-->
Games

'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.

Kuinka appeal to ornery Renaissance royalty with a joyous song in their infectiously fun new music video.

With the release of Americana band Kuinka's Stay Up Late EP earlier this year, the quartet took creative steps forward to deftly expand their sound into folk-pop territory. Riding in on the trend of moves made by bands like the Head and the Heart and the National Parks in recent years, they've traded in their raw roots sound for a bit more pop polish. Kuinka has kept the same singalong, celebratory vibe that they've been toting all this time, but there was a fork in the sonic highway that they boldly took this go-around. In this writer's opinion, they succeeded in once again captivating their audience, just in a respectably newfound way.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image