Written by  :  micnictic (391)
Written on  :  Apr 05, 2008
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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A movie freak's dream.

The Good

"Una Aventura de Cine" is one of those games, that attracted far less attention, than it deserved. With an effective promotion, it could have possibly achieved cult status in some circles. As it is, most people haven't even heard of it. Partly because, there never was a release in English speaking countries – to this day, the game was only released in Spain and Germany. Nevertheless, it has a lot going for it. Of course, it isn't breaking any new ground in the genre. It's just an old-fashioned, two-dimensional comic-adventure. But it has two charming anti-heroes and a lot of humor.

For those new to the subject: "Mortadelo y Filemón" (or "Clever & Smart", as we Germans call them) are a pair of chaotic secret agents, that originally appeared in comics. Their career, that has them working for an agency called the "T.I.A.", started all back in the late fifties and they were quickly becoming famous. Especially in their birthplace – Espana – they have an impressive cult following for about five decades now.

You don't have too know anything about Mortadelo and Filemón to enjoy this game, though. I myself have read only a few of the numerous comics, either – and this is a long time ago. Still, I hadn't any problems following the story. For a better understanding of the countless jokes, it might instead be advantageous, if you had a little knowledge of what is going on in the dream factory called Hollywood. I say this, because the premise of "Una Aventura de Cine" (the German title reads "A Movie Adventure") is as simple as it is brilliant: the two agents just travel through different movies.

This is made possible by the T.I.A.'s scientist, Dr. Bacterio, who invented a device, that can overcome the bounds between reality and fiction. Unfortunately, the initial try-out conjured "The Mummy" out of the movie by the same name. While the undead villain quickly starts preparations for world take-over, Mortadelo and Filemón have to travel into the movie to find the only thing, that can stop their adversary: an item called the book of the dead. But before they arrive in cinematic Cairo, unforeseen events have them stranded in several wrong movies. While those incidents tend to drive Filemón mad, from our perspective as players this is only good, as it simply means more entertaining stuff to do. For example meeting Charlie Chaplin in a silent movie. Or picking a quarrel with Billy the Kid in a Western. Enjoying cool jazz music and a very funny Sam Spade as narrator in a black-and-white film noir. Visiting a Jurassic Park parody. Or immersing ourselves into a horror flick, where Norman Bates, Freddy Krueger, Count Dracula himself and countless other famous genre characters appear.

From what I can recall of the comics, "Una Aventura de Cine" does a wonderful job in transferring the humor and style of "Mortadelo y Filemón" into a computer game. Not only the freakishness of the two main characters is well captured, the game is visually true to the comics as well. Similar to the better known "Runaway" (which also is of Spanish origin), "Una Aventura de Cine" resists the 3D-trend within the adventure genre. Two-dimensional graphics may not be the most modern way to present a video game, but it's just authentic in this case. I can say, that I really had the feeling of watching and diving into one of those comic-strips, I read many years ago. Maybe the animations aren't perfect sometimes, but the backgrounds are nothing but wonderful. They are not only colorful and pretty, but also overflowing with plenty little details, that had me giggling more than once. Pay attention, when you walk through pyramids! It would be a shame to miss those lovely ancient Egyptian mural paintings.

The work done in the audio department is equally fine. The voice actors of the German version do a more than solid job. Maybe it's sometimes a little too over the top, but it suits the game in the end. Simply wonderful is the music. The game features an exquisitely diverse soundtrack, that plays around joyfully with the musical stylistics, that are typical for the different movie genres, its two protagonists travel to. There are many humorous musical citations to be found, often inserted into wholly new contexts. For example, there is a strange, little version of Edward Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King", when you visit an old gold mine in the Western scenario. The individual score pieces form sharp contrasts: the music is sometimes kept simple to the extent, that you have only a single piano playing, but it comes to full swing in just the right moments. A good example therefor is, when you finally reach your ultimate goal, the already mentioned pyramid, and are welcomed by a single acoustic guitar, that plays a gentle, quiet little theme, until dark drumbeats and a small string section suddenly pump the whole thing up to a grand, atmospheric, memorable piece. I'd like to congratulate the composer on delivering one of those rather rare soundtracks, that truly help defining the personalities of places and characters, instead of merely drowning the unsexy silence.

When it comes to gameplay, you have to deal with a quite traditional comic-adventure, where puzzles are mostly object-based. You can examine things by left-clicking and fulfill various actions by right-clicking on your mouse. The comfortable handling treats your nerves with respect and offers nice functions like cancelling long walking animations by double-clicking on a possible exit. You can't die, the game is not too hard and always logical – everything's absolutely solid, to say the least. However, there's something, that makes this game stand out: you can jump between the roles of Mortadelo and Filemón anytime you want. Of course, this is no entirely new feature – we have seen it in other adventures like the LucasArts classics "Maniac Mansion" and "Day of the Tentacle" before. But still there aren't too many games, that have such a feature. And even when they have different protagonists, you usually can't change roles when you want it – you rather have to do it, when the game wants it. Alone for this feature, "Una Aventura de Cine" is not your everyday adventure. But it even goes a step further and allows you to connect with a friend via the internet, so that one can play as Mortadelo, while the other one acts as Filemón. What other adventure game can be played in cooperative multiplayer mode?

But even when you play the game in single player mode, it's fun to have two different characters with different personalities. Speaking to people often leads to entirely different conversations, depending on whether you approach them with Mortadelo or Filemón. Both characters are also commenting their environments in varying ways and have separated inventories – some puzzles can only be solved, when you choose the right agent. Sometimes the weird duo even has to coordinate their actions, for example when Mortadelo distracts someone by talking to him, while Filemón steals an important object. Instead of being a lonesome traveler as in most other adventures, the feeling of this game – to use an analogy "de cine" – is more that of a buddy movie. A welcome change.

The Bad

There really isn't much wrong about "Una Aventura de Cine". The not so perfect animations were already mentioned. The characters walk a little awkward and when the two agents find an object, it tends to be transferred into their inventories almost magically, by pure power of will and without any use of their hands – clearly the effect of too few special animations. But the game is generally too motionless. The backgrounds have style, but most of the time there isn't happening much. Even the main characters stand there like paralyzed statues, without having to wink with their eyes or anything. Maybe that's also analog to a comic-strip, but in this case it's somehow less positive, if you ask me...

Another thing is, that the dialogues can sometimes reach exhausting lengths, without telling important things. The main reason therefor is clearly the game's lust for cultural references. Especially when it comes to movies, the game is almost too allusive to my mind. It's not a permanent problem, but sometimes I would have preferred conversations coming more directly to the point, instead of making endless references. If they all were funny, everything would have been okay. But naturally not every joke is brilliant.

The Bottom Line

Alright, here comes the summary: "Una Aventura de Cine" is a chaotic trip through popular culture, a comic adventure with a strong personality, a visually and acoustically attractive experience, an interesting attempt of adding multiplayer to the genre, an example of elegant humor, all in all a supremely entertaining piece of software. Especially recommended to the cinéastes.