Solomon's Key for the NES was released in Japan on this day in 1986.

Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist (DOS)

80
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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  אולג 小奥 (168604)
Written on  :  Nov 11, 2009
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars

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Summary

Remember those times when adventure games were fun?

The Good

Provocative one-line summary. But I'm one of those die-hard fans of classic adventure. I love Sierra. So if you have something bad to say about "Freddy Pharkas", save your breath. I'm not listening. I'm a fanboy.

Yes, I love "Freddy Pharkas". It's funny. It's silly. It has hilarious graphics and unbearably cool music. It's classic Sierra-style adventure gaming. For better and for worse.

But if you ask me (and if you don't, I'll still write it): the better outweighs the worse by a large margin. "Freddy Pharkas" is, above all, a game of exploration. You can follow the plot and just solve the necessary puzzles - or you can walk around the town and try things. Actually, you'll probably do it anyway, because some of the puzzles make little sense and you'll have to explore every corner and exhaust every dialogue tree and use everything on everything until you finally get it. But the point is - all this is fun. The dialogues are funny, and even more funny are those classic Sierra-style narrator responses.

Man, I miss those narrators. The last one I met in a game was the one in Bard's Tale - the new, the funny one, of course. This is as close as it comes to old Sierra school of thought. The thing is, an adventure game world lives and breathes with those funny remarks, descriptions. Touching everything, talking to everyone... that's what adventure games are supposed to be about. And "Freddy" has a lot, a lot of it.

We witness Al Lowe at the peak of his power here. The jokes are more numerous and more merciless than in any Larry game, where they mostly revolved around sex. You have those here too, but there is a lot of other stuff too. By the way, you should read the hilarious manual. Those descriptions of diseases are funny as hell. You'll have to read it anyway to solve the puzzles of the first part. It also looks great, so don't settle for a text file this time.

The music is also funny and cool. Alone the opening song is an absolute masterpiece. I listened to it every time I booted up the game. It's so unbelievably cool and funny (Man, I gotta work on that vocabulary of mine).

It's also one of the last adventures with that warm Sierra-style hand-painted graphics, before they switched to cartoons. I loved the graphics, the disproportional, but detailed faces, the animation, everything.

The Bad

Okay, so it's not a masterpiece of puzzle design. But you see, the more I think about that, the more sure I am that it was supposed to be this way. The game is silly, and it had to have puzzles that were not logical or challenging in that brainy, intellectual fashion. But come on, in their own way, the puzzles are genius! Making a gas mask so that you won't be killed by farting horses? Where else could you find such a puzzle? It's funny, right? Come on, just smile.

So yes, sometimes the game made me say "what the...", and I didn't enjoy it the way I enjoyed, for example, Death Gate. But as I said, this game is not really about solving all the puzzles and rushing to the end. It's about enjoying its vibe and not much more.

There are two versions: floppy and CD. Floppy has text, CD has voices. No, seriously: CD has either voices or text. You can't have 'em both. Now I really want to say "What the..." Or did I miss something? Anyway, I tried everything and I couldn't have voices with subtitles. Not cool.

The Bottom Line

I think "Freddy Pharkas" is awesome. It's a silly, fun adventure game with classic Sierra-style gameplay. How many times did I repeat that? Who cares. Truth doesn't fear repetition, somebody said (I think it was in Hodja Nasreddin by Leonid Solovyov, the best book ever). I see absolutely no reason not to like this game, unless you are some sort of a "puzzle purist". It's funny, entertaining, and it looks and sounds great. Definitely in the top region of Sierra adventures - but then again, most of them were great. If you are, like me, a sucker for this style, you must get "Freddy Pharkas", even if you have to cure horse's flatulence or be stomped by snails for that.