If Resident Evil 4 taught me anything, it's that Spanish people are to be distrusted and feared. And best case scenario, shot. Consider this - if not for Spanish conquistadors, all of South America would be simply overrun by Amazonian (read: big breasted and blond) women instead of relegated to some lost jungle. And if anything, Access Software's Amazon: Guardians of Eden proves my point.
This is an adventure game made before the days of FMV, but during the days of digitized images and audio. Access - best known for the Tex Murphy series - attempted to get technologically ahead of the curve and succeeded in some cases. For its time, A:GoE is actually a pretty good looking game.
That said, it's short, and it's got a vast amount of adventure game flaws: Insta-deaths and pixel-hunting and unwinnable situations abound. The goal for Access in making A:GoE was to make an adventure game version of a 50s serial B-Movie. Now whether the producers looked at the acting and production values and decided on that goal after the fact is for you to decide, but at any rate, we know it was certainly meant to take place in the fifties and mimic a serial movie.
In the upcoming chapters, expect a lot of lovable characters and a few white people pretending to be hispanic!
Without further ado...
Let's Play Amazon: Guardians of Eden!
An emerald... a jungle... I smell "Fate of Atlantis" rip-off, gang! Actually, I smell Indiana Jones knock-off in general, really.
If you've ever played Access Software's more popular FMV games "Under A Killing Moon," "The Pandora Directive," or "Overseer," then guess what? Tex Murphy wrote this game. Really - Chris Jones is the guy who played him and he wrote the story along with his brother Kevin.
"One was a gray-beared, world-travelled explorer and the other was a first-class douchebag."
Allen Roberts is a powerfully built man with age beyond his years showing on his ruggedly handsome face. As a top research scientist, Allen travels around the world to conduct work for Allister Research. Confident and with undying curiosity for the unknown, Allen has pursued his career with zeal.
Jason is ten years younger and regards Allen as more of a father figure than a brother. After Jason graduated from California State College, Allen arranged a job for Jason at Allister Research. Still somewhat naive about the world, Jason has an athletic build and is considered by some to be the All American boy.
For several months Allen [sic] has been in the Amazon River Basin. Very soon, events will occur that will change the lives of these two brothers, irrevocably and forever...
This is what happens next in video!
Allen is asleep in his tent while his friend Silhouette McGee sits outside.
Silhouette McGee is pierced with an arrow! His friend Shadow Moses stands up and fires a machine gun at something we can't see. He, too, is taken down by an arrow.
Somehow Allen sleeps through all the gunfire.
Ralphie Reveal walks by, to see what's happened to his two comrades when-
-he too is struck dead!
Allen wakes up to this, somehow, and shows off the world's fastest "wake to shock" expression change.
I hope you like this screen a lot. Every time you die in this game (and oh boy will you), the game won't let you load a save until you see this - and only this - part of the intro. Meaning this one screen. I don't know why.
Welcome to Allister Research and the game! You play as Jason Roberts.
Sadly, Jason has literally no pathfinding AI. If you click on a destination, he will - using only the 4 cardinal directions - go to it. If there's something in his way, that's a fuckin' shame, isn't it, because he just stops.
It's easiest if you just use the arrow keys to control him. Other than that, the interface is pretty typical: Look, Move, Take, Items, Climb, Talk, Exit and that "?" is actually a Hint system. Access didn't sell out with separate strategy guides, baby!
Welcome to work! Jason starts off facing the wrong direction for no reason. Hey, who's that woman?
The homely but efficient Darlene Flitch is busy preparing security notices.
Oof! Homely! Access Software pulls no punches.
For any of you watching the previous video and upcoming ones, there is no frame drop, or audio desync... on my part - and there aren't very many compression issues that are YouTube or Viddler's fault, either. This is, uh, how it actually looks when you play it.
The dialog trees and your choices are pretty useless. The game is very linear.
Jason: "Good morning, Darlene! You're looking beautiful today."
Darlene: "Thank goodness someone is cheerful today. Mr. Thornick is a real sourpuss. He must have gotten some bad news."
Jason: "Maybe I should walk in his office and tell him he looks beautiful."
Darlene: "Anybody who goes into that office today is likely to get his head lopped off! I'm getting back to work!"
And so ends our short conversation tree... ...nah! Let's talk some more.
Jason: "Darlene, is that an an unsightly acne blemish?"
Jason: "You never cared much for my research assistants, have you?"
Darlene: "I've always hated rats. I've got to get back to work."
Oh, in case you're wondering, Darlene is not voicing a lot of this. Just the parts in the videos I'm showing you. Anyway, let's go to work.
Jason's laboratory is small and cluttered with various pieces of scientific equipment. Different types of chemicals are haphazardly scattered on the cabinet tops. A chemical emergency shower stands above the bunsen burner and a brown rat scurries about in a mesh wire cage.
Hmmm. Chemical shower, bunsen burner, and lab rat. You'd think Jason must be a chemist...
So what's a chemist doing with a weird machine that...
The X1000B prototype. This piece of electronic wizardry is being designed to pick up top secret radio signals from beyond the "Iron Curtain" and decodes their invasion plans.
...decodes communist messages? Conspiracy is afoot!
Examining the Intercom reveals: The flashing lights on the Intercom indicate that a message is waiting.
A voice squawks, "Jason, you're wanted in Mr. Thornton's office."
For some reason, they decided the dialog box wasn't enough and there's a pretty horrible digitized voice that says it, too.
Time to exit and head to Mr. Thornick's office all the way left in the hallway.
A Spanish cork bulletin board complete with minimum wage requirements, insurance company bulletins, advertisements, and For Sale By Owner signs.
It's that level of detail you just don't see in games nowadays. Not just a corkboard. SPANISH corkboard. Remember not to trust it.
What the hell is this thing? And what is it doing in the hallway?
Prototype, WBM 1215, Way Back Machine...Left here by Mr. Peabody and Sherman for repairs.
...No, I don't?
Enough dickin' around! Let's head in to meet the boss. Upon entering...
A call to the President's office was a horrible, gut-wrenching experience for the working class. A cold, humorless authoritarian, Wilbur Thornick has all the warmth of a dead fish. Immediately upon entering and sitting down, Jason senses that something is terribly wrong. Thornick's eyes, usually dark and somber, attempt a pleasant gaze. His thin, taut mouth forces out a pathetic smile. It is a pitiful attempt to soften the sledgehammer blow he's about to deliver.
"You're being demoted to Junior Pussy Inspector, Jason."
Remember, this is not quite full-motion video.
Thornick: "I'm afraid I have bad news for you, Jason. Your brother's expidition to the Amazon has been attacked... and he's missing. We're doing everything we can to get more information... I'm sorry."
As Jason turns to walk out of the room, Wilbur Thornick says 'I want you to go home for awhile and rest. Take the whole day if you feel it's absolutely necessary.' But his magnanimous gesture falls on deaf ears. Stunned and hurt, Jason staggers from Thornick's office to the parking lot. It takes all his strength to avoid turning into a blubbering idiot. As Jason drives to his home, questions roll around in his head. Allen's work was always dangerous, but wasn't he indestructible? Is he really gone?
Wait... those are the questions in his head? Not "Where is Allen?" or "Who could have attacked him?" or "Why?" Just "Isn't he invincible?" What is Jason, like ten?
The game takes us home automatically.
And the somber scene is tastefully segued into a description of the bachelor lifestyle of the 1950s. They didn't mention his giant jar of condoms.
But the pride and joy of his life is a 20" black and white Dumont television set. Yes, Jason's pad is about as hip as any cool cat could imagine.
"My job as a chemist/cryptographer sure pays well!"
The first place we gotta search for Allen is TV, obviously. So let's watch!
I dare you to watch this more than once.
"He never noticed me take them from his house! Or that they've been here!"
This is a trick video game writers call "ensuring I don't have to describe every fucking thing on that shelf because some asshole will try to examine it all."
Let's examine some more stuff in our apartment.
Chair: A contempo style easy chair with complimentary ottoman.
Tape Recorder: A Wollensack, reel to reel tape recorder.
Magazine: A copy of Life Magazine with an article on Liz Taylor's latest marriage.
An Elizabeth Taylor joke? What's the target audience here, guys? Come on.
This is sort of an in-joke. Access's previous game, Martian Memorandum, had a Velvet Elvis painting.
Let's turn on the lamp using the switch on the left. If you think finding that wall switch is a bit of pixel hunting, you just fuckin' wait, friend.
Shield your eyes. This really lights up the room.
See the difference?
I sense our first puzzle, and it's a doozy! Let's take that package...
You could carry the package around, but it might be more interesting to find a way to open it and see what is inside.
Wow. Jason is fucking lazy. "I could bring a slightly heavy package with me, but I'd rather bring a lighter cutting tool over to the package." Alright, let's grab the letter opener.
This is your basic inventory screen. Jason's only default item is his set of car keys with a fob so he can remember what letter his name starts with.
The first and only puzzle of Chapter 1 is solved by using the letter opener on the package, of course.
The letter opener cuts the twine and opens the package. Several items spill out onto the floor.
God forbid the game alleviate some pixel hunting for you. The package contains a key, which we take and...
Wait, Jason, what did that text just say?
Jason: (It's a letter from Allen...)
Tune in next time for hostile gunmen! Hostile Wildlife! And sex! All this and more in our next episode of Let's Play Amazon: Guardians of Eden!