Full Throttle / LucasArts (1995)

Vincent Vega's Verdict:
I dunno, man.  That much playtime, it's short.  10 hours, maybe.  You know what I'm saying?  For a game to be that short, but call itself a professional game... I dunno.
Jules Winnfield's Verdict:
Yeah, but... see, a Lucasfilm game's got personality.  Personality goes a long way.  I mean, yeah, it ain't 50 hours of play, but then this ain't no little Journeyman Project neither.  You dig?
My Verdict:
I'll take ten to twelve hours of sly wit, good tunes, clever animation, and more-than-halfway-decent plotting at a paltry 320X240 8-bit than any damn 50 hour somnambulistic rpg rehashing the same old gameplay interspersed with miserly dolings of actual story.  Squaresoft, I'm looking in your direction.

Game Information

Game Type:
Graphical, Point-'n-Click Adventure
Author Info:
Tim Schafer, also known for Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango, reviews pending
Download Link:
Haven't got one, but you can pick up used copies on the cheap.

This game has been unfairly lambasted by others for its length.  And admittedly, The Bard's Tale took me longer, because it's tedious and monotonous.  But let's compare something more in-genre:  King's Quest IV took me considerably longer to play through, but I enjoyed Full Throttle considerably more.

I suppose that if I were to purchase a game new (at full, extortionist price... $60+ for a game these days?  Sheesh) and beat it in an unreasonably short length of time, I'd be concerned that I wasn't getting my money's worth.  But the joy of completing a game 7 years after is that the stress is over.  There's virtually no finance involved to sully the purity of it.  We can get down to brass tacks and begin to play the game as a game rather than as some sort of investment.

As a game, the graphic adventures I know and love begin to exhibit certain sub-genre patterns.  We've got two basic camps here (yes I'm generalizing a fair bit, yes there's plenty of exceptions, but still): Sierra games and Lucasfilm games.

Hallmarks of the Sierra style:  
* Interface tends toward complexity (most of them had text parsers until King's Quest V)
* Conversations with NPCs limited or non-existent
* Genres tend to be served straight up (fantasy/fairy-tale, police, sci-fi, sex farce), occasionally with a twist of broad comedy
* Somewhat bland protagonists
* Dozens of death scenes in a given game
* Puzzle design gets rather baroque at times   [Side note for this last: there's an interesting article from about two years ago (September 2000, I think) on Old Man Murray, where the reviewer expounds on his hatred for "that fucked-up Roberta Williams dream logic," and goes on to justly castigate the Gabriel Knight author for her bizarre stuff in this vein.  Conspiracy theorists have often read this as a ploy to sell hintbooks to recoup revenue from warezed games.  Once OMM is back up, I'll need to put a link here; it's interesting reading.]

Hallmarks of the Lucasfilm games:
* Interface begins as one of the first point-'n-click with Maniac Mansion and gets refined and simplified from there
* Conversations quickly become one of the big parts of the game
* Genres are mixed to form interesting concoctions (pirate comedy, aztec-and-Mexican-folklore-film-noir, futuristic biker story)
* Protagonists generally quite memorable
* Almost always impossible to die or put the game into an unwinnable state
* Puzzle design usually simple and relatively forgiving

Another aside: The astute Trotting Krip reader has doubtless already guessed that I favor the Lucasfilm style.  It's true, but I'll admit it's a personal preference thing.  We can compare it to your tastes in Saturday morning cartoons:  If you like(d) Rocky and Bullwinkle or the Tick best because of the witty dialogue, postmodernist chic, and general sly intellectual stuff that you felt was aimed directly at you, the Lucasfilm style is probably your baby.  If you find/found those shows a little too smarmy or self-referential and switched the channel for the easy viewing and camp giggles of, say, Superfriends, you'll probably go for the Sierra games.

I've been meaning to wax more on all these points, but this isn't the place to do it.  We were discussing Full Throttle.  It's clearly a Lucasfilm adventure.

You're a biker, Ben.  The leader of the pack in a gang called the Polecats, you're a gravelly-voiced anti-hero.  Setting is the undefined future somewhere in the American Southwest, always a fave of 20-minutes-into-the-future sci-fi for its breathtakingly dusty post-apocalyptic vistas.  The artwork is clearly inspired by traditional cel animation, and within the constraints of the limited 256 colors mentioned above (remember, in 1995 the games on the shelves were made under DOS for a target market of humble 386s and up) it looks pretty smooth.

Tim Schaefer's writing has a decent plotline, better than many cartoons on TV but not quite up to screenplay standards.  Ben's been framed and left comatose in a dumpster; when he comes to it's time to catch up with his gang and smash some heads with the scumbags who left him that way.  Some of the plot twists were a little easy to see, but I'd like to attribute this to a recent diet of more complex and nuanced writing, courtesy of the IF scene over the past half-decade.  The sort of person who'll play a text adventure nowadays is a lot different than what the mainstream was prepared to accept in the 1980s.

Where Schaefer really shines is in the dialogue.  The man has an ear for it that's nearly flawless, and while the basic frame of the plot is simple, the execution of the writing is beautiful.  Similar to Adam Cadre's fine craftsmanship in Interstate Zero, I found myself wandering around and looking at everything or trying unusual actions to see if there were tasty little nuggets of wit hidden around.  A quick if trivial example: where many games have a single generic "I can't do that with this here" response for actions outside the scope of certain items, Ben has a plethora of responses delivered in hardass-of-few-words character: ("Hmm... no."  "Nah."  "Uh-uh.") and one of my favorites, when using a steak found in the town of Melonweed: "That's not one of meat's many uses."  The designers worked really hard to keep everything in character and it pays off with immersive goodness.

The sound design, voice acting especially, holds up solidly even in the modern era -- some of the villains are recognizable as the guy who does the Brain on Pinky and the Brain [Maurice LaMarche, according to the IMDB] and Mark Hamill, fresh from his stint as the Joker on the Batman cartoons.  Ben is voiced by one Roy Conrad, who absolutely nails the part.  The cast in general is composed of real voice-over people from real cartoons, and the quality shows.  

Another digression here, and I'll try to keep it snappy this time: I'm told that Lucasfilm is finally going to do a Full Throttle sequel, and I've also heard that Roy Conrad died a year or two ago.  Which gives me pause, because I can't imagine anyone else doing the voice for Ben.  Another Lucasfilm adventure was ruined for me this way: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis.  No offense to the guy they found, but he's so obviously not Harrison Ford that I find myself rejecting the game like a transplant patient rejecting a donated kidney, and I can't help but wonder if I'll like the sequel or not.

At this point I'd like to flog the dead, flyblown horse of the Grand Theft Auto 3 debate once again.  One of the areas in which GTA3 fails for me is the writing and voice acting, doubly ironic since when Rockstar pimped the thing out they wouldn't shut up about how it had real "name" actors doing the damn voices.  (1.) The writing for the GTA3 characters sucks.  Leaving aside the gratuitous use of crime movie cliches for the plot and characterization, the actual dialogue was written by someone with a tin ear for the cadences of real speech.  Listen to Joe Pantoliano working up the froth for lines like "I demand compensation for this insult!"  Jeez.  The actors in general try to make adequate use of what they're given, but all the lines have the sort of stiff, mechanical readings that come from a screenwriter with no flair and a voice director with a penchant for overacting.  (2.) I get the impression that the real "name" actors involved in GTA3 were just picking up a paycheck.  The lines are delivered competently, but sucked dry of vitality.  (2a.) While the scripts and readings for the cutscenes are a washout, the patter on the radio stations is significantly better in both aspects.  Spooky when you think it over and consider what that means.

I only say this to raise the point that quality isn't something that can be captured in a certain resolution or polygon count.  Full Throttle has it, the vastly more-hyped and more expensive GTA3 doesn't.  

Dammit, I did it again.  Where was I?  Sound design.  Right.  The sound effect tracks are very smoothly laid down, rather than given short shrift as in so many other games.  And while much of the music is in MIDI, a format I've always found cheap and detestable for the most part, it's handled better than most MIDI.  And it actually has real music on the soundtrack, a couple of songs and instrumental numbers by a band called the Gone Jackals, who I've never heard of before now.  Good tunes, and the wailing electric guitar and heavy drum style just fits the biker theme to a tee.

There's a few points it could have been improved.  It seems like the game ends just as you're really getting into it.  I wanted more; I liked the setting and the characters too much to just leave.  A subplot to add a few more hours of play time might have made it not only longer but more complex -- as it is, the plot seems perhaps too straightforward.

There's also a fair amount of cutscenes, and they were longer than any game I'd seen previously.  It's not as bad as, say, the Final Fantasy chain (way to wear your hearts on your sleeves with the FMV, guys: "No, Squaresoft isn't a game manufacturer!  We're moviemakers!  We're artists, damn you!  We deserve respect for the CG anime we cram into our products.  All the RPG stuff is just to pay the bills...").  But the pace of the game seems to go Adventure, Cutscene, Adventure, Cutscene, Adventure, etc.  Day of The Tentacle had fewer and less lengthy scenes in it.  The scenes here are evocative, though, and the story they tell is engrossing.

Also, in between two cutscenes at about the halfway point of the game, there's a lengthy arcade-style sequence on the Old Mine Road.  The gameplay shifts gears a little abruptly here, and while most people shouldn't have a hard time with it, it feels (just a little) like sn odd departure.  There's another, shorter arcade-style bit in a demolition derby later on. but this one is less arcade and more puzzle-solving.  It wasn't bad, just sorta disorienting.

It's odd to review this one without first reviewing some of the games that came before, to get a sense of perspective.  It did things technically that pushed the envelope for the genre at the time, and the camera angles, perspective, and lighting were all significantly more like a real movie (or more accurately, like a really good episode of Batman: the animated Series) in production value.  It raised the bar for quality and production values more than any other adventure game of this style before it.  

Bottom Line:  very worth checking out.

Simple Rating
9 / 10

A fun ride.  Not flawless, but it didn't stop being enjoyable at any point.

8.6 / 10

Ahead of much in this art form.  Simple, but well executed.  Not as nuanced as others that I've seen, but adequate.  If you only want to play games with deep moral and philisophical subtext, maybe you should take a pass but... no wait, strike that.   If you only want to play games with deep moral and philosophical subtext, then this baby is just what the doctor ordered to get the stick out of your ass and start you enjoying life a little.

10 / 10

As mentioned above, it's sterling.  IF authors should take notes on Schafer's writing, it's up there with the greats.

9 / 10

Very nice indeed.  I'm docking a point for the odd arcade-style segment, not because it isn't fun or because I'm some sort of purist, but because it feels a little odd (see above) and it was a pain to get the goggles from the Cavefish cyclist.  I have the timing and arcade reflexes of an 80-year old librarian.  Most people won't find it as much of a problem.

Puzzle Quality
9.2 / 10

None are designed that would put the game into an unwinnable state; they're intuitive and blended into the environment in a way few games are and more games should be. Once again I'm drawn to the comparison with Adam Cadre's I-0.  The designer worked really hard to look at the locations and come up with puzzles that could be found there, rather than shoehorn in something obtrusive.  I'm docking a fraction of a point for the paucity of puzzles, (there's surprisingly few), the lack of multiple solutions (pretty linear, where I-0 lets you try just about anything), and for the ease in which I solved them (on the grounds that what I find clever and intuitive, the more experienced will probably find too simple).

Parser Responsiveness
10 / 10

 We'll just consider this a catchall term for "interface design," and I'll give it an excellent score.  The point and click interface used is intuitive yet flexible, and well-polished.  Actions trigger a variety of clever responses, and the animation is very nice indeed.  Quite satisfying to play.

Reader Comments:

June 22nd, 2003

Please someone send me the link to the game hassel9@home.se is my e-mail. The existing above doesn't work when I click on it.

June 18th, 2003

This is the best game i have ever seen man !

James Bond
June 9th, 2003

Jesus christ, you fucking leeches. Go out and fucking buy it. Goddamn leeches...

May 30th, 2003

There's a song in this game with a line to the effect of 'I thank the lord each day for the apocalypse'. CAN SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT THE TITLE OF IT IS?????

November 20th, 2003

if you want download a full throttle, here is web site:delac.mentesvirtuales.com/paginas/dfullth.htm

April 25th, 2003

Are you guys crazy????? This is the best game i have ever seen man !!!!!

March 23rd, 2003

you can get it off http://delac.mentesvirtuales.com/paginas/dfullth.htm but its spanish and there's no sound.

Buddy Keys
February 26th, 2003

This game rules guys....but will u get the damn link to download or not i wanna download it!!

February 5th, 2003

This game is simply one of the best game I've ever played. It's pretty much like the others LucasArts' good old adventure games (all the Indiana Jones, Sam & Max, Curse of The Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle ...) but the ambiance of this one great game makes it very special. Riders, Motorcycles, Corleys (Harleys ?) : this game is a must.

a guy who would like full throttle
February 4th, 2003

i would also be very pleased if you could send me an link to download full throttle... It's kind of hard to find. And i think it's a really gret game... Inte_den@hotmail.com

January 25th, 2003

I really feel uneasy about a sequel. Tim Schafer was disbanned from Lucasarts some years ago. I understand that more than one person on the developing team of Full Throttle contributed to the game's greatness, but the game was his brainchild. Without Tim Schafer's intelligent and witty dialogue and overall direction, Full Throttle 2 just isn't going to be the same. Secondly, Roy Conrad did die from lung cancer in January of 2002. The guy's voice talent cannot be replaced. I think it would be very irreverent to make a sequel after his death. Don't get me wrong...I'd love to se Ben and co. in a next gen game, but I just don't think it will work out...

Full Throttled bd HETHRO
January 6th, 2003

Full Throttle, possibly the greatest video game of all time. Why? It's not the gameplay, it's not the puzzles, and oh, lord it's NOT the story. What makes this immortal classic a classic is that it is the only game like itself. Only Full throttle has Chitlins. Whiskey and skirt. Only full throttle has the adorable bunnies. Only full throttle has Adrianne Ripburger. Only Full Throttle has Quohog the bartender. Only Full Throttle. Now it's just me and the bunnies.

December 31st, 2002

I too like FiTo am lookin' for this game(full throttle)I have all other lucas arts classics(except DOTT)&full throttle.I'd be really grateful if someone could provide a link to download this game.My e-mail address is pukipadke@yahoo.co.in

November 20th, 2002

Can YOou please... PLEASE!!! give me the link to download the game Full Throttle (Full)... Please!!! I've been lookin' for it about 3 months and no results... Can you? :) If you can just contact me and we could interchange something, don't you think so??? Please!!! Ciao amigo... FiTo: fitopoor@hotmail.com

November 20th, 2002

is a beutiful game

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