Its frustrating reliance on awkward platform jumping and its poor camera keep it from being recommendable to anyone at all.
The Tasmanian devil, while certainly an entertaining beast, isn't the most beloved of animals. This is probably due, at least in part, to their insatiable appetites, destructive, hyperactive tendencies, and poor grammar. After upsetting a few too many Looney Tunes characters with his spazzy antics, Taz has been captured by Yosemite Sam and placed in his private zoo. Even worse, the She-Devil, Taz's feminine counterpart, has also been nabbed and taken off to an undisclosed location within Sam's park. This is the premise of Blitz Games' new 3D platformer Taz Wanted, in which you'll assume the role of Taz and attempt to evade Yosemite Sam, trash his park, and rescue your She-Devil. Unfortunately, this rescue mission isn't really worth it.
Taz Wanted plays like a very cut-and-dried 3D platformer. You start off at a central hub and jump into the different themed levels from there, including a zoo level, a water park level, a snow level, and so on. Like all modern 3D platforming heroes, Taz has some unique moves aside from the standard running and jumping, the most prominent being the spin attack, in which Taz turns into his trademarked beige tornado and destroys just about anything in his path. He can also eat and subsequently spit back up most of the items he encounters in the game. Taz has no butt-stomp or double jump maneuvers, the latter of which would've come in handy when tackling the game's numerous platform jumping challenges.
With these skills at your command, you'll jump into the levels and complete multiple objectives, which are generally the same from level to level--destroy seven "Taz Wanted" posters, collect 100 sandwiches, destroy 50 percent of the destructible items in the level, and find and destroy the golden statue of Yosemite Sam. Though the game isn't especially long, the lack of variety in the level objectives gets old quickly. Your main objective is to get rid of those wanted signs, which usually involves performing some simple puzzle solving or plain old platform jumping. You'll see the occasional Taz catcher roaming the levels, always wearing the same blue uniform, but thankfully the worst a Taz catcher can do is--well, catch Taz. If caught, you'll be assessed a small point penalty and then sent on your way. In fact, anytime Taz gets hurt, be it by drowning, getting attacked by wildlife, or just falling off a really high cliff, he can jump right back up, dust himself off, and be on his way. All this--the simple objectives, benign enemies, and your character's invincibility--removes much of the game's challenge.
The game can sometimes become difficult, but not because of any malevolent level design. Instead, the game's lousy camera, which is twitchy and hard to adjust, occasionally turns the game's boring platform jumping into frustrating platform jumping. The rest of the game's visual presentation fares only slightly better. Taz and the other characters are cel-shaded, but poorly. The levels look decent and do a good job of re-creating that cheery but twisted Warner Bros. aesthetic with exaggerated level geometry and simple, brightly colored textures. Most of the textures look good, but you'll often catch some blurry, nasty-looking ground textures. The frame rate can occasionally get a bit choppy, usually when you're on a spinning rampage, but it's rarely so severe that it affects the gameplay.
The sound design is also not without its problems, but some of the sound in Taz Wanted is actually pretty good. The voice acting is very competent, though the limited number of in-game speech samples quickly become repetitive, and the speech sounds somewhat muddled, as though it were recorded at a low bitrate. The soundtrack, while not standard Looney Tunes fare, is pretty consistently catchy, featuring a high-energy rock soundtrack that dynamically changes along with the action. If you're just walking, you get moderate rock. If you're tiptoeing around, the soundtrack becomes very subdued, and the sound of plucked violin strings becomes the most prominent part of the track. When you start a spin attack, the soundtrack suddenly surges, the guitars get louder, and you're in full-on rock mode, which can make wrecking shop rather satisfying.
But the soundtrack just isn't enough to save this game. With the absolute wealth of superior 3D platformers currently on or about to hit the market, there's really no reason for anyone to tolerate the subpar antics of Taz Wanted. Its simple objectives and constant hand-holding might've made it suitable for younger players, but the game's frustrating reliance on awkward platform jumping and its poor camera keep it from being recommendable to anyone at all.