First, they took his girlfriend and put her behind bars guarded by a genie and a man with a passion for obscure 50’s TV series. Then, he fell unconscious and his girlfriend had to wander around a stupidly large garden, a planet with killer robot and a man with a scarf and a mansion full of very suspicious people just to discover there never was anything to discover. Now the troubled couple is back for their final chapter. With a vengeance. May I present to you… Hugo III: Jungle of Doom!!
|Adventure!! Cliches!! A three-headed monkey!! Come and see! Come and see!|
Everything that has a beginning, has an end. And this is the end of the road for the Hugo trilogy. Afterwards, there are only first person shooters and jigsaws. But this game here represents the result of three adventure games developed almost back to back. The magnum opus of an artist who had time to refine its work. If you thought this and the previous paragraph are just here because after three games there is not much else to be said about the game or the designer, you are absolutely right.
There is one thing I should say about this game however. There is one very noticeable change that put it apart from its predecessors. David P. Gray decided to no longer be a one-man orchestra. He got ahold of a computer graphic artists, Gary Sirois, to make the images for the game. And boy does it look nicer. Just looking at the screenshots it is obvious the graphics are better. I know it is not such a stretch, but not having to look at is a welcome change. Even better, I have another reason to love the guy: he also worked as graphic artist for God of Thunder, another shareware game that I actually loved when I was younger.
|Close, but sadly not this one|
Freed from the chains of graphic design, Mr. Gray had the opportunity to concentrate more on the plot, mechanics and puzzle design. The former doesn’t seem to be that much different from the previous games just by looking at its beginning. Penelope and Hugo are going back to the US from England, where the plot of Hugo 2 erm… occurred (for the sake of this introduction let’s just roll with that statement), when they are struck by a magnetic storm. This makes their plane lose its course and crash in the middle of the Amazonian jungle. If that wasn’t enough, almost immediately after crashing Penelope is bitten by a gargantuan spider and starts to die from poisoning. Lucky for Hugo, a native appears to tend her injuries and advises Hugo to go searching for some kind of magic water that can heal her. Oh, homeopathy, you have done so much damage through the years...
There are two complementary explanations of why this change of setting and mood for the saga, extracted from these interviews (1) (2). The first one is that Mr. Gray tried to change the theme between games. With the first one being about a disappearance in a house full of monsters and the second one being a about a disappearance in a house full of English monsters. I mean, the first one being an horror game, the second a mystery one and this last one being a straight adventure. Having established that there was a need to change the setting, Mr. Gray decided that a jungle was the place, as Mr. Sirois apparently was very good at drawing trees. That may or may not be a joke from Mr. Gray, but I will let you decide for yourselves.
|The trees are very nice. The spider or Penelope are not, but the trees are nice|
Regarding the technical work, there are some improvements on the engine. The first one is the existence of a Turbo mode which accelerates the game, allowing faster transportation and a lot of frustration if there is any section like crossing the bridge or the venus flytrap maze from the previous game and somehow I forget to turn the mode off. There is also a in-game hint system implemented, although the manual doesn’t specify how to access it and just merely states its existence (the first rule of the in-game hint system is that nobody talks about the in-game hint system). And Hugo’s size now scales depending on the distance from the camera. All of these seem like nice additions to the engine. They are not something you need, but it is nice to have if they are there.
And finally, puzzle design is what we will be checking on following post. I know, I know. There could be some kind of plot beyond what I have just stated above. I think I will keep my hopes down for the moment. That way the surprise can be more gratifying. Will Hugo 3 be the worst game of 1992 (I am feeling guilty for saying so, as it doesn’t seem fair to compare it to games from more professional, and crowded, companies)? Will there be a twist where the native girl turns out to be a spider? Will I quit the game in rage and blow my computer off out of frustration? We shall see in following chapters of… Hugo III: Jungle of Doom.
|I don’t think we have the same concept of “3-D”|
PS: As usual, I will be playing the DOS version using DOSBOX.
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