Monday, 19 August 2013

Tequila & Boom-Boom (MS-DOS) - Guest Post

Surprise! Hey everyone, I'm back! At least for today. As if I would miss Obscure-As-All-Hell Animated Cat Game August!

Previously on Animated Cat Game August, we've had the piratey PC platformer Claw and the Scandinavian sci-fi scrolling shooter Interpose!

Tequila & Boom-Boom title screen
And now, from Italian developers Dynabyte, it's Tequila & Boom-Boom.

You know Dynabyte, of course. They did hit Amiga adventure game Nippon Safes, Inc! You know Nippon Safes? It was in all the magazines and stuff! No? Alright, it was a bit pants. T&BB is also an adventure game, but it gets a free pass here because I'm told it has nice animations and you play as a bobcat, which is all I could ever ask of an adventure game.

Look, it's a Western! I'm a sheriff! Cool, huh?

I'm off to Stinky Town... to exact some vicious frontier justice from the barrel of a smoking revolver, no doubt. I guess the horse must be my trusted friend Boom-Boom.

Here's our protagonist, Tequila. The tuftiest little fuzzball who ever did wear a tin badge. Don'tcha just want to give him a big ol' hug?

The horse wakes Tequila up with a powerful telepathic message, telling him we've arrived at the Stinky Town Saloon. We walk into the Saloon with a purposeful stride and...

The cutscene abruptly stops here. Is that it? What am I supposed to do now? I was expecting somebody to react to my walking in here! There's no background music. Nothing.

They've not given me any adventure game-y interface either. Dynabyte have made it as simple as can be: left-click walks around and activates things, right-click inspects things. Right-clicking on Tequila brings up his inventory, but he's got nothing to his name but a single dollar. He's clearly carrying a pair of handguns, but I can't try them out on the bystanders just yet.

Let's cause some ruckus. There's a bored looking bird tapping his wings on the piano in frustration on the left, and a couple of guys playing cards in the center. Let's see what they're up to!

They're not too happy about me snooping on their game. No matter what I ask, they just tell me to push off. I'm the sheriff! Show me some respect, damn it!

There's some neat animation at work here while they speak, even if it is just a short loop. And all the dialogue is fully voiced in English! I should give the Italian language option a try sometime, and see if it transforms the game into a zany trip like it did with Claw.

Enough of these guys. I want a drink.

Another unique, zoomed-in dialogue sequence! Cool.

Tequila has a confident, somewhat relaxing Southern drawl to his voice that doesn't seem to match up to his big cartoon feline mug. It's a nice surprise, and it could've been a lot worse.

The conversation's a bust. The barman's got no information about why I'm here, instead he recommends his own special drink: onions, gin, rum, whisky... and a couple of chilli peppers. He calls it 'Dragonbreath'. Sounds good.

Alright, here it comes. Catch it, Tequila!

Tequila, you utter dunce. What do you call that?

To catch the glass, you need to click on the glass just as the barman prepares to throw it and the caption 'catch the glass' appears. It's a QTE. A mouse-driven QTE, in fact. They'd better warn me before they throw anything else like this at me. How was I supposed to know this dialogue scene was suddenly going to turn interactive? A little exclamation mark or something like David Wolf's JOYSTICK CONTROL would've worked fine.

If the player isn't told what is and isn't interactive, they have to slowly waggle the mouse during every damned dialogue in case it suddenly becomes interactive. I'm glad they animated Tequila's cringe and put in some funny dialogue, making this a fine and fun tutorial, but it's only funny once.

Let's try this again.

Aaaaah! A couple of attempts later (thanks to my dicky serial mouse) I've finally got my damned Dragonbreath! Chilli or no chilli, Tequila gulps the whole thing down in one shot.

And lets loose a phenomenal incendiary belch! The poor fly gets the full wallop of onions, gin, rum, whisky and chilli peppers right in the face and disintegrates.

This poor bird's just trying to tell me he's got a sore throat and he's twitching and thrashing all around the place like nothing I've ever seen. I know it would've been a ridiculous amount of work  (especially for a game not originally in English), but having the animation lip-synched to the speech would've been glorious.

Looks like sometime during all this excitement one of the poker playing weasels dropped a playing card under the table. I'll be a gent and return it to them. When I do, it suddenly dawns on the pair that your average deck doesn't usually have a dozen Aces in it. They settle the matter quite calmly.

CRACK.

The magnificently animated fight continues until there's no more furniture left within reach, and so they both end up drawing their guns and blasting each other in the head. Then the undertaker shows up out of nowhere and carries the pair away in a wheelbarrow. Blimey.

"Oh, I'm so sorry for being the cause of such a tragedy!", says Tequila without an ounce of compassion.

He's only just showed up in Stinky Town and two people (and a fly) are dead. He didn't even have to draw his gun. I think he ought to give the law enforcement business a miss before anybody gets hurt. Anybody else, at least.

With those two dead, it's just me, the bird and barman remaining. The barman just keeps offering me glasses of Dragonbreath on the house, probably curious how many Tequila can take before he just straight-up dies. I wonder if the bird would like one. Tequila's in the saloon for a reason, so let's see how this plays.

One glass catching scene later...

Oi, fly! Didn't I already kill you? How the hell did that tiny fly drink all that without bursting into flames?

The bird's furious, while Tequila just cracks a joke in that odd cowboy voice of his. I thought my burp completely annihilated that little bugger. Guess I've gotta do it again. Ring up another Dragonbreath, chief!

This time the fly survives. He lands on Tequila's nose and challenges him to a duel! My keen senses tell me I'm about to see a 'swat' caption if I hover my mouse around Tequila's nose.

Up comes the QTE caption... 'shoot'.

No, Tequila. Don't do that.

It's not quite dawned on him what an extraordinarily terrible idea this is.

Isn't anybody going to stop him?!

Nah, he's fine. It's a cartoon after all! Didn't stop the two weasels blasting each other to death just a minute ago, though... I've caused all the damage I can do around here. Let's see what's happening outside.

Hey, my horse transformed into a turtle! How about that!

This is Old Jack, a friend of Tequila's. He's travelling around the country, making maps for the government. He's the first character I've found that actually wants to talk to me about anything. It turns out Tequila isn't the sheriff after all, that's some other guy called John Good. And Boom-Boom isn't the horse, he's in a mine somewhere digging for gold. Important info.

I'm still confused as to what the ultimate point of the game is, but it almost certainly involves meeting up with Boom-Boom just because he's in the title. I can't ask Jack about the mine until I've found him some pipe tobacco, so I've got some adventurin' to be getting on with.

Next door to the saloon is the barber, with his own set of cracking animations. There's a charming hand-drawn and hand-prepared style to these that's visible through the clean lines of the digitally coloured animation cels, and it all looks smashing in motion.

I'm lucky I talked to this guy. He tells me exactly what I needed to know: I can find the tobacco in the general store on the other side of the street. I didn't even know there was an 'other side of the street'! The exits to a scene aren't marked at all, you have to wave the cursor around the edges of the screen until the cursor changes to show that it leads somewhere else. I'm going to be travelling clockwise around the edge of Stinky Town, visiting everywhere in turn.

To the right of the barber is the blacksmith's shop, with my horse safely tied up outside. What a relief! I'll go inside and thank the blacksmith for looking after him.

Whoa. That's freakin' weird. I should've guessed it, but I didn't expect the blacksmith to actually be a horse. Called Smith. Tequila's apparently got nothing to say to Smith right now, so he just asks him to take care of his horse.

"Don't worry. It's in good hands. I'm an expert on horses."

Smith is very unsettling. It's scary how he suddenly snaps his head around and scowls at Tequila whenever he speaks. My horse doesn't speak. My horse is just a horse. I don't like this room very much. Let's move on. Quickly.

On the other side of the street, we've got the saddler's store. There's a bunch of miscreants loitering here but I can't say "Hello" to any of them. That's a shame. What's the point of an adventure game if you can't talk to folks?

I wonder what kind of animal Horson is going to be... he's probably not going to be a horse as well: we've already had the horse.

Cripes, this guy's a horse too!

"You know, you look a look like Smith." says Tequila.


"HOW DARE YOU! JUST GET OUT OF HERE!"

Bloody horses, man. Bad-tempered, scary horses. Next house!

Oh, here's the sheriff! If this is the sheriff, then just who is Tequila anyway?

Turns out Tequila's a dangerous outlaw! And he's made his way to Stinky Town just to jump the sheriff while he's asleep...

"You either move, or you're dead meat Mr. Sheriff good-for-nothing. This town's too small for both of us. Say your last prayers."

"Oh please, God! Don't tell me it's that lousy womanizer and trouble maker - Tequila!"

Naw, it's all one big joke! Tequila spins his gun around playfully, plonks himself down beside his old friend and reminisces about the past.

"Old rascal! You recognised me!"

"How could I ever forget the biggest trouble maker on this side of the Mississippi? What brings you to Stinky Town, you old scoundrel? Are you wanting to increase your reward?"

Tequila's the harmless kind of outlaw: a goofball adventurer that just happens to carry a gun 'cause that's what outlaws do. John and Tequila go way back. Neither of them are really talking about why Tequila's in town or anything related to the plot at all. They're just old friends talking with each other. After all the awkward puzzle crap in the saloon and being yelled at by those creepy horses, being able to just listen to these guys and learn more about Tequila is genuinely entertaining and uplifting. This is such a nice scene, I'm putting up another screenshot of it.

Still further to the right is another set of ne'er-do-wells in neckerchieves. The neckerchief is a very overlooked fashion accessory, I reckon. My favourite is the tall, highly-strung looking cat in the centre, or maybe the sleeping fat guy on the right.

I'm feeling really let down by not being able to talk to these guys. They don't register as objects under the cursor, so I can't even inspect them. In fact, since I left the Saloon, there's been a real lack of things I can use or inspect. Some rooms seem to be full of items with lengthy descriptions and others have just one or two items with descriptions along the lines of "It's a lamp.", yet there's nothing to pick up. I haven't picked up a single item since leaving the Saloon.

Found the general store! That's one puzzle I can cross off my list. Hope my single silver dollar is enough money to pay for the pipe tobacco, or I'm seeing terrible mini-games in my future.

What do you bet that Mr. MOLE is, in fact, a mole? (Don't answer so quickly. He might be another damned horse.)

Drama! The poor raccoon girl pleads with Mr. Mole (who actually is a mole) to a lend her little money so she can bake a cake for her son, but she's already in so much debt that there's nothing Mole can do...

As soon as he sets eyes on the girl, Tequila falls madly in love with her of course. When I talk to the shopkeeper, she's all he wants to talk about. He's got the perfect excuse too: Melissa dropped her handkerchief as she left and he simply must return it, because he's a lousy womaniser and trouble maker gentleman.

"Ah, no way, son. That poor girl has enough trouble by herself, and surely doesn't need a smart guy like you buzzing around her."

Too bad, Tequila. She's surely long gone by now. Tequila may never see her again.

She was in the bank directly next door to the general store! Funny how these things work out sometimes.

"Excuse me, miss. I believe this belongs to you."

It's another scene full of wonderful animation! Tequila uses all his rugged outlaw charm to woo the young girl, showing off by his twirling his loaded gun around (and dropping it on his foot, the goof) and generally being equal parts admirably humble and loveably smug.

It all goes well until right out of nowhere a classy sleazeball going by the name Mr. Vyle butts in. He's the creep who's got most of Stinky Town under his thumb, and he won't rest until Melissa gives up her family's farm or she agrees to marry him. Oh no!

Tequila and Vyle get along famously.

"Listen, worm, don't test my patience. With just one snap of my fingers I could squash you like a cockroach. Do you get my message?"

"I wonder how you'd manage to snap your fingers after I have broken both your thumbs!"

The voices are entertaining, but the animation throws it off once again by not even trying to match up. The animated loops draw attention to other flaws in the performances and the script that could have been overlooked if the scene looked and flowed right.

You could've written this whole scene in your sleep. Vyle leaves. Melissa is overjoyed as nobody's ever stood up to him before. Tequila plays the perfect gentleman, right down to the lines
"Your life is in serious danger! Why did you do that?"
"I didn't like the way he looked at you."

And then Tequila blows it by moving in for a kiss and gets a slap to the face for his trouble. Oh well.

I've explored all of Stinky Town now; I wonder what I'm supposed to do next. Here's a map of the town which I only found by accident trying to escape the Bank. I started at the Saloon in the top middle, and worked my way around clockwise to the General Store in the bottom left, and the Bank on the left.

Hey, that's right! I never did get that tobacco for Old Jack! Back to the general store!

It's my lucky day. Mole's got some of Old Jack's special tobacco just in! It's safe and sound on the top shelf at the back of the store, just above his collection of gleaming, freshly sharpened Indian weapons. He props up a knackered old ladder, sticks a shoebox on top and gets stuck right in.

"Hah, Old Jack... It's incredible how survived till his age, especially considering the kind of reckless life he had. If you want to live till a hundred years, NEVER run any foolish risk."

There's so many unique animations in this game! I didn't even have to complete a mouse QTE to push Mole out of the way of danger. Could it possibly be that catching the drink was the only one?

With his pipe filled at long last, we can sit back and let Old Jack tell us the story of the founding of Stinky Town. It was founded many years ago, when Young Jack worked in the nearby mine. A prospector worked the mine fruitlessly for many days and nights, until one day he finally hit gold... right before the whole mine collapsed on his head. Word spread about, and "Goldy Town" was founded nearby. Hundreds flocked to the town looking for the dead man's gold, but none succeeded. Those too poor to leave became desperate, and Goldy Town became a haven for the lowest of the low, until it became such a shithole they officially renamed it Stinky Town.

You know, I've been playing this game for over an hour now and I've barely done anything. If every scene is this long, I can't imagine the actual interactive adventure part of this game is very long at all.

Boom-Boom is still working the mine, and I can find him off to the west of Stinky Town. I need to look for a rock that kind of looks like a face, and the entrance to the mine will be through the 'eyepatch' over the eye.

Alright, that looks like a face, I'll give you that.

Let's go.

"This isn't real... it's just a nightmare... now I'll wake up and he'll be gone..."

It's Boom-Boom! He doesn't look that happy to see me.

And Tequila? Well, he looks a little deranged.

"Come on, what's up? Aren't you glad to see an old friend?"

Tequila and Boom-Boom worked together in the past, stealing everything they saw that wasn't nailed down (but in a fun and happy kind of way). Their last misadventure left them both on the run from the Mexican army... Boom-Boom stole a General's horse, Tequila tried to win over a girl... it was all a big mess, and it left Boom-Boom a little sour.

Since then, Boom-Boom's dedicated his life to trying to find the lost gold. And guess what? He's actually found it! Well, one nugget of it at least. He could be just days away from finding the seam once and for all.

On hearing this, Tequila puts on the charm once more and tries to talk Boom-Boom around by changing the subject to food. Boom-Boom basically tells me to sod off and get my own beans.

So what's next, game? Do I 'get my own beans'? Yep, that's the next puzzle. Tequila must get his own beans: walk all the way back out of the mine, get back on the horse, ride back to the blacksmiths in order to get off the horse, walk to the general store, ask for beans, receive beans, walk back to the blacksmiths in order to get on the horse, ride back to the mine.

That's not a puzzle! I already did all of that to get the tobacco! I'm not saying I would have preferred having to grow my own beans through some convoluted gardening mini-game, but you can't just use the same puzzle solution twice! Especially when it's not a puzzle, it's just buying some beans from a shop!

And after I've got my beans, what then?

Tequila must cook the beans inside the mine, to entice Boom-Boom over so they can talk properly. There's one teeny-tiny area inside the mine where Boom-Boom has set aside enough space to cook the beans. Put the mouse anywhere else and nothing happens.

Let me tell you what I think of Tequila's animations.

This is Tequila's default talking face. I saw this thing plenty when I was in the Saloon, and I was beginning to worry that this was his only talking face because it's damned ugly. Tequila looks great a lot of the time, but here he just looks freaking weird. They've pasted this one face over several different poses throughout the game, and it always looks like Tequila is leering through the screen directly at me.

After eating all of my beans, Boom-Boom falls asleep in the mine and Tequila vows to keep watch over him and make sure nobody steals his prized nugget.

Which means of course I must absolutely steal Boom-Boom's prized nugget.

Glerk. Not quite, Tequila!

That's enough Tequila and Boom Boom. I've totally misrepresented the game in this post. It really isn't as good as it seems. It looks fantastic for an MS-DOS game (hell, for any game), it's full of entertaining characters, it's got fun voices and the plot doesn't make me want to throw up or scratch my head in confusion. But it's a God-damned adventure game, and it's been put together by absolute cretins. The adventure parts of the game are a tragedy and a disgrace that renders all of the obvious effort put into the non-interactive parts completely moot, as nobody with any sense will ever see them.

I couldn't figure out what I to do next at this point. I had a quick gander at a walkthrough and tried out what it suggested and I can definitively say that the fun stops here.

Here's what happens next: to get Boom-Boom's nugget, you need to drug him with chloroform. To drug him with chloroform, you need to buy it from the barber. The barber won't sell you it until you know you need it, and this scene...


doesn't have any visible chloroform in it, so unless you know that barbers sell it, you're right outta luck. You need exact change for the chloroform and it costs 25c. How do you get this?

Waaaay back in the Saloon at the start of the game, Tequila can ask the piano bird to play a happy tune or a mellow tune. If you ask for a happy tune, he obliges and nothing else happens. That's what I did. If you ask for a mellow tune, he plays a sleazy tune and a dame struts down the stairs. If you talk to her, she tells Tequila to buzz off. (This is the one problem in the Saloon that isn't solved with Dragonbreath, and the one problem where using the wrong item gets you any dialogue whatsoever instead of failing silently.) To get the dame to talk to you, you need to offer her a flower, and you get the flower by inspecting a funeral wreath on another screen several times until the caption changes to 'chrysanthemum' over a specific area, allowing Tequila to pick it up. When you offer her the flower, you get threatened by a goon who shows off his gunplay skills by shooting a hole through a dollar in mid-air. Tequila can then either choose to try to one-up the man, or stick his hands in his pockets and mumble to himself quietly. If you choose to back down, the goon leaves and you've silently screwed up the entire game.

If you accept the challenge, Tequila flips his last dollar into the air, and you get less than half a second to realise that this is the second QTE of the game and you're expected to click on the dollar as it spins to 'shoot' it. Miss, or not click at all, and you've screwed up.

Want to know why? If Tequila flips the dollar into the air and shoots it successfully, he neatly splits it into four quarters, both beating the goon and providing the exact change needed for the chloroform.

But that's not all! After you've got the chloroform, you can't use it directly on Boom-Boom. You'll find that out after another stomp to the blacksmith's to get your horse, a ride across Stinky to the mine, a stomp up the mine to the entrance and a final stomp down the inside of the mine to Boom-Boom, where Tequila will simply say this won't work without something to pour the chloroform onto. By this point, it was three in the morning and I chomping on my keyboard in a seething rage yelling "You're both wearing bloody neckerchieves!" through my teeth.

To get the 'something to pour the chloroform onto', you need to find some other loose fabric. You can't buy a handkerchief from the General Store and you no longer have the one Melissa dropped at this point. How about that 'carpet' I saw outside Horson's store? It's one of the few items outside of the Saloon that's actually interactive. The one behind the guy in the green vest here:

If you inspect it, Tequila remarks that it's a very nice carpet and he'd like to have one. He could tear a bit off, right? The carpet is completely useless.

Instead, you need to steal some cotton from elsewhere. First, find a rusty nail. The nail is in a rusty wagon. If you inspect the 'wagon', Tequila will mention there's sharp, rusty nails there, but that's all. You need to hover your mouse around a bit and you'll eventually find a single red God-damned pixel that represents the single nail that Tequila is willing to handle. Tequila will give you the same description as before, except that if you check your inventory, you now have the nail. After this, you need to find the undertaker's hearse, and use the nail on the seat cushions to extract a piece of cotton fluff. Of course, 'cushions' isn't an active item either until you've inspected the hearse a couple of times. No, the rusty nail doesn't work on the carpet as well.

After you return to Boom-Boom with your chloroform and your fluff, you have to figure out how to combine inventory items. If you right-click on Tequila with an item selected, he puts his currently selected item away. I'll leave this conundrum for you to figure out.

Adventure games, man. Why?

4 comments:

  1. hi robot cat glad to see you're back with good writeup of something even more horrific than bad 90s fpses no ones ever heard of!! with that being said there's still many more bad 90s fpses to go around that you haven't so since bad adventure games are way worse that means you're gonna go back and finish all of them, right??? thanks in advance your pal NINTONDO MAN

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey NINTONDO MAN! Glad you liked it!

      More 90s FPSes, huh? You're not gonna make me drag out the 3DO again are ya...? Oh crap, what have I got myself into now...

      Delete
  2. Nice to see you again indeed, and fun reveiw.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This Italian videogame is a rip-off of the Italian western comedy film "Lo chiamavano Trinità", known in English as "They call me Trinity". Tequila is the exact copycat of Trinità/Trinity, and Boomboom is the exact copy of Bambino/dontknowhowthecallhiminEnglish.

    ReplyDelete

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