Taz: Wanted Download (2002 Arcade action Game)

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Taz: Wanted for PC has players controlling the famous Looney Tunes character as he spins, snarls, and slobbers his way across four worlds and 12 levels of 3D platform action. Yosemite Sam desperately wants Taz to be his next exhibit at the Yosemite Zoo and will stop at nothing to capture him. As a result, Sam has peppered the landscape with wanted posters, littered the ground with obstacles, and has unleashed a crew of net-wielding animal catchers.

While Taz's first goal is to avoid getting captured, which involves destroying each level's seven wanted posters and running away from the animal catchers, he must also make his way back home to Tasmania. Taz's wanted level, represented by a cash bounty, gradually increases the longer he goes without being captured. The higher the bounty, the greater the likelihood of unlocking special new options from the menu screen. Each time Taz is caught, however, the bounty will decrease.

As he makes his way across the four worlds, Taz can pick up five assorted ACME items for temporary power-ups. These include "invisibility potions" to temporarily disappear from an enemy's sight, "super burp soda cans" to destroy certain items, "hiccup soda" causing him to high jump, "mega hot chili peppers" to singe surrounding enemies, and "bubble gum" to fly for short distances. Taz's voracious appetite has not gone unnoticed by the developers, as the beast can consume most objects and items he runs across.

As an added bonus, digested items can also be spit up as projectiles used to defeat enemies or to destroy objects. Taz can also find and gobble up sandwiches, which will reveal a bonus game once 100 have been eaten. In addition, all levels feature ACME Dial-a-Costume phone booths at various points. When Taz enters a phone booth, he'll be able to don one of ten disguises to fool enemies. Each costume also features one special attack that, if used, will permanently scare an enemy away from the level.

Making a game fitting a classic cartoon is something that just has to be very difficult. Especially when you're trying to make it appeal to an audience that remembers it fondly and one that frankly doesn't know it very well at all. The newest comes straight from the annals of Warner Bros. cartoons that I grew up with and still love today. Of course, Warner Bros. still makes cartoons based off of the Looney Toons brand, but they just aren't nearly as good as those old politically incorrect toons that dropped you on the floor laughing. Taz: Wanted is taken in this same vein of not so witty, over the top visual and slapstick style comedy and flair. For someone that grew up with so many great intelligent cartoons mixed with a healthy does of ridiculous violence, it's hard to adjust to this tamer modern day set of rules cartoons and their video game counterparts have to play by. So I'm going to blame the fact that I don't like Taz on the censors and the idiotic socially conscious jerkwads out there instead of the developers. Well, okay, I blame the developers a bit as well.

It's not that Taz doesn't do anything right. It does a couple of things right. First, it works. That's good, isn't it? It didn't crash on me once. Second, you get to play as Taz, one of the craziest characters in the business and destroy the hell out of things. Now, while that's all good and dandy, when did it happen that Taz turned into a hero of sorts? Wasn't he always the stupid animal with the appetite and intelligence to rival Harry Knowles? He was the angry beastie always trying to eat Bugs Bunny that got fooled by a rabbit in a grass skirt, coconut shells, and a bear trap mask with lipstick on it. I want a game about the angry Taz rampaging through the countryside trying to catch and eat Bugs and other Looney characters. I don't want to save Tasmania!

Which brings us to the story. Taz: Wanted follows our hero as he's captured and brought to Yosemite Sam's zoo. You see, Sam was clearing off Tasmania in order to build the world's greatest theme park across the island. But as you know, Taz is kinda hard to keep penned up due to the whole spinning and eating and strength of thousands thing. Being incredibly belligerent has its advantages as Taz soon breaks the bonds of his cage making Yosemite Sam one angry tycoon. So Sam posts up wanted posters with the authority and foreboding of a declaration of war. Yes, wanted posters. Which means there are some guys out to net you and throw you back into another cage, which is actually easier to break out of then the first cage. All you have to do to escape is destroy the several wanted posters around the game, which have all been inconveniently been planted in places that are hard to get to and surrounded by wacky puzzles, some of which are actually fairly clever.

Taz: Wanted is a platformer. It's a typical platformer. And a mostly blah platformer. You run around solving little puzzles, harmlessly knocking enemies loopy for a couple of seconds, and then pick up millions of random objects like sandwiches and dynamite that someone has carelessly left on the playing field. It's a good thing that Taz is a hungry devil. The only thing I enjoyed in this game was the fact that I could go around destroying things in each of the levels because I was so upset that I was playing it. Why these cartoons that were so sneakily evil have turned into G-rated head-bonking tripe is beyond me. You can be smart and cartoony at the same time, even in video games! I swear!

Taz also has the ability to use the several phone booths scattered around the levels to switch costumes. Step in as a regular ratty little Tasmanian devil and step out as a ratty Tasmanian devil with a skateboarding outfit or the like. Each outfit you change into gives you a special attack, which can knock the bad guys for a loop so, you can sneak past them. There's no killing and eating your "opponents" as the manual calls them (apparently enemies is too harsh a term as well), you just have to knock them out for a while so you can do your dirty work. Other than that, you'll find some mini-games and such to keep you occupied for a while, but while you could also choose to have your testicles pulled off by a monkey, you probably wouldn't enjoy that an awful lot either.

They also managed to get some typical cartoonish antics down with the visuals and managed to succeed in some places and fail in others. Compared to the console versions of the game it looks good. Well, it looks good if it's turned off and Rayman 2 has been turned on in its place. The whole cell-shaded thing was a good idea, it just doesn't look all that good in this case. This is no Jet Set Radio. Most of the environments are low detail, low polygon models. Everything is disproportioned like the new Looney Toon cartoons for that "Oh so cartoony" look that seems to be all the rage and the colors are bright and cheery and oh so blinding. Admittedly, it can work sometimes, but the layout of the levels have been tuned to such a fine degree of confusion and chaos that in this case, it all just adds to the insanity. I'm pretty sure I felt my brain twitch and barf while playing the game, but I suppose that could have been the beans I shoved up my nose at lunch. Regardless, I actually did like the rendering of Taz on occasion as well as some of the other characters. It was really the environment that made my head hurt.

The sound was equally as disheartening. Sure, Taz sputters and roars when you tell him to and the old buzzsaw sound starts up when you start up the Taz whirlwind of destruction, but the new voices for old characters just aren't as good as they used to be and the jokes are horrible. Other sounds are also a average to below average using every annoying typically cartoony "boing" they could find.

Controls are another weak point. In this PC version, you could try helplessly to use the keyboard controls and get frustrated enough to smash your fist into the monitor sending you to the hospital... or... you could buy yourself a controller if you don't already have one and be less annoyed. Taz can perform a variety of maneuvers, including jumping, running, sneaking, spinning like crazy, and special attacks when playing dress-up. Controlling Taz isn't necessarily bad by itself, it's the terrible camera that hasn't learned to be smart like Mario 64 which was made... what? Eight years ago, right? What really gets confusing is when you bring Taz into his element with his whirling. He begins to move much faster than he would normally. Meaning the camera needs to move faster for your adjustments, especially since Taz becomes much less responsive while spinning, but it doesn't. You'll find yourself accidentally flying off ledges and climbing up walls that you didn't mean to.

The Verdict

It's really just kind of sad. They stepped in the right direction by giving Taz the power to destroy parts of the environment and eat things, but they didn't keep going in the destructive direction with enough creativity. That destruction and bad behavior is what Taz was all about in the original cartoons. Seeing him virtually castrated like he is in this game makes me weep for the loss of my funny and violent childhood where people weren't whining like little babies all of the time and actually could understand moderately intelligent humor. Mixing that in with all of the spitting and destruction would have been nice.


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