Wanted: A Wild West Adventure tells the story of a white-hat-wearing cowboy named Fenimore Fillmore. Fenimore must rally local townsfolk to stand up against a wealthy land baron named Starek, who wants to take over the whole town. The lighthearted humor and gameplay style of Wanted may be reminiscent of recent LucasArts adventure games, such as Grim Fandango or Escape From Monkey Island, featuring third-person perspective and a point-and-click interface through which players explore a 3D-rendered game world peppered with puzzles and action-oriented mini-challenges. Wanted uses its own propriety game engine, however, to create a clean, Toy Story-like look for its characters and their surroundings.
Point-and-click adventures were first made popular by such companies as Sierra and LucasArts, whose King's Quest and Monkey Island series (respectively) are some of the most beloved game franchises of all times. But times change and point-and-click adventures faded away as other genres gained in popularity. In the last few years, we've seen only a few standout titles, but fortunately for those of us who love these styles of games, some developers are attempting to keep the genre alive. Out of Spain comes Wanted: A Wild Western Adventure from Revistronics and The Adventure Company, a wacky point-and-click adventure in a style very reminiscent of the Curse of Monkey Island. This isn't the worst of the bunch, but it's not the best, either.
You are Fenimore Fillmore, cowboy hero, whose job is to save the farmers from the evil Mr. Starek. If you've ever seen The Quick and the Dead, Unforgiven, or any of a dozen similar movies to come out in the last few decades, you know the story. Of course, Fenimore falls in love with the beautiful Rhiannon, Mr. Starek's niece. Unlike most other cowboy heroes, Fenimore is not opposed to stealing money (from his lady love, no less), breaking someone out of prison, damaging property, and committing forgery. Of course, it's all for a good cause (Machiavelli would be proud).
You start Wanted at the Bannister farm, and your first job is to gather your gear. You quickly learn that the Bannisters' child stole your guns and you must recover them before you stand a chance against Starek and his men. Once you leave the Bannister home you come across one of the most bothersome "puzzles" in the game. In order to fuel your horse you must feed it carrots. This wouldn't be much of a problem if you only had to do it once, but instead you have to provide it with enough carrots to go everywhere. If you backtrack, as you're bound to do a few times, you have to make sure you have the carrots. You can collect carrots in two main ways: either purchase them in town or grow them on either of the two farms in the game. It's possible to get stuck in the game if you end up in an area without the carrots to leave, so be sure you grab enough any time you are at a farm.
Besides the carrots, you also have to collect money to buy certain things in Wanted. You'll find a lot of money available, but again it's possible to get stuck because you don't have the money to purchase a necessary item to reach the next area.
Most of Wanted's puzzles are quite clever. Objects you collect are used in a truly common-sense manner, and you won't often find yourself attempting the "try everything in the inventory" approach widespread in other adventure games. The few poorly done puzzles are terrible, though. One puzzle requires you to compete in a shooting gallery. You have to compete in five rounds, each more difficult than the last. You can cheat on the fifth round if you want, but even so, this puzzle was a bad idea. Those of us with experience in shooting games are unlikely to find the puzzle a challenge, but many people who choose to play adventure games do not particularly enjoy games requiring quick reflexes, and the mouse controls in Wanted are iffy enough to actually make the game more difficult than it has to be.
Another puzzle doesn't require reflexes, but it's a rhyming duel very reminiscent of a very annoying puzzle from the Monkey Island series. It's not fun, and it requires some of your very limited money to solve. If you spend too much money to figure it out, you might not have enough to purchase needed items to finish the game. One of worst sins an adventure game can commit is the leave the player without the ability to finish the game because of a mistake, and Wanted makes this mistake several times.
Wanted's graphic style is cartoonish and fits the tone of the game. Buildings are skewed, characters have a smoothness to their features that makes them look a bit like dolls, and the backgrounds are vibrant. Voice acting is decent, and the music is okay. The sound effects deserve special mention not for their quality, but for the utterly repetitive use of a single sound effect for every door, cabinet, drawer, closet, and wardrobe in the game. You become aware of just how many doors and drawers you open in Wanted when you hear the same exact sound effect. Every. Single. Time. It's a noticeable lowlight in an otherwise unremarkable collection of sound effects.
Wanted had a lot going for it, including a lot of very clever puzzles, many of which that can be solved in a non-linear fashion, a coherent storyline, and nice graphics. Unfortunately, desktop crashes, the need for money and carrots, some annoying sound effects, and a few frustrating puzzles mar what could have been one of the better adventure games to come out in years.
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