Release Date: April 2009
Note: Originally published 7 April 2009
Short, but sweet. A great sentiment when describing a visit from your mother-in-law, an appointment with the proctologist or even my mother, who is only 5-foot in height, but not when applied to life or, for that matter, a computer game.
Fenimore Fillmore’s Revenge is the title character's third appearance – 3 Skulls of the Toltecs (1996) and Wanted: A Wild Western Adventure (2004) being the previous two - spread out over a span of thirteen years.
This time our lanky John Wayne wannabe has finally hooked up with the sexy Rhiannon, who is wearing a blouse that threatens to explode free of its buttons and blind some poor cowpoke at any moment if she takes just one hefty breath. An encounter with a wounded stranger puts the couple on the hunt for hidden treasure but first they must survive a kidnapping, outlaw ambushes and frenetic shoot-outs.
The 3D western graphics are beautiful with a wonderful color palette, the dialogue is humorous at all of the right spots and the voice-acting, well, it won’t make you cringe - at least not too much. Still, the characters are likeable and if you’re an old-time Zorkian adventurer, then the old outlaw in his rocking chair next to his jug will have you mouthing, ‘Want some rye? Course ya do.’ You can also play as either Fenimore or Rhiannon, depending on the situation, though by game’s end Fenimore seems to have been relegated to the shooting sequences. As for the score, we’re not talking Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling here, but neither is it intrusive.
The game is traditional point-and-click and it would have been a welcome addition if – as many adventure games now include – a key could have been pressed to highlight all of the hot spots on a screen, as there were times when frustration would set in as a puzzle couldn’t be solved and the mouse had to be dragged continually across the screen in search of a pixel that may have been missed. Overall, though, the puzzles are not too difficult and follow logic. In fact, this is the first game I’ve played in ages in which I didn’t need a hint from the developers or a quick peek at a walkthrough.
But that could also be because there are a few puzzles in the game that for some inexplicable reason the developers decided to do everything but solve the puzzle for you. For example, Fenimore and the old outlaw arrive at a mine where the other bandits are expected to arrive, Fenimore’s companion tells him that they need to construct a trap to stop the bandits and that maybe Fenimore should chop down the telegraph poles and then put them in the mine cart and then push the cart over to the mine entrance and then put the chopped-up poles on the…well, you get the picture. Seriously, what was the point of this entire puzzle? The solution is laid-out in precise order and one simply needs to complete the tasks. There is no thought process involved on the part of the gamer.
What could have been a highly recommended game, though, ends up riddled with two large blanks from the six-shooter. First is the inexcusable combat. Yes, I said that horrible word that does not belong in any review of any adventure game – ever. While a game-ending shoot-out between the bad guys and the good guys would have been understandable – this is after all a game set in the Old West – the developers decided instead to include numerous shoot-outs, each longer than the previous and each based on a trial-and-error process that requires the gamer to start and restart the sequence numerous times until having memorized the location of every opponent. Worse than the combat, though, is a sequence early in the game where the old outlaw insists that Fenimore must complete a training program that consists of shooting four targets. I still don’t know what constituted success – if it was the order in which the targets were shot, or the time it took or even how many, as it took me over 50 attempts to complete this section and I still don’t know what I did correctly.
Then immediately after, the old outlaw is still reluctant to help Fenimore unless he passes one more gunplay test by shooting a tossed whiskey glass. This actually turns out to be a puzzle and not a shooting sequence, but it takes a few attempts before realizing that not only do you not need to shoot your gun, but that the clue to solving the puzzle is in the cut-scene.
The second large problem with Fenimore Fillmore’s Revenge is that it is short. Short, short, short. As in you-can-complete-this-game-in-under-five-hours short. In fact, I was quite taken aback when the game abruptly ended and wondered if I had somehow bypassed some areas. I know times are tough and budgets tight, but adventure gamers expect a little more game for their money.
At times, playing Fenimore Fillmore’s Revenge was a hoot as the quirky characters were like revisiting old friends, and the puzzles with an old-west twist were a unique change of pace. But the shortness of the adventure combined with the excruciating shooting sequences and occasional pixel-hunting will have this game galloping quicker than the Riders on the Storm to Boot Hill.
Final Grade: C-
If you liked this game, then...
Play: Wanted: A Wild Western Adventure
Watch: Blazing Saddles
Read: Hey Cowboy, Wanna Get Lucky?
PC: 2.0 GHz (Dual Core 1.6 GHz) Processor
512 MB RAM
Nvidia GeForce or ATI Radeon with 64 MB RAM
DirectX Compatible Video Card
DirectX Compatible Sound Card
4 GB of Free Hard Drive Space
Mouse and Keyboard