Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist

Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist DOS Front Cover

Publisher: Sierra
Developer: Sierra
Year: 1993
Platform: Windows, DOS, Macintosh

In the midst of creating two crappy Leisure Suit Larry games, Al Lowe decided to top it off with a crappy wild west story. The game starts out promising with a hilarious introduction, sung by Al Lowe himself, about Freddy Pharkas’ history and how he came to be a pharmacist in the western town of Coarsegold, California. But it doesn’t take long for the game to sink into tedium and endless babble intended to be humorous. Many of the jokes pay homage to Blazing Saddles, an obvious inspiration for the game, but aren’t delivered near as well. And the material isn’t fresh any longer.

Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist DOS Show down with Kenny.

The first half of the game involves a zillion copyright protection puzzles involving putting together medications in your pharmacy. What few other puzzles exist in the game are either ridiculous (e.g. trying to stop a stampede of snails from reaching town) or too easy. There are also timed puzzles, which would be fine if the time limit was fair, or even remotely obvious. The voice acting (on the CD-ROM version) is decent (though the narrator is thoroughly irritating), but the western caricatures wear out their welcome after several hours of play. The only jokes that made me laugh have nothing to do with western culture and were mostly based on sexual innuendo, an area where Al Lowe has earned his stripes. There are also some funny in-jokes for fans of Sierra and Lemmings.

Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist DOS There's a stampede coming! Run for the hills!

What saves the game from being a total waste is the final act. Freddy is forced to take up gunslinging to protect Coarsegold. We finally see some clever and logically designed puzzles, with a few deserved laughs thrown in.  Unfortunately, by this time I was using a walkthrough just to get through the game. If your standards aren’t too high (e.g. you thought Leisure Suit Larry 6 was a fantastic game), you will probably enjoy Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist. Others would be best suited to watch Blazing Saddles and move on.

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