Written by  :  Joey Zamingo (82)
Written on  :  Dec 25, 2004
Platform  :  SEGA CD
Rating  :  2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars

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A great game that was poorly translated to the Sega CD.

The Good

In 1991, Dynamix/Sierra released Willy Beamish for the PC. It was a fresh game that, in spite of its difficulty, became fondly remembered by many adventure game fans. Then, in 1993, Willy Beamish was re-released on the then-new Sega CD. Because of the system's ability to play games off of CDs, which have high data capacities, the Sega CD Willy Beamish could have full in-game voices. There was a talkie version for PCs as well, but many gamers at the time didn't have CD-ROM drives for their computers, so if you owned a Sega CD, you could easily play the talkie version of Willy from the comfort of your couch, without having to spend money on an expensive CD-ROM drive for your PC. The idea sounds fantastic on paper, but the Sega CD version of Willy out and out stunk; partly due to the hardware limitations of the system, and partly because of the methods (or ignorance) of the programmers. The Sega CD version does have some improvements over the PC version, however. You can actually play Willy's Nintari now, instead of just watching him as in the PC version. In the PC version, Willy was playing a platform game called Monster Patrol. Now he's playing a game called Super Space K'Noidtrix. The game is a so-so shooter, but it's useful for letting off some steam built up in the sluggish main game. Also notable is the improved intro; Willy introduces himself and narrates until the first playable scene. The PC version just had a narrator begin the game, and you don't see Willy until the part when Horny jumps out of his backpack and takes the principal's toupee.

The Bad

Let's start with the little things. The Sega CD/Genesis could only display 64 colors; a quarter of the 256 colors of the PC version. As a result, the close-ups of the characters are missing their value (the variations between black and white), and some other graphical lapses. Surprisingly, the backgrounds look fine; they have no major loss of detail. So basically, the color limitations don't really show that much. Next, some sequences have been cut completely, most noticeably the sequence at the very beginning where Willy daydreams about the Nintari championships in the middle of detention. With the sequence gone, we have to assume Willy was daydreaming when Ms. Glass says, "Willy Beamish! What did I just say?" Another minor cut is that there are not as many "poses" of the character close-ups in the game. In the PC version, the characters' faces change with almost everything they say. In the Sega CD version, the characters have one or two close ups, and that's it. Willy uses his "sarcastic" face when he's being sincere, unlike the PC version where Willy actually looks sincere when he's being sincere. A very big problem in the Sega CD version is the terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE loading times. The 1X drive in the Sega CD never becomes a problem except in the adventure games like Rise of the Dragon, The Secret of Monkey Island, and... Willy Beamish. Anytime you pick up something, select something, or do something, there's at least a 2-second wait. This doesn't sound annoying on paper, but a 2- or more second wait between EVERY SINGLE THING YOU DO can drive you over the edge. And sometimes there's not even any indication that the game is loading, like when you're in your item screen and you click "exit"; the game freezes for three seconds and then the window disappears. Even more infuriating is the terrible two second pause after every line of spoken dialogue. Now we come the absolute biggest flaw in this game: the voices. Although the voice acting is superb, the sound quality is H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E. You can barely understand the characters when they talk, and there are no subtitles. The thing I don't get is, why do games like Popful Mail and Snatcher have excellent quality voices, and in the same quantity as Willy, too. How come the voices in those games sound so fantastic, and the voice here sound absolutely horrendous? I would have strongly preferred a text-only Genesis cartridge version of this game if it were available. There would be no lousy quality voices, and no loading times. The music would be the same; it's generated by the internal Z80 sound chip- not Redbook audio. Of course, such a version would surely be cheaper than a CD version and may even slow down Sega CD sales: not a good business idea. So all in all, the game just has too many glaring flaws to be worth playing. If you want the best version of Willy Beamish, get the PC CD-ROM talkie version. It gives you almost exactly what the Sega CD version gives you, without the long, long loading times, and low-quality voices, and the cut material.

The Bottom Line

Willy Beamish was a great PC game that had to be heavily chopped up technically in order to run on the Sega CD. The long loading times, the removed content, and the disgusting voice quality add up to an game that isn't worth experiencing, but only on the Sega CD. I highly encourage you to play the PC version, and you can get it from the-underdogs.org. So unless you really, really want to play Super Space K'noidtrix, stay far away from this version.