One of my goals this year is to play more games and extract some tips on good game design along the way. This is my twelfth review in this series called “50 games”.
I remember having an adventure game based on the Roger Rabbit movie on my gameboy as a kid. I also remember not getting very far and the game being pretty difficult. I decided to get some closure and finish this game once and for all!
The game has the same name as the movie, but there’s no framing of Roger Rabbit going on really; infact you just do whatever next task the game tells you, which sometimes is vague, and sometimes requires talking to an NPC (sometimes twice) before the game is ready for progress. Turns out this is pretty infuriating.
In the beginning the game is pretty hard as there are enemies about and you don’t have a weapon yet. I remember not knowing what to do - although to be fair the game does tell you exactly what to do - I guess I wanted to explore rather than just “go to location X”. The game has a pretty big map, but most of it is barren and boring. It’s really quite strange, the only houses you can visit are there to progress the game, with perhaps two exceptions.
I was prepared to use a FAQ/walkthrough to finish this game, but didn’t really need it except when I was confused when doing the right thing didn’t seem to work. Randomly the game seems to get simpler (less random enemies) in the middle bit, before going all out towards the end.
All in all it’s not a great game but I am happy I finally finished it after ~20 years or so!
So what lessons can I take from this game from a gamedev and game design point of view?
- Adventure games are great for telling stories, but please do add a bit more than the bare necessities. In this game there is nothing to add to the general feel of the game/town/setting at all.
- Make the game fair/easy in the beginning.
- Be careful with trigger-based state which requires the player to trigger things in-game as opposed to, for example, figuring them out on their own.
- Small stages/scenes/levels with savepoints/passwords is great. Don’t force the player to re-play too much.
- At some point you get a gun which is a big upgrade on your first weapon (and also required for that scene’s boss). However, the gun can only hold 9 bullets which means it’s very limited. Having finished the game I really don’t understand why, except perhaps for the final boss (even then, 9 bullets would be almost enough, so why put a limit?) - so: don’t give out upgrades just to immediately make them useless after their “purpose” has been served.