Jazzpunk, eh? What's that all about? That was the question I was struggling to answer the last time we were treated to a Jazzpunk trailer. Since then I've not only learned what the game is, but also played a section of its IGF build - the very one that secured the game a Seumas McNally Grand Prize nomination. Given that, you'd think I'd be prepared to at least understand this new Jazzpunk trailer. And yet...
JAZZPUNK! It's a punchy and satisfying word to shout in bars, at interviews, and in the middle of conversations. That's what I've been doing ever since I played the IGF preview build last month. Little surprise then that the comedy espionage adventure was nominated for the competition's Seumas McNally Grand Prize. Today, creator Luis Hernandez announced both the mysterious appearance of the game's Steam page, and JAZZPUNK! a release date of February 7th.
Jazzpunk describes itself as a "stylized first-person adventure comedy," an amalgamation of adjectives which fails to properly herald this teaser trailer. In development by the indie Necrophone Games, Jazzpunk ostensibly stumbles upon a working marriage of jazz, cyberpunk, ZAZ humor, retro style, and a tale composed of "gadget-driven" antics. Humming under the hood is a Jokes Per Minute Meter gauging the amount of yuks Jazzpunk throws at you and boosting the humor after it falls below a certain threshold. No, seriously. Have a look.
Every week, Richard Cobbett rolls the dice to bring you an obscure slice of gaming history, from lost gems to weapons grade atrocities. This week... wait for it... wait for it... It's...
If a man's worth can be judged on how many drunken students and parents have repeated their material, the Monty Python team is rich indeed. They've not done too badly in terms of more mundane success either. From the Spanish Inquisition to the Dead Parrot, to the cinematic masterpiece that was Life of Brian, there's no sense pretending you don't know who they are. (Though if you don't, you'd probably best avoid sitting down with a notepad for that upcoming Holy Flying Circus thing...)
But did you know there have been Monty Python games? Five of them to be exact, four on PC. How do you turn the anarchic surrealism of a sketch where anything can happen, but will probably get forgotten due to not being about Vikings singing about spam, into a game? Let's find out...
Every week, Richard Cobbett rolls the dice to bring you an obscure slice of gaming history, from lost gems to weapons grade atrocities. This week, prepare to enter a world of adventure where life is cheap, only cheaters prosper, and a few familiar faces are looking forward to saying hello.
When I say that I hate the Myst series, I'm not being entirely fair. Oh, they are dreadful, don't get me wrong - the most fun I ever had with them was imagining that their backstories were a lie, and really the inhabitants of these pretty-but-boring worlds died out because some idiot locked their only toilet with a stupid puzzle that required them to demonstrate knowledge of local celestial movements before they got to take a bowel one. If you put me on a desert island with a computer and the entire series, I would snap one of the discs in half and use it to slice my own wrists open. Probably Riven.
Really though, what I hate about them is what they did to adventures - convince people that no, we didn't want characters or plotting (and please, spare me the links to a wiki about the intricate backstory of the Stoneship Age) or puzzles with an actual reason to get in our way. Now, if you could render a vaguely pretty world and put some unmarked levers and dials on it, your job was done. In the entire history of Myst-type games, I can list maybe five I genuinely consider worth having given a chance.
So when I now say that Zork: Grand Inquisitor was a wonderful surprise, I really mean it.
FREE STUFF ALERT! Our friends at Good Old Games have given us 10 copies of Zork: Grand Inquisitor to give away. Check out the competition details at the end of this post.
Richard Cobbett takes a break from bad adventure games in favour of a trip to the bar where everyone knows your name... because they're telepaths, aliens, and crazy people from the future.
Finding a nice surprise in a bargain bin is always a mixed experience. Good, for the obvious reason: hurrah! This is terrific! Bad, because it ended up there at all. If the game doesn't suck, that only leaves one option: it just didn't sell. In the case of Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, the jewel case was beaten up, cracked, and came from a flea market somewhere in America. It was the game equivalent of the bedraggled cat at the back of the animal rescue shelter, with the big hopeful eyes, moulting fur, and cage right next to the room where they keep the nighty-night needles. I picked it up mostly out of sympathy, and I actually got it for free, because the guy on the stall couldn't be bothered to make change for a note.
It deserved better than that. After carefully disinfecting the CD case and discarding it in the hope of stopping the faint but lingering smell of second-hand underpants and unidentifable juices getting into the sofa, I put the disc into my PC with no idea of what to expect. I'd never heard of the books it's based on. I didn't know what type of game it was. It didn't have even have a cardboard box with some hints (which would have both made it sound cool, and immediately caught my attention with the words "Written by Josh Mandel" - one of Sierra's most underrated writers/designers). It could have been anything.
It turned out to be the second-best thing I ever bought from a man who smelled of rotten eggs and liked noisily snacking on long, sloppily scooped up strings of his own glistening snot between sales.
Richard Cobbett is a cop on the edge... of insanity! The biggest crime Hopkins FBI should stamp down on is its own miserable existence. Anyone got a spare noose?
Hopkins FBI doesn't make me cross, it makes me sad. No, wait. Scratch that. Reverse it. I hate this game. I hate it. When I think of games that have made me genuinely angry, Hopkins FBI may not top the list, but its name is still circled, underlined twice, and with little daggers sketched around the letters. It's so bad, I fire it up about once a year just to remind myself how much I hate it.
How much do I hate it? I hate it a lot. It's one of the most cack-handed, misogynistic, mean-spirited adventure games I've ever played, not to mention one of the stupidest. It's a game that doesn't seem to have been designed so much as congealed. If it has one redeeming feature, it's that... no. No, forget fair and balanced. The only reason I haven't microwaved the disc is that I don't want the karmic fart-cloud of its ghost hanging around my kitchen for the rest of time. I cook food in there.
Warning: This week's Crap Shoot contains uncensored nudity and some pretty graphic violence. For real this time, not like when I joked about it with Leather Goddesses of Phobos. It probably won't shock you, but it might 'surprise' your parents/boss/colleagues/gimp/hamster if they see it over your shoulder. Warning over. Read on like you were going to anyway.