Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive

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Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive
Desperados box cover design.jpg
European cover art
Developer(s)Spellbound Entertainment
Director(s)Jean-Marc Haessig
Producer(s)Armin Gessert
Designer(s)Jean-Marc Haessig
Programmer(s)Stéphane Becker
Composer(s)Michael Anarp
Serge Mandon
Giovanni Vindigni
  • EU: 20 April 2001
  • NA: 23 July 2001
macOS & Linux[1]
11 April 2019
Genre(s)Real-time tactics

Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive is a real-time tactics video game developed by Spellbound Entertainment and published by Infogrames for Microsoft Windows.

In the game, the player controls up to six characters in a wild west setting. The protagonist is a worldly knife-fighter and gunslinger, John Cooper. He takes on a bounty to capture a notorious train-robber named "El Diablo". As Cooper sets off on his quest, he is aided by five other friends and they work together in a real-time, stealth-based structure very similar to that introduced in Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines, although all-out gunfights are still highly possible in the game.

A sequel called Desperados 2: Cooper's Revenge was released in late March 2006. A second sequel, Helldorado (announced as expansion pack Desperados 2: Conspiracy but made into a full game) was released in mid-2007 in Germany. The English version was released in some regions in November 2007.

Spellbound was developing a follow-up with more multiplayer and steampunk-oriented elements, Desperados Gangs, but they shut down before they could find a publisher.[2]

A fourth entry, Desperados III, was developed by Mimimi Productions and published by THQ Nordic. The game was released for Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in June 2020.[3]


The game takes place in 1881. Many trains have been robbed the last few months by a mysterious and vicious bandit known as El Diablo. The railroad company Twinnings & Co has offered $15,000 to the one who can stop El Diablo. Bounty hunter John Cooper accepts the task, despite the objections of the bad-tempered and contemptuous US Marshal Jackson. However, he soon learns that the mission is not as simple as he thinks.

Cooper gathers a team of his old partners to aid him on his quest, consisting of explosives fanatic Sam Williams; Doc McCoy, a physician, safecracker and sniper; and seductive gambler Kate O'Hara. His group successfully captures the notorious bandit leader Pablo Sanchez; but as they attempt to deliver him to the authorities, they run into (and thwart) an ambush set by El Diablo's bandits. This and Sanchez's explanations that El Diablo has an informant at Twinnings lets Cooper conclude that Smith, the company's co-director who hired him, is the snitch. Smith is assassinated before Cooper can get some answers, and chased by Jackson's posse for murder, he frees Sanchez from prison and enlists his help. Sanchez guides the team to Socorro and raid Carlos for any lead to El Diablo's hideout. Mia Yung, a young Chinese girl, also joins the team after Jackson's men kill her father at his outpost, vowing to avenge his death. The group arrives at Grant and while Cooper listens in on a conversation between Carlos and one of El Diablo's representatives, Doc and Kate are taken hostage. Cooper, Sam, Mia, and Sanchez follow El Diablo's men on a train and manage to reunite at El Diablo's hideout.

El Diablo captures the group in a trap and imprisons them in his secret headquarters in a cave while having Sanchez brought before him. They escape with the help of Mia's pet monkey, Mr. Leone. Cooper rescues Sanchez and chases El Diablo up to his office. El Diablo reveals his true identity as Marshal Jackson. After a tough gunfight, Cooper manages to kill Jackson with his knife.


The player can use a "spyglass" function on NPCs to see their fields of vision. Depending on the color of the cone, the player can see the mental state of the NPC. If the cone is green, it means the person is calm. Similarly, a yellow cone signifies suspicion, and a red means the NPC has spotted one of the characters. Some colors signify special status such as a pink cone, meaning the NPC has become attracted to Kate, or a black cone, meaning they have been hit by Mia's blowpipe.

Another special feature is the Quick Action, in which certain actions - from running to a certain place up to using a weapon against a pre-targeted enemy - can be 'pre-programmed' and called upon immediately when needed. For instance, by programming his revolver with Quick Action, Cooper can either concentrate all three shots that he can fire on a single opponent or divide them between up to three targets without having to move the mouse cursor around.


Physical copies of the game released in the United States featured an alternate cover art by famed comic book artist Glenn Fabry.[4]

An add-on was announced, but it was never released.[5]

A modernised update, Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive - Modernized, released in July 2018 improved compatibility with newer Windows 10 OS, as well as ports to MacOS and Linux, added foreign dubs that were previously missing from most digital versions, and its mission from the game's demo brought into the full game.[1][6]


Rob Smolka reviewed the PC version of the game for Next Generation, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "this gets an extra star just for being that rare Western-themes game that does justice to its source. Stick with it through the tough times, or you'll miss out on a great story and a stable full of action".[16]

The game received "generally favorable reviews" according to the review aggregation website Metacritic.[7]


  1. ^ a b MegalomaniacNG (5 July 2018). "Update: Modern System Compatibility (Win8, Win10, Mac and Linux support) and Demo Level added!". Steam Community. Valve. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  2. ^ "Desperados Gangs [Cancelled - Xbox 360 / PS3 / PSvita / PC]". Unseen64. 28 May 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive (2001) box cover art". MobyGames. Blue Flame Labs. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive (2001) Trivia". MobyGames. Blue Flame Labs. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  6. ^ "Desperados now updated to shoot straight on modern systems". CD Projekt. 11 July 2018. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  8. ^ Abner, William (21 August 2001). "Desperados - Wanted Dead or Alive". Computer Games Magazine. Archived from the original on 12 August 2004.
  9. ^ Kapalka, Jason (October 2001). "A Fistful of Puzzles (Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive Review)" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 207. Ziff Davis. p. 95. Archived from the original on 26 March 2004. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  10. ^ Edge staff (May 2001). "Desperados [Wanted Dead or Alive]". Edge. No. 97. Future plc. pp. 70–71. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  11. ^ Mason, Lisa (September 2001). "Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive". Game Informer. No. 101. FuncoLand. Archived from the original on 26 August 2008. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  12. ^ Osborne, Scott (23 July 2001). "Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  13. ^ Hansen, Philip (3 October 2001). "Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive". GameSpy. IGN Entertainment. Archived from the original on 17 February 2005. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  14. ^ Lupos (21 September 2001). "Desperados - Wanted Dead or Alive Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on 30 April 2008. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  15. ^ Butts, Steve (24 July 2001). "Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  16. ^ a b Smolka, Rob (October 2001). "Finals". Next Generation. Vol. 4, no. 10. Imagine Media. p. 99.
  17. ^ Chan, Norman (October 2001). "Desperados [Wanted Dead or Alive]". PC Gamer. Vol. 8, no. 10. Imagine Media. Archived from the original on 13 October 2001.

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