Full Throttle Remastered
Full Throttle Remastered [official site] is the return of perhaps the most under-appreciated of the classic 90s LucasArts adventures. With any luck, Double Fine’s remastering will go a long way to seeing it gain a the reputation it deserves among this younger generation.
Double Fine are onto a good thing here, taking some of the best loved games of the 1990s, redrawing the art, remixing the sound, and releasing them in working condition for modern PCs. Going with the non Star Wars related LucasArts games was a genius starting point for them. Full Throttle is a wonderful game, with quite possibly the best Adventure game intro of all time. Narrated by Mark Hamill himself.
Full Throttle was Tim Schafer’s loving look at the land of the grease monkey. The normally villainous biker character is set as the hero in a near-future. A future where cars fly and there’s only one remaining company that makes motorcycles. A company that is being brought down from within with the purist of evil intent: making minivans. MINIVANS!
The antagonist as we find out is Top Corley executive Adrian Ripburger. Ripburger, voiced by legendary Mark Hamill, murders Malcolm Corley, the founder and CEO of Corley Motors, and frames Ben’s biker gang The Polecats. Ben is framed and now on the run from the police, aided only by mysterious mechanic lady Maureen.
As with last year’s Day Of The Tentacle, Double Fine really did a lovely job on updating Full Throttle. The art is faithfully reproduced and the audio authentically re-engineered. You can switch back and forth between the original mono, and the superbly remixed version. Though you’ll find there’s simply no contest. The remastered audio has crisp, clear voices over unfuzzy music. The late Roy Conrad’s stunning performance as Ben, too was brilliantly remastered. What a treat to hear his euphonious growling voice so distinctly. They’ve also made some tweaks to the interface. For instance, the contextual pop-up click menu no longer requires the mouse button to be held down.
I feel as if Full Throttle Remaster was done with great diligent care. I obsessively F1 between the original and remastered version in every scene, sometimes wondering how blurry and ill-defined key objects were even seen on the screen, and am grateful for the improvements. But it never looks aesthetically better. The original pixel art was some of the best ever, and something is distinctly lost in the upgrading process.
There are, unfortunately, some remastered elements that are rather shoddy. A new (modern era) ability to highlight interactive objects by pressing Shift is poorly implemented, with key objects missed and areas showing highlights where there’s nothing. Plus all the new menus look haphazardly thrown together, the instruction screens especially amateurish, looking like a late 90s Myspace site. It’s oddly tacky, unreflective of the core game, and disappointingly slapdash. There’s also a very welcome optional audio commentary, containing some lovely #bants about the game’s development from the original team, but their placement is really strange and seemingly out of place.
Chatter for a scene is triggered by pressing A, but is sometimes peculiarly incongruous to that moment. Weirder still, it’ll sometimes come in uninvited over cutscenes, meaning it collides with the in-game dialogue for a bit of chatter you can’t listen to again after. The audio quality for the commentary is also really poor, everyone at different levels, the sound hissy and untidy, with conversation abruptly cut off at seemingly arbitrary points. Such a shame, as what’s being said is generally splendid.
While there’s pretty much no excuse for not knowing about my other favorites: “Day Of The Tentacle” and “Sam & Max: Hit The Road”, it’s far more feasible that someone not born before the 90s would have entirely missed Full Throttle. Not because it didn’t succeed – it was one of LucasArt’s most successful adventures, selling ten times their expectation at over a million copies, for 1990’s standards, this was a platinum release. Sadly enough, Full Throttle is usually mentioned in the shadows of DOTT, S&M, Grim Fandango, Fate Of Atlantis, and of course the Monkey Island series. It can lay claim to a greater place in people’s memories than Monkey Island, sure, but it’s fair to say it hasn’t received the long-term adulation given elsewhere. And that’s not really fair.