Nostalgia is a funny thing. On one hand, it's a powerful force that helps you remember and hold onto your childhood and adds a nice rose color to the past. It even sometimes helps you gloss over the flaws of something you loved and allows you to continue loving it as an adult. But sometimes even nostalgia isn't enough to smooth over the rough edges of something you loved in the past. Sometimes too much time has passed and the way we create and consume content has changed too much for something you used to love to still be relevant today. And Full Throttle Remastered fall squarely into the second camp.
Full Throttle was originally released in 1995 by LucasArts, coming on the heels of adventure game classics Day of the Tentacle and Sam and Max Hit the Road. Designed by legendary game designer Tim Schafer and written by Schafer and Monkey Island writer Dave Grossman, Full Throttle puts you in the role of Ben, leader of a motorcycle gang called the Polecats. When the Polecats are framed for the murder of Malcolm Corley, CEO of Corley Motors (the last motorcycle manufacturer in the alternate universe that Full Throttle is set in), it's up to Ben to clear his gang, bring the actual murderer to justice and save Corley Motors.
I remember loving this point and click adventure game when it was first released. I worked at Software Etc. at the time and probably borrowed it using their very liberal game check out policy. I vividly recall the terrific graphics, the incredible voice acting, catchy music and the compelling story. I recommended it to everyone that came in looking for a new game to play and I must have been one of many sales people that made that recommendation because the game went on to sell over a million copies.
So when I heard that Doublefine, the company that Tim Schafer went on to found after leaving LucasArts, was going to be doing a remastered version of Full Throttle I was very excited. I wanted to dive back in and experience Full Throttle again, but without having to deal with the graphics of a 22-year-old adventure game that may not have aged perfectly. And on that front, the new game looks terrific. It has been redone with almost a painterly aesthetic that really works within the game world.
The voice acting was always top notch, featuring fantastic voice actors Roy Conrad, Mark Hamill, Kath Soucie and even a couple of bit parts by Maurice Lamarche, which has obviously been remastered along with the graphics to be clear and crisp. The music is also incredible. A majority of it is performed by The Gone Jackals, an actual rock band out of California which was a rarity in 1995. My favorite song Chitlins, Whiskey & Skirt is still running through my head on repeat. The remastered audio sounds fantastic and fits perfectly into the game, rocking when required and fitting perfectly into the background when appropriate.
Where things start to go wrong is with the gameplay. To be completely honest, Full Throttle would have been far better off if it could have launched a month before Thimbleweed Park and not almost three weeks after. Thimbleweed Park managed to nail the feeling and nostalgia of a 90's adventure game without making it play like a 90's adventure game. Full Throttle Remastered on the other hand is the exact opposite. It doesn't look like a 90's adventure game, but unfortunately, it plays like one.
What that means is you are going to spend a lot of time walking awkwardly across screens, while the very basic pathfinding algorithms present in the original game tries to get you to the point you clicked on. Puzzles are going to be difficult to the point of being completely obtuse (I honestly don't know if I could have beaten the game without a guide.) Sometimes when you can't solve a puzzle correctly, the entire thing resets and you have to start over from scratch, often more than once. And finally, there are entire sections of the game that are just terrible to play, partly because of their design and partly because the controls are just bad.
For instance, about halfway through the game you set out on your motorcycle and end up having to jump across a gorge. In order to do this, you need to get a ramp from another biker gang. This means you need to beat up rival gang members while on your motorcycle, getting better and better weapons until you finally get the upgrade that leads you to the cave where the ramp is hidden. Unfortunately, it's really hard to control the bikes while you are just driving, let alone engaging in combat with a woman trying to kill you with a chainsaw. In addition, the game really doesn't explain which weapons are better or what weapons you need. Honestly, if the game had given me the option to skip this entire section I would have (an option they thankfully did add to the demolition derby scene.)
And don't get me started on landmines and mechanical bunny rabbits...
Overall, Full Throttle Remastered is exactly what it is - a bit of nostalgia pulled out of its own time, given a fresh coat of paint and dropped into a completely different place. Unfortunately, gameplay has evolved so rapidly in the last decade that sometimes a 10-year-old game feels out of place, let alone a 22-year-old game. That being said, the Remastered tagline really is true, the game looks and sounds terrific and if your rose colored glasses are a bit darker than mine, maybe you'll enjoy it. But I'd recommend waiting for it to go on sale.
Our Recommendation: Buy It On Sale
I remembered liking Full Throttle a lot more than I actually liked it while I was playing. The remaster is gorgeous, but the gameplay is stuck in the 90s. Double Fine's games go on sale all the time though, pick this one up when they do.