|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Zombie Cow Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Zombie Cow Studios||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 2, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: N/A||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
One Laugh at a Time
by Caleb Newby
Time and technology work in mysterious ways. It wasn't so long ago that adventure games were decried as a dead form of gaming much to the chagrin of gamers who still harbored fond memories of the classics from LucasArts and Sierra.
Now the landscape seems to be changing; electronic distribution allows indie game makers to create and market games as a labor of love and distribute on their own terms. Maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that adventure games would eventually make a comeback, created by those that grew up on the originals. Time Gentlemen, Please! is a brilliant example of these hypotheticals turned reality in a fun, zany, and decidedly British package. And while it's only on PC, it's at the wallet-friendly price tag of five dollars.
Ben and Dan, otherwise normal guys with an unhealthy obsession for Magnum P.I., are our protagonists who have set in motion an absurdly complicated chain of events stemming back to their previous outing in Ben There, Dan That!. I'd make an attempt at setting the scene and plot if I were not so certain of my inability to do it justice. It's best to just say that it involves time travel, Hitler, a talking dinosaur army, coat hangers, and a deeply depressed robot. Any more than that may spoil the beautiful ridiculousness of the adventure. While much of the game's spot-on humor comes from ludicrous situations, the self-aware nature of Ben and Dan to the mechanics of an adventure game lend particularly well to the inane nature of the genre. Both will chime in on the otherwise accepted mechanic to pick up anything and everything under the assumption that it will be of use later. Because really, who hasn't seen an old saw in the corner of some dingy worksite and known that it is something you must have in your possession?
Time Gentlemen, Please! (TGP) is from top to bottom presented as a classic adventure game circa 1993. Gameplay is overwhelmingly reminiscent of the era. The left mouse button causes Ben and Dan (ironically also the names of the creators of TGP) to interact with the environment in various ways, while the right mouse button toggles between the available actions and items at your disposal. It's a simple system that can feel slightly cumbersome at times, but never more than a minor or passive annoyance.
Puzzles range from a few of the overtly obvious (I suspect placed simply as self-esteem boosters) to the utterly eccentric and bizarre. Many puzzles require more than frantic attempts to combine inventory items, and must instead pull from the elusive spot in the brain that combines logical reasoning with the peculiar. It's particularly satisfying when you stumble across the solution to an exceptionally convoluted puzzle. I soon found myself simultaneously cursing the developers while tipping my hat to their creativity.