Now that a few months have passed since the release of Red Dead Redemption, most players have probably completed the main campaign and have ridden into the sunset, or at least arrived at a happy stopping point. Rockstar has continued to support the game for those who can’t get enough rootin’ and/or tootin’ by releasing numerous DLC packs, starting with the free “Outlaws to the End” co-op missions and more recently the “Legends and Killers” pack, which adds new multiplayer maps and characters. The next few downloadable additions have already been detailed by Rockstar and are set to include more free-roam challenges and even a zombie ghost town.
Most players could easily rattle off a list of famous gunslingers who would fit perfectly in the gritty world the game presents: Jeremiah Johnson, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Grizzly Adams, Wild Bill, anyone Clint Eastwood has ever played; the list goes on. But why stop there? If Rockstar itself is already throwing zombies in the mix, let’s pull out all the stops and consider any character who ever made his home on the range as potential DLC fodder. Here’s my own personal ‘most-wanted’ list of outlaws, banditos, cowboys and quick drawers.
10. Brisco County Jr. (from the “Brisco County Jr.” television series)
Long before Carlton Cuse became a Comic-Con staple as the executive producer of “LOST” with Damon Lindelof, he was already immortalizing himself to nerds everywhere by co-creating a sci-fi western starring Bruce Campbell. Running for 27 episodes in the early 90s, the series was a loopy mixture of classic western, slapstick comedy and science fiction mysteries involving ghosts, time travel, rocket cars and a mysterious orb. Much like anything ever graced by Bruce Campbell’s chin, the series is a cult hit full of memorable characters and self-aware gags – the pilot alone somehow pulls off the classic Wile E. Coyote ‘landscape painted on a brick wall on the train tracks’ goof with a straight face – that tells an engaging story without taking itself too seriously. I’m already of the mind that Bruce Campbell improves anything (movies, television series, soup) with his presence, so why should a video game be any different?
9. Doc Brown (from “Back to the Future III”)
Speaking of sci-fi and westerns, what could be better than adding Dr. Emmett Brown and the rest of the 1885-era “Back to the Future III” cast to Red Dead Redemption? For all of Christopher Lloyd’s poor acting choices afterward (“My Favorite Martian” and the Sundance Film Festival favorite “Camp Nowhere” spring to mind), the character of Doc Brown has enough charisma to forgive any future transgressions. Think of the possibilities: a new all-acoustic soundtrack of ZZ Top/Huey Lewis covers, hovering steam trains equipped with flux capacitors, shootouts with Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen, winning the heart of Clara Clayton and all the manure carts you can handle. Although usually known as “the ‘Back to the Future’ movie everyone likes the least but is somehow on TV the most,” the third entry has a lot of redeeming qualities.
If there was a jail for nerds in the future and you had J-U-L-E-S and V-E-R-N-E tattooed on your fists, introducing people to them would certainly get you a lot of cred.
8. Woody (from “Toy Story”)
You didn’t think these would all be real flesh-and-blood cowboys, did you? If this choice offends you, I suggest you go no further, gentle reader; what lies ahead is sure to make you groan. Back to our favorite plastic deputy – if you saw “Toy Story 3″ this summer and didn’t have your goddamn heart warmed to capacity you are a monster, plain and simple. Woody’s diminutive size could be troublesome for incorporating into the game, so using the latest in computer technology, I’ve prepared a picture of what a life-size Woody would look like.
The soothing voice of Tom Hanks and the plump body of present-day Tim Allen? All my dreams have come true.
Other features of the “Woody’s Roundup” DLC pack include: all in-game music replaced with Randy Newman narrating your character’s actions to a bouncy piano and clarinet tune, new ridable mount Bullseye, Etch-a-Sketch shootout mode and a brand-new villain – it’s Six Shooter from “Puppetmaster III!”
Not quite as good as “Retro Puppetmaster,” but hey man, the remote is all the way over there and there’s probably nothing better on anyway.
7. Wylie Burp (from “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West”)
Voiced by James Stewart in his final role, Wylie Burp is a legendary soldier who went on to fight as a member of The Boss’s elite Cobra Unit in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. During the events of “Fievel Goes West,” he oversees numerous training montages and offers helpful quotes like the following that sound like someone filled in the word “dog” for every noun and verb in a mad-lib: “I’m tired of leading a dog’s life and fightin’ like cats and dogs against cats and dogs. A young pup’s doggin’ my trail tryin’ to become top dog. I’m going to the dogs in a dog eat dog world, son.” He’s mostly known for ridding the west of something called the Cactus Cat Gang and helping Fievel prevent the insidious ‘mouseburgers*’ plot. *Not to be confused with the rodent social disorder of the same name.
“I’ve been doggin’ a dog ’til the dogs come home tryin’ to dog my dog-eared pup copy of Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch. Also, dogs.” -Wylie Burp
6. The Stranger (from “The Big Lebowski”)
Giving a narrative bookend for The Dude’s adventures, The Stranger (played by Sam Elliott’s mustache) would be a perfect addition to the world of Red Dead Redemption. Downloading his DLC adds narration to the beginning and end of John Marston’s story, an opportunity to drink White Russians with The Stranger in any saloon, roving gangs of nihilists to battle and a special “Bar Eats You/You Eat Bar” all-or-nothing hunting mode. He also pops up in the corner of the screen, à la Dan “Toasty” Forden, to issue a gentle complaint any time a character cusses. (This feature cannot be disabled.)
The greatest mustache on film.
5. Mr. Benjamin Ernst and his son, Buddy (from “Hey Dude”)
Mr. Ernst is a good-natured but somewhat bumbling… shit, I can’t do this. I wanted to somehow include a reference to old-school Nickelodeon in here because it’s kind of my forté, but there’s no good way to shoehorn this in because I never could sit through a full episode of this show. Here is everything anyone ever needs to know about “Hey Dude”:
1) It was on immediately after “Salute Your Shorts,” meaning sometimes you’d get tricked into watching it or at least hearing the opening theme.
2) Sometimes the TV Guide would say “Salute Your Shorts” was going to be on and you’d wait around for it, but then it would end up being a goddamn episode of “Hey Dude” instead.
3) Something about killer cacti.
4) If an actor ever appeared on one show like this and then nothing else, someone will claim to have scored pot from them recently on the actor’s IMDB message board. There will also be a topic thread titled “Still alive???”
Yippie kai yai WHAT?
4. Twinkie the Kid/ Marlboro Man/The Frito Bandito (from various advertisements)
At first I was just going to include Twinkie the Kid, but I figured he needed some back-up from other western-inspired heavy hitters in the advertising industry. According to his entry in “Tobin’s Spirit Guide”: “Twinkie the Kid is an anthropomorphized Twinkie appearing as a wrangler. He wears boots, gloves, a kerchief and a ten-gallon hat.” Apparently, he has a friend named Fruit Pie the Magician, but the less said about him, the better. Downloading this DLC spawns billboards all across the landscapes of America and Mexico, unlocks decals of corporate logos for your horse, turns all native flora into cigarette bushes and fauna into roaming cupcakes and zingers, and adds special town vendors who aggressively market Hostess, Marlboro and Frito-Lay products. This same DLC is included as a free mandatory update with all new copies of Alan Wake.
The Magnificent Three.
3. Jim West and Artemus Gordon (from “Wild Wild West”)
There is something you need to know about me: the only song I know all the lyrics to is Will Smith’s eponymous “Wild Wild West” – but I have a damn good excuse. You may remember this classic mash-up of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” and Kool Moe Dee’s “Wild Wild West” from 1988. Other than adding a few whip crack effects and the dulcet tones of Dru Hill and Sisqo, Will Smith also managed to personally see to it that a cassette tape of the single for the song became permanently lodged in the tape player of the first car I ever owned, a 1995 Ford Windstar. No matter what techniques I tried or Faustian bargains I entered, the cassette would not disentangle itself from my tape deck, but don’t worry – it played perfectly fine and could self-rewind. Rather than risk breaking the deck or bother taking it apart, driving my car became equivalent to entering a world where time and space lost all meaning. Metric distance no longer had any information to offer me – all distances between locations were measured by the number of times I could listen to Wild Wild West. Need to get from school to the Taco Bell down the street? No problem, that’s only 1.4 WWWs. Want to take a road trip to Canada? I hope you like glimpsing at eternity four minutes and seven seconds at a time, chief.
Up to sundown, roamin’ around, see where the bad guys are to be found ‘n make ‘em lay down.
But anyway…oh yeah, Jim West and Artemus Gordon. They could have gadgets and shit, or the whole mode could just be speed-running the game trying to stay one step ahead of the saw blade zooming after the magnetic collar on your neck. Also the big steam-powered spider and inexplicable robot man who works the bellows (I’m serious – what the fuck? Was that guy really supposed to be a robot or what?) of it that Will Smith fights in the movie could be included.
2. The Three Amigos (from “The Three Amigos”)
Initially, it was a really tough decision whether to include characters from “The Three Amigos,” “City Slickers 2: The Legend of Curly’s Gold,” or “Wagons East!” (AKA the film that killed John Candy). This is probably the only time in history that the words in the previous sentence will ever fall together in that particular order – savor it while you can! What eventually won me over, in much the same way that the opera scene in Final Fantasy VI inevitably places it a few notches higher on “Best of” lists than the other games in the series, was remembering the scene where Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short gather around a fire at dusk and sing “Blue Shadows” on the world’s most purposely fake set. By the end of the song, it’s a ridiculous pastiche of the classic western prairie – coyotes, owls and bobcats are tossed onto the set, stars are streaking across the sky, horses are inexplicably singing and there’s a talking turtle, to boot. It also credits Randy Newman as a singing bush. Let’s see Billy Crystal compete with that!
Back to the Red Dead Redemption universe…teaming up as one of the three amigos for co-op missions specifically made for three players would be pretty amazing. You could pretty much replace the entire middle part of the game with the “El Guapo” plot from the movie and I don’t think anyone would notice.
1. Cowboy Curtis (from “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse”)
Do I even need to say anything? This is an incredible character. Let’s look at the evidence:
1) Cowboy Curtis is the owner of the finest jheri curl mullet I have ever had the privilege of viewing.
2) His lasso is made of rotoscoping magic and is thought to be a powerful artifact stolen from a mighty wizard king.
3) You would think Laurence Fishburne would look back on his Cowboy Curtis days as silly or with a little bit of regret after rebranding himself with the Matrix series. You would be dead wrong. Fishburne gave his blessing for another actor to portray Cowboy Curtis if “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” returned to the stage or as a TV show, but says if another movie is made he will once again proudly don the mantle of Cowboy Curtis. Incredible.
4) His best friends include a genie and a king.
5) If you do a Google image search for “Cowboy Curtis,” the vast majority of results return this picture – a candid shot taken immediately after Cowboy Curtis created the heavens and earth, posing as if it were no big deal.
Horses With No Name
The following characters were considered, but ultimately didn’t make the cut for the Top 10 for pretty obvious reasons:
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
Punch & Judy (from “Big Shot” on “Cowboy Bebop”)
Flint (from Mother 3)
Mad Dog McCree (from The World’s Best Arcade Game)
Otis, the owner of the Dude Ranch that they go to on that one episode of “Malcolm In The Middle”
BraveStarr (Look it up, I dare you!)
Cowboys of Moo Mesa (Hahaha, this is too much fun.)
TinStar (Okay, I’m done, I’m done.)
Time to hit the trail. See ya next time!