Despite some problems, Super Amazing Wagon Adventure incorporates a hilarious premise and simple controls that make it unlike anything else out there.
Independent developers are constantly taking risks. After all, standing out from the crowd is becoming more and more difficult nowadays, especially since platforms like PC and iOS are plagued with inexpensive titles that make use of some truly novel ideas. Despite some problems, Super Amazing Wagon Adventure incorporates a hilarious premise and simple controls that make it unlike anything else out there.
Sparsevector’s indie game takes place in the middle of the 19th century, a time where thousands of families were migrating to the west using wagons. You control a wagon with three migrants who you have to name at the beginning of this Oregon Trail-like adventure. One of various wagons can be chosen and each of them has unique abilities that adjust to different playstyles. Nevertheless, the first time you play the game only one’s available, but eventually, you’ll be able to unlock as many as thirteen. So what do you do once you named the three characters and selected an appropriate wagon? For the most part, Super Amazing Wagon Adventure plays like a traditional side-scroller, so you move from left to right, avoiding incoming threats and shooting anything that blocks your path.
One of the most appealing aspects of Super Amazing Wagon Adventure is that most of what happens in the game is semi-random, so no two playthoughs are exactly the same. Each of these random sequences is introduced by a black screen that alerts you of approaching dangers. During one my playthroughs, for example, my character saw a woman in a red dress sitting in the middle of nowhere, but when he tried talking to her to see if she was alright, she suddenly drew a gun and shot my character in the face. Interestingly, most of the examples I can think of are as brutal as this one: sometimes there’s an stampede of burning buffaloes or one of your character catches malaria. Nevertheless, not all random encounters affect your playthrough negatively and you can encounter a fur trader who gives you weapons in exchange for the animal hides you’ve been collecting.
As you progress, you’ll encounter animals or bandits that will try to hinder your progress. When this happens, the game plays like a two-dimensional shooter. You start out with three characters and each time your wagon is hit, one of your character loses a heart. Each of them has four hearts and if you lose all three characters, the game automatically ends. Luckily, there are ways to obtain more health as well as additional items and power-ups. Most of them are scattered around the different environments, but you can also run into the aforementioned fur trader who will sell you items at a reasonable price.
Eventually, you’ll gain control of one of your characters and when this happens, the game turns into a dual-stick shooter. This is also one of the best elements of Super Amazing Wagon Adventure: the action is constantly changing. One moment you’re facing a group of bandits in your wagon and the next you’re shooting giant bats in a cave. At times, the game will also allow you to select one of various options. For instance, you’ll encounter a river and you can choose to ford it or jump it. If you choose the former, the message “They made the (probably wise) decision to ford the river” will appear and you’ll need to dodge predictable patterns of rocks that move in your direction. If you choose the latter, you either jump successfully to the other side or you fall right in the middle of the river which is filled with boulders.
Needless to say, the experience is permeated by a dark sense of humor. A bear attacks you and if you kill it, its family will try to avenge the fallen animal. If you defeat the bear’s entire family, you unlock a survivor mode called “Hard to Bear.” Another example: during one of the missions in which you control one character, if you collect too many mushrooms, your character will have to fight his/her inner demons in a drug-induced experience.
Here’s a sample war story to illustrate the game’s blatantly absurd sense of humor: I started the game and stock up on food by killing random animals. Then out of nowhere, a unicorn appeared and I had to choose between killing it or following it. I chose the latter, but the deceitful mystical beast led me to a “unicorn ambush” (apparently that’s a thing that exists…) After defeating a plethora of furious unicorns, I had to face a fire-spitting dragon. I ended up defeating the gargantuan monster, but only to be killed a few seconds afterwards by running into an adorable squirrel. Not only did I unlock a new wagon, but I also realized that I had the biggest grin on my face.
But for all of its strengths Super Amazing Wagon Adventure isn’t without some flaws. First of all, the game was developed with replayability in mind and unlocking some of its secrets will take you longer than it should. Since most of the events take place randomly, unlocking some wagons is either a matter of luck or trial-and-error. Ironically, the other problem with Super Amazing Wagon Adventure is also one of its best features: its random nature. Although the random events lead to some really fun moments, it’s disheartening to have to face an incessant wave of burning buffaloes when all of your characters don’t have much health.
Super Amazing Wagon Adventure incorporates a bunch of inviting ideas that mix to create a fun experience. Regrettably, the game’s hard difficulty and random elements hurt more than they help. Nevertheless, those looking for a quirky indie game that plays unlike anything else should definitely give Super Amazing Wagon Adventure a chance. After all, it’s not that often that you can face an incessant wave of raging buffaloes or a unicorn ambush to obtain silly wagons.