Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Game 27: Emmanuelle - Final Rating

Emmanuelle was really bad. Still, I’m not convinced it will stoop as low as Psycho did, as that game was broken in so many ways. I’ve looked forward to punishing this game though, so let’s get to it.

Puzzles and Solvability
Oh where to start!? There aren’t really all that many puzzles in Emmanuelle. The majority of what might be considered puzzles have too much of a random element to have any sort of logical solution. Hours of my time were spent trying to seduce women, only to find that what worked with a particular woman one minute didn’t work the next. In a game with no save feature that expects you to play a flawless game if you’re to have any hope of completion, making the seduction process fairly random is pretty unacceptable. Speaking of randomness, many vital pieces of information are collected through luck alone. The manual suggests the first thing you should do on arriving in Brazil is track down Mario (which is also the only way to get the mask) and yet finding Mario is next to impossible. His room number can only be found by seducing Nancy at the Salvador hotel, but then she only tells you about Mario’s location about one in every four successful seductions. Why should the player seduce her again after the first time turned up nothing?

How do I compare three pickup lines when none of them sound complimentary?

Before I move on from the seduction sections, I should also mention that I was able to use the same pickup line twice in a row with women and still have success. Imagine how things would go in real life if you walked up to a woman and said “I think you’d look great wrapped in something white and silky” and then followed it up with “I think you’d look great wrapped in something white and silky”. Even ignoring the random elements, there are a few puzzles that I solved without even knowing about it. The game never informed me that I used the toucan to successfully jump from the cliff in Iguacu, nor is there any explanation as to how that worked. I feel like I haven’t even touched on how bad this category is. There are puzzles that are solved when there’s no way you could know there was a puzzle to be solved (giving the pandiero to Old Silvinho). There are puzzles where the solution can only be guesswork (which item from the buffet should you give to Sam at the garden party?). Finding Emmanuelle at the end of the game was painful enough for Emmanuelle to get a really low rating for this category, so 1 it is!
Rating: 1

Sure. But if you're not going to tell me what you want, then you probably won't like it.

Interface and Inventory
I’ll start with a positive here, although it could barely be called that. The inventory is presented very clearly at the bottom of the screen, with each item nicely and obviously displayed. That being said, there are certain items that simply don’t appear there (the toucan and the harness), with both of those items being used to “solve” the same puzzle with no explanation. There’s also no way to “use” any of the items and they are simply applied at the right time. As for the interface, well I have to start with the three unacceptably infuriating aspects of the game. Firstly, there’s no save game! This seems to be a devised attempt at making the game longer rather than an oversight or technical challenge, which makes it beyond unacceptable. I had to start again dozens of times when I could have saved my game after collecting each statuette and after each successful seduction. Basically I reckon I would have finished the game in a couple of sessions if I could have saved my game and instead spent over ten hours on it.

Well all the inventory items look ok apart from the statuettes. They are just ugly!

Secondly, not being able to use a mouse makes the game stupendously irritating. Moving the cursor around with the keys would be painful enough, but combined with the third major issue, which is the speed the game runs at, and it becomes a reason to reach for the razor blade. I had to slow down and speed up the game constantly for it to be playable, with the dialogue options moving way too fast to make a correct selection and the cursor movement subsequently way too slow to do anything at all. On top of all this, the cursor “collision detection” is atrocious, meaning I had to click just to the left and just above everything I wanted to select for it to work. I can’t tell you how frustrating using the lift buttons in the hotel was!!!  I could go on and on (need I mention the overly simplistic fighting scenes) but I’ve said enough. 1!
Rating: 1

Actually, would you mind pressing it too? I find pressing buttons to be unusually difficult!

Story and Setting
There’s a lot that I came across in Emmanuelle that had me shaking my head in disbelief, but probably the thing that stands out is that it was written and designed by a woman. I’ve never played a game that objectifies women more than this one (Leisure Suit Larry’s got nothing on this) and there isn’t anything remotely romantic about anything that goes on. Perhaps it was Muriel’s personal take on the liberation of women’s sexuality, but it comes across as a laughable and very sexist piece of garbage. The aim of the game is to sleep with Emmanuelle (which isn’t exactly moralistic to begin with) and the only way to achieve that is to sleep with numerous other women on the way. That’s the story right there!!!! All the other bits and pieces are just time killers and make very little sense at all (such as the collection of the statuettes).

Maybe Muriel just has low standards when it comes to men approaching her and asking for sex.

Even the minor attempts at extending the story elements can be completely avoided. As mentioned earlier, finding Mario is the first instruction in the manual, and yet it appears you can finish the game without ever doing that (albeit without 100 erotic potential). Finding the judo master is also mentioned, and yet not only can that be completely avoided, the fighting scenes themselves are entirely pointless and avoidable. To top it all off, Emmanuelle has next to no closure, simply crashing back to the C prompt without any sort of completion outro. As for the setting, well I guess Brazil is a good place for the game to be set, as it does suggest a certain party life style, sunshine and promiscuousness that suits the story. I have no idea whether any of the locations in the game have any basis in reality so I can’t comment on that, but apart from making me wish I spent some teenage years in Brazil, I can’t say Emmanuelle will be used in any tourism marketing campaigns any time soon.
Rating: 1

A most fitting ending to the story indeed!

Sound and Graphics
There really isn’t much to say about sound in Emmanuelle, because basically there isn’t any. As I mentioned in one of my posts, someone is listed as having created the music for the game in the credits, but reviews on the net (even from back in the day) suggest it never made the PC version. The graphics are not disastrous, but they are pretty low quality. Some of the women do look mildly attractive and the surroundings are reasonably enticing, so I guess it has that going for it, but if I compare Emmanuelle to anything made by Sierra or LucasArts, there’s simply no competition. There’s also very little in the way of animation, meaning most of the game is entirely static, and when it does pop up it’s really quite awful (swimming, fighting etc.). I don’t think it deserves a 1, despite having no sound, but I can’t go with more than 2.
Rating: 2

No, this is not one of the "mildly attractive" women I was talking about!

Environment and Atmosphere
I really can’t say the game has much atmosphere at all. It’s all so ridiculous that the only emotional responses I could have towards it were irritation and disbelief. It’s one of those instances where any success that you have makes you jump up and down and feel pretty good about yourself, but that’s only because of the contrived difficulty level and nothing to do with clever puzzles. The lack of music certainly doesn’t help things either, and I simply had to fill the silence with my own musical tastes (which aren’t completely conducive to sexual endeavours). I’m a bit perplexed as to what to give this category, since even Psycho received a 2. That game actually had a haunted house and goal that needed to be achieved by daybreak, so I can’t give Emmanuelle more than that.
Rating: 2

You can't argue with the setting!

Dialogue and Acting
As with all the French games I’ve played so far, the translation surely plays a role in how terrible the dialogue is here. That being said, I simply can’t see how any of this could possibly be good, even in its native language. In particular, the pickup lines are truly hysterical and would never work in the real world. This is not just a matter of clunky dialogue though, as choosing from three equally terrible pickup lines to seduce a woman is no easy task, so it has an effect on gameplay. Even the three rules, which the game is based entirely around, are bafflingly Engrish, and don’t mean much in any case. To summarise, even when the dialogue makes sense grammatically, it rarely makes much sense anyway!
Rating: 2


That’s 15 for Emmanuelle, which is 5 points better than the genre bottoming Psycho. However, since Psycho only wasted 2 hours of my time (plus posting time), Emmanuelle wasted a lot more. I’m deducting another point for the lack of a save game, as that really pissed me off. 14 it is!!!

So who is the winner of the the Lars-Erik sponsored game? Pacpix chose 15, so he was the closest! That's the first time someone hasn't guessed the exact number, but given he chose the unaltered final rating, he's a worthy winner. Congratulations Pacpix! Send an email to theadventuregamer@gmail.com and I'll forward you your prize.

Bring on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!!!!!!! Surely LucasArts can help wash away the filth and grime. Who's joining me?

60 CAPs for Ilmari
• Legend Award (aka Sucker for Punishment Award) – 20 CAPs - For playing through and completing Emmanuelle
• New Year’s Resolution Award – 10 CAPs – For working towards a better future
• Technical Assistance Award – 10 CAPs – For helping me with the game’s speed issues
• Minor Assistance Award – 5 CAPs – For helping me understand the game’s counters
• Minor Assistance Award – 5 CAPs – For explaining the ridiculous use of the toucan
• Minor Assistance Award – 5 CAPs – For explaining that the judo master is Old Silvhino
• RTFM Award – 5 CAPs – For explaining the obvious which I clearly missed

35 CAPs for TBD
• Women in Games Appreciation Award – 20 CAPs – For cracking the Nancy Drew riddle
• Technical Assistance Award – 10 CAPs – For helping me with the game’s speed issues
• Genre Support Award - 5 CAPs - For commenting about a new adventure game sale on Steam

20 CAPs for Lars-Erik
• Sponsor Award - 20 CAPs - For sponsoring the blog with free games

10 CAPs for Alex
• Newbie Award – 10 CAPs – For commenting on a plethora of posts with insightful knowledge

10 CAPs for Splitting Image
• Lucky Number Award – 10 CAPs – For letting me know about the lucky number option in the casino

10 CAPs for Pacpix
• Clairvoyant Award - 10 CAPs - For predicting the score I would give the game

5 CAPs for Zenic Reverie
• Genre Support Award - 5 CAPs - For commenting about a new adventure game sale on GOG

5 CAPs for Draconius
• Christmas Present Award – 5 CAPs – For giving me the best Xmas present ever. The option to stop playing Emmanuelle!

-45 CAPs for Canageek
• Borderline Addition Award - -50 CAPs – For adding Emmanuelle to the game list
• Genre Support Award - 5 CAPs - For commenting about a new adventure game sale on GOG


  1. CAP distribution and leaderboard update will all be completed in the morning.

  2. Wow, i'd say glad you're on to something better, but if memory serves, the only good Indiana Jones game is 'Fate of Atlantis'. Ah well, anything's a step up from this right? :D

  3. Fate of Atlantis was fantastic, but I've read pretty decent things about The Last Crusade. No doubt it will seem like the best game I've ever played after Emmanuelle. :)

  4. I played "The Last Crusade" back in the day and saying it is not good is a blasphemy!!!

    My disk-swapping-hell version came in five floppies, and I am still in awe that I did not care about this in those days.

  5. I think I got The Last Crusade during one of the Steam Holiday deals, so I may as well join. I don't recall the game being bad; I just remember some frustrating mini games sequences like (not really a spoiler, but just in case):

    Jnyxvat guebhtu Pnfgyr Oehajnyq Pnfgyr univat gb orng hc Anmvf be fpnz lbhe jnl cnfg gurz rirel srj frpbaqf. V fgvyy erzrzore "Uv, V'z fryyvat gurfr svar yrngure wnpxrgf..."

    1. Indy 3 actually improves from what MM and Zak started - there are a number of alternate solutions and different paths if I remember correctly. I think you can actually complete the game without any of the arcade sequences.

  6. Awesome! I'll send the email soon!

  7. Oh and thanks for the game Lars-Erik!

  8. Last crusade installed and ready to start!

  9. Oh no! A pixelated breast! Avert your eyes people! Games should only be about natural things like violence and bloodshed! :P

  10. So, Trickster - have you already decided which version of Indy you are going to play (EGA\VGA)?

    1. Did both came out in the same year?

    2. The minimal evidence I was able to find pointed to them being released the same year. http://advgamer.blogspot.com/2012/05/year-ahead-1989.html

    3. From what little checking I have done, it appears they both were released in the same year.

      I know I'll be playing the VGA version!

    4. Yep, some sources said 1989, some 1990 for the VGA version. But the title screen of EGA version states 1989, and for the VGA version there is 1990.. So I would say that is the definite information.

      Now it all comes back to the rules and how they are interpreted. I would say Trickster should still play the VGA version, because it was more of an upgrade than a new version / remake. And who knows, what if the EGA version was released for Christmas 1989, and the VGA upgrade came early January. If interpreted strictly, it wouldn't allow the VGA version to be played. On the other hand, let's assume Monkey Island (EGA) was released early 1990, and the VGA upgrade was released at the end of the same year. In this case, the VGA version would be allowed, even if their release interval is much bigger.

      So what I am trying to say, is that maybe some room for bending the rules should be given..

  11. I'm in! I've been meaning to finish Last Crusade, and I need to scratch that Ron Gilbert itch while I wait for The Cave to come out.

  12. Random approaching the girls? Ask bartenders, they know their customers. But you did not care as you wanted to finish the game as fast as possible.
    I do not think that punishing the game for speed issues is clever. You expect game creators to predict future: operating systems, hardware, etc. Really? You amaze me. Of course the issue should be mentioned in order to warn potential buyers who own modern machines but points should not be deducted.
    You have also pointed out a non-linearity as a downside. I wonder how you rate it in the next game (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). Well, I think that you will be more generous for whatever reasons.
    And the last but not least please be aware that USA engineers were pioneers in game subject and the rest of the world were years after them due to limited access to technology and engineering ideas. They needed time to learn tools and find their own creative way. I am not saying that foreign titles should be rated less restrictive but snide comments are unnecessary.

    1. Trickster will probably not come here anymore to answer it due to changes in the blog administration, but having played the game I might answer few of your points:

      * Yes, asking the bartenders does give you some hints about what their customers are like, but it still doesn't give enough to decide what answers to really choose. It might be due to bad translation, but when a bartender tells some woman is more ethereal and none of the answers sounds anything like it, it's a bit difficult to decide what to say. Not to mention that there are women, to which the game gives no indication what to say (those met not in bars) and which you still have to charm with your words, it is pretty difficult.
      * As to speed issues, the problem with Emmanuelle was that the speed wasn't consistent: the game was either so slow that it took forever to anything load or so fast that e.g. answering to a woman became an impossible action game. The problem is quite easy to circumvent nowadays, since DOSBox allows you to change the emulated hardware settings and thus make the game either slower or faster - even while the game itself is playing. Back in the days when Emmanuelle first appeared, it must have been either impossibly fast or unendurably slow in some place - a perfect example of bad game design.
      * Non-linearity is not so much the issue, but randomness (the game relies on some occasions on pure chance on triggering certain key events) combined with extremely harsh punishments on failure and the inability to save your progress. All of this leads to very repetitive game play, where you have to start at the very beginning multiple times and go through same steps over and over again, in hope that you might succeed this time.

    2. Also, tying the time something takes to the CPU speed has always* been a bad idea. That means that, when this game came out, it would work very diffrently on my Dad's 386 and his friend's 486 since there was a pretty huge clockspeed gap between them. Heck, the 386 had clockspeeds of 12 MHz to 40 MHz, and one processor later it was 16 MHz to 150 MHz, so you could easily make your computer 3x faster when upgrading, which would throw a lot of games timing off. This was a known problem in the 90s, not just today.

      *exception: Space Invaders, where they did it deliberately to create an effect, but that was only due to the fact they knew the hardware.

    3. Fair comments. I did not play the game on original media, so I cannot confirm that speed issues negatively affected the game from the release day or DOSBox settings can be blamed for.

      Thanks Ilmari for clarification regarding girls and non-linearity. Now it has more sense. I think I missed more deeper explanation for particular issues. Trickster post was too scanty in some aspects.

  13. I actually think this game is worse than Leisure Suit Larry in terms of sexism. At least in Emmanuelle the player character is attractive, which gives the women a flimsy reason to be interested in him. Larry is a balding loser with no personality, and his games expect me to (1) buy that any woman, let alone many women, would be interested in such a person, even without an alternative, and (2) find it funny.

    Okay, rant over.