|Just Adventure News :|
|Home - Forum Home|
|30 JUN 2006 at 3:29pm|
Posts : 4
Joined: 5 MAY 2004
Status : Online
|(This review is divided into three parts. The first part is below, with the two additional parts appearing in the two posts that follow this one.)|
AL EMMO AND THE LOST DUTCHMAN'S MINE DEMO REVIEW PART 1
HIMALAYA STUDIOS SETS OUT TO HONOR CLASSIC ADVENTURE GAMES
After having just finished Act 1 included with the demo of Al Emmo and The Lost Dutchman's Mine I have to give my complements to game designers Britney Brimhall and Chris Warren, writer Daniel Stacey and the rest of Himalaya Studios for an excellent experience. These three talented individuals along with the rest of Himalaya Studios were infused with the fire and passion of bringing back classic adventure gaming with Al Emmo and The Lost Dutchman's Mine, their first commercial game. It would indeed be a shame if adventure gamers did not give this game a chance and simply dismissed it for not being similar to recent adventure games such as Syberia, Runaway, Keepsake and others.
In development for about four years, Al Emmo and The Lost Dutchman's Mine is its own unique adventure game that brings its own charm and polish to the genre. It succeeds in honoring the classic Sierra adventures and allows us to relive the nostalgia of classic adventure gaming that many of us so fondly remember but with vastly improved graphics, gameplay, voice acting, music and story. It is with this mindset that you will find much to enjoy in Al Emmo and The Lost Dutchman's Mine. What follows are my impressions of the demo of this game and why it succeeds in what it sets out to do!
The game takes place in the town of Anozira, modeled after the intriguing desert and wilderness regions found in the state of Arizona, home state to game designer Britney Brimhall. You will find yourself enjoying how the desert like environments help to set the mood and the atmosphere of this game so well. The graphics do a remarkable job of giving the player the feeling of being in a quiet and secluded town, isolated from the hustle and bustle of larger cities. It is in Anozira that our main character, Al Emmo, finds himself searching for a bride to become his wife, but little does he realize that he is going to get into more than he bargained for. I had my doubts regarding the graphics due to the resolution of 640x400 being used but after seeing the many areas in the demo, my doubts were completely gone. It is obvious that much work and care went into creating the detailed environments within this game. I especially enjoyed the paths away from the town that very vividly depicted the type of terrain and plants one sees in Arizona. It is obvious from playing the demo that research was done in order to create these environments as one might expect them to look.
Special mention must be made of the very beautiful character portraits within the game. It brought back fond memories of the classic adventure games such as the first Gabriel Knight adventure that used them and others. Speaking of characters, I appreciated the personality given to all the characters, as each had their own unique style. Especially hilarious is the store owner and how he pronounces certain words. There is also the mayor who seems to do nothing more than rock on his chair but it is obvious that he at least has a vast knowledge on many subjects. One must not forget Al and how he seems to react hilariously to certain events in the game. One memorable scene I can't forget is when Al sings to a woman named Rita that he seems to have fallen in love with. It is hilarious how it seems that she barely acknowledges his presence after Al sings to her. In this demo, which features only the first of nine acts in the game, it will be up to Al Emmo to find a way to show his love for Rita. From what I have seen in the demo I am eager to see how these and other characters will play out in the rest of the game.
I also loved the use of comic book type panels as seen at the end of the first act to move the story along. These comic book panels are an excellent inclusion within the game and I really appreciated how beautiful they turned out to be and how they just add that extra charm and polish to the game. The way the panels light up as the scene progresses was an excellent technique to use and I hope to see more of these types of comic book scenes in the game. As obvious by these comic book panels, the introduction to the game and through playing the game how the story seems to have been finely crafted as I just wanted to keep playing to find out what was going to happen to Al as he searched for a gift to give Rita and show his love. I must admit feeling sorry for Al after what happens at the end of the first act and all he went through to get something special for Rita. When a game occupies my time as much as this demo has, it is a testament to the power of the dialogue and story within the game. I have only the best of expectations for the story in the rest of the game.
(This review is continued in the next post.)
|30 JUN 2006 at 3:34pm|
Posts : 4
Joined: 5 MAY 2004
Status : Online
|AL EMMO AND THE LOST DUTCHMAN'S MINE DEMO REVIEW PART 2|
Special thanks also goes to Tom and Diane Lewandowski for providing us with a soundtrack that complements the game so well. From starting the intro and throughout playing the demo, you can tell just how much the music adds to the atmosphere of the game. Tom and Diane are a talented team and their contribution to this game is appreciated. I can completely understand why Himalaya Studios are offering the soundtrack for sale after listening to the various music pieces within the demo. It is the type of music you just don't get tired of listening but admire for how much effort and dedication went into composing it.
Another favorite aspect that I enjoyed in the demo were the puzzles. I enjoyed one puzzle in which you must make a drink by listening carefully to what Kev, the saloon owner, tells you. If you listen to his words carefully you will be able to figure out what ingredients are necessary to mix for you to complete the puzzle. There is also one in which you must get a bull to do something after you have first completed earlier events in this puzzle. I found that this puzzle as well as the last one illustrating just how much attention was given into creating puzzles that are fun and fair and actually integral to the plot. Some adventure games in the past have frustrated me with poorly constructed and unfair puzzles that had no relevance to the main plot of the game. I was quite relieved to see that the developers took the time to fine tune and reach the right balance with the puzzles in this game. Overall, I am very impressed by how the puzzles were well integrated into this game.
HUMOR/VOICE ACTING/EASTER EGGS!
Humor is an essential component in this game as is obvious from the very beginning in the introductory cutscene that shows Al going to pick up who he thinks is a woman at a Saloon but instead is a man dressed as a woman. I also enjoyed all of the voices in the game, especially that of the narrator and Al. It is possible that some players may find the voice of Al irritating but you need to understand that it was done this way to illustrate a very whiny individual (think Urkel) that should grow as a character as you play through all nine acts in the full game. I had no major problems with the voice of Al myself.
The voices used for each of the characters in the demo with their own unique personalities added to the game very much as well as the constant hilarious banter between the narrator and Al. Voice acting in games is sometimes an area that is not given very much attention. Often in some adventure games it seems as if the voice actors are reading their lines without any emotion or energy. I can assure you that in the demo at least that this is not the case with the voices and that Himalaya Studios has taken the time to find the appropriate voice actors for each of the characters that appears in the demo.
I also appreciated how you can click on virtually anything in the game and have the narrator make a comment about it. This is something that even today is sadly missing from many adventure games. I am also very happy to see that the developers have included many exciting easter eggs in the game, like the one in which you click the talk icon on the lamp post at the start of the game and then Al starts preforming a rendition that honors the classic 1952 movie, Singin In The Rain. This easter egg caused me to burst out laughing and brought a smile to see its inclusion in the game. Of course, the fun will be in you finding all the other easter eggs by yourself. Some of the excitement in playing the demo was in finding out what the narrator or Al would say about a certain item you clicked on or what the many characters in the game would say when you asked them about your inventory items or in finding those special easter eggs!
(The final part of this review appears in the next post.)
|30 JUN 2006 at 3:36pm|
Posts : 4
Joined: 5 MAY 2004
Status : Online
|AL EMMO AND THE LOST DUTCHMAN'S MINE DEMO REVIEW PART 3|
AREAS NEEDING IMPROVEMENT
There are several areas that need improvement and I am sure Himalaya Studios will give them the attention they require. Budget constraints may have caused some of the following items since Himalaya Studios is a small company and this is their first game, so this is very understandable. One area that I feel should be improved a bit is Al's walking animation as the character does not seem to move as fluidly as he should. I also did not like the screen exits. It is almost like you have to hunt alongside the edge of the screen to find that exact spot that will allow you to go on to the next screen. This needs to be cleaned up a bit. It should be easy to just click on a large portion near the edge of the screen to go on to the next area. I also completely missed a path leading to a particular area that had a hospitality house. Clicking to get into this area should be made clearer instead of how it seems to be now. It might help to have an arrow or other icon show up when you click near these screen edges that when clicking on it, it will allow you to move on to the next screen.
I also noticed that on some occasions voiced dialogue would skip. This did not happen frequently but it did happen a few times. It would also be nice to have the introduction movie play when you start a new game, as the way it is now, players have to click on a separate tab on the main screen to view it. Some players may forget to view the introduction movie first and instead skip to starting a new game, thus missing part of the story. I also feel that more work should have gone into the introductory cutscene of the game, especially the character models.
It is not necessarily a bad cutscene, as it does a fine job of introducing the player to Anozira and the main character, Al Emmo, but some extra polish might have helped. One final item of note is that I would have appreciated seeing more types of animations in the game, such as birds in the sky, lizards and snakes moving through the desert areas. One of the visual effects that I did like seeing was the dust storms that occasionally appear, but I would have appreciated seeing more of these effects such as tumbleweeds being scattered by the wind.
THE VALUE OF LISTENING TO CUSTOMERS!
It is obvious that Himalaya Studios excels in providing excellent customer support and that making their customers happy is a priority above everything else. Himalaya Studios succeeds admirably in this area by actually listening to suggestions made by customers, such as adding the soundtrack CD to the collectors edition of the game, which it originally did not include, as well as lowering shipping prices that at first seemed very high to a more reasonable level. After seeing this company follow through in making these suggestions a reality it is quite easy for me to fully give my support to Al Emmo and wish them all the success on the launch of their first commerical adventure game!
FINAL DEMO IMPRESSIONS
While I feel there are a few areas that could use some improvement, based on this demo, Himalaya Studios have gone above and beyond what I was expecting in their first commercial game and superbly exceeded all of my expectations. I am very eager to play through the entire full version of the game and I do fully expect that Himalaya Studios will not let me down if this demo is any indication of the quality of the full game.
Based on the demo of Al Emmo and The Lost Dutchman's Mine, it is very evident that Himalaya Studios have succeeded in capturing the heart and spirit of the classic adventure games! Thank you Britney Brimhall, Chris Warren, Daniel Stacey, for putting all of your heart and dedication into this game, Tom and Diane for an excellent soundtrack that complements this game so well, Eriq Chang for creating one of the best official game websites I have ever seen as well as one of the best game covers and of course the rest of the talented individuals at Himalaya Studios and the dedicated beta testers that made this adventure game possible!
DEMO GRADE (FIRST ACT OF AL EMMO ONLY):
OFFICIAL AL EMMO WEBSITE
|30 JUN 2006 at 6:12pm|
Posts : 2
Joined: 30 JUN 2006
Status : Offline
|am i the only one who's EXTREMELY put off by Al's voice, reminds me of Urkel, i just coukdn't stand it enough to play|
|30 JUN 2006 at 6:52pm|
Posts : 4
Joined: 5 MAY 2004
Status : Online
Originally Posted By Aras (30 JUN 2006 6:12pm)
You do make a good point here that the voice is similar to someone like Urkel. Al Emmo is supposed to be something like Urkel, a main character that seems very whiny. Yet, I am sure that this was the intent of the developers to remind us of characters such as Urkel.
|30 JUN 2006 at 6:53pm|
Posts : 4459
Joined: 7 JUN 2003
Status : Offline
|Yeah, I think it was a bit grating on the nerves. I started to get used to it, but I think Urkel is a very good comparison and you can only take him in small doses. Ironically, it was the narrator that got to me even more. So much that I started to forget how Al's voice was.|
It still seems like a relatively decent AG. You can see there is a lot to it as far as fetch quests go and it does have some funny parts in it. It's dumb humor that makes you laugh. I hate to use the word dumb because it sounds overly negative which is not how I mean it. You know, humor like in Airplane or Scary Movie.
Some of the locations were very hard to find and not obvious enough. The Hospitality House for example. There were a few graphical glitches (Al going upstairs to his room in the saloon. If you click up above the door, he goes back into the stairwell and goes up and his arm sticks through the door of his room like he was inside.)
You have to admire the amount of work that went into it. Thats a lot of dialog and a lot of quests and a pretty good demo that gives you a feel for the game.
Copyright ©2013, Just Adventure LLC. All rights reserved in the United States and throughout the world.
All other products and copyrights mentioned on
Just Adventure LLC are the property of their respective companies, and Just Adventure LLC makes no claim thereto.