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Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles (DS) artwork

Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles (DS) review


"Oh, boy. Jake Hunter wants so bad to be a cool film noir private eye. He's got the crappy one-man agency, the staff of exactly one perky secretary always bringing coffee, the no-nonsense attitude, the penchant for smoking (Marlboros. He’s very clear on that. Did Marlboro fund this game? “I had to think about the case, so I lit up a smooth, relaxing, non-filtered Marlboro. Mm, yeah, sweet.”). All he needs is a trenchcoat/fedora combo and a Max Payne-level of similes and he’d be good to go. "



Oh, boy. Jake Hunter wants so bad to be a cool film noir private eye. He's got the crappy one-man agency, the staff of exactly one perky secretary always bringing coffee, the no-nonsense attitude, the penchant for smoking (Marlboros. He’s very clear on that. Did Marlboro fund this game? “I had to think about the case, so I lit up a smooth, relaxing, non-filtered Marlboro. Mm, yeah, sweet.”). All he needs is a trenchcoat/fedora combo and a Max Payne-level of similes and he’d be good to go.

A personality wouldn’t hurt, either.

For a game that’s so wholly dependent on the narrative, Jake Hunter has little of worth to say. He’s got to be the world’s blandest gumshoe; it’s really hard to keep interest throughout the game’s murder cases because of this. He’ll comment on everything under the sun, sometimes the sun itself, but it’s all so much gray observation. At least even Jake himself seems to recognize his complete lack of appeal, at one point stating that he ‘gives a generic response’ before leaving. Though this is to a girl that was asking him out.

What she saw in him, I’ll never know. He looks like the bastard child of Frankenstein and Jay Leno, and has a perpetual protruding lower lip like he’s just been scolded by his mommy. The main art style in this game isn’t extremely pleasing to the eye, but they get the job done. One would think they could have more than 1 or 2 still pictures per main character, though. Lazy bums. While the main game pictures are fairly bare-bones pixel art, the case and title screens feature Jake and friends in a more detailed fashion; I was afraid he’d be presented in these as a mincing pretty boy straight out of your favorite anime Moukousho no Shiragii: Hair Chin Heart Finder, but they’re appropriate to the setting.

The game itself is remarkably short, and its difficulty nonexistent. I’m not even sure it’s possible to lose at this game, or get a worse rank or anything or the sort. The only time when you’re required to do any brainwork (cleverly titled ‘thinking’ points!), all you have to do is pick the right choice from the few provided in a series of simple questions. Pick the wrong one and you get a verbal slap on the wrist--“No, that’s not it!”--and get to try again at no further penalty. It’s like the game’s not even mad at you. Just disappointed. Never have I felt like such a failure… Sorry, Mom…

Other than that, the ‘difficulty’ lies in simply going to every location provided on a case, checking everything, and talking to everyone about everything provided. Basically, just go down every hit, hitting each stop on the way, and you’re square 90% of the time. When that doesn’t work, do it again if it somehow isn’t blatant which selection you need to re-pick, or give the character barring your way forward the obvious item they require.

The lack of difficulty could be forgiven if the game was an enjoyable read, but as said, it’s a bland, boring, lifeless affair. There are so many filler things to examine, and virtually none have any point to them. Why have Jake be able to even look out his detective agency window if all he’s going to say is something like, “This window shows the outside city. Many people can be seen milling about.” Ooh! That’s some colorful flavor text that really fills out the game world, isn’t it? On cases, the extra areas to check do nothing but slow you down for a second.

Even excusing that, the game is riddled with an assortment of tense changes, typos, and grammar flubs. In most games this could be overlooked as a minor annoyance, but in a game based solely around reading text it’s inexcusable for some of the goofs this game makes. Did Jake Hunter drop out of the fifth grade to start his crappy detective agency?

Oh, man. I kept playing this game hoping for something to happen, some kind of awesome turn-around point where I could say “if you hang in there ‘til this happens, then things get pretty good”. It never came. Even when the game gets into rock ‘em sock ‘em private eye fistfights it turns out even then I wasn’t able to lose. When I went out of my way to try and lose the game just made me auto-win anyway.

Even worse are the times when it gives you multiple options, just to have Jake say ‘no, I don’t want to do that’ when you pick it. Sigh. Why give us the illusion of being able to play you, game? You’re clearly playing yourself. Glad my ‘pushing A’ input is so valuable. Punish me when I pick a wrong choice, rather than just not letting me actually pick it! Something!

Wait, wait. I’m not being fair. There’s replay value! Of a sort! See, all that checking everything that you thought served no purpose other than to give extremely lackluster ‘color’ to the areas and no characterization whatsoever to Our Hero? Well, once in a blue moon, you’ll find a note or some such with big obvious red block letters. This is a code for the password screen, of which there are 7 altogether. They unlock a couple extra features, like a cutscene viewer for the handful of animated scenes the game offers, artwork, and so on. Nothing special, and not worth replaying to hunt them down if you happen to miss them somehow the first time.

Honestly, it’s hard to rate this as a game at all. Jake Hunter isn’t a game. It’s a mildly interactive novel with static character portraits and decent if repetitive and limited music tracks. This would be okay as like a 5 dollar download game to waste an evening on (the ‘game’ can be beaten in maybe 6 hours total for the sluggish), but as a full-priced retail? I’m stunned that they had the audacity to do it. And even more stunned the game somehow got a sequel. Oh, world.

Rating: 2/10

turducken's avatar
Community review by turducken (January 08, 2011)

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zippdementia posted January 09, 2011:

This is my favorite review of the tournament.
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overdrive posted January 09, 2011:

No. Mine is.

All "jokes" (the quotation marks are my subtle way of declaring I'm really not joking) aside, this was a very fun review to read that did have me chuckling a few times. You definitely have a knack for skillfully and cleverly illustrating a game's flaws. If I was judging this thing, you'd be getting a very good score. Fortunately for me, the people who are judging have already been paid off!
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zippdementia posted January 09, 2011:

For the record, Overdrive's review is my "least favorite" review of the tournament.
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jerec posted January 09, 2011:

I like all the reviews that don't beat mine. So for now, I like this one.

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