clip from the stream, where we experienced one of these supposedly tense moments, only for it to turn out extremely comical.
So, all in all, the entertainment value of the game is pretty high, but not in the way that the developers meant for it to be. Therefore, I’m not sure how well that really counts for The Town With No Name.
And That’s All Folks
Moving forward, I’m not going to be giving a numerical score for the games I review on here (you can read more about that here). Instead, I’m just going to end these reviews with a summary of my thoughts about that particular game.
When it comes to The Town With No Name, it is a true example of a bad game when it comes to presentation, development and the overall product. The gameplay is dull, repetitive and uninspired, whilst the sound quality is just abysmal.
However, the ludicrous nature of the game and the events within in mean that you can still have a lot of fun playing it. Just remember that you will absolutely be laughing at it and not with it.
Have you played The Town With No Name? If so, let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!
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- 18th February 2020