The trees look like children’s
drawings. The characters don’t have a full set of digits on their
hands. The men’s beards look like rubber. (The arch villain seems
to have a rubber starfish growing from his chin.)
Yes, WANTED: A Wild Western Adventure features stylized 3D
graphics that are very different from the graphics in a typical
adventure. Yet this works somehow. More than that, it works well.
The world is colorful and pleasant and the characters are lazily
endearing. They make you laugh. There are ambient effects – flags
that sway in the breeze, fountains, butterflies – that add their own
color to the world. The music is cheerful and vaguely western, and
the tunes pop back into your head even after you’ve left the game.
The gameworld isn’t vast, or photorealistic – but it is a fun place
to spend a lazy afternoon (given the game length, several lazy
afternoons). Picture a colorful 3-D comic book, set in the Old
West, with Guybrush Threepwood in the role of a wannabe cowboy
instead of a pirate.
The Farmer and the Cowman Should be Friends
Our hero Guybrush (oops, I mean Fenimore Fillmore) has wandered
into the middle of a dispute between ranchers and farmers in the Old
West. The villain is a ruthless rancher with an eye towards taking
over the entire town. And the outskirts of the town. And all the
farms past the outskirts. And after that….
Fenimore is a helpful, polite, likeable guy, and he certainly
doesn’t lack for courage. In fact, I did wonder about his
willingness to take on such a dangerous challenge. Is he doing it
because he’s naïve? Or because he knows that what he is doing is
right? Or because he lacks good judgment?
Whatever his motivation, our hero is ruthless too. By the time
he’s finished (and with only the best of intentions), Fenimore has
robbed the town blind, disrupted the local school, broken plenty of
stuff, exploded other stuff, and built up a weapons cache even the
Pentagon would admire. As for the people he meets – at one time or
another he reduces most of them (and their livestock) to a state of
terror, intoxication, befuddlement, asphyxiation, exasperation or
unconsciousness. Still and all, there is ultimate redemption
shining through Fenimore’s inclination to
Is That a Wheelbarrow in Your Pocket?
WANTED is a traditional, third person perspective,
inventory-based adventure game. It features a simple
point-and-click interface, with puzzle challenges and lots of
humorous character interaction. Left-clicking on an object allows
you to look at it. Right-clicking on the object usually gives you
the option to use it in some way.
The inventory is easy to use – its only oddity (and for purists,
this may constitute a HINT) is that if you use a reusable item, it
doesn’t always automatically return to inventory – sometimes it
stays in the location where it was used, and you have to pick it up
The inventory holds lots of items, and I found myself frequently
wondering how on earth some of this odd stuff was going to be used.
Fenimore folds large objects into his pockets with expert flair. I
particularly enjoyed watching him deal with the wheelbarrow.
To help you move from place to place, the game brings up a 3D map
of the gameworld, also reminiscent of the Monkey Island games. You
can see smoke rising from the chimneys on the map. Lower left is a
miniature waterfall tumbling over the rocks. Fenimore trots his
horse as he starts out, then gallops along the colorful mapscape.
It’s very well done.
You cannot die in the game. Our hero is either amazingly strong
or made from tightly coiled rubber springs. There are many real
rodeo cowboys who would give their eyeteeth to have Fenimore’s
bounce-back-ability. Our hero’s ego actually takes much more
bruising than does his body.
Sheriff, You Need a Walkthrough
WANTED spends a goodly amount of time poking fun at wild western
stereotypes. But despite its cartoonish nature, it does a pretty
good job with developing the main characters. I particularly
enjoyed the spunky heroine, and wanted to see more of her. The
banter between Rhiannon and Fenimore during the “examination” is
full of wit and zing, and reminds me of the wacky strip search in
My favorite minor character was the sheriff, who surely was
modeled after an adventure gamer. He spends most of the game
sitting at his desk, taking notes and mulling over various clues.
When he finally does investigate, he has a genius for looking in all
the right places for all the wrong evidence. Yes, I admit that this
was the character with whom I most identified.
Voice acting is good, though occasionally campy (which was just
about perfect for this game). Much of the character animation has
an impish, tongue-in-cheek quality, with attention to eccentric
details. The expression on Fenimore’s face after the Tyrolean
harness incident, for instance, or his highly unorthodox way of
sliding down a telegraph pole – all draw you into this world of
A Man’s Got to Know His Limitations
The game is radically nonlinear. At almost any point in it, you
can think of at least two missions/tasks you could be addressing.
This is effective for the most part, though it does require some
thought to keep track of the various puzzle/plot developments.
Nearly all the puzzles are fair, and some are unusually creative.
I found this to be a difficult game. Its nonlinear character
allows you to solve several puzzles and get deep into the game
before you get stuck. But as you near the end of the game, you begin
bumping up against the challenges you have (so far) failed.
Several times I found I could not progress in the game. In each
instance, it was either because I hadn’t listened closely to a bit
of dialog, or because I had missed a small detail in the game
environment. WANTED’s cheerful lightheartedness makes its
difficulty level an unexpected surprise. Suffice it to say that,
while I thought the game’s puzzles were pretty easy for the first
few hours I played it, by the last few hours I was feeling
The game is long, with plenty to do in the course of your
adventure. However, the locations you visit are limited and you
keep returning to the same places as you progress though the story.
Load times between locations are also long and you’ll find yourself
staring at a blank blue screen for several seconds as you enter each
So I Have to Plant the Carrots?
WANTED has a taste for genre fusion, and this leads to my most
serious reservations about the game. There are arcade elements and
RPG elements. (Yes, I didn’t quite believe the RPG stuff at first
either.) The RPG challenges are not particularly difficult – you
have to manage money and you have to manage carrots.
At first I thought the management aspect was cute. But it didn’t
take long before it became seriously annoying. Going back time and
again to the drawer where money grows was unnecessarily repetitive
(though I would very much enjoy seeing dollar bills regenerating
themselves this way in MY side table drawer).
Anyway, that was nothing compared to the trouble caused by the
carrots. Carrots are the fuel that get you from place to place, as
they are the only thing your horse will eat. You can acquire
carrots through harvesting, purchasing or begging. It takes 30
mouse clicks to grow a batch, and the process is slowed by having to
watch animations in between the clicks. By game’s end -- as you
travel back and forth trying to figure out what inventory item or
bit of dialogue you’ve missed -- the carrot business develops into a
major saddle sore.
The game also features five arcade-like challenges – four
shooting sequences and one “swishing” sequence. Only one of these
seriously tests your reflexes – though the others require the right
strategy and fairly good hand-eye coordination. It was the swishing
sequence I spent the most time on, because I simply couldn’t figure
out what it was I was supposed to do.
Of the shooting challenges, by far the most difficult is the
shooting gallery. This is considerably easier to beat if you change
one of the game options in the Options menu, and if you arrange to
sabotage something before the shooting begins. It’s still plenty
difficult though. I beat it twice, but it took almost ten attempts
each time before delicious victory was mine.
Pilgrim, You Could’ve Gotten Somebody Killed Today
In many ways, this is a fun game to play with your entire
family. That is, of course, if you don’t mind a few mildly
off-color jokes – and if you don’t object to letting the kids shoot
at people and things on screen. The bright graphics and Western
theme appeal to many age groups. In fact, this review was somewhat
delayed by my difficulty in getting the rest of the family to stop
playing the game so I could.
Cutscenes in the game are absolutely hilarious. We watched and
played the entire end sequence with its long cutscenes and final
showdown over and over. The outtakes at game’s end are wonderful.
You definitely leave this game with a big smile on your face.
Quick List for WANTED: A Wild Western Adventure
3D cartoon-style adventure featuring a hero who yo-yos between
gunslinging competence and comedic humiliation. Point-and-click
(mouse controlled) interface, third person perspective. Colorful
graphics. Humorous dialogue. Excellent voice acting. Hilarious
cutscenes and outtakes. Nonlinear gameplay. You cannot die in the
Inventory challenges, a dialog-based insult challenge. No
sliding tile puzzles, sound puzzles or mazes. RPG elements and
arcade elements, which are sometimes quite frustrating.
Unlimited save slots. No glitches or other technical problems.
WANTED aims to please fans of the old Lucas Arts adventures,
particularly the Monkey Island crowd. For the most part, it
Final Grade: B+
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