Mr. Bill's Adventureland Review
Reviewed by Mr. Bill and Lela
You just gotta love any game where the superhero is an unemployed, overweight, potbellied guy in a Batman suit, who wanders around scratching himself in public. He's known as Fatman(!) and he's the crime fighter for the city of Shadowlawn, monitoring evil-doers from the recesses of his Fatcave(!), and venturing forth to meet them in ..... what else? ..... a Fatmobile(!) Obviously, he gets no respect. Even the cops call him Lardman. It's a very funny concept, and it makes for a great little adventure game from another talented newcomer, small independent producer Michael Doak.
You see the problem is that Fatman's been awfully bored lately. "Shadowlawn, once notorious for its crime rate, is so free of crime now that it's downright dull." And so there's nothing to do but watch TV and eat Cheese Puffs, or Twinkies and Little Debbie cakes when he can get 'em. Take today, for instance. There was only that one minor blip on the scan of his Fat Computer. For a minute there, it seemed like something might be happening at Acne Labs. But then it stopped, so it was probably just a faulty fire alarm line.
And so he stayed home once again to watch Captain Caveman on the tube. Tomorrow would be soon enough to check it all out. Little did he know that some nefarious crooks had plotted to blow the place up in order to squelch their competition. And little did anyone know that an explosion of the lab's toxic chemicals would result in a mutation, spawning a new supervillian to have to deal with ..... Toxicman!
This is a linear, 2D, 3rd person, point & click game, with inventory and subtitles. The interface operates smoothly with absolutely no problems, and it's very easy to use. It's set up like one of the old fashioned games with onscreen icons that you click on to walk, take, talk to, etc, and with buttons for your other options like save, load, and quit always in view. The volume for music and speech can be adjusted, as can Fatman's walking speed, and even the game's speed (handy if you need to slow it down for certain puzzles). Plus there's something else we haven't seen for awhile: a point system for keeping track of how well you're doing.
The graphics are detailed and well drawn in comic book style (which is the only style that would've been right for the subject matter), and the sound effects are perfect. And we were particularly impressed with Mark Lovegrove's soundtrack. The music is varied, appropriate, and very good (especially in the intro), and it adds a lot to the feel of the game (turn on your speakers and refresh to hear some now).
We were also impressed by how well the humor is handled. This game is pure camp, and the humor is current, tongue-in-cheek and often hysterical, even quotable at times (like "What's so $#!% important that you have to wake me up at Noon?"). Doak is a keen observer of human nature with a sly sense of humor, and he's a master of the one-liner: we laughed in delight many times. And unlike some of the games we've played, this one doesn't try too hard. Instead the dialogues and comments are kept short and sweet.
You'll meet a bunch of unusual characters, and for the most part the voice acting is good, including the weird, funny narrator who sounds for all the world like one who used to be on the old timey radio shows. You'll visit places with such memorable names as Mary Kate Cosmetics, the Burrito Barn, and Wrent A' Wreck, and there are some great little surprises along the way (Robin totally cracked us up).
The puzzles are logical and real world appropriate to the situation (no mazes or sliders, etc), and they range from simple to complex. None are too difficult, but several are very clever (like the ATM card and the cold Pizza), and so may leave you momentarily stumped until you remember to think like you're really there.
You do have a choice between playing it in either an 'Easy' or 'Hard' mode. The puzzles are no different, but in 'Easy' mode you'll get a hint if you can't solve a puzzle, and you get to 'Retry' if you accidentally get killed. And you will almost certainly get killed periodically just from normal curiosity and/or stupidity. But don't worry about it: the death scenes are all part of the fun. Just make sure that you save often. Unfortunately there are only 6 save game slots (which is our only real complaint about the game), so if you want more than that, you're going to have to move your old saves elsewhere.
We enjoyed this game from the get-go. It's a lot of fun to play, and it's suitable for the whole family. Michael Doak is a real talent, and we certainly hope that he's already busy working on his next game. But in the meantime, make sure that you don't miss this one. Recommended!
© May 2003 Mr. Bill and Lela
NOTE: Be sure to look at all the special things that Michael has included on the CD. Among other things, you will find the music from the game, pictures of Michael, and even the very first game that he ever made!
Developed (2003) by Michael Doak and Socko! Entertainment.
NOTE: An all new Special Collectors Edition with voice was released in 2007. As Michael says it has been re-released, re-mastered, revanped and regurgitated. It now has an all new alternate ending! A new easy to use EXIT pop-up mouse mode! You can now explore Fatman's bedroom, one of several re-mastered backgrounds and additions! And you can try to find the 9 Easter Eggs, the extra 5 points and solve the new end game puzzle? There are also several new bonuses on the CD in addition to what was on the original CD.
Minimum System Requirements:
PC: Pentium 100 MHz Processor; Windows 95 / 98 / 2000 / ME / XP; 32 MB RAM; 320 x 200 VGA Display; DirectX Compatible Sound Cards; 247 MB of Free Hard Drive Space; Windows Compatible Mouse
Where To Find This Game:
Adventure Games Studio Original Release (2003) - a Free Download, but without voice!
The best chance for finding this game on a CD with voice (2007 release) would be at used software places or auctions or trading sites. Our Places To Buy Games page may be able to assist you in finding a CD copy of this game.
Walkthroughs or Hints: