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The Top 7… Weirdest westerns

6. Darkwatch

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


5. Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist

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.

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40 comments

  • TheElephantManchurianCandidate - May 17, 2010 9:45 p.m.

    Can't wait to hear this on Talkradar hopefully with some audio from these crazy games
  • Whizkid103 - May 17, 2010 9:47 p.m.

    Even though I hate Westerns, this was a really good article. I never realized how weird western videogames are.
  • Destruco33 - May 17, 2010 9:55 p.m.

    I am proud to say that i still have my Oddworld: Strangers Wrath
  • RonnyLive19881 - May 17, 2010 9:57 p.m.

    Strangers Wrath made buying an Xbox justifiable for me Lol. I originally got one for Conkers Live and Reloded but that game sucked(I still had the N64 version and it was the better version imo) so I was stuck with a console I thought I would never use until I got Stranger's Lol. It was so amazing and had some of the best graphics of the time!
  • Wriggly - May 17, 2010 9:58 p.m.

    @Destruco33 I can say the same, too bad it doesn't work on my 360, because I never got around to finishing that awesome game. I think God Hand was weirder than Stranger's Wrath and Rising Zan put together.
  • lovinmyps3 - May 17, 2010 10:06 p.m.

    I played a demo of Darkwatch. It was... interesting. It had some cool parts.
  • Pruman - May 17, 2010 10:06 p.m.

    Always with the Okami references...I bought the game, what more do you want from me?
  • MitsuharuSan - May 17, 2010 10:07 p.m.

    Do more than just have bought the game - it's worth it.
  • garnsr - May 17, 2010 10:21 p.m.

    Isn't Stranger's Wrath one of the Xbox games that are unplayable on 360? That makes it even less likely anyone will try it out. I can't even play mine anymore, since my Xbox conked out. I liked the Tin Star part best, it never really got around to the game, it was just a tirade about the oddity of the premise. Good stuff.
  • LordsOfTechno - May 17, 2010 10:26 p.m.

    This top 7 was just one big excuse to listen to "Johnny No More" again... well that's my excuse for singing along to the theme anyway. Rising Zannnnn~ Samurai Gun Man! Rising Zannnnn~ Johnny No More! :D
  • FlyinHawaiian13 - May 17, 2010 10:31 p.m.

    I wanted to play Strangers Wrath so bad when it came out but i didn't have a xbox.
  • Zombie711 - May 17, 2010 10:36 p.m.

    I thought red steel 2 was kinda weird. Ninjas in modern Utah who don't have acces to any guns from after the 30s
  • Lionsheadbeer - May 17, 2010 11:24 p.m.

    Where's Mad Dog Macree?
  • Hurricrane - May 17, 2010 11:40 p.m.

    man, I LOVED Stranger's Wrath. Too bad we will never see anoything more of it... poor Oddworld Residents :(
  • JoeMasturbaby - May 17, 2010 11:55 p.m.

    i bought darkwatch after an entire year of looking for it, and when i got it in the mail it froze at the first level every time. :( ive yet to actually play it.
  • CH3BURASHKA - May 17, 2010 11:56 p.m.

    The guys have reiterated time and time again on the podcast that they have considered all possibilities, as opposed to 'forgetting' entries, but I KNOW that they didn't think of Freddi Fish 4: The Case of the Hogfish Hustlers of Briny Gulch. That was a good Western game.
  • zer0hvk - May 18, 2010 12:29 a.m.

    I've yet to play many of these games, maybe I'll play some of them someday, great article Mr. Reparaz! Can't wait to hear all of you comment on these games on TalkRadar 102!
  • ventanger - May 18, 2010 1:45 a.m.

    Corny as hell I'll admit, but that Rising Zan theme was pretty kickass.
  • WickedSid - May 18, 2010 2:16 a.m.

    Punching chicken-like dudes in the head... for money... my dream job. Giant strawberries in an apocalyptic western that has dudes with glowing arms the spank Girls(?) whilst fighting them... pretty weird... Clint Eastllama who is secretly the last of his species and in turn is revered as a saviour by Native American allegories... That is where I draw the Line Monsieur Reparaz, Clint Llamawood definitely sounds better than Eastllama. Or does it...? Dunn, dunn, duuunnn!!!!
  • Dehumanization - May 18, 2010 2:20 a.m.

    Where is the game DUST? I love the drunk and the chinese guy that gave you money when you had none. "You have no money...here...5 dollar...a loan..now go..gogogog...hopeless case.."

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