If Michael Eisner and his Pixar (ex-) constituents were dead, they’d be rolling over in their collective graves after seeing the parodies intact within Revistronic’s 3-D rendered adventure, Wanted: A Wild West Adventure. All parodies considered, so would the Wachowski brothers, Mel Brooks, and whoever invented comedic timing. The implication is that the heart of Wanted would be a tiny, cold stone if not for the pieces of prominent pop culture it splices into its folds. Recognizing those moments make Wanted somewhat interesting, and almost save it from its humdrum proclivities.
Wanted is all about the Old West atmosphere, from the crafted building fronts of the town area to the dusty roads and plains of the area’s farmers. As Fenimore Fillmore, a fresh-faced stranger whose genetic ancestry can be traced straight back to Woody from Toy Story, you literally stumble into the hero role of a town in need. The overlord tyrant threatening to take every piece of land in THIS game is a guy named Starek. His niece, Rhiannon, is hot in a studious bad girl kind of way, and disapproves of her uncle’s usage of his inherited power. Your path amongst these characters is setup right from the beginning and doesn’t deviate much at all throughout.
As stories go, Wanted has to be the most microcosmic I’ve ever encountered in a game. Immediately following the layout of the primary antagonist(s) and their nefarious and quite predictable plot, the two remaining farmers in the town drop a laundry list of very specific things that need you to get done in order to save the town from total absorption into Starek’s greedy grip (get money, fix the fence, find help, stop Starek’s reinforcements from reaching the town by train, water a nation of carrots... wait. What?) I had expected this initial set of goals to lead to other, larger activities. But it doesn’t. The whole game is centered on the concise instructions of the farmers that are supposedly more bumbling than you are. I could be thankful for many reasons.
The controls are very standard, with only two options for any given event item: inspect and take/use. This is toggled by the right mouse button. The rest of the time, you guide Woody- I mean, Fenimore around in third person by left clicking on different locations in the scenery. I have to give props to the dev crew for their decision to create a dimensional rift for all the stuff Fenimore ends up carrying. I had more items than a normal person should be able to carry before even leaving the first location of the town, and it only got more ridiculous after that. Item usage is a little tricky, but only in the sense that I eventually acquired so many bits and bobs, I didn’t know what to do with them in any given instance. I hardly wanted to stand around and try every one of the 30 things I had on me. Other than that, the items remained intuitive and accessible.
The town is broken into a handful of isolated locations on an overworld map. Getting to each of these is a scripted event that requires your horse and a metric ton of carrots, which are generally available in one form or another in each location. Fenimore’s horse has a five-slot “gas” gauge that loads up after being fed carrots. Carrots can sometimes be hard to come by, and while it didn’t happen to me, I sometimes wondered if I could strand myself by landing in a situation where I had no access to them. The act of producing carrots (watering a cropped area or purchasing them from the store) seemed redundant after the first instance, and I found myself wishing they’d left that out in latter portions of the game, replaced with a greater diversity of puzzles.
Speaking of which, the puzzles didn’t move beyond the complexity of their surroundings. The cartoonish simplicity of the 3-D backdrop seeped into the puzzle design as well, which was good and bad. These riddles may not offer much for challenge, but I never felt truly stuck at any point in time either. As a result, that rush of progress and success falls out completely as the player moves to the next simple task.
It’s very hard to call Wanted a failure, because it’s truly not. The wit is recognizable and even humorous, but you won’t find yourself laughing or terribly engaged. The scenery is distinguishable and easy on the eyes, if a little wobbly (I deemed the inertial movements of the human characters “breast physics” as I watched their heads wobble while they spoke). Puzzles are laid out in simple forms, but the bag of crap you tote around as a player couldn’t be hauled around by a fleet of Pony Express couriers. There are a few timely moments here that inspire the sort of entertainment video games are supposed to elicit, but the long periods of bromidic plodding are the problematic spurs that leave Wanted wanting.