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SummaryA plague, a little incident and a lost toothbrush
The GoodRob Blanc has finished his training and is given a month for saying goodbye to Earth. The High Ones need time for achieving Rob's ship... Anyway, our young man is currently trapped in a lift, with a guy named Paul, in space... Will he find a way to escape it and who is really Paul or will they die alone?
Well, fortunately, you, the player, know that there is a way for going on a planet named Remus XIII or Itegen V (well, I think it's Itegen V but there is a story with Remus XIII in the game). Anyway, Rob Blanc II is the sequel to Rob Blanc I, the first game in Rob Blanc Trilogy made by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, one of the most prolific developers in the AGS world (Adventure Game Studio, a free engine for making adventure game in the old way - see Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis for example).
Rob Blanc I was short and very easy, giving the feeling to be more a test than a real game. Released in 2000, you were controlling Rob, a young man chosen by the High Ones to be their hero and sent into an alien ship in order to discover what happened to the crew. It was also a test for Rob to prove that he was worthy and adequate for the job. Rob Blanc II follows this storyline by going three months later, when Rob is ready to journey in space and doesn't know that Paul, with whom he's trapped in the lift, is keeping an eye on him.
Paul is the new addition in the game. If he doesn't have a great role in the first part of the game (ending a plague on the alien planet), he will be the hero for the second part even if it's just trying to find a lost toothbrush belonging to Tez, one of the two High Ones, in exchange of... well, I let you discover this one.
Paul comes from another planet and is soon discovered by Rob but he doesn't know who sent him to spy on the new defender of the universe. This new character has some humor as he doesn't always understand what Rob is saying but you can control him in the end, for the famous toothbrush quest and well, even if there is no difference of gameplay, it's refreshing to control someone else than the main protagonist.
Gameplay hasn't changed, it's still the "select-an-action-and-click", well, the old-fashion gameplay. You still have four possibilities: "walk", "observe", "talk" and "use/interact". When speaking with someone or a droid, you have a dialog box who will open for letting you choose the next sentence. You just have to click on the chosen one for progressing in the conversation. "Observe" will let you know more about the things surrounding you. For example, the suit in the trone room gives you a clue for picking up one part of it. "Walk" is simply used for moving your character, an action who can be confusing if you're used to the actual "walk", in other words, clicking where you want to go without having the action selected previously. For "use/interact", you'll interacting with your environment. You can also open your inventory, select an object and use it or combine it with another one.
Graphics are still made with MS Paint as the game is also copyrighted in 2000 like Rob Blanc I but there are more areas to explore and who said more areas said also various details. You will have to visit a lake, a farm, even Rob's room when you're controlling Paul or the streets of the planet you've landed. Graphics are nicely colored but the game is playing in full screen, without having an option to be windowed, so sometimes, it's hurting eyes.
Lifetime is longer, story is more elaborated with two distinct parts (the planet and the High Plains) and a surprise in the middle. It's still not involving evil characters but it's not really necessary here. It was a test again but just for Paul, who is revealed in Rob Blanc 3 as the sidekick.
The BadAs I've already stated, brightness of the colors can hurt your eyes because of the game displaying full screens. I'm convinced that the absence of the option is tied with the engine version, as games coming like Ben Jordan, released in 2004, do propose the display in a window.
Soundtrack, as usual, is non-playing despite being present - reading reviews or user comments are always useful. I don't know why but it seems that others games, like Pirate Fry and Volcano Island (2001), made with this earlier version of the AGS Engine, are suffering the same fate in terms of sound. And well, I'm not the only one to have the same problem.
There is one bug in the game: if you choose to go to the left at the entrance of the castle before examining the milk, you'll be stuck with Rob saying "Let's go - Nowhere to go" and you'll be forced to load a previous save. It's kind of frustrating as in that kind of game, you don't have the impression to have the need to save.
The Bottom LineRob Blanc II is a good game, better than Rob Blanc I, more varied and with more puzzles to solve (or if you prefer more reflexion for finding a way to solve a complex thing like "How to take the milk without having the little prince baby crying after it"). If you can't stand Ms Paint graphics, this game is to avoid but you'll miss a good opportunity to relax or to laugh. There are only two problems: the fact that the soundtrack wasn't playing and that bug of "nowhere to go". However, I recommend to play this sequel if Rob Blanc I lets you crave for more.
Oh and good luck for finding this toothbrush if you want to... be able to play the next game, Rob Blanc III: The Temporal Terrorists (not that it's a condition for playing it but I can't really see Rob and Paul travelling in the galaxy in their states during the second part of Rob Blanc II).