Once upon a time, way back in the mid-90s to be less than exact, Lucas Arts was known for putting out some of the most enjoyable PC games that ever graced the shelves of video game retailers. These games, now part of a bygone gaming age, still linger in the minds of many gamers, even as they make their way through the new adventures offered by next-gen technology. I’m here today to talk about one of my favorite Lucas Arts titles, Full Throttle, which was released back in 1995 and featured Roy Conrad as the rugged Ben Whatisname and Mark Hamill as the nefarious but sharply dressed Adrian Ripburger.
Full Throttle was in many ways a game that was unique while still holding true to the Lucas Arts style of gaming. The game’s story was certainly a first for me, as while many motorcycle games are out there, none (or at least very few) of them ever focused on the characters of the games like Full Throttle did. What also made the game special was the way in which the game avoided focusing too much on the grimmer angles of the story while not diminishing their impact on the player. The death scene of Malcom Corley, the aged and amiable CEO of Corley Motors, is a good example of this. Once the man has been mortally wounded by his number 2 man in an attempted coup, Ben comes along to hear Corley’s dying words. Corley begins to speak urgently, saying that he wishes his company to be saved, before Ripburger takes control and stops making motorcycles to, in Corley’s words, “start making mini vans! Ya understand me? Mini vans!” It’s a brief moment of humor in what would be too serious a scene for a game like this, but it still manages to impart the scene’s importance to the player.
What also made Full Throttle a quality gaming experience is how the puzzles were arranged. A lot of adventure games these days seem to necessitate some highly specialized knowledge to get through them. Knowledge of fields such as chemistry, biology, and electronics have to be applied to solving these puzzles. That’s not true for all games, but it is true for quite a lot of them and often leaves me feeling drained and thinking “Gosh, thank God that’s over.” With Full Throttle, however, it wasn’t like that. All you needed to work out the puzzles in that game were careful timing, information gathering, and a certain amount of out-of-the box thinking to work your way along, It’s a thing that can rarely be said about games today, where before the game itself has even started, I’ll have a walkthrough for it standing by that, more often than not, I’ll need to figure out what the heck is going on.
These adventures were all backed up by an amusing and colorful cast of characters which ranged from the nose ring-wearing bartender Quahog, to the duplicitous long-haul truck driver Emmet, and the priest-turned-biker Father Torque. All of these characters were woven through the brightly colored tapestry of the game, which had, at it’s beginning and ending, two of the most memorable in-game movie sequences that I’ve ever seen. Indeed, the start of Full Throttle, with it’s well timed rock music and dramatic kick off, is still one of the best opening sequences I’ve seen in any adventure game or indeed any game at all.
Full Throttle may have led to sequences that couldn’t hold a candle to the original but it still stands today in my mind, and hopefully in the minds of other adventure game fans, as one of most original and most fun games ever to grace the genre. For me, though, I’d say that the lasting contribution that Full Throttle gave to me was an important life lesson that I’ve never forgotten and still regard as one of the most useful pieces of advice I’ve ever heard.
“Just remember, son, it’s not about muscle…it’s about timing.”