Deep breaths. You can do this. You can do this.
And so, after a rather longer period than I anticipated, we come back to the beginning. This whole series was prompted by my booting up Curse Of Monkey Island back in October of last year, and wondering: why was Curse the last high-profile 2D point and click adventure game that LucasArts made? Was the genre an evolutionary dead-end? Was the lure of 3D graphics — which were exploding in 1997 thanks to the Voodoo accelerator card — too strong to resist? And considering Curse in particular, I wanted to get a bit more context on just why LucasArts had abandoned their previously wildly-successful genre at precisely the moment they’d managed to usher it to its apotheosis — because Curse is absolutely fantastic.
So, I’m about to say something that might sound surprising coming from somebody who has been going around with the box art from The Dig as his avatar for the last 15 years. There’s good reason for that; not only is it an extremely striking piece of artwork, but there’s a lot about The Dig that I absolutely adore. I love the theme. I love the music. I love the artwork and the animation, and above all I love the sheer sense of atmosphere that The Dig conveys at all times. It’s the first one of these games where, for once, I don’t resent having to watch my character walk from one side of a screen to the other because that gives me a bit of time to soak in the sounds and visuals of its mysterious alien world. The Dig gets a hell of a lot right, for all that it makes some weird choices in terms of its interface; it would work extremely well as a visual novel, or perhaps as the 1995 equivalent of a walking simulator.
But as a classically-styled point-and-click adventure game with puzzles? I’m not so sure about that.
Prior to playing it for this series, I would have sworn that Full Throttle belonged firmly in my “unplayed” category of LucasArts classics. “Unplayed” isn’t an exact description, as I did have access to most of them at the time and the ones that I didn’t I’ve since picked up on GOG, but anything in this column I’ve not played for much more than twenty minutes — the amount of time it takes to boot it up, think “That’s neat!” (or not1), and then immediately forget about it for the next decade or three. In Full Throttle’s case I had very distinct memories of playing through the opening biker bar segment three or four times and absolutely nothing after that, since I hadn’t played past that point.