In memoriam, Donald Sutherland

The Adventures of Willy Beamish

aka: Les Aventures de Willy Beamish, The Adventures of Willy Beamish: What if you were nine again... knowing what you know now?
Moby ID: 1916

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 70% (based on 29 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 78 ratings with 9 reviews)

They named the frog Horny

The Good
The Adventures of Willy Beamish features some amazing, cartoon-inspired graphics, music, sound effects, a witty sense of social commentary, pop culture references and slapstick humor.

The story and character development is also quite impressive for an early 1990s video game.

Willy is a typical Generation Y preteen from the suburbs who plans on winning a video game championship this summer. To do so he has to stay out of trouble, or at least not get caught, and solve plenty of inventory based puzzles.

As the plot thickens, Willy and his friends participate in various shenanigans, the plumbers go on strike, and Willy's dad finds out that his boss has some unpleasant plans for the community.

Interestingly enough, this edition of the game, actually lets you play a mini video game in Willy's room.

The Bad
In making the jump from the PC CD-ROM to the "Next Level" Sega CD system, obvious sacrifice had to be made.

The Sega CD couldn't match the standard 256 colors of the PC, which means that Willy, and his cartoon universe, has a slightly washed out and less detailed look on the Sega system.

Certain character frames of animations were deleted in the Sega CD edition, and the game suffers from some of the worst loading time on a Sega CD game. I guess Sega CD's can store les memory then a CD for a computer.

The Sega CD also was noticeable slower then a standard PC computer, because just about anything you attempt to do in the Sega CD edition comes with its own loading pause.

I say, "attempt" because certain early editions of this Sega CD game were known to totally freeze up.

Beyond these technical faults, some of which may have been unavoidable for the game's designers, it is slightly inappropriate to label this a kid's game.

I would say that it's more of a PG/PG-13 type of video game, although the Sega CD edition came out prior to the establishment of a formal age classification for games.

Granted, some of the game's mild sexual innuendos may be missed by the younger kids, but the the frog is named, "Horny", one of the items you collect is a "nudie calendar" and Willy refers to a New Age, bouncer as a "tinkerbell".

Similarly, I am not sure how many kids will be able to fully appreciate some of the, well, er, um...."more dated" social and political commentary in the game.

The Bottom Line
The Adventures Of Willy Bemish for the Sega CD is not a perfect port of the PC CD game, but it is still an enjoyable adventure, seen through the eyes of a "typical" American boy. This is one adventure game that would do well with a re-release.

SEGA CD · by Edward TJ Brown (118) · 2014

You don't want to know what I'll do if I am nine years old again

The Good
Sierra offshoot Dynamix only produced three adventure games. One of them is The Adventures of Willy Beamish, a story of a nine-year-old boy who dreams of participating in the Nintari championships the same summer. He is trying to stay out of trouble with his parents and the rest of his family. So, the last thing he would want is detention on the last day of school and getting a bad report card.

The game is a point-and-click adventure game which lets you dictate what Willy does and when. Jeff Tunnell, along with artist Sheri Wheeler, worked on some design concepts for months until they came up with the final design for Willy. He wanted the game to be more of an interactive cartoon, rather than a traditional adventure. The making of Willy Beamish was the same as in animated films such as Aladdin and The Lion King.

The game is presented in third-person. I enjoyed seeing Willy walk to the other side of the room, pick up objects, and other stuff. It gives the game more of a Sierra feel to it. The interface looks cool. The icons are quite large so that you are not clicking on the wrong object than what you intended. The VCR menu actually has a series of buttons instead of just text options, and the in-game help looks excellent. The background with all the question marks looks marvelous.

I like playing the game using the alternate solutions to some puzzles, and these make the game replayable. One example is at the start of the game, when you are slapped in detention. You can wait until it finishes, or sneak out early using a fake hall pass. You have this thing called the “Trouble Meter” which you only see on the first two days, and you are sent to military school if you let it rise to the top. This gives you a reason to use these alternate solutions. You can choose not to do as you told, as long as the Trouble Meter doesn't go all the way up.

Willy has an inventory, just like any adventure game, complete with large icons and two buttons that let you fast-forward time. Time passes even when you are examining objects in the room. The buttons are useful if you have completed the necessary tasks and need a certain event to happen.

The puzzles in this game are not too hard, and they can be completed in a short amount of time – say five minutes. One of the most memorable for me is on day two, when you are dealing with the babysitter from hell. It is interesting to see how Willy is killed if you fail these puzzles.

The music sounds good, especially when using the Roland MT-32 (which makes the sound more kiddy-like). When you are in the Beamish house, having different music on different days is a nice touch. The sound effects are excellent, matching those used in the old cartoon shows. I have played the CD-ROM version, which has the characters voiced by Dynamix staff. My favorite voice belongs to the narrator. If you look at various objects around the room, you will often get a witty response from him.

Highlight: Examining different objects around the Beamish house and noticing the last sentence, usually about Willy screwing with things he wasn't supposed to. It makes me wish that I did those things when I was nine years old. Also, giving me a false impression that I was about to be drowned in the Humpford mansion after saving the frogs.

The Bad
When you hover over the magnifying glass over certain objects in each room to, its inside is solid gray, which means that you can't look at that object. It seems that the developers were too lazy to add a description for it.

The Bottom Line
The Adventures of Willy Beamish tells the story of a nine-year-old student who plans to spend his summer at the Nintari championships. But to do so, he must be a good little boy and stay out of trouble. You control Willy, and there are different decisions that you can make, both good and bad ones. The game is an interactive cartoon, letting you control your character at all times. This is demonstrated by the cute graphics and the voices in the CD-ROM version. Unlike Dynamix's early games, the game uses a 3rd-person perspective which means that you can see Willy walking across the room and picking up objects. The floppy version is easy to find, but it is rare that copies of CD-ROM version are floating around. So if you are looking for the CD version, then good luck.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43087) · 2014

A charming game on the surface - but with a very sticky underside

The Good
Beautiful cartoon-style graphics and animation - better than most games of the period and many since. Characterisation and story-line are also good. You care about the characters - which is quite an achievement in a computer game.

The Bad
Its hard. I used a walkthru pretty much from the beginning and played it with my kids - who really like it too by the way. Even with the walkthru it was hard - you had to click on things at the right times and in the right order and if you used up too many moves in the process you'd lose the game. Restoring the game again and again tended to ruin the atmosphere.........

The Bottom Line
In this game you play a kid with a frog, a skateboard and a sappy father. Worth seeking out. A classic family-friendly game from the golden age of adventure gaming.

DOS · by jossiejojo (37) · 2004

Unlike any other gaming experience.

The Good
This isn't your typical adventure game. In fact, I'm not quite sure how to describe it, since it reinvents every concept it aims at. You play a nine-year old troublemaker named Willy Beamish who, while trying to sort out his time between playing Nintari and dealing with babysitters from Hell (quite literally,) stumbles upon a corporate plot to sabotage the city's water supply. The humor in the game is equally bizarre, yet quite adult-oriented in spite of the childish atmosphere. The graphics, however, are stunning for their time. A lot of detail has gone into mostly everything. One of the game's better features is "stuff to do on the side that really has nothing to do with the plot or anything else." For example, if you have no real self-respect, you can go home late and piss off your parents or piss off your sister by reading her diary or messing with her scales. It's pretty much a do-what-you-feel kind of game. The puzzles were also strange, but the solutions always had interesting results. The reason I'm giving it five stars is because I believe that "Willy Beamish" is it's own kind of genre, and therefore, the best of its category. Plus, it ROCKS.

The Bad
Some of the icons were way oversized, but it never made the game any harder to play.

The Bottom Line
There's some ninjas in it, the frog's name is Horny, and at one point, you get to blow up a toilet. I think this pretty much sums up the game.

DOS · by Macaroni Penguin (4) · 2002

Entertaining, but often arbitrarily difficult adventure game.

The Good
I do remember being extremely impressed by the graphics. As several others have noted, this game pioneered the hand-drawn look to give the whole thing a cartoon look and feel. This is probably the most successful aspect of Willy Beamish-it does indeed always feel like some sort of Saturday morning cartoon gone slightly twisted.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the cartoon motif is also the game's biggest flaw. Like most cartoons, Willy Beamish isn't always long on logic. I got the feeling during certain parts of the game that I was being unfairly punished, especially in dialog encounters with Willy's strange parents. I recall being prevented from giving a response that I thought would palliate them, so the end result is that I was screwed with whatever line I clicked on. That sort of thing is unacceptable in an adventure game like this one.

The Bottom Line
Take one part Sierra adventure game, two parts cartoon plot and animation, add in some illogical and painful puzzles, stir and bake until done.

DOS · by Lucas Schippers (57) · 2001

One of the first adventure games to use the "hand-drawn cartoon" look for it's characters.

The Good
Willy Beamishes most impressive feat at the time of it's release was it's hand-drawn, cartoon-styled characters. Gone were Sierra's traditional blurry rotoscoped characters, in their place were characters that looked like they were created by Disney(okay, maybe not Disney, but Don Bluth or Ralph Bakshi).

Combined with a great story and inventive sequences, Will Beamish is fondly remembered as one of the most innovative of Sierra/Dynamix's adventure games.

The Bad
The game was certainly difficult the first time through, with some of the end-game puzzles maddeningly hard(partly due to bugs). But the game was fairly linear, so if you had beat the game once, you could breeze through it a second time in only an hour or two.

The Bottom Line
A worthy edition to any avid adventure gamers collection. Get the CD release for a full-talkie version of the game.

DOS · by Digital Arse (9) · 2000

A great adventure game!

The Good
Graphic adventure games were one of the favorite type of video games, although they tended to be more common on computers then home consoles. One of the giants within this genre was fine folks of Sierra.

Taking advantage of the CD-ROM format, this great computer adventure game is made ever cooler with an, amazingly, talented crew of voice actors (especially the narrator) and a few other good changes (i.e. the ability to actually play the game in Willy's bedroom and to save your progress).

The Bad
Two of the major problems are mostly the fault of Sega itself for failing to make the Sega CD into a proper, or even halfway decent, upgrade.

First, the cartoon quality artwork and animation had to be cut down from the PC's 256 colors to the Sega CD's 64. Second, the Sega CD edition of the game also suffers from very slow loading times (hence the ability to manipulate Laser Balls while you wait).

Minor problems: It would have be nice if an option existed to get text and or voice.

The Bottom Line
The Adventures of Willy Bemish is a great graphic adventure game and I truely wish it was redesigned for Windows XP or one of the modern video game systems.

Yet, adventure games mean solving, often, complex puzzles, which may seem dull if you simply want to blast your way out of any given situation.

You need to be willing, even eager, to interact with an assortment of interesting people (often with a bit of innuendo and satire) and simply experiment and explore the environment.

SEGA CD · by ETJB (428) · 2008

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 So unless you really, really want to play Super Space K'noidtrix, stay far away from this version.

SEGA CD · by zoinknoise (81) · 2004

Don't know why everyone keeps calling this a 'kid's game'...

The Good
I've always had a soft spot for this game. It's really silly, but not goofy, know what I mean? The graphics are nice, the music is nice, and the storyline is very engaging and fun. Finally, a game where you can piss off the principal and act like a complete brat, all from the comfort of your PC! The music got stuck in my head for long after I finished playing this game, and that's saying something since most of the music in games, even games this old, are pretty forgettable. If you're lucky enough to own the talkie version, the voice acting is great...not as great as some of the LucasArts games, but still better than most stuff made today, even.

The Bad
It's too damn hard. I guess it follows in the Sierra adventure game tradition in that death is possible and quite easy to attain. It's way too easy to fail in this game, and some parts are so tricky the only way you'll get through them is to save at every screen. This game is full of the reasons the LucasAdventures were so successful- you couldn't die in them. The save button should be used as a tool, not a part of the gameplay (to paraphrase Ron Gilbert), and this game is simply too difficult to be played without a walkthrough by anyone but the most seasoned adventure gamer.

As if it wasn't enough that some parts are maddeningly hard, but some parts are actually buggy too! That's right....get ready to part with the hair on your scalp as well as some of the things sitting on your desk as you crush them in frustration!

Also, the quality of the voices in the talkie version is quite bad. Thankfully, it's not as bad as the Sega CD version, and you can turn on the regular text to use as subtitles (in fact, the talkie uses that setup by default). Also, in the talkie version, there's only one or two "poses" per character, like in the Sega CD and unlike the floppy disk version. But still, it can be forgiven for the great voices.

The Bottom Line
Don't let the big icons and colorful graphics fool you- this ain't a kid's game. The suggestive frog's name, the school nurse, and the occasional cuss word are also helpful clues to support that theory. If you're not a person who knows every Sierra adventure game inside out and probably most of the LucasArts ones too, find a walkthrough, 'cause you'll sure as hell need it. But once you overcome the frustration, the game is actually really, really fun. There aren't too many accurate simulators of a schoolkid's life (though the upcoming game Bully may fill that void nicely) and it's a great play all the way through. Definitely play it if you can; you can find copies on eBay all the time, and it's also on many abandonware sites. Or even better, get the talkie version; it's damn hard to find, but snap it up if you find it.

DOS · by zoinknoise (81) · 2005

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Tim Janssen, Игги Друге, Alsy, Bozzly, Patrick Bregger, Narushima, xPafcio, SlyDante, Riemann80, Joakim Kihlman, CubbyKatz, Scaryfun, shphhd, Big John WV, RhYnoECfnW, Terok Nor, Martin Smith.