Western Press is a bit hard to describe because words almost don’t do it justice. However, at its most simple, it is a game where you try to press a whole bunch of buttons faster and better than your opponent.
Oh, also, it’s full of pixel art and set in what is an approximation of the Old West.
When I showed up to my demo on Sunday afternoon, there were several people in front of me in line. That included two folks laughing uproariously as they attempted to defeat each other while wearing cowboy hats and stomping around on the floor. See, Western Press was originally envisioned as a game where players press a bunch of buttons on a controller, but the developers had cobbled together a system for a new controller: a Dance Dance Revolution pad.
For those potentially not familiar, Dance Dance Revolution is (like the name sounds) a game about dancing. There’s been several entries in the franchise, and it makes regular appearances at arcades. If you’ve seen someone stomping around in quick succession on a metal platform in an arcade, chances are you’ve seen someone playing Dance Dance Revolution.
When the game came to home consoles, several kinds of portable pads were released. The cardinal directions all are represented, and upper left and so on actually correspond to buttons that aren’t on the directional pad like, say, X on a PlayStation controller. So, in theory, one could play any game they like with the DDR pad. Like Western Press.
It’s worth noting that, when asked, the developer showing me to the demo indicated that the game only worked with one specific kind of DDR pad for the time being, but they were looking into support for other pads just in case. Or, in others, the drivers and stuff already in place should work for the majority of pads but possibly not all of them. It’s a bit hard to test prior to release.
So, as the duel sets up with one of the provided 16 characters for each player, the sides of the screen fill with randomly-generated instructions on what to press all at once as opposed to slowly scrolling up the screen or the like. It’s then all about making sure you can press those buttons quickly and in the correct order. Each match is over in all of 10 seconds at most, and then, it’s on to the next match.
The idea is that folks will gather 'round to play the thing in a tournament of sorts, with as many as 16 possible different players represented in a bracket system. It’s like bowling, but with a goofy Western game. However, lonely players without any friends could also build a tournament of one player and 15 bots.
The Bandit-1 developer who introduced me to the game also mentioned that he had gone through three different DDR mats since the start of the show. He also half-jokingly told me they would have to invest in the more solid steel versions of the pads for conventions in the future.
Western Press is scheduled to release on Windows and Mac in Q1 2016.