The Wild Bunch (video game)
|The Wild Bunch|
The Wild Bunch is a computer game released in 1984 for the ZX Spectrum and 1985 for the Amstrad CPC by Firebird Software. Despite its name, it has no relation to the 1969 film but is set in the Wild West. The title refers to a fictitious gang of outlaws featured in the game, loosely based on the real Wild Bunch gang who were prominent in the 1890s.
The Wild Bunch is a text-based adventure game, with limited use of graphics. The player controls a protagonist who finds a dying man who was attacked by a member of the Wild Bunch gang. Before dying he describes the culprit and gives you his colt 45, just as the local sherriff arrives on the scene. You are assumed to be the murderer and the sherriff tries to arrest you but you escape. The object of the game is to prove your innocence by tracking down the real murderer and handing him over to the law. Along the way you can also arrest and hand in other members of the gang, whose descriptions you obtain from wanted posters. Scoring is based on the money you earn from rewards, gambling at poker or find as gold nuggets while travelling. The game ends if you die due to your strength reaching zero, you are killed in a gunfight or are arrested. It is, however, won by successfully tracing, identifying and handing in the real murderer, which usually involves NOT killing him in a gunfight but taking him in at gunpoint.
At all times during the game you are pursued by Charles A Siringo of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Charlie Siringo was a real life lawman during the time that the game was set, though the game is not based on any true story.
At the start of the game, the player can choose to start off in one of five towns. Each town has a number of premises which you can visit to obtain information about the Wild Bunch gang and how to avoid being arrested yourself. The player can also earn money by playing poker, increase their strength by drinking in the saloon bar or buy items of use in the store. The player can travel between towns (journey time is reduced by buying a horse and saddle). When travelling, food and water are consumed on a daily basis and each day the player runs a risk of encountering enemies which must be dealt with by fleeing, fighting or bribing them. Random events such as sandstorm, rockslides and even your horse going lame will increase journey times. Running out of food or water reduces your strength and your horse can also die from this. Your traveling environment will affect the supplies you use. While in the plains your horse does not consume horse food or water, apparently finding sufficient from the plains. While traveling through the mountains or deserts however you will consume water from canteens and your horse will consume horse food. If your horse runs out of food in the mountains the game will comment: "Horses don't eat rocks". If your horse runs out of food in the desert the game will comment: "Horses don't eat sand". Your own food will decrease regardless of the terrain being traveled. When first arriving in a new town, there is a risk of being arrested, although if this is avoided it is possible to stay in the town for as long as is needed. This risk is somewhat mitigated by visiting the telegraph office before you set out to see which town your pursuer is currently staying in. This may change while you travel.
The game has three levels of difficulty to choose from and allows the player to choose a name for the character they control. The difficulty level is tied directly to how long Charles A Siringo stays in one town looking for you. On the hardest difficulty level he seems to stay put for no more than three days, meaning that even if you check the telegraph office there is a strong chance he has moved to a new town before your own journey completes.