One day in the discount bin of Kay Bee Toys, I saw The Adventures of Willy Beamish (Sega CD version). I bought it because previously, I bought the DOS version at a garage sale, just to find out that it was missing one of its floppy disks. So I was psyched to play it.
For those who do not know, the Sega CD was an extra piece of hardware that would attach to the Sega Genesis, which played cartridge-based games, and with the extension would be able to play CD based games as well. My broke parents bought it for Christmas one year after it went into deep discount once the Sega Genesis was at the end of its life. The same story with its games, which were practically being given away. Thus Willy Beamish found its way into my hands.
Willy Beamish was an adventure game where you play a character from the third-person and move around an arrow (cursor) to point to items and solve puzzles. The story is of a kid who needs his pet frog to win a competition so he could then use the money to enter a video game tournament. What made the unique was its classic animation style.
I was still in grade school when I began playing Willy Beamish for the Sega CD. For months and months, I tried to finish this game to no avail. No doubt that this game was a tough adventure game that people would reminiscent over for years. But this was a special case. Willy Beamish, Sega CD style, was extra frustrating for one reason: endless loading. Whenever someone spoke, or moved, or there was a cut scene, or if you pressed a button on the controller, or anything else, there was lag and loading.
A pop-up with an animation of someone talking will appear. Then you have to wait five seconds of loading for the next person to speak. Then you had to wait five seconds for the next person to speak after that person. You could not skip this! You could not skip any scene, in fact. To remedy this, the Sega CD version of Willy Beamish had a function where if you hold down the start button, a bunch of silver balls start circling around in a pattern which could be altered using the directional pad. The only reason for this was to keep you from getting bored.
This constant loading made it hard to experiment and make decisions. Some parts of the game are time-critical, and you start panicking with the three-entire-seconds response time for a button press.
Like many other adventure games during its time period such as Full Throttle, you could be wandering around endlessly trying to figure out what to do, and the atrocious loading time just made it that much more irritating. It took me particularly long to discover that there was a tree house hidden within a distant scene of the town.
Willy Beamish Babysitter Scene
It all goes downhill from here. There is one scene that I will never forget. In Willy Beamish, you are being watched by an ugly baby-sitter that then turns into a bat and tries to kill you. Beside being a ridiculous fantasy scene out of no-where, it took me days to figure out what the hell I was supposed to do. I found some spray under the sink but it did not do much. After searching for a long time, I found out that there is a dead mouse in your little sister’s room that you need to grab. This blew my mind. Why would a dead mouse be in your baby sister’s bedroom? It turns out that you had to toss the mouse on the living room table and then vacuum the bat up. How do you that? Well you have to change the cursor to a sort of cross-hair, which never existed at any other point in the game until now. Which leads me to my next point…
The Cursor Issue
The arrow, pointer, cursor, whatever you want to call it, could be changed to a magnifying glass. This was used to examine things in the area and help answer questions. At some points during the game, the cursor could be changed to a cross-hair. The issue though is that the focal point being wrong and misleading when switching between the two. What do I mean? Well the focal point of an arrow is at the tip of the arrow, not its bottom or center. And the focal point of a cross hair would be at its center, not at any of its edges. But in the Sega CD version of Willy Beamish, you try centering the cross hair and miss your mark every time because the game still thinks the focal point is at the edge and not the center.
Willy Beamish Ending
Years later I finished the game using a walkthrough, which revealed something I could not believe. The ending was meant to show Willy Beamish winning the game competition he joined. I forgot all about it. It was the pinnacle of the entire plot! Why would they take this scene out? Who knows? Perhaps the scene, which showed two boys moving around joysticks, was a masturbating reference that needed to be cut. Maybe the joysticks looked too much like Atari and caused copyright issues. Maybe there was not enough space on the disk, or there was not enough development time. It is anyone’s guess why the scene was deleted.
Instead, the Willy Beamish Sega CD version just showed his face saying that he saved the day, and that is it. That is all you get for spending months and months of wasted time with this game.
Thank God For Emulators
If you have the Sega CD version of the game, you have two problems: finding all the hardware to boot the game up on your TV, and dealing with all the loading. Well it turns out, a Sega emulator program like Fusion solves both. Not only will it play the game straight from your CD-ROM drive, but it has a fast-forward function that will save you buckets of tears.
The tragedy of all this is that The Adventures of Willy Beamish is not a bad story or game. Hard, yes, but very good and clever also. So why get the Sega CD version? Because it has voices, facial animations and music that the computer versions may lack. So even after everything I had said, you may still want to add it to your collection, even just for nostalgia alone.
Any memories of this game you would like to share? Leave a comment.