Double Fine have been steadily bringing the classic (LucasArts era) works to PlayStation, and Full Throttle is most certainly in that classic category (if a touch underappreciated in discussions about LucasArts’ best and brightest). So here it is, joining the likes of Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle in reaching out to a new audience whilst allowing fans to experience them anew. This remastered edition is a fresh reminder of how wonderfully offbeat and amusing the motorcyclin’ point-and-click adventure still is. A remarkable feat considering it’s been 22 years since it first released.
Full Throttle sees you take control of Ben (a fine performance from the now sadly departed Roy Conrad), the leader of a biker gang known as The Polecats. An encounter with the figurehead of a motorcycle manufacturer ends up with our grizzled hero becoming embroiled in a shady conspiracy that could see the end of motorcycle production forever as flying cars and minivans look to dominate the future. If that sounds daft, then welcome to the world of Tim Schafer (this was his first game as project lead for LucasArts). It’s a perfect storm of grounded oddness. This is a world where you’re a big bad biker dude who can bust down doors and whip rivals off their bikes with a heavy metal, but one where desert hicks make terrible fine art and our tough guy biker insists on telling you what he won’t put his lips on.
As with Day of the Tentacle’s recent treatment, Full Throttle Remastered sees Double Fine updates the pixel art into a more lavish hand-drawn style, remasters the audio, and chucks in a commentary track that’s a treat for long-term fans (though it’s not particularly well-implemented). You can transition between old and new versions of the game at the touch of a button, giving you a constant frame of reference for how well Double Fine has scrubbed up a game that’s now old enough to actually ride a motorcycle. If you so wish, you can also chop and change what parts you want from either version too. I find the best thing about a small, yet significant feature like this is how it hands you a straight up comparison of the differences in an instant, eradicating the waft of nostalgia with cold hard fact, and that’s fine, because Full Throttle Remastered doesn’t suffer for it. On the downside, menus and instruction screens are a bit toss, looking out of place with the overall package.
Onto the game itself then. Your interaction with the game world is made with three things. Your hands, your boot, and your mouth, all working to get you picking things up, using them, kicking doors in, have conversations and more. It’s a simple setup, with room for experimentation (often with amusing results). Make no mistake though, this is an old school point and click adventure, with all the good and the bad that brings. The puzzles require a keen eye, and twisted logic to solve them. If you’re not using a guide, it can be a frustrating time. You can miss things very easily, leading you to track back and forth to the various locales to see if you missed something. This is not a game for the impatient, and relying too heavily on a guide shows up the stark brevity of the game by modern standards. Alternatively, if you’re coming back to this having poured many hours into it decades ago, or have a knack for adventure games, then the challenge is instantly underwhelming.
What Full Throttle Remastered does have going for it in a modern age is the balance of puzzle to character and story is skewed in favor of the latter two. The criticisms I just made are still a thing, but Full Throttle tells such a neat story, and is filled with great dialogue and hidden bits to discover by clicking anything relevant. On top of that the game’s puzzle-waffle is broken up by road sections where Ben can fight rival gang members a la Road Rash, and prove the Polecats’ supremacy. Unfortunately, while these may provide a bit of variety, they aren’t much cop, and in truth, never were, so it falls squarely to the cast and storytelling to thrust Full Throttle into the pantheon of great LucasArts titles, and it truly delivers there with Conrad, and Mark Hamill proving especially effective in their roles as protagonist and antagonist respectively.
Full Throttle was a starting point for how adventure games were to change and become what they are today. Not nearly as lengthy as previous LucasArts adventure titles, and more forgiving with its puzzles, Full Throttle deserves to be reevaluated outside of the bubble of the mid-90’s where it came off the back of two of LucasArts’ most revered titles. It is an important moment in a genre that’s been reborn in the last decade, a stepping stone to the modern way. Full Throttle remains a well-written, well-paced adventure that shows its age in flickers due to the transitionary nature of its gameplay. Any genre fan who hasn’t yet experienced it needs to get to it with this version.