Westbank was released for the ZX Spectrum by Dinamic software (the UK rights were won by Gremlin Graphics who had also published another Dinamic game, Rocco) in February of 1986. Westbank was basically a clone of the popular arcade game Bank Panic.
In the game you had to defend a bank which was in a tough old town in the wild west. Less than honorable cowboys and bandits would make attempts to rob the bank, and the good citizens would walk in to make cash deposits.
The bank had a total of twelve doors with three being displayed on screen at any given time. This window of three could be scrolled left or right to allow you to view all tweleve doors by 'rotating' through them.
The aim of this ZX Spectrum game was to allow the good customers to come in and drop off their hard earned cash and to shoot any would be robbers before they lined your lungs with lead - the goddam varmints!
Each door would swing open at random intervals to reveal either a good customer or a robber - it was all down to quick reflexes and a cool trigger finger to decide whether to blast away or hold your fire.
If you were too quick on the draw and shot down an innocent customer then the bank manager would not be best pleased and you would lose one of your lives. If a bandit got the drop on you and got a shot off then this also resulted in a loss of a life. To make your life more difficult some honest citizens would show up only to be robbed at the door, and you had only a moment to dole out six gun justice to the cowardly thief.
Another character (called Bowie the dwarf - I ain't kiddin') would routinely show up with a pile of hats on his head. Anyway, you could shoot away each of these hats (from top to bottom) and the bottom one would either reveal a bag of money or a bomb. Shooting the money rewarded you with cold had cash, shooting the bomb resulted in the whole place being blown sky high. Taking it steady and easy here was the trick pardner....
Once all twelve doors had been used by customers to deposit cash then the working day was officialy over. Time for a sasparilla? Maybe, but not before earning some extra cash on side in bounty money by engaging in a shootout with some bad guys in the bonus level. The odds were 3-1 against you, but should you take them all out in a quick draw contest then plenty of bonus of points would awared. Those of you with Doc Holliday iron skills would be given an extra life for being extra quick on the draw.
To add variety to this classic game it was also possible to work different shifts (such as morning, afternoon, or early evening) and the later in the day it was - the tougher it was to keep order. Working at dusk made it especially difficult: the doors would swing open to reveal a shadowy figure against a dark blue background. Telling the difference between a good guy and bad guy was now no mean feat...
When this game was released for the ZX Spectrum gamers enjoyed it because of it's simplicity - the game was all about reactions and a cool head. The graphics were nicely drawn and suitably 'western' in style, and the banks customers were pretty big on the screen. The variety of actions that could occur (the multiple hats, the robbers attacking a decent customer etc) made the action fast and furious and it was easy to be over eager and shoot down an innocent. Bank Panic was a fairly popular game in the arcades and West Bank was a very good arcade conversion for the ZX Spectrum.
The test of time:
Your trusty double act here in the land of Spectrum games reckon that this game still holds plenty of appeal. It was always a simple affair, and moving between the doors and shooting down the baddies is still a lot of fun. As you move through the game the pace really hots up (in classic arcade style) and it becomes far too easy to shoot early and blow away a poor customer. This is an arcade game to fill in a spare fifteen minutes - and is still good in that respect. Yee haa!
Watch any of the Clint classics and give West Bank a go - it's a rootin' tootin' little game.
We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download West Bank for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
GENRE: Arcade game
RELEASE DATE: February of 1986
RELEASED BY: Gremlin Graphics
DEVELOPER(S): Dinamic (Alvaro Mateos)
PRICE: £7.95 - UK
Dead eye dirk shows his iron skills in the East Clintwood branch of Nat West in West Bank:
Arcade Games, Classic Games and ZX Spectrum Games