Today, I’d like to talk about Taz: Wanted. Growing up, this used to be my favorite game. I could never beat it back then (not by my own lack of skill, but by our old computer’s lack of processing power), but I recently gave it another go. This time around, I was finally able to beat it, and I even managed to 100% it along the way! My copy is the PC version, but it’s worth noting that the game’s also available on the Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, and original Xbox. I realize this isn’t exactly a well-known title, but I’m not the kind of person who makes decisions based on what’s popular. Let’s take this game for a spin, shall we?
In Taz: Wanted, you play as Taz, the Tasmanian Devil. You have a love interest now, and the two of you are trying to live in peace. However, the “hootin-est tootin-est shootin-est” sheriff with a temper Yosemite Sam has other plans. He wants to turn your island into a theme park, and the two of you will be the main attraction. As you escape zoo containment, it’s your goal to disrupt his plans and rescue your beloved she-devil, destroying all the wanted signs that stand in your way.
This game has exactly the level of zany antics you’d expect from a Looney Tunes product. The premise isn’t exactly original or deep, but it’s not like that’s necessarily a bad thing. Of course, seeing as it’s a Looney Tunes game, there’s a bunch of nonsensical humor sprinkled throughout. Also, puns. Puns everywhere. As you continue to sabotage the construction of the Tazland A-maze-ment Park (even the level names are mostly puns), the level designs grow more complex, and you’ll have to find more creative ways to destroy the wanted signs.
My favorite part of this game has to be the soundtrack. The broad level designs allow for a wide variety of genre representation, and nearly every stage has a unique motif with three style variations depending on your movement. With how freely you can switch between music tracks, you’ll never be forced to listen to the same track for too long. I’ve sometimes found myself sticking around a stage longer than I had to, just so I could listen to the soundtrack a little bit longer.
Speaking of freedom, you can play each world at your own pace. Instead of progressing level by level, you can choose which stage you want to explore in each hub world you’ve unlocked. Stuck with a puzzle in one stage? Most of your progress is auto-saved, so take a break and explore a different stage, or return to a previous level and collect the bonuses! The signs you broke before will still be broken when you return, and you can destroy the rest in whatever order you’d like.
Do beware the zookeepers; if they net you, your bounty (this game’s score system) will decrease, and you’ll be relocated to a different area. While there are difficulty settings, they only really change how hard it is to get the completion bonuses. Most stages aren’t overly difficult, though some sections will be tricky without precision. The Disco Volcano in particular requires a decent computer… yes, that’s why I couldn’t beat the game before… I may or may not still be salty about that. It’s done now though, so that’s what counts.
For all this game’s good qualities, it has some not-so-good qualities as well. The collision detection is… shall I say, questionable. Sometimes, you can use this to your advantage; there are some stretches of parkour, for instance, that you can bypass with creative uses of spin-dash momentum and jump-button spam. Other times, you’ll come across an invisible wall, or you’ll clip through walls, or a zookeeper’s net will have an unreasonably large hitbox. These bugs aren’t unbearable, but you will pick up on them after a while.
The other thing you’ll notice is the clunkiness of the controls. The camera, while functional, will need to be adjusted every so often. The action controls aren’t super intuitive, at least on PC, and it’s pretty easy to hit the wrong action button by mistake. Taz’s movement controls are good, but some of the vehicles are awkward to steer, like the hamster ball in the Gladiatoons arena. The controls aren’t the worst, but you’ll definitely need a bit of time to get used to them.
I’m not normally the kind of person who aims for completion bonuses, but it wasn’t that hard to do in Standard difficulty, given that most of it just comes naturally from level exploration. As for rewards, you unlock a concept art gallery, as well as bonus trials/races and some two-player games
Given that this game was first released way back in 2002, it still holds up fairly well today. Overall, I’d say Taz: Wanted was still as fun as I remember it being, though that may be my nostalgia talking. It’s by no means perfect, but I’d still say it’s one of my favorites. I’ll probably return to it at some point and give Advanced difficulty a try… but for now, I’m satisfied with 100% completion in Standard difficulty.