'Full Throttle: Remastered' Is Both Updated and Dated

Full Throttle: Remastered is a game made for people who don't mind pixel hunting -- like we used to play.

Full Throttle: Remastered

Publisher: Double Fine
Developer: Double Fine
Players: 1 player
Release date: 2017-04-18

The recent HD remaster of Full Throttle is an interesting package. In some ways, the game easily makes the jump from its origin in 1995 to the current day, but in other ways, the remaster fails to update the more frustrating design decisions of this 22-year-old adventure. This is actually less of a problem than you’d think. The frustrating things that remain in the game make it a kind of time capsule, a portal to an era when people played games differently.

On the positive side, the puzzles hold up very well. They’re all held together by solid logic, even if you might have to do some tangential thinking for a few of them. If a guy won’t open his door for you, just wait until the peephole goes dark and kick it down, that way you knock the guy down as well. If the cops chase you away every time you try to steal gas from a fuel tower, then just steal the gas from the cop car itself. These solutions might not be immediately obvious, but they’re logical enough that we’ll figure them out with a little bit of effort.

Even the confusing puzzles are still driven by this kind of grounded logic. Near the end of the game, you have to destroy a film projector. You’re supposed to stop the spinning reel and then up the intensity of the projector, that way the light burns the film. It makes sense. The issue comes from the game’s interface: There’s no indication for how to manage the light. You’re supposed to flip the same switch twice in row. Why would I think to do that?

Playing Full Throttle now, it still feels like a smart and clever game. Any lapses in logic may stem more from the UI than from any sort of poor design.

That holds true for the real frustrations, which have more to do with exploration rather than puzzles. In short, there are more than a few times you’re required to go to a certain screen in order to progress the game, but the screens seem to be purposefully hidden, and not hidden as part of any puzzle, but just hidden away in some corner of the world that you may never think to check.

For example, one puzzle has you distracting a junkyard dog by throwing some meat into a junked car. You then lift the car with a giant construction magnet, and thus the dog is safely trapped. However, getting to the controls of that giant magnet is horribly unintuitive. You have to retrace your steps back a screen, then click to "exit" in the upper-right, which is just a dark corner, it looks like empty shadows. Only after you click does the camera pan to the right to expose a tiny ladder to climb.

The main problem here is that the junkyard is constructed and displayed in such a way that you'd never think this was a possibility. There are no visual cues leading off the screen in that direction, nothing directing your eye towards this necessary exit.

Another example: You have to go behind a bar to meet a companion, but there's nothing about the placement of the buildings that might suggest this is a possibility. Again, there’s a painful lack of visual cues.

It’d be easy to dismiss these annoyances as an old game being a bad game, but that sells Full Throttle short. It takes a lot of time and effort to make a game, these screens are constructed and displayed this way for a reason, even if the reason isn’t immediately obvious to your 2017 gaming mind. I think the screens are connected this way because the developer assumed that the player would just naturally drag the mouse across every inch of the screen searching for interactive objects -- that we’d be pixel hunting. I assume this because the cursor changes when you hover over one of these exits, so they’re fairly easy to find… just as long as you think to hunt for them.

That’s the key difference between then and now. Back then, I would naturally assume I’d have to search for exits and items. Today, I naturally assume the game will point me towards exits and items.

This problem is not unique to Full Throttle, it’s common amongst point-and-click games, and especially common in point-and-click games from the same era. However, other remastered games (like The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition) have solved this issue by adding a button that highlights interactive objects as well as any nearby exits. The fact that this is a problem now says more about the quality of the remaster than it does the quality of the base game: The update fails to properly update the game.

However, I can’t be upset with this failure because it offers a fascinating window into another time. It’s an update that turns Full Throttle into a kind of time capsule, a window into a past in which players and developers were held to a different standard, and were guided by a different set of expectations.





The Rules Don't Apply to These Nonconformist Novelists

Ian Haydn Smith's succinct biographies in Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know entice even seasoned bibliophiles.


Siren Songs' Meredith Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels Debut As a Folk Duo (album stream + interview)

Best friends and longtime musical collaborators Meredith Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels team up as Siren Songs for the uplifting folk of their eponymous LP.


Buzzcocks' 1993 Comeback 'Trade Test Transmissions' Showed Punk's Great Survivors' Consistency

PopMatters' appraisal of Buzzcocks continues with the band's proper comeback LP, Trade Test Transmissions, now reissued on Cherry Red Records' new box-set, Sell You Everything.


Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic, and Damu the Fudgemunk Enlighten and Enliven with 'Ocean Bridges'

Ocean Bridges is proof that genre crossovers can sound organic, and that the term "crossover" doesn't have to come loaded with gimmicky connotations. Maybe we're headed for a world in which genres are so fluid that the term is dropped altogether from the cultural lexicon.


Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.


Christine Ott Brings the Ondes Martenot to New Heights with the Mesmerizing 'Chimères'

France's Christine Ott, known for her work as an orchestral musician and film composer, has created a unique new solo album, Chimères, that spotlights an obscure instrument.


Man Alive! Is a Continued Display of the Grimy-Yet-Refined Magnetism of King Krule

Following The OOZ and its accolades, King Krule crafts a similarly hazy gem with Man Alive! that digs into his distinct aesthetic rather than forges new ground.


The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.


ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.


Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.


Rush's 'Permanent Waves' Endures with Faultless Commercial Complexity

Forty years later, Rush's ability to strike a nearly perfect balance between mainstream invitingness and exclusory complexity is even more evident and remarkable. The progressive rock classic, Permanent Waves, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.


Drum Machines? Samples? Brendan Benson Gets Contemporary with 'Dear Life'

Powerpop overlord and part-time Raconteur, Brendan Benson, grafts hip-hop beats to guitar pop on his seventh solo album, Dear Life.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.