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March 28, 2003
TAZ Wanted - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
18/10/2002GamenationBlitz Games1-2G8+Easy
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Very cartoon styled graphics.
One would have to have been disconnected from the real world for the last 30 years to not know who 'Taz' is. Although he is one of the youngest Warner Brothers characters, he was created just over 45 years ago, and has since made appearances in several Bugs Bunny cartoons and now appears in his own show on Fox Kids, 'Taz-Mania'. There's something about his destructive nature coupled with the garbled gargles that he speaks in that gives him a character that is distinct from the other Warner Brothers characters. Since the advent of videogames, Taz has played cameo roles in games across many systems, and even played the main role in several games on earlier systems (Taz-Mania springs to mind from the 16 & 32-bit era), although they have normally been targeted at a younger audience. So how does Taz Wanted shape up compared to his earlier efforts? Read on and find out...

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Check out the shades!
Taz begins the game happily leaping through a flower-carpeted forest with the divine She-Devil, when suddenly… BAM! All of a sudden Yosemite Sam has captured Taz's love and taken her away to Tasmania. To make matters worse, Taz is locked up in a San Francisco Zoo, and must travel the world to make his way to Tasmania to rescue the She-Devil. Along the way, Taz must avoid the Taz-catchers that have been commissioned by Yosemite Sam, and destroy wanted posters that are strewn about the various levels.

Taz Wanted is a free-roaming 3D platformer, with the usual move, jump, attack (spin), and special attack controls. What makes this game different from the traditional platform game is that instead of collecting stars or hearts or finding the exit to the level, Taz must destroy several wanted posters on each level in order to complete it. So what's so different about that? I hear you ask. Well, most of these posters are out of reach or are impeded by some obstacle, and you must find out a way of overcoming or getting around the problem. For example, at one stage, there is a group of bears guarding a beehive that has a poster on it. To destroy the beehive, you must drink a green potion, and do a 'super-burp' to destroy the beehive without having to worry about the bears. The gameplay is relatively simple, and is made even easier by the fact that it is impossible to die; whenever you get captured by a Taz-catcher you lose money instead of energy, and then get returned to the beginning of the level. When you have no money left you just get returned to the beginning of the level, with no penalties whatsoever. No game over screens in sight! (Until the end of the game of course)

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2-player split screen mode.
My prime concern with Taz Wanted is the controls in the game. For a platformer which requires accurate jumping between high platforms or dangerous edges, its controls and physics fall slightly short of what is expected. It becomes easier to compensate for and cope with after several hours of gameplay, but would be far better off having the physics tweaked that little bit more before release. There are buckets of extras to be earned, including art galleries and 2-player games, although the 2-player modes are best left alone; the slowdown in the game is increased 10-fold in 2-player mode, bringing the game down to a blubbering halt.

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In the frozen lands.
The visuals in Taz Wanted aren't anything special, although the developers have opted to use a cel-shading technique whereby giving the 3D edges black borders to imitate a cartoon. Trouble is, that it appears as though the developers employed this technique later rather than earlier in the games development, as the shading employed in the game isn't uniform and it seems as though many objects were forgotten when it came to this process. Cel-shading aside, the game has bold, colorful graphics, which don't have very high polygon-counts and that can be seen by the many jagged and bumpy edges. It's a shame too, that with such simplistic graphics, there is a large amount of slowdown in the game, . Architecturally however, the levels are well laid out, and the graphics capture the shapes and perspective that is commonplace in Taz cartoons.

Traditionally the sound found in Taz cartoons consists of light, humorous orchestral pieces with wacky and zany sound effects overlaid. Unfortunately, the same doesn't hold true for Taz Wanted. Whilst there is a good handful of samples and quotes in the game, they is little variation between them, and certain events in the game will play the same sound time and time again, with no change (annoying if you're trying to cross a river and continually falling in, with the same 'I saw you drown Taz' sample played each and every time). The orchestral backing that one would expect has been replaced by a cheesy electro-rock soundtrack, which doesn't really suit Taz, nor the game one little bit. All isn't bad in the audio department though, with commentary by Tweety and other Warner Brothers characters throughout, including over the top of cutscenes. The lip-synch in the cutscenes too is far from perfect, but hearing it from Tweety rather than having to read subtitles enables you to keep your eyes on the action.

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Graphics really are simplistic.
Taz Wanted is a toony platformer which would be ideal for younger audiences who enjoy more than their regular dose of the Looney Tunes characters, and aren't too finicky about sound, graphics and gameplay. More experienced and aged gamers may find that there's a fun, addictive platformer hiding under all the faults contained within, but with such great platformers out now such as Sly Raccoon and Jak & Daxter, why would one look beyond these titles?

Review By: Chris Gobbett

GRAPHICSSimple graphics have a genuine cartoon feel about them.
SOUNDNice original samples, but no variety whatsoever.
GAMEPLAYAn addictive game hides beneath the obvious flaws.
VALUEPlenty to earn and unlock, but the 2-player mode is poor.
OVERALLA fun game for the younger generation, but in the audio, visual and gameplay departments, Taz Wanted is beaten by so many other available PS2 platformers.

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