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The western: The life of murderous outlaw Jericho Cross is forever changed when he robs what appears to be just another train headed through the badlands…
The weird: … only to accidentally awaken a vampiric overlord who’s being transported by a secret vampire-hunting society known as the Darkwatch. After being bitten by the bad guy, Cross is inducted into the Darkwatch, where – in addition to his new vampiric superpowers – he gets access to a shit-ton of ornate, cross-adorned weaponry that wouldn’t look out of place in a Hot Topic.
Above: Also he gets enormous-breasted partners in leather catsuits
All this cool stuff comes with a price, however; to atone for his sins, he’ll have to battle his way through the vampire lord’s army, which mainly involves blowing the skulls off of crazy-ass skeletons whose main attack strategy is to run up and get shot.
Above: Sometimes that strategy involves explosives
The gothy trappings overlay a pretty awesome, Halo-inspired shooter that occasionally shifts its action to the back of a fiery vampire horse or the controls of a train-mounted Gatling turret. Add a few ham-fisted moral choices, and it’s almost enough to make you forget the strangely tacked-on sex scene, or the fact that Darkwatch’s Rose McGowan-voiced “bad girl,” Tala, appeared in the Oct. 2004 issue of Playboy, nearly a year ahead of the game’s release.
Above: A thing that happened
But we kid Darkwatch and its clumsy attempts to shoehorn in a little sexuality. It’s a game about a vampire cowboy fighting zombies in the Old West, and if that’s not weird enough for you, well… at least it’s a better representation of the steampunk genre than Damnation.
Above: Seriously, f**k Damnation
The western: A retired gunfighter has to save his adopted home of Coarsegold from destruction…
The weird: … right after he fills some prescriptions, rescues his pacifistic East Indian sidekick from an anthill, cures the town’s horses of a lethal fart-epidemic and leads a plague of snails off a cliff in an obvious nod to Lemmings.
Created by Al Lowe, the man behind the legendary Leisure Suit Larry series, Freddy's pretty much the opposite of a formula western hero. He's got the chin for it, sure, and as his epic intro ballad suggests, he's a nearly unmatched gunfighter with a long history of fearless confrontations.
However, as that same ballad also reveals, getting his ear shot off by a rival knocked the bravado right out of him. Disfigured and disheartened, he became a skinny, sissified pillar of the community who's solves more problems with his chemistry set than he ever does with bullets.
Above: Hurr hurr, 'gaseous'
In spite of the emphasis on concocting medicines and solving puzzles over gunfighting (something that only really comes into play late in the game), Frontier Pharmacist still has an edge – although it's an early-'90s Al Lowe "edge," so for every stab at a relatively high-minded joke...
... you can expect about a dozen more fart gags thrown in to even things out.
Not that we're complaining, though; since most of us here at GamesRadar were somewhere around 14 years old when Frontier Pharmacist came out, we were in its exact target demographic, and as a result we all thought it was brilliant. An old-prospector narrator who continually breaks the fourth wall, even when he's part of the story? Unheard of! A rowdy dancehall where the main attraction is a chorus line of tarted-up sheep? Subversive! Cameos by a distant ancestor of Leisure Suit Larry? Hilarious!
Obviously our standards were a little lower back then, but this is still a pretty memorably oddball game, even by Sierra's goofy point-and-click standards.