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Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine (Windows)

73
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3.2
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Written by  :  Ben K (23017)
Written on  :  Dec 12, 2006
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars

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Summary

Promising classic adventure ruined by the most agonizing lead character voice in history.

The Good

Al Emmo, despite the awful pun, seemed like it had the potential to be an awesome adventure game in the vein of such classics as King's Quest VI and Space Quest IV. Wonderful looking art, members of the development team responsible for the King's Quest VGA remake and the excellent King's Quest II+.

First impressions of the game were great too - the game had some great looking 2D art, and a familiar-looking interface that was easy to use.

The Bad

Unfortunately, the game is completely butchered by the awful, painful, nasally and whiny voice of the lead character, Al Emmo. Aiming for the "loveable loser" vibe that Leisure Suit Larry gives off in spades (at least, before that awful console spinoff that shall not be named), every minute spent with Al instead makes you loathe him more and more. I'm pretty sure I understand the reason for the choice of Al's vocal style - it's meant to suggest that Al is a real hopeless case who should be pitied and loved. But sadly, because Al is the lead, he talks all the time, making it extremely difficult to play through despite the agonizing voice acting.

Before playing this game, I'd been able to enjoy many games in spite of (and sometimes due to!) their atrocious voice acting. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case with Al Emmo. He's the aural equivalent of someone constantly scratching nails down a blackboard. It's tough to take something like that in a short dose, let alone hours of it continuously.

Aside from the voice acting, Al Emmo aims too close to VGA point and click adventures like Sierra's 90's efforts. While these games and their interface were good in their day, it's not the case now - this is the kind of game that screams for an interface overhaul. The biggest and most obvious problem is the lack of any hotspot indicator at all, bringing with it the horrid problem of pixel hunting.

The Discworld adventure game with Eric Idle may not have been perfect and had the most illogical puzzles ever, but it's also had one brilliant mechanic that's never been seen again in any other adventure game since - the ability to see all the interactive objects on the screen with the press of a button. Even such a simple addition such as this would have improved the user-friendliness of the game for novices and those who don't like the repeated head-banging aspect of old-school adventure games.

Finally, the amateur 3D introduction is really painful to watch. Please stop with the CGI until you can get it looking a lot less like a student film. While more acceptable (and forgivable) in a project that's being produced and distributed as freeware, it really hurts your overall game when it's something you have to pay for. 2D art clearly seems to be the strong point in this game, focus on that.

The Bottom Line

Overall, Al Emmo is a flawed adventure game with some really poor casting. If you can manage to put up with the rotten voice acting, you could probably get some relative enjoyment out of the game. Just mind that the interface is relatively clunky and very retro. A nice effort from Himalaya Studios, but please put some more thought into the voice of the lead character next time - remember that people are going to be hearing this character throughout the whole game!