|They also give a clue as to what Almira, the 'crazy plant lady', is actually up to|
|If I were to have bought the hint book, I definitely would have picked it up for the 'behind the scenes' stuff – not so much the actual game hints|
Puzzles and Solvability
This one is probably the easiest category to look at for this game. Were there puzzles? Sure, there were! The majority of them were even fair, really. There are a few 'dead ends', admittedly, but they're all ones which pretty immediately hit home. It's obvious that you're not going to do well if you go back to bug Eugene Lomax a dozen times, for instance, and if that's what you lose on after Lucky literally gets told off for it twice, you're kinda the one at fault. I don't mind that the puzzles were fairly 'easy'. In truth, this is as much the fault of the length of the game as anything. Every other game that has given multiple puzzle solutions in the history of this blog has scored well, and while I would have enjoyed perhaps having another option in Kathmandu (I legitimately felt just a little uneasy leaving a gun with Sardar, the over exuberant Kathmandu local, but I did like that they gave me plenty of ways of getting to that point) everything made sense. Except perhaps getting a flower from an orange salesperson for.. knocking over his oranges? It wasn't a difficulty in any way, though, so I can forgive that. As there wasn't more of an 'ah ha!' vibe at any point where I really felt I'd solved something, I hesitate to be too nice to it here – but the fact that there was the additional little play around of having multiple characters to interact with people in different ways to make for a little more complexity, it's probably a little better than Rise of the Dragon in this much.
|It gets this because there were a few red herrings that felt obvious, like feeding chickens to the dog or this passport which was a trap all along|
What can really be said about the Dynamix system? Rise of the Dragon and Willy Beamish have already explored this pretty well in the past, I think, though it's definitely more of a positive side than a negative. Admittedly, I am being a little forgiving here as the game simply never had any real point at which I felt at all limited by what I had in front of me – there aren't a great deal of inventory puzzles to deal with, though each time I had to deal with them it was simple enough as I had a fair idea of what I was doing. The times that items needed to be used on one another, it was necessary to pull up a full screen image of them by first interacting with and then dragging them together in inventory. It was fairly simple to interact amongst the different characters, which I have to give credit for as I imagine it would have been easy to mess up. All of the minigames were winnable, even if they were annoying to a small degree, and using the 'gun' required a special action just as in Rise of the Dragon. However, as this didn't involve a keystroke and instead holding right click, it was easy enough to stumble upon even if you didn't read the manual.
I can definitely say that interacting items with characters felt consistently annoying, though, with you needing to click on the inventory menu, right click on the item, which then shows a picture of your character. So to have Lucky equip his gun (or Chi wear his ninja hood), it required a click that was completely unintuitive. The fact that I only have one real gripe with the interface means it's on the better side of things, so I'll follow Joe's thoughts of it as being much like Willy Beamish in ease of use, in spite of not exactly being elegant.
|One somewhat annoying thing is not enough to call this interface 'bad'. And the game literally lets you dress up like a ninja, so there's that.|
If I'm looking at this game as in any way historically accurate, I could probably get really flummoxed and angry with it. Truth is? It's not. And I don't think they were ever really trying tor it to be. This game is very much what it sets out to be – a light hearted romp with the feel of an action movie straight out of the 1980s. The only thing that would have made it moreso would have been if Sylvester Stallone or Kurt Russell had somehow played a bit part. Thankfully, they managed to avoid this temptation. The actors are for the most part well dressed for the '20s' era vibe that they were going for, and the story, while it is quite clichéd as the 'save the girl and run to safety from the evil villain', it is effective. There's one thing I do feel was a missed opportunity in better characterising Li Deng, the evil warlord – he felt less involved than Tong, his henchman, with just a couple of cutscenes showing him off.
|The henchman on the far right also looks just a little like Daniel Pesina, a.k.a. the original Johnny Cage from the Mortal Kombat games – looking at the credits, not so however|
|Boy meets girl, girl meets ninja, boy, girl and ninja run away in a tank. It's pretty much Hamlet.|
I will preface this by saying I normally completely abhor the 'people interposed onto drawn backgrounds' style that this game goes for. I thought it looked tacky when I first saw it in the early 90s as a youth, and still feel that it doesn't work. It's a personal thing.. but it's just not true here. It actually fits quite well. All of the cutscenes are drawn well, and while there are a few points at which the clearly untrained majority of the actors (as I mentioned in the opening post, Dynamix employees press ganged many of their family into roles due to budget restraints) do look a little silly, it again fits the style. Really no complaints! The music and sound effects were never impressive, but nor were they ever bad. I don't remember them, honestly, which speaks well, as I made certain to play the entire game with headphones on and listened to it the whole way through. None of the sound effects failed the game, so I'll have to be generous as I think this is likely to be the only game of this graphical style that I have ever seen to play to its strengths outside of Jones in the Fast Lane.
|The consistent use of cutscenes fits this graphical style fantastically. You can feel free to say it doesn't look great, but it's clear what's happening and fits as a whole|
There is no point in this game in which I feel there is a notable disconnect, but there are a few obvious limitations which did hurt them a little. Having so many of these huge, sweeping areas take place over only a couple of screens really made them feel underpopulated, which is fine for a fortress in the middle of China.. but not quite so fantastic as it comes to the sprawling suburbia of Hong Kong. Again, this is the technical limitations of the game at fault. What is the fault of the developers is the fact that while I can forgive an awful lot of things for the feel they were going for, there was simply too much in the way of stereotypes. I could very easily put this in the 'well, they were going for that feel' category too, but while it's fine for Lucky to want to be Indiana Jones, I may not want to be. As we are playing as all three of these characters, I don't like that we're sometimes forced to have them fight over bigotries and the like (Kate and Lucky fighting at the end of the game, for instance). Lucky has his past as a bit of a womaniser and we get to redeem him through the game, but having him only really dreading time with the Nabob's daughter because she's put on some weight? Not so happy with that. Sir Mix-A-Lot and he are going to have some words, if nothing else. He had a few moments of humanity, but this definitely impacts negatively here and in several other places. The game managed to find its way past a lot of potential racist overtones, though, and I can at least give it props for that. It fit, but I can't gush over it in any way – it was good, but it definitely had points which made me feel uncomfortable.
|I do legitimately enjoy a couple of the characters in it, though – Ama in Kathmandu definitely stands out|
There's another issue here. The dialogue.. well, I don't want to say it's terrible? But it's certainly not fantastic, either. You all probably noticed my repeated complaints over Lucky's dialogue choices never really giving me the options I wanted – but throughout the entire game, it's again the art of the stereotype that really hurts the game. I'm okay by the characters speaking broken English given that the majority of them would not use it as a primary language, but again.. it was never inspiring. I got a couple of chuckles here and there – some of the bickering between Lucky and Kate was actually down-right entertaining, even some of what was between Lucky and Chi – but really, I was never happy with the dialogue. 'Acting' is where I plan to talk over what the game really shone in, however – cutscenes! The repeated cutscenes really stood out to me, and where in another place they may have actually felt overbearing, though it was used heavily. Other games have managed to use in-game animations, but as this game works largely with static images which just change steadily, the game would work, for instance, by showing a face, a punch, then the same face thrown back (which is a literal example of the 'bar fight' scene right at the start). It's strikingly effective, and is hard not to give some real props to for its narrative power. But in the end, for a game that has a narrative which is driven in its vast majority by dialogue, it's pretty hard to forgive the fact that the dialogue goes between 'decent' and 'painful' so frequently, not to mention the minor spelling errors and the like. To sum up – cutscenes, good. Dialogue.. not so good.
|I don't even like the majority of Lucky's dialogue, but you're sure kidding me if you think that there is a site of sore eyes around here.|
So, adding up (5+6+6+7+5+5)/0.6= 56.6 recurring, or 57. The real question I ask myself when looking at this score isn't so much what similar games have received, but a more simple query – 'is it fun?' The truth is? It was very, very short, but the game never stopped being enjoyable at any time. I could easily add a point on for how much I enjoyed myself whilst playing.. or just as easily retract one for the extremely short playtime caused due to the relative ease of the game. Instead, I think I'll leave the score as is – it's a fun little game and if I didn't have to write and take a billion screenshots of it, I think I could have beaten it even faster. I'd even recommend it to anyone who hasn't played. That means that Joseph Curwen has guessed correctly, and gets to eat up 10 delicious CAPs for his trouble. Speaking of CAPs...
- Blogger award - 100 CAPs for blogging his way through this game for our enjoyment
- True Companion award - 25 CAPs - for both playing along and sharing some extra info from his playthrough
- Administrative Assistant award - 5 CAPs - for keeping us in check
- Psychic Prediction award - 10 CAPs - For guessing the correct score
- Editorial Discretion award - 5 CAPs - for pointing out that Aperama writes too often whilst tired and not paying attention to things
- The Cold, Black Heart of China award - 5 CAPs - for sharing his corrupted disk tale
- Jack Burton award - 5 CAPs - for pointing out the similarities to this and Big Trouble in Little China
- Chewbacca award - 5 CAPs - wrrrrrr rooaar wrraaarrr
- Come on, 90s adventure games! award - 5 CAPs - for pointing out the obvious poorness of the 'fat princess' ending