The Wild Bunch
|The Wild Bunch|
The Wild Bunch was a strategy adventure game set in the Wild West. Although it shared the same genre and the same title, it wasn't based upon or related to the 1969 western directed by Sam Pekinpah. Kevin Smith's game starts by having the player falsely accused of shooting (and thus murdering) someone. Armed only with the clues given to them by the dying man, the player is forced to go on the run to find the perpetrator - a member of the notorious 'wild bunch'.
The majority of the game is played out via a series of multiple-choice style screens. The player begins with a colt 45, a few bullets and 50 USD. They have five different towns to visit. Their first trek is made by stage coach, and after that they have to fund their own travel.
Each town has the same locations to visit. The Saloon offers the player a chance to win some money playing poker against the local gambler. They can also buy a few drinks at the bar to increase their strength, although too many drinks and might end up on the wrong end of a bar brawl! They can also keep an eye on who wanders into the saloon, in case they are a member of the Wild Bunch.
The only way to know who is a member of the gang is to visit the Sheriff's office and look at the wanted poster. Taking note of any outstanding features (moustaches, scars, etc.) helps the player to identify who's who. If a member of the gang does enter the saloon, the player can choose to 'take them in' or challenge them to a shoot out in the street, just as long as they don't 'draw' and shoot first!
Travelling between towns can take twice as long on foot if the player doesn't buy a horse and have the necessary provisions. They are also going to have random encounters with bounty hunters, vultures, Indians and the like, where they have to use up their strength (and bullets) if they're to reach the next town alive. Sometimes they might get lucky and pick up some useful items along the way. If not, they can always buy extra provisions at the town's Store.
Avoiding the sheriff and hunting down and capturing the murderer will take a fair amount of gambling, travelling, brawling and shooting. It wasn't called the 'wild west' for nothing!
Psytronik Software loved this CPC game enough that they made a C64 conversion of this game called Wanted: The Wild Bunch with better graphics for the shooting arcade sequence. So this is a great example where a CPC game was good and unique enough that even C64 users liked it and wanted to see it ported.
Also worth of note is that gameplay has some similarities to Sid Meier's Pirates! which was released two years later. So one could certainly speculate whether The Wild Bunch was an (unacknowledged) influence on Pirates!. Certainly in the case of Pirates!, there is not much discussion e.g. on Wikipedia where the whole RPG/arcade/choose-your-own-adventure concept came from. That said, Pirates!, while using the same underlying concept in many ways, has far more polished gameplay. The Wild Bunch does not rise to the same heights creatively.
Finally, it's worth pointing out that the game is programmed entirely in Locomotive BASIC! In fact it's so large that normally it only works on a 464 because on a 664/6128 the AMSDOS ROM jump block occupies so much RAM that the program no longer fits. However on CPC-Power there is a 6128 version by Kukulcan too.
You've been blamed for a murder of innocent men.
To prove your innocence, you must find a real killer, a member of the Wild Bunch gang.
In the meantime, the Pinkerton Agent is sent hunting for you...
- The wild bunch (Firebird Software) (199 Silver Range) (1986) (Standard Jewel Case).cdt.zip (CDT for Emulators)
- The wild bunch (Firebird Software) (250 Silver Range) (1985) (Standard Jewel Case).cdt.zip (CDT for Emulators)