I like smoke and lightnin’ / heavy metal thunder / racin’ with the wind / and the feeling that I’m under
-Steppenwolf, Born To Be Wild
“The following is a contributor post by the ABXY Mage.”
When you admit that you are all but brand new to LucasArts adventure games, Full Throttle gets recommended a lot. When you find out that it was written and designed by the same guy who later created Grim Fandango, Tim Schafer, then you know you need to check it out.
Full Throttle first released in 1995 to critical acclaim and fan praise. Nearly everyone seemed to agree that LucasArts had released another unique and wonderful experience, even if they also all agreed that it was too short. Of course, “too short” is one of the only complaints that doubles as a compliment, so it could have been worse.
In 2017, Double Fine Productions (founded by Tim Schafer after he left LucasArts) released Full Throttle Remastered which aims to bring that same experience to modern technology and audiences. So, does it effectively turn the original into what you would consider a modern game? Does it do the original justice? And, most of all, does it prove that the original was a classic that still holds up or does it show that maybe the game was a product of its time?
The game opens with voiceover narration that sounds straight out of a noir film. It’s the main character teasing a story about a woman named Maureen, and trouble. We don’t yet know his name, but we know he’s a biker, and we sense he has a love-hate for this Maureen.
Our first real introduction is to Adrian Ripburger, who is revealed to obviously be the villain as soon as you hear his voice. He is introduced by his boss, Malcolm Corley, who definitely does not like him.
In this opening, we also learn that there’s a big shareholder meeting coming up for Corley’s company, which makes motorcycles. Corley confirms his disdain for Ripburger when he taunts his inability to ride a bike, and that Corley hates Ripburger’s suggestion that they should be escorted to it by real customers: a biker gang.
Enter our hero… and his biker gang.
The Polecats ride by the hover limo (the game, for seemingly no reason, takes place in a not-so-distant future where there are hover cars, but bikers still ride “traditional” motorcycles) except for their leader, Ben, who rides over the car and smashes the hood ornament.
The rumbling engines, the burning rubber, and the leather jackets thrill Corley who then asks the driver to speed up and follow the group. He wants to meet them.
Corley immediately befriends Ben and time slips away. Ripburger enters and offers the escort job to The Polecats. Ben declines. Ripburger crosses the line, and Ben asks him to step outside.
Ripburger lies about Corley’s health in an attempt to convince Ben to take the job, but still he declines. So, Ripburger takes the first step in fulfilling his villainous plot.
When Ben awakes, you get your first chance to control him, to play the game. But first, you have to find the key to your bike.
Then, it’s up to you to stop an ambush, solve a murder, expose a conspiracy, and still find time to ride into the sunset with your girl.
Do you have the wit and grit to save Corley motors? It’s time to hit the road and find out.
Full Throttle Remastered stays true to the original art style and design while bringing it to modern times with the makeover it needed. The crisp overhaul brings even the smallest details to the forefront and helps sell the world, the story, and the unique characters.
The visual style is reminiscent of both comic books and some Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. art styles. This is probably why the game can so successfully feel as funny and gritty as it needs to.
The game also allows you to switch between the remastered and original graphics. So, at any given point in the game, you can see what a difference 20 years can make.
The game starts with a desolate, slow guitar with a slight piano accompaniment that gives it just the right amount of tension. This is during Ben’s voiceover. When we get to the title and the credits–and Ben’s true introduction–we get a rock and roll cut with vocals that sound like a David Lee Roth impersonator. This is The Gone Jackals who guest on the soundtrack for Full Throttle. This song really gets the game going with a perfect first glimpse at the protagonist.
If you watched the video, don’t worry, we will get to the voice acting soon.
LucasArts legend, Peter McConnell, once again brings great original music to help give the game real cinematic quality. Unfortunately, there is a disgusting lack of music from this game on YouTube, so I am extremely limited in what I can feature here. While it’s not the perfection that Grim Fandango’s soundtrack is, I highly suggest you check it out. Personal preference may tell you it’s actually better. The remaster also cleans up the audio, using the original recordings, so everything sounds clear and the way it was always meant to sound.
However, for anyone who has ever played Full Throttle or Full Throttle Remastered, there is one song that can’t be forgotten. And what a song it is. It’s first heard outside of Todd’s trailer, and it’s both hilarious and annoyingly catchy.
The voice acting is absolutely top-notch, and the clearness that comes through the remaster makes this point blatantly obvious. First, let’s talk about the supporting cast.
For starters, there’s a small part played by Tress MacNeille, who most would know from The Simpsons, Futurama, several Disney shows, and tons of other stuff. She’s been doing voice acting for almost 40 years. Sadly, her character has very few lines and her appearance is all but wasted on a mere cameo.
Next, one of Ripburger’s henchmen is played by Maurice LaMarche. You would know him from The Critic, Animaniacs, Futurama, and countless other shows and movies. He’s a legend. Unfortunately, he too is underutilized.
The lead female in Full Throttle, Maureen, is voiced by Kath Soucie. Soucie is best known for her work in Rugrats, Darkwing Duck, and voicing Lola Bunny in Space Jam. Again, a seasoned veteran.
However, the real standout performances–which are possibly the best parts of the entire game–come from the hero and villain.
With a list of credits that spans over ten years, it’s surprising that that the list doesn’t really contain anything substantial. That doesn’t matter though as nobody but nobody could have voiced Ben except for Roy Conrad. Our hero.
Ben’s deep, gravely voice is a big part of what makes the game feel so much like a noire (as you can see in the trailer at the end of this review). He has no last name. He has a mysterious past. He’s the leader of a biker gang, and he’s married to the road. And, all of this comes through in Conrad’s award-worthy performance. As does the comedy of his deader-than-deadpan joke deliveries.
Our villain. When it comes to live-action heroes, there are few as pure and just as Luke Skywalker. When it comes to voice acting, Mark Hamill is actually best known for his villainous roles. Most notably, he is incredible in Batman: The Animated Series as Joker.
His brilliance as an animated bad guy is once again showcased in Full Throttle, as Hamill voices Adrian Ripburger to perfection. Just like Roy Conrad as Ben, it’s near impossible to imagine anyone else doing Ripburger’s voice once you’ve heard Hamill’s performance.
The below video is the intro to the game. The first half gives you an idea of both Roy Conrad and Mark Hamill as Ben and Ripburger, respectively.
While it seems that the majority of Full Throttle Remastered is made up of cutscenes (albeit with a funny story and great acting), it’s really a point-and-click adventure game. However, it does take some chances with other kinds of gameplay, with varying success.
As with any point-and-click game, you find yourself in various environments in which you have to interact with people and objects in order to solve puzzles. This is all pretty straightforward, with the only exceptions to be later covered in Accessibility and Challenge. The one thing I will mention–and this happened with both of my controllers–is that in two environments, the cursor would randomly jump to various places on the screen. It was small, but annoying.
In between some of the environments, Full Throttle adds an extra style of gameplay. It only makes sense that, since you play the leader of a biker gang, you need to ride your motorcycle between locations. Added to this is a section of the game in which you have to fight with bikers from rival gangs As you defeat them, you acquire a small variety of weapons, one of which is required to progress.
While this whole section adds to the game, and helps flesh out Ben and his role, even in the remaster, it’s clunky and awkward. The controls are simple to the point that it’s basically just a timing challenge with frequent frustrations.
Point-and-click adventure games are generally pretty accessible. You point at stuff, you click. The narrative presents you with the problem or puzzle, and you move the cursor over different objects and people to get passed the obstacles. One thing that Full Throttle could have done better was explain the options once you have clicked on something. You can use your hands on or take things, you can kick things, you can put your mouth on things, and you can look at things. Oddly, the same icon is used for looking and using your mouth, but the icon is split into two areas; one for each function. This is never explained and easily missed, but vital to the game. Otherwise, it’s all pretty straightforward.
Oh, LucasArts adventure games, you bastards. If you’ve ever played one, you understand the sentiment. For what is a LucasArts adventure game without at least one frustratingly difficult puzzle that all but stops you from finishing the game? Puzzles without logic are the plague of most adventure games, and while you might see the logic once the puzzle has been solved, without the internet, these kinds of challenges could leave countless games unfinished.
Luckily, this game really only has one of those types of puzzles. Unfortunately, the majority of the other puzzles in the game are far too easy. Many of them consist of either just getting an item and using it somewhere (usually obvious) or just exhausting conversation options. There are very few parts throughout the entire game that really seem to feel like they have the right balance of challenge.
It seems to be a sad truth that puzzle-based adventure games suffer from low replayability. Once you’ve beaten it, you know the answers. You know where to go, what to do, and what to say. It simply becomes going through the motions. Where the best of the best stand out is in their story and characters. This is the only thing that could coax a player into coming back again.
While the story and characters are worthy of a second experience, in the modern age of the internet and smartphones, you’d really be better off just watching a video of all the dialogue and cutscenes rather than playing the game a second time.
A down-on-his-luck loner is wrongly accused of murder, and while seeking retribution, he meets and falls in love with a woman who helps him clear his name and become a hero. Sound familiar? Well, besides the plot to countless other stories, it’s also the general storyline of Full Throttle Remastered. Where it brings originality is in the combination of a rough and tumble biker gang and film noir.
It’s a LucasArts game, so it goes without saying that it has unique humor. Even the most frustrating puzzle in the game will make you chuckle, at least at first. Of course, this makes it unique compared to other games, but not as much when compared to other LucasArts adventures.
In terms of gameplay, point-and-click is point-and-click. Full Throttle adds the bike fights and the highway segment, but otherwise, it’s what you’d expect it to be. It’s unique in a few areas, but unoriginal in others.
My Personal Grade: 7/10
Upon its release, Full Throttle was touted as possibly the best of the LucasArts adventure games. However, this was before Grim Fandango came out. So, if you’ve played Grim Fandango, chances are you will be a bit disappointed. This game is far shorter and not as much fun.
Now, that isn’t to say it’s not worth playing. It definitely is. I just wouldn’t pay more than ten dollars for it if I were you. But, the story is good, the characters are interesting, and there are several funny lines and references. Roy Conrad and Mark Hamill are phenomenal and the remaster brings us the clear audio and refined visuals we were meant to get.
The story, while comedic and interesting, is predictable and reveals what should be twists much too early. Of course, when the game is as short as this one, it’s hard to hold much for too long.
All in all, it may be quick, but it’s a pretty good ride.
Aggregated Score: 6.3
The ABXY Mage leads a double life of unfathomable hipness, if his expertise in jazz is any indication. Music maker, fandangoist, writer, you can find this hip cat as ABXY Reviews on Twitter and on YouTube.
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Categories: Game Review