By Marty Mulrooney
Full Throttle Remastered is an updated version of the classic LucasArts point-and-click adventure game Full Throttle, originally released in 1995. This new version has been lovingly restored and updated for a modern audience by Double Fine Productions (Grim Fandango Remastered, Day of the Tentacle Remastered) and its founder Tim Schafer; Full Throttle was his first game as project lead, head writer and designer. It features updated graphics and sound, improved controls and a developer commentary.
Full Throttle Remastered begins with tough biker Ben Throttle getting hit over the head, knocked unconscious and left in a dumpster. To escape and begin the adventure, the player must first select the fist icon before punching open the lid, a fitting introduction to the character. Ben is a man of action. Unlike older LucasArts adventure games, Full Throttle doesn’t fill the bottom third of the screen with verbs.
Instead, clicking on a hotspot brings up a contextual menu in the shape of Ben’s biker gang emblem. You can use the skull eyes to look at things, the skull mouth to talk, the fist to use or pick up something and the boot to kick. For example, early on in the game you must kick open a door (banging your fist on it does nothing), before grabbing the nose ring of the barman and slamming his face into the bar. Ben will also frequently tell the player “I’m not putting my lips on that” because of course, after he says it the first time you’ll try to put his lips on everything!
It felt highly refreshing at the time (and it still does today) that the main character directly influenced how the player could interact with the world. You really do feel like a tough biker. There are still traditional inventory puzzles, but they’re nowhere near as prevalent as they were in Day of the Tentacle or would later become in Grim Fandango. The end result is a highly cinematic adventure that moves at an extremely fast pace.
Without spoiling too much, Ben is framed for murder not long after meeting Malcolm Corley (Hamilton Camp), the elderly founder and CEO of the last domestic motorcycle manufacturer in the country: Corley Motors. With the rest of his gang The Polecats in jail, it’s up to Ben to find out the truth and clear his name. Along the way, he’ll cross paths with sinister Corley Motors vice president Adrian Ripburger (Mark Hamill) and team up with a talented mechanic named Maureen (Kath Soucie).
It is possible while playing Full Throttle Remastered to switch the graphics and sound from ‘Classic’ to ‘Remastered’ and the result is never anything less than magic. The original pixel art holds up remarkably well, but the intricately designed world often resulted in finer details (especially in the character’s faces) being lost. Now, the game and its inhabitants more closely match the original concept art that unlocks as the game progresses.
However, not everything is perfect. Some animated effects – such as clouds moving in the sky, or water running down a cave wall – haven’t been carried over to the remastered version, which is a curious shame. Also, the lighting can sometimes prove to be drastically different – especially during the motorcycle riding sections – which will no doubt rub purists the wrong way. Yet ultimately, the widescreen remastered version does look great and the original version is only a button click away if you want it.
On the other hand, the voice acting and music has never sounded better. Mark Hamill is a fantastic villain and Kath Soucie is instantly likeable, but it’s Roy Conrad who steals the show. Ben’s dulcet voice sounds deep, low and tough throughout, yet oddly gentle and charming. It’s a rich performance that works so much better than your typical tough guy routine. Ben is the heart and soul of the entire game and it’s fitting that Double Fine has dedicated this remastered version to him – he sadly passed away in 2002.
The music by composer Peter McConnell is superb and the licenced tracks by San Francisco-area rock band The Gone Jackals are even better. It’s wonderful to hear it all sounding so crystal clear. There is also an optional developer commentary that is a blast to toggle and listen to. There is no doubt that Full Throttle remains a deeply personal project to all involved and the insight offered will delight fans and newcomers alike. The only complaint about the commentary is that it often plays over cutscenes automatically, drowning out dialogue, a problem that was also present in Day of the Tentacle Remastered.
As previously mentioned, Full Throttle moves at an extremely fast pace and doesn’t rely too much on inventory based puzzles. As a result, it’s a short game and this was understandably one of the main criticisms aimed at it during its original release. Nowadays, gamers are more willing to play a shorter game and its brevity is less of a problem. However, the motorcycle riding and fighting was clunky at the time and hasn’t improved with age despite updated controls. There is also a demolition derby sequence near the end that quite frankly sucks.
Despite these criticisms, Full Throttle Remastered clearly illustrates just how ambitious this project was in 1995. With a budget of $1.5 million, it pushed the traditional boundaries of the genre with mixed results. It wasn’t always successful – and therefore hasn’t aged as well as some of the other, more well-known LucasArts adventures – but it should be applauded for trying something new. When Full Throttle is firing on all cylinders, it’s up there with the very best SCUMM adventures.
Full Throttle Remastered is a rugged adventure that deserves to be rediscovered. Its alternate reality, where biker culture prevails despite the advent of hovering cars, is utterly engrossing and Ben Throttle is a truly memorable protagonist. It’s such a shame that several sequels were cancelled, as this is undoubtedly a world ripe with potential. Despite backfiring from time to time, Full Throttle Remastered turbo injects the original game and makes it palatable for a modern audience. Stick with it for the story and don’t be afraid to check a walkthrough if you get stuck on some of the more dated puzzles. In the end, just remember: you’re a badass on a motorcycle.
“When I’m on the road, I’m indestructible. No one can stop me… but they try.”
– Ben Throttle (Roy Conrad, 1940 – 2002)
8 OUT OF 10