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Full Throttle Remastered (PC) artwork

Full Throttle Remastered (PC) review

"Avoids Choking"

OG Full Throttle was a bit of an oddity at time of release. You see, adventure games during the 90’s were often marathon slogs, multi-hour epics that kept their lengthy narratives securely locked behind a sleuthwall of inventory-based puzzles and mind-bending shenanigans. They were long, long games, lengthened considerably by the fact that solving the wield little puzzles they lay in front of you was no easy task, and figuring that all out in a time before GameFAQS and Youtube walkthroughs took, sometimes, ungodly amounts of time. It was the norm. Then serial offenders Lucasarts had a go at bucking the trend.

I mean, it wouldn’t be strictly fair to suggest that Full Throttle was overly easy and could be seen off in an afternoon, but Full Throttle is overly easy and could be seen off in an afternoon. Usually, this would lead to some derision from a target audience who considered beating games like The Longest Journey in under 40 hours a respectable speed run, but it cultivated a big enough following for two separate (and failed) attempts at a sequel. Perhaps that had something to with the fact that it was released at the tail end of the adventure boom, and the lack of near-obligatory spirit-breaking puzzles had stopped being a death sentence and was more appreciated by filthy casuals a tiring audience. Maybe they were impressed by its technological progression; Full Throttle was the first point & click to be released solely on CD-Rom. Mid 90’s peeps might have just been easily impressed with gruff biker gangs; I can’t really speak for the overall audience. I’ve always thought it was a pretty good game.

And a pretty good game it remains! This makes it kind of an odd target for a remaster, especially considering how little there was to remaster. The soundtrack was already excellent, taking the less travelled route of licensing music from an established band. It had already hit the heady heights of CD-based audio, so none of the voice actors had to rerecord any of their previous stellar work. Which is probably just as well; Mark Hamill has found his schedule somewhat cluttered in recent years, and the unfortunate passing of Roy Conrad means we’re just going to have to make do with his effortlessly brilliant reading of gruff biker gang leader, Ben.

Really, all they’ve had a go at ‘remastering’ has been the graphics which, I guess, kind of look good? The game was released at a time when artists were doing some really good pixel art, so the original’s graphics are already fluid and well animated; the new version is certainly bolder and better defined, but sometimes look like they don’t belong when set against the backgrounds. Like someone’s done a rushed copy and paste job, jamming two things that don’t belong together. That sentiment may feel a little unfair, and you could scroll through dozens of environments without it ever being a problem. Or you could just switch between the two versions on whim, making most of my bellyaching redundant.

So I’ll find more to complaint about. More valid stuff! Needing content to fill out the spaces where all the weird inventory puzzles would have once gone, Full Throttle boasts a number of pseudo-action stages that never seem to work on the level that they should. The worst offender by far is a stock car event where you have to plot a very precise path through a crowd of rival cars without being given much of an idea what this specific line might be. It is rage fuel, as you meander back and forth, feeling your way through via aggravating trial & error. What works better, even if it remains overly fiddly and mighty repetitive, is a section of the game where you can detour into a series of backroads and engage in awkward Road Rash-esque motorcycle brawls. The plan here is to wallop a particular rider and steal his gear for inventory puzzle based shenanigans – but you need to find him, first! The roads are filled with angry bikers, and they’re all keen to smash you in the face. Though not plot critical, beating these motorised hooligans up does mean you can pinch whatever weapon they’ve been trying to scalp you with. Watch out for the punk chick with the chainsaw!

Even when partaking in ham-fisted duels, Full Throttle is at its best when it focuses on its open infatuation with all things motorbike. So, weirdly for a game where some biker gangs double up as all-encompassing religions, most of your quest has you trying to protect the vehicle’s last remaining manufacturer. Hell, the main villain’s reason for being an antagonist is simply because he’s done with all that two-wheeled nonsense and wants the company to start spitting out minivans instead. He’s exactly as dastardly as you would expect such an intentioned villain to be, doling out numerous beatings, directing hired goons and selling adorable pink robot bunnies to the public from the souvenir store of his factory.

But they’re advanced robot bunnies because Full Throttle is futuristic-ish. I think what I like the most about the game is that it doesn’t make a big deal out of it; you’re in a world with technology much like our own, but it’s just better sometimes. A lot of Ben’s one-man war against the drudgery of minivans just expects you to roll with the weird juxtaposed world where you break into a clichéd junkyard patrolled by a mean tempered dog, but should you trip an alarm, police roll in with laser batons and hover cars. Perhaps it’s aided by the fact that it’s short, because you’re probably not in the world long enough to demand more answers. Perhaps it’s aided by its relative ease, because you shouldn’t really ever get stuck in one place long enough for anything to grate.

Weirdly, all the things that should have worked against it in 1995 (but more or less didn’t) are all considered positives in the current gaming climate. Hardcore adventure games aren’t dead and, despite the claims that crop up every handful of years, will always find a grateful audience. But shorter, easier games are more in vogue with the lazy consumer of today. In that regard, slapping on a new coat of paint and reintroducing Full Throttle to a new audience is an idea of worth. To the holdover audience of yesteryear, it’s the same as it ever was.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (December 08, 2019)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Nightfire posted December 09, 2019:

LucasArts was also the first to ensure that their adventure games never had a fail state, which made them far more enjoyable than their Sierra counterparts where you would die for any tiny mistake.

I don't remember this game being as short as you described, but maybe that's because I got stuck in a few spots and it made the game feel longer. I remember getting stuck trying to get into Todd's basement; I got confused as to why kicking the door open didn't get his attention, whereas politely knocking on the door would. I also got stuck on the Mine Road sequence when I was figuring out how to deal with the Cavefish. Out of the considerable arsenal of weapons, only the wooden board would get the job done. There's a certain logic to it, I suppose (you needed to knock him out so he couldn't activate the self-destruct on his bike), but it still took me a while to figure that one out.

There was sort of a Road Warrior post-apocalyptic vibe to this game, which fit the heavy metal theme. Vestiges of society were still present, but there was also a sort of wild west wasteland kinda vibe to it, which was awesome. Like you said, it sorta doesn't hold up against scrutiny in some places, but if you don't think about it too hard you'll enjoy the ride.

One thing I noticed in the screenshots of the Remaster is that it seems like they've done away with the 3D modelling? Can you confirm that? The game used some limited 3D modelling for Ben's bike and some other objects, and it looked okay at the original resolution, but I assume they did away with that and hand-animated it all? Or is it all cel-shaded?

One day I will get the urge to play this game again, and I'm glad this version exists, as I have lost my original disc. Any way you slice it, this game is a classic. I'm a bit surprised at the mediocre score you awarded, it's one of those games I'd probably give 4 or 5 stars, but maybe that's from a perspective of nostalgia. I did play it when I was a lot younger and my mind wasn't quite as critical back then. I'll have to play it again and see what my hardened adult brain thinks about it...
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Masters posted December 10, 2019:

Let's try this again.

I just left feedback and for some reason, it didn't take.

Anyway, nice review.

I rather like this line: "I mean, it wouldn’t be strictly fair to suggest that Full Throttle was overly easy and could be seen off in an afternoon, but Full Throttle is overly easy and could be seen off in an afternoon."

And the ending was just right. Kudos!

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