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Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive

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Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive
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
  • WW: 4 March 2015[5]
  • WW: 5 July 2018[6]
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 an Old West setting. The protagonist is a worldly knife-fighter and gunslinger, John Cooper, who sets out to capture a notorious train-robber named "El Diablo" and claim the bounty on his head. As Cooper sets off on his quest, he is aided by five companions and they work together in a real-time, stealth-based structure, although all-out gunfights are still highly possible in the game.

The game is the first in the Desperados series, initially followed in 2006 by Desperados 2: Cooper's Revenge and in 2007 by a stand-alone expansion Helldorado. A multiplayer-oriented title that would have been called Desperados Gangs was in development when Spellbound shut down.[7] The series was revived in 2020 with Desperados III developed by Mimimi Productions and published by THQ Nordic.[8]


In 1881, an outlaw known only as "El Diablo" and whose face has never been seen by any living soul is responsible for the armed holdup of several trains. The railroad company Twinnings & Co puts up a reward of $15,000 for whoever brings El Diablo in dead or alive. John Cooper, a traveling gunfighter, decides to pursue the bounty despite being warned off by cantankerous U.S. Marshal Jackson, who claims to have an official warrant to capture El Diablo.

Cooper gathers a team of his old acquaintances; ex-prospector and explosives fanatic Sam Williams; Doc McCoy, a physician with hidden talents as a sharpshooter and lockpicker, and gambler and con-woman Kate O'Hara. The group manages to apprehend El Diablo's right-hand man 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 revealing that Diablo has an inside man who has been helping him plan the robberies and stay ahead of the law convinces Cooper that Smith, the railroad agent who hired him, is the snitch.

Smith is assassinated before Cooper can get answers, and with Jackson sending a posse to pursue Cooper on charges of murder, he frees Sanchez from prison and enlists his help. Sanchez guides the team to Socorro to track down Carlos, a local who is sheltering El Diablo. Mia Yung, a young Chinese American girl, also joins the team after Jackson's deputies kill her father in his own store, vowing revenge. While Cooper listens in on a conversation between Carlos and one of El Diablo's representatives (in which the former dies), Doc and Kate are taken hostage.

Cooper, Sam, Mia, and Sanchez secretly follow El Diablo's gang as they use a hijacked train to deliver supplies to their boss's hideout in a remote cave. El Diablo captures the group in a trap and imprisons them while he offers Sanchez a chance to rejoin his gang as an alternative to being tortured to death. They escape with the help of Mia's pet monkey, Mr. Leone. Cooper rescues Sanchez and finally confronts El Diablo. To his shock, Diablo reveals that he is actually Marshal Jackson. After a brutal gunfight, Cooper finishes Diablo off with his knife and collect the reward, making sure that everyone in his gang gets an equal share before they part ways.


The game is a top down stealth tactics game, similar to Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines. The player controls up to six characters to navigate through each level and deal with the enemies in a variety of ways, such as John's knife throwing, Sam's snake, Doc's knock out gas, etc etc.

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.[9]

An add-on was announced, but it was never released.[10]

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.[11][12]


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".[22]

The game received "generally favorable reviews" according to the review aggregation website Metacritic.[13]


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  2. ^ "Enfin un duel à la hauteur de vos espérances" [Finally a duel that lives up to your expectations]. Infogrames (in French). April 18, 2001. Archived from the original on June 17, 2001. Retrieved January 13, 2024.
  3. ^ "EBgames.com". EB Games. Archived from the original on July 30, 2001. Retrieved January 13, 2024.
  4. ^ "Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive". IGN. 2002-02-11. Archived from the original on February 11, 2002. Retrieved January 13, 2024.
  5. ^ "Desperados raiding the Appstore". RuneSoft. March 4, 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2024.
  6. ^ "Desperados - Wanted Dead or Alive has been updated with official Linux support". GamingOnLinux. 2018-07-05. Retrieved 2024-01-13.
  7. ^ "Desperados Gangs [Cancelled - Xbox 360 / PS3 / PSvita / PC]". Unseen64. 28 May 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  8. ^ https://desperadosgame.com/
  9. ^ "Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive (2001) box cover art". MobyGames. Blue Flame Labs. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  10. ^ "Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive (2001) Trivia". MobyGames. Blue Flame Labs. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Desperados now updated to shoot straight on modern systems". GOG.com. CD Projekt. 11 July 2018. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  14. ^ Abner, William (21 August 2001). "Desperados - Wanted Dead or Alive". Computer Games Magazine. theGlobe.com. Archived from the original on 12 August 2004.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Edge staff (May 2001). "Desperados [Wanted Dead or Alive]". Edge. No. 97. Future plc. pp. 70–71. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Osborne, Scott (23 July 2001). "Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ Lupos (21 September 2001). "Desperados - Wanted Dead or Alive Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on 30 April 2008. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  21. ^ Butts, Steve (24 July 2001). "Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  22. ^ a b Smolka, Rob (October 2001). "Finals". Next Generation. Vol. 4, no. 10. Imagine Media. p. 99.
  23. ^ 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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