Innovative Adventure! A Tim Schafer Retrospective: Part One- Full Throttle
In honor of the release of Grim Fandango Remastered, we’re going to be taking a look at all the games Tim Schafer has directed. First up- lace up your boots, cause we're going on the road.
Release Date: April 30, 1995
Platforms: DOS, Mac OS, Windows
While Schafer helped write and design many classic LucasArts games like the Monkey Island series and Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle is the first project he lead by himself. It shows it and stands out among all the adventure games of its time as a classic, oozing with his trademark style.
It's 2040, and no one drives anymore. Hovercrafts rule the land, but bike gangs still roam the roads. Our hero Ben is the badass leader of a gang called the Polecats, who end up running into (and over) one Malcolm Corley, CEO of the last motorcycle manufacturer in the country, Corley Motors. As an old biker himself Malcolm and Ben quickly hit it off at a nearby bar, but Corley's vice-president Adrian Ripburger (voiced by Mark Hamill in yet another great villain role) isn't happy with the relationship.
Ripburger is even more upset when Ben turns down a job offer in a little meeting behind the bar, and his corporate goons knock Ben out and leave him behind, getting his gang arrested and trashing Ben's bike in the process.
Worse than that, Ben’s soon framed for murder when Ripburger decides old man Corley isn't dying soon enough, and knocks him off in order to steer the company away from motorcycles and towards the future of transportation- minivans.
Now a fugitive, Ben now has to prove that Ripburger's the murderer, save his gang, and, most importantly, save Corley Motors.
Full Throttle was ahead of its time in a lot of ways, and helped changed the look of adventure games- literally. Far more cinematic than anything before (and using 3D models for the very first time), the game abandoned the classic point and click interface on the bottom of the screen to allow the game to show off its graphics full-screen, with an intuitive UI that brought up selections only when you clicked on an object.
Since you're a biker there's nono of the usual adventure game interactions like push, pull, and open- there are just four easy to understand actions. Hit, Kick, Look, Speak. It's simple, rugged, and does the job, just like the lead character. He also got into more than a couple of battles on the road, Road Rash-style battles that sees Ben using all manner of implements on rival bikers. Unlike the heroic losers of previous adventure games Ben is a understated badass, and the industry took note.
Unfortunately, by 1995, it was also about to start moving on. After all, look at those shiny new consoles and all their polygons! Adventure games were slowly on their way out...
Fans have always clamored for a sequel, or at least another game set in the world of the game, but it’s never come to fruition.
In 2000 Full Throttle: Payback was announced, a Schafer-less sequel which folded a year later. In 2002 LucasArts instead announced Full Throttle: Hell on Wheels, and even showed off a playable demo and teaser trailer before it too was canceled a year later. Not long after that LucasArts abandoned adventure games completely, and the well dried up for many a year- at least until the emergence of Telltale Games and Double Fine.
A lot of the ideas ended up finding their way into Schafer's Brutal Legend, which takes that same dirty metal attitude and turns it up to 11.
The Best Moment
Right near the beginning of the game Ben is looking for his gang, and his car keys. His only lead is the bartender, who has a smart mouth and won’t give up what he knows. Ben admires his nose ring for a second, and then this happens.
You know right from that moment that this isn’t going to be like other adventure games. Ben quickly gets his keys, and is off on his journey.
The Worst Moment
Full Throttle shoots off like a gun and the ride ends just as fast. Even a prospect could make their way through the game in about three hours and, adventure games being what they are, it’s not exactly replayable. Still, when the ride is damn memorable and fun, does it matter?
The game still holds up wonderfully but we could use one one, badly. If the special editions of the Monkey Island games are any indication, it would look absolutely beautiful with the original art in place.
Where You Can Buy It
Nowhere legally! The game isn’t available via digital download yet, which is unbelievable. You can try to patch the old game and get it running using ScummVM but hopefully GOG.com has it planned for its upcoming slate, as they’ve been bringing back tons of other LucasArts titles to their service this year via a partnership with Disney.