Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Jack Orlando: A Cinematic Adventure - Director's Cut (PC)

Jack Orlando Director's Cut Title Screen
Today on Super Adventures I'm going to be taking a brief look at Jack Orlando: A Cinematic Adventure. It came with five other games on a double sided compilation disc I picked up a while back and although the DVD case clearly says both "RPG" and "Role Playing Games" on the cover, I wouldn't be entirely shocked if this instead turned out to be an adventure game. Maybe even an adventure game with cinematic sequences in it.

I'm not all that familiar with this one, but I do know that I'm playing the Director's Cut of the game which came out 4 years after the 1997 original. As far as I'm aware they didn't do a 'Monkey Island: Special Edition' on it though and redraw the all of the artwork, so it should basically be the same thing except with a few updates and tweaks, maybe even a couple of extra backgrounds to visit and puzzles to ponder.

The game begins with a fully animated intro showing our private eye protagonist Jack Orlando stumbling out of a bar. We're in 30s America two days before the official proclamation announcing the end of Prohibition (which puts the date at about December 3rd 1933), and clubs and bars are apparently already stocking up. I guess Jack must have used his keen detective skills here to deduce an opportunity to get a head start on his binge drinking.

Well there's a mystery that even a detective would struggle to solve... why DOES the guy practically falling out the front door of a bar smell of alcohol?

Jack takes this moment to reflect on how things were before he ended up in this state. He used to be somebody in this town, everyone knew his name.

He got his face in the paper when he managed to catch the notorious villain!

Thanks to Jack, the police were finally able to take their only wanted poster down, and he got a cool $500 for his trouble.

Jack was also famous for rescuing a little girl from the ocean. Fortunately a press photographer was on the scene to capture the moment he carried her to shore (for some reason), so he got his face in the paper for that as well.

The game not really interested in giving any context for this, so it's unclear whether this rescue was the end result of a long investigation, or whether he just heard her shouting for help while taking a stroll and turned out to be the only person on this crowded beach who actually knew how to swim.

Jack even received the Freedom of the City from the Mayor, which is even more remarkable considering that living in America he should've gotten the Key to the City instead. Still, this does mean that instead of a symbolic key he was presented with a equally symbolic (but far more functional) Colt revolver, so that all worked out.

But somewhere along the line it all went wrong for Jack and now he's stuck trying to decide whether he wants to have a smoke, take another swig from his flask, or have a piss against this lamppost.

Meanwhile in the background some shady business is transpiring in the shadows. Jack ignores it and stumbles on by.

A sudden gunshot stops him in his tracks, and he turns to see the murderer still standing over his victim.

Unfortunately the murderer outwits Jack by ducking out of sight for a second or two, waiting for him to come investigate the body, then simply stepping out behind him and clubbing him over the head. Poor Jack, he was so close to making it all the way home without passing out as well.


LATER.


Jack gets a rude awakening the next morning as he's dragged to his feet by a pair of cops who immediately slap some cuffs on him and place him under arrest for the crime of lying unconscious next to a murder victim.

We've left the animated intro now, but these characters still have a lot of life to them. Here I'll just show you what it looks like in motion:

It's clearly an old game, but I can't fault the animation on these characters. It compares surprisingly well to Curse of Monkey Island, which is impressive seeing as they came out the same year.

On the other hand the voice acting is more Resident Evil than LucasArts so far, and the two cops have accents so bad I don't know whether to laugh or cringe. It doesn't help that the script itself seems to have gotten a little mangled in translation, making it impossible to take any of it seriously.

Oh cool I've finally reached gameplay.

Where's the option to say "Could one of you gentlemen lift up my hat and confirm that my brains aren't spilling out". Actually I suspect the main thing on Jack's mind right now is an urgent need to take a leak.

I'll go with the "Take it easy" option. If he's really friends with the inspector then bringing him into this should help my chances.

"You'll be spendin' the
rest of your life in jail.
Was it worth it?"

"Hey, man, I'll be spendin'
the rest of my life in Hawaii."

Wow, nice comeback there Jack. It's possibly not what I would've said, but I wasn't given the choice this time around. Unfortunately he just sabotaged his own cause as now the cops are worried that he's suffering from concussion and want to get him checked up by a doctor that he's crazy, and so he's being dragged down to the Precinct instead of being allowed to wait here with them for the inspector to arrive.


SOON.


Well now Jack's locked up in the precinct, stuck sharing a cell with one of his former informants with no possible way to get the door open from the inside. The worst part of this is that the informant has a really familiar face and it's going to drive me mad trying to figure out who he reminds me of.

    
Is it Brock Samson from the Venture Bros. perhaps?    Or maybe it's manga assassin Golgo 13?
Anyway I've been given another selection of dialogue options to choose from here, which is nice, though unnecessary as there's only one line there anyone would pick:

"Should my onetime best 
informer be in the shit?"

"Only a little temporary difficulty.
Why are you here?"

(By the way I should mention that I'm skipping a couple of lines here. I figured I'd spare you from having to read the entire scene.)

"Someone shot a guy called 
Reynolds and they're pinnin' it on 
me."

"And?"

"I got a knock on the head, 
then the place was full of cops."

"Wow. And what are they 
accusing you of?"

Uh... the murder of a guy called Reynolds? He just told you!

"That doesn't matter. C'mon,
Bernardo, what d'you know about
this? "

What happened isn't important, now tell me everything you know about what happened!

"I'm in jail Orlando. How
could i possibly know 
anythin'?"

Okay he does actually have a fair point there. It's still only morning and the guy was asleep when Jack was thrown in here. Plus he really does come across like a man who knows absolutely nothing. He didn't even capitalise that 'I'.

"If you knew nothin', I wouldn't 
be askin'. And I am askin'."

Jack tries his best to bend reality to his whims, but Bernardo continues to plead innocence so the conversation ends here.

Hah, Jack's got his action commands wrapped around a bullet! I guess that is kind of like the private eye equivalent of the piece of eight command wheel in Curse of Monkey Island.

Well it seems that I can either point, pick up, examine or punch. I guess one of them must pull double duty as the talk command as I won't be much of a detective if I can't chat to people.

Now that I have a command selected the cursor has started getting excited when I move it above something I can interact with. Punching the closest thing I have to a friend while locked inside a police station seems like the dumbest possible move I can make right now, so I think I'll try it and find out for sure.

Whoa it actually worked! Bernardo spilled everything he knew about the murder, revealing that he heard that Don Scaletti, the boss of all organised crime in the city, had something to do with it. Because he's the boss of all organised crime.

Okay now I've learned that, I can... do absolutely nothing, as I'm still stuck in this cell. Oh wait, hang on, there IS something I can do in here. I can pick up.... a SPOON!

Jack Orlando Inventory screenshot Director's Cut
Fuck using pockets, I'm going to have this spoon hanging down from the inside of my trenchcoat, just underneath the word 'Options'. Oh so that's where the options menu has been hiding! I've been wondering about that.

Now if only I could figure out how to bring this inventory screen up again without having to steal another spoon.

Stealing the spoon was apparently also the secret trigger to get me out of the cell, as I was immediately brought up to see the inspector after swiping it. Hey isn't this guy supposed to be down at the crime scene?

Anyway, now I have to try to convince Jack's old friend of his innocence, but to make it more difficult I can only use lines like "I've no idea", "I know nothin'" and "you don't believe I'd murder anyone do you?"

"Yeah Jack. But you're gonna have 
to work it out, 'cos in the end 
you'll have to prove your innocence 
to the judge, not to me."

"Sure, Tom. Then let me 
find out the truth."

"Why do you think you're here? You've got 
2 days, 48 hours, to catch the real killer."

"I know how long 2 days are. I
been countin' since kindergarten."

"Then you better count
on yourself, Jack."

Holy shit he actually gave him 48 hours to solve the case, that's amazing! The stated reason why the cops can't investigate this mystery themselves is because all the good detectives are busy and everyone else is inept, and I can believe that. But the victim was an Army major and that means that the military is very eager for them to figure this out and give them a murderer, so the inspector is under pressure to get this resolved quickly.

I doubt that Jack's in any danger of prison time over this though. I don't generally watch police procedurals so my knowledge of US law is a little shaky, but I'm pretty sure that there's something in there about being innocent until proven guilty, and there's no way they can prove that Jack killed the guy as there's no been sign of the murder weapon! Also the cops saw that he was lying unconscious next to the victim, which kind of points to him being another victim. Unless they think that he over exerted himself while using his psychokinesis to shoot the guy with mind-bullets.

Okay I've finally gotten Jack out of the precinct, but before he can begin the investigation he's got a more pressing concern to take care of: getting to his apartment so that he can take a piss. Also he'll likely find it easier to get information from people if he doesn't stink of cheap whiskey and whatever was in that alleyway he slept in last night.

Well Jack managed to find his way back home without anyone dying this time, but now it turns out that he's lost his door keys!

Fortunately I found that he kept a spare key underneath the floor mat, as he doesn't quite understand the concept of door locks. Sure he realises that you have to use a key to open them, but he doesn't seem to get why. I also grabbed a broom while I was here, because I wanted to see if he could fit it inside his trenchcoat (and he can).

His neighbour Alice popped out to offer him a coffee, but she can probably smell him from there so she asks him to sort himself out first.

Somehow this room isn't quite what I was expecting from the apartment of a broken alcoholic wreck of a man caught in a downwards spiral (for reasons yet undisclosed). Aside from the old newspaper, empty bottle and ashtray he leaves lying around to show how totally serious he is about about being miserable, the place is remarkably tidy. He's even got a duster handy, which I'm going to stash away next to the broom inside his trenchcoat.

Hey is that tiny brown smudge on the seat on the far left something I can pick up?

It was his wallet! Good thing I noticed that really.

I tried messing around with everything else in the background and managed to find a key inside one of the bookshelf drawers, along with a mysterious notebook. More stuff for my stash. I gave up and looked online to see how I open the inventory (turns out I have to press F1), but I can't see a way to examine items in my inventory, so it'll have to remain a mystery for now.

On the other side of the room I found another drawer, but this one is locked. Hey you don't suppose that the key I just collected is for this lock? 

Oh shit, now Jack's armed. This is not going to end well.

Then again it's probably safer that he brings it with him, rather than leave it in this place. I managed to break into his home and take the firearm from his cupboard with the absolute minimum of effort and no foreknowledge simply by looking in the most obvious places for keys. Like I said, the guy just doesn't understand what locks are for.

Right, so I've found the bathroom, collected Jack's wallet and given him a handgun. I think I'm ready to get started on cracking this case... after I've had my coffee of course.

You... what?

Alice's character trait seems to be that she's obsessed with cleaning, so she won't make Jack any coffee until he lends her his duster. Fortunately I had the forethought to bring one with me just in case this situation arose, so I've got her covered.

Uh?

Are you asking me if I'm carrying a spoon around with me right now? Because... well, I am, but you can't just keep asking me for my inventory items with no explanation for why you need them. That's not really how adventure game item puzzles are supposed to work.

Also how can you possibly be so short on spoons that you'd want something I found in a dirty police cell and have been carrying around in my trenchcoat all morning? Can't you just clean one of the ones you own?

ANSWER ME! WHY DO YOU WANT MY SPOON?

Eventually I relented and gave Alice my prison cell spoon and she went off to the kitchen to clean up and make some coffee. She never came back out.

Well there must have been some reason for what I just did and it probably involves stealing her property while she's not in the room. Sometimes you can't prove your innocence without committing a few crimes. I'll switch to the magnifying glass cursor and start clicking on the furniture to see what Jack feels about it. Hopefully he'll show an interest in something in here.

Jack shares his thoughts on his neighbour's taste in artwork.

Jack shares his thoughts on interior design.

Jack shares his thoughts on drugs.

Jack shares his thoughts on interior design again.

Jack shares his thoughts on religion.

Jack shares his thoughts on gender issues.

Whatever, I'll just pick up an apple and... what's this? A nail set? Sounds awesome I'll take it. Plus these boxing gloves will surely come in useful. I suppose now I'm ready to head out into the street and get on with investigating that murder. Maybe if I keep walking long enough I'll eventually find myself back at the crime scene, so that I can look around for clues and evidence to pocket.


SOON, JUST DOWN THE ROAD.


So far out on the streets I've collected an apple core, a banana peel, a bit of hose and a mysterious empty can that might have once contained oil, but I'm not quite satisfied yet. I don't think I ever will be until I get my hands on this old woman's crankin' handle.

To be honest I didn't even know she had a crankin' handle until the dialogue choice popped up, and I definitely don't have a use for it in mind, but I've played enough adventure games to know that I'll eventually end up at a point where only this one exact item can save me, and then I'll feel plenty stupid that I didn't grab it while I had the chance.

Just give me the damn crankin' handle lady, I almost certainly need it to prove I'm not a cold blooded murderer!

Wow for a suspected killer he sure doesn't have much luck intimidating people with his gun. Looks like I'm stuck solving this puzzle with brainpower instead of firepower again. Though I suppose I could try the boxing gloves...

Well I finally found that crankin' handle that everyone's been talking about lately, turns out that it was just lying on top of a nearby car, but my attempts to sneak over and acquired it were immediately foiled when the woman in the window called its owner over. Man, I'm going to have to go find a shop and just buy my own crankin' handle at this rate.

Actually Biff here seems like a reasonable guy, so I'm sure I can talk him into letting me borrow it for a while.

"I need your crankin' 
handle"

"Touch it, and you gonna find
out what it like,
to be in plaster."

"I tried that already when I
broke my left arm."

...

...

"Then beat it, or Ah'll break it 
again."

Well I'm sorry it had to come down to this Biff, but if I have to beat some sense into you before you'll give me this crankin' handle, then that's just how it's gotta be.

FIGHT!

Damn, the only way that could've been better if the old woman had started cheering from the window. Shame it had to end the way it did, but the outcome was never really in doubt. Unless I was meant to be pressing buttons just then instead of just watching.

Is he... is he saying that he's going to beat Jack around the head with the crankin' handle?

Whoa, he really did kill him! Damn that escalated quickly. I guess you really don't want to be messing with a man's crankin' handle in Prohibition-era America.

I suppose this is where I stop playing then, as I'm not likely to find an ending better than that. That was incredible.


CONCLUSION

Jack Orlando: A Cinematic Adventure is actually quite cinematic and it is an adventure game, but the signs are not pointing to this being a shining example of the genre. I can't speak for the quality of the original script, but what it mutated into after the localisation into English ended up much funnier than the developers probably intended. This effect is only enhanced by the voice acting, which manages add its own special 'charm' to even some of the most mundane lines of dialogue.

But even if the story was fantastic, it's still let down by the 'game' part of the game, which so far has mostly been about gathering items I might need later for some other problem. And most of them are apparently red herrings! Sure it was my fault I went down that back alley instead of looking for the crime scene, but it was Jack that suddenly started asking about a crank handle out of nowhere. Alice was the one who invited me to coffee, I didn't deliberately lure her out of the room so I could take her stuff! Instead of being presented with problems and being asked to solve them, I was presented with spoons and then asked for them.

It's a shame really though, as it's a pretty well animated adventure game for its time. Plus 'The Running Man', 'Beverly Hills Cop' and 'Cop Out' composer Harold Faltermeyer has provided it with a decent enough soundtrack. It sounds more like a DOS adventure game than a 30s detective movie, but it'll still give you your daily recommended allowance of saxophones for sure.

I don't know if I'd recommend this to anyone, but if you ever do try it out, I'd recommend playing it with friends. It's a better experience if you can share it with someone (and no one deserves to suffer it alone). Or better yet, get them to play it for you while you check the walkthrough and yell out things at the screen, Mystery Science Theatre style.


Exposure to the preceding article may trigger in certain readers an urge to express their own opinions in the form of written feedback. If you notice that you are experiencing these symptoms yourself WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT PANIC! Simply leave a comment in the message box and you'll be instantly cured!

4 comments:

  1. Great review and screenshots, lol.

    I'

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was going to say I'm reminded of Robert Stack's voice (from Unsolved Mysteries, etc.) whenever I read
    anything regarding detectives and games like this, also I have to check this out (if they have it, that is) on
    either Wiki, Wikia or TV Tropes page :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Never heard about this game until this review.... and with good reason, it seems. Although if you play this with the proper company, I bet it can turn into a blast, better than a comedy film.

    Apart from the crackpot narration, the character design really is... something. I mean, I can't be the only one who immediately thought they all really look like the blank, bland human figures used for instruction manuals!

    And, I'm no native speaker, but does "Should my onetime best informer be in the shit" mean anything at all?

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    Replies
    1. Oh wow, they do kind of look like the figures from instruction manuals. It didn't occur to me before but I definitely see it now.

      Also that line means tons of things! For one thing it means that whoever wrote it likely wasn't a native speaker either. I'm not sure what language the game started off in, but you get more or less the same line if you put the German dialogue through Google Translate. 'Has my former best informant gotten himself into trouble?' is basically what he's saying I suppose.

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