Jolly Rover: review

Point-and-click adventure games seem to be having a bit of a popularity resurgence recently with games like Monkey Island and Broken Sword having great success on the Apple App Store. Jolly Rover is a point-and-click adventure game, set in a cartoon pirate environment, with lots of puzzles and some clever humour. It all sounds a bit too much like Monkey Island…and it is, but Jolly Rover is anything but a poor man’s Monkey Island. The game might seem familiar, but it’s not a dog of a game to play.

The game starts with the hero of the piece Gaius James Rover, a sausage-dog pup (The characters are all canines, rather than humans), who is transporting a shipment of rum to the Governor of Groggy Island, Guy DeSilver. Unfortunately things don’t quite go to plan, and Gaius ends up getting captured by some old sea dogs, who steal the rum shipment he was due to deliver. Gaius is a naive character, whose niceness gets him involved in all kinds of scrapes, with cannibals, voodoo and romantic entanglements all a part of the game.

Now what can we gather from this here beach...

The artwork of the game complements the gameplay nicely, with some beautfully drawn backdrops and characters. The only thing letting the game down is the animation, which can be a bit stilted and stiff, but it can be quite amusing. The characters all have individual distinguishing characteristics, from their look to their voices. Our hero for instance has a long snout and a light and airy voice, while the old salty pirates have a rough, deep brogue with Droopy-like jowls. The music and sound effects are well suited as well, with the soundtrack being a jaunty sea shanty, and lots of nice spot sound effects like birds twittering and the sound of the sea lapping on the shore.

The gameplay follows the template of a typical point-and-click adventure, with items getting collected and then used to solve puzzles at a later point in the game. The puzzles are all really logical, and none will have you pulling your hair out in frustration. Some will involve collecting a set list of ingredients to enable you to create, say an old pirate recipe, that you need to get past the next objective. If you do get stuck, you have a sidekick parrot called Juan, who you rescue from the pirate ship at the start of the game, who will furnish you with helpful hints to solve the puzzle at hand. But to do this, you need to bribe your feathered chum with his favourite food: crackers. These are dotted around the game world, and are fairly plentiful in supply, so you won’t have much problem if you get stuck. Juan’s clues can be quite cryptic to begin with, but the more crackers he is fed with, the more information you glean from him, until he basically tells you the solution to the problem (Professor Layton anyone?). The game handily has a ‘current objective’ box at the top of the screen, which keeps the game flowing and saves you from aimlessly wandering around, and getting lost and frustrated. Also most of the objects you need are only a couple of screens away, which thankfully means limited backtracking. With the game having plenty of screens to navigate through, the addition of a fast travel menu option, is a welcome one, and it can be quite amusing watching your character zip along like a canine Road Runner!

Early on you are introduced to Juan, who helps you out when you give him a cracker.

Voodoo plays an important part in the game, and the voodoo spells that you can cast are a welcome addition to the gameplay, as you have to remember a sequence of funny poses to perform the spell. This can be quite hilarious, and at one part of the game we were tasked with memorising the voodoo moves of a monkey who used voodoo to retrieve a mango from a tree. We eventually resorted to the old method of writing down the moves the monkey made, and we recommend having a pen and paper handy for some of the puzzles. The game also gives you a Voodoo Cheat Sheet, which remembers any voodoo spells that you perform, so you can quickly use the sheet for reference, and click the symbols in the correct sequence.

The game has a sea chest full of goodies to unlock, from concept art, music tracks and character bios. To unlock these you need to find various items scattered throughout the game. There are Pirate flags, pieces of eight and, of course, crackers to find, which adds to the re-playability, although to be honest, the plot is perhaps a tad too linear to warrant a second play through.

All the scenery and characters are beautifully illustrated.

Jolly Rover was a very pleasant surprise, we expected very simple puzzles and humour, but some of the puzzles at least required some thinking, and the humour had subtle adult references like Shrek at his best. It might not have the same degree of wit as Monkey Island, or some of Telltale’s recent adventures, but if you love a good old fashioned point-and-click adventure, you could do a lot worse than Jolly Rover. They might not have learnt any new tricks, but there’s still life in these salty old sea dogs yet.

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Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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