Lucas Arts, Tim Shafer, graphic adventure games and the 90s– a match made in heaven. While id, 3D Realms and Valve were hard at work, bringing to the PC, groundbreaking graphics technology and mass appeal, the in-house studio at Lucas Arts was well ahead on their way in making charming, innovative and experimental point & click adventure games that oozed the words passion. When I say point & click adventure, don’t mistake it for the ‘story-driven‘ walking simulators readily available in the market right now. The games I cite are balls to the walls, thought-invoking and often frustrating experiences that are still fondly looked back today. The partnership of Tim Shafer and Lucas Arts brought us classics like Secret of the Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle and Grim Fandango, several of which already populate lists of greatest games ever made. What a time it was indeed.
“When I’m on the road, I’m indestructible.”
Yet, in an age where graphic adventure games are synonymous with Telltale’s The Walking Dead, you’d be hard-pressed to find mainstream gamers who are familiar with the aforementioned classics. But thankfully, several of them have been brought back from the dead in the form of remasters. Among these, Full Throttle holds a special place in my heart and with good reason. Set in a futuristic apocalyptic setting (think Robocop meets the first Mad Max), Full Throttle follows Ben, the leader of a biker gang known as the Polecats. The game begins with Ben riding off into the sunset (or sunrise) with his totally badass yet impractical chopper sporting a slot for the Pre-Regulation Destroyer Class Solid Fuel Recoil Booster. What good is an introduction if it doesn’t have a monologue? “When I’m on the road, I’m indestructible. No one can stop me. But they try.” Yep, good enough. Then we are introduced to Malcolm Corley, the CEO of Corley Motors, the last domestic motorcycle manufacturer in the country. Malcolm and Adrian Ripburger, the VP of Corley Motors meet up with Ben and his gang to aid in his assistance in accompanying them to a shareholders meeting.
It doesn’t take long before things go sideways. Corley is brutally murdered by Ripburger and Ben is framed for the murder. Apparently, Ripburger wants to take over Corley Motors and produce minivans instead of motorcycles. Blasphemy! Any self-respecting biker will not have any of it! Ben’s gang is apprehended by the police and he’s outmanned and outgunned. Thus, Ben goes on a lone adventure to bring down Ripburger and clear his name in the process. There is a lot more going on in the story but do I look like a spoiler sally to you? In short, the story is badass and so are the characters. How? Because I said so.
Don’t you dare mention Ride to Hell: Retribution
Full Throttle made me a bike junkie. Well, not completely per se. However, it was one of the first time I saw the concept of motorcycle gangs and clubs and stuff. It’s really weird too because even if you play as the awesome leader of a motorcycle gang, it’s the least biker-ery game there is (don’t you dare mention Ride to Hell: Retribution). Sure you get to ride a bike for a lengthy period of time and wack other riders Road Rash style. Some other gangs also make a brief appearance. But as far as the story is concerned, it’s really about exposing Ripburger for the criminal he is and giving a middle finger to mini-vans. Screw that shit!
But the whole biker set up and a few badass cutscenes was enough to make little ol’ Jay a fan of the whole biker culture. An enthusiasm towards motorcycle and motorcycle gangs that accelerated (see what I did there?) with Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned and Sons of Anarchy. There’s nothing like cruising the highway at high speeds with just the wind on your back. Just a 300kg machine between you and hot asph…actually scratch that. Just a 300kg machine and an IS 4151 standard safety helmet between you and the hot asphalt. Now, do I regret paying 1.25 Lakhs for a Royal Enfield 350cc? Sometimes, but all those long trips with my gang made it worth it.
Caught the one that got away.
All right, that’s enough sidetracking. If Full Throttle is so much dear to me, why was it on my backlog? Well, the last time I played the game was when I was 7 or 8 and was dumb as hell (still is). I didn’t have the strongest grasp of English, let alone a mind for puzzles. In contrast to the likes of Grim Fandango and Monkey Island, the puzzles are not that hard as I have come to know recently. But as I said, I was not the brightest of the lot and got stuck towards the end of the game. Back then, we (me specifically) didn’t have access to stuff like walkthroughs or even proper internet for that matter. Graphic adventure games also used to have a lot of meat on them and were not just restricted to walk around, talk to people and take arbitrary decisions. There was a lot of thinking and logical reasoning going on. I’m glad that I gave Full Throttle a second chance though. Finally caught the one that got away.
But is nostalgia the only thing that is keeping Full Throttle Remastered relevant? Of course not. Along with enthralling players with an engaging story coated in humor, they are treated to a unique world, interesting characters, amazing art style, memorable dialogues, licensed soundtracks, and top-notch voice acting featuring the likes of Mark Hamil (the guy even manages the impressive feat of voicing multiple protagonists) and Roy Conrad. Above all, Full Throttle Remastered is a faithful remaster, providing high-resolution graphics, enhanced sound, controller support and a slew of extra content without losing sight of what made the game great in the first place. One can even change between the new and old graphics seamlessly at any time with the press of a button. Only if it was a bit longer.
Looking back, Full Throttle may not feature the complex puzzles or lengthy storylines sported by its peers and clearly lacks any form of player-driven narrative seen in modern graphic adventures. But, play it once and you’ll have a clear idea as to why it is hailed as a classic. There’s some irresistible charm to the world, the characters and the general look and feel of the game. I miss the days when graphics adventure games didn’t have to make compromises in the gameplay department to tell a compelling story.