Sam & Max Hit the Road is one of my all-time favorite games. It has almost been ten years since LucasArts launched it, but it still lives on as a great game. It wasn’t especially long or featured the best graphics on the market, but it was fun! You would think that the kind of humor LucasArts put into Sam & Max Hit the Road and Day of the Tentacle is long gone, but thankfully one company dared to put their money on an exceptionally funny game, with 2D cartoon graphics and everything that comes with that.
Anthony C. Tough, or Tony Tough in short is a peculiar fellow who for the past ten years has been working for Wallen & Wallen Private Detective Agency. Here he has created a record of strange case hypotheses which have lead to more than a decade of worthless investigations on the same old case: a mischievous swollen-headed psychopath robbing children of their Halloween candy, every year! To make matters worse Tony’s “dog” Pantagruel gets kidnapped, and while this might not seem like a huge case Tony thinks “Candy today, the entire planet tomorrow!”
Judging the graphics in Tony Tough is actually tough. It is one of those games that are designed to look a specific way, which doesn’t necessarily mean photo-realism like in Syberia, or other recent adventure games. High scores is the graphics part of reviews tend to go to games that look lifelike, which obviously isn’t what the guys at Prograph had in mind when they developed it. Apart from the cut scenes Tony Tough looks a lot like the good old LucasArts / Sierra adventures. The scenes are filled with plenty of more or less weird looking objects, all drawn in high detail, while remaining the kind of goofy look they know somewhat oldschool gamers love. The animations while moving around etc aren’t obscenely detailed, but several of the more important actions are illustrated with colorful and good looking cut scenes. Yet, playing Tony Tough seldom feels “dead”. Almost everywhere you’ll see movement, such as strange green goop moving inside one of the grates in your office, or a snot-bubble coming out of a sleeping kid’s nose at an amusement park. Even more detail in the animations would’ve been great, but those who just remotely like Sam & Max and similar games should love this one.
Sound / Music:
Good voice acting is immensely important in a game like this, as they can make a good game great, or even save a mediocre game. Not all of the old LucasArts / Sierra games had voices, but I’m sure many of you agree that those that did were great. In general the voice-overs are terrific, sporting plenty of dramatic voices that usually always fit the characters. Tony’s voice is naturally the most important one, since he’s the guy who we listen to the most, and while it might not be entirely perfect, it sounds strangely good, in a nasal blowing way. Even by looking at the screenshots you’ll see that Tony Tough is a slightly geeky kind of detective, and AudioGodz captured that in a great way.
The music isn’t as spectacular as the voice-overs, yet it is by no means weak or not suited for this particular game. The tracks are easy on the ears, and blend in with the already great atmosphere.
There isn’t much that separates Tony Tough from any other 2D point-and-click adventure game, but it doesn’t really have to either. Interacting with things is extremely easy, because all you have to do is to move the cursor to for instance a staircase, then press and hold the right mouse button, which will open up a “menu” that lets you choose Examine, Use, Talk and Take by releasing the right mouse button over the respective icon. Choosing for instance Talk on the staircase will result in Tony telling a usually very funny oneliner, from his nearly countless supply. In fact, Tony’s weird way of talking is one of the main things that make this game so hilarious. Not every joke is as superb, but there were times when I felt an urge to roll on the floor laughing. I didn’t actually do that, but the fact remains that this is one of the funniest games I’ve tried in a long time.
The gameplay itself usually centers around finding items, combining them with previous ones, talking to people, and solving numerous puzzles. At first the game isn’t particularly difficult, but like in many of the older adventure games later in the game you’ll most likely get frustrated by not having a faintest clue about what you’re supposed to do, so you end up trying every item with every object you can interact with. Make no mistake, this game is fun to play, but I feel a fair warning is in order, since you most likely won’t finish this game during a weekend, without a walkthrough that is. Patience certainly could’ve been printed in the minimum requirement section of the box, so die-hard first-person-shooter fans may be somewhat turned off in the second half of the game. There’s not much hardcore action in this game, but there are just so many zany moments that an adventure gamer should adore. Early in the game for instance Tony tells you about how the office-maid somehow disappeared, but when you go to investigate a big blue closet you actually fall through the floor, into a secret sewer cave-place, where you’re greeted by the skeleton of the before mentioned maid, who happens to have a wig that you need in order to create a costume needed to pass a guard farther into the game. This is just one of the many crazy things you’re required to do, and trust me; things get even weirder.
Daring to develop and produce a game like Tony Tough takes balls. You would think the market is only interested in games that utilize their Geforce / Radeon to the fullest extent, yet the release of this particular game proves that oldschool 2D graphics can look great even today, as long as it has a story, audio and gameplay to match. The main downside of Tony Tough is the sometimes frustrating gameplay. Sometimes having the urge to bash your head against the desk, is often a sign that something could’ve been done differently.
If you do purchase this game you’ll not only get a lot of laughs, but you’ll get to visit 61 levels, meet 45 characters and play a super-secret bonus level. If you’re tired of mindless first-person-shooter clones and feel like using your brain a bit then buy this game, it’s as simple as that.