City 16's Top 10 Games of 2009: #6

The problem with doing a post a day? It’s relentless, just a few short hours and you have to write another one. Take now: I’m more than a little hungover yet must still find some words to write about a game – why do I put myself through these things?

Enough self pity, damn it, we’re talking about the 6th best game of 2009. If I can’t find a few words to praise it then I may as well just bloody give up. Some Kinickie will help… Ah, that’s better.

So, about game #6:

Time Gentlemen, Please!

I’d rather not get Hitler’s bloody shit all over my map, thanks.

The year saw something of an adventure game resurgence. Despite new offerings from Telltale and even Lucas Arts remembering that they used to make good games, the best new entry into this once great genre was a small indie game from Zombie Cow Studios. It’s an unashamed love letter to the Lucas Arts adventure games of old featuring a verb wheel control system, childishly vulgar humour, an irreverent plot and as much fourth-wall breaking self-references that could comfortably fit into a script.

Wait, a comedy game featuring a vulgar, irreverent script? At this point alarm bells should be ringing for anyone who’s experienced games that have attempted to be funny. Fortunately Time Gentlemen, Please! has such a crude charm to it, along with enough genuinely funny lines, that it completely gets away with it. Take the plot set-up: the events of the game’s predecessor, Ben There, Dan That, lead to a Magnum P.I. marathon on the BBC that wipes out the entire population of the planet. Ben and Dan decide the only way for them to save humanity is to travel back in time and prevent the coathanger ever being invented (just go with it, ok). Typically this ends with the duo falling foul of Hitler.

Its not all silly narrative though, there’s silly character development as well. Not content any more with just doing “lightswitches and Chuckie Egg” Dan has decided he needs to increase his adventuring role. This doesn’t sit well with Ben who feels his partner could take the limelight away from his adventuring skill. It also leads to a brilliant moment in which Dan is left on his own to solve a puzzle, panicking that he won’t combine the right items.

I’m not touching the right-hand filing cabinet. It might be cursed!

Yes, item combining. This is a homage to early adventuring after all, so combining items and finding their application within the world is very much the name of the game. At times the puzzles are fiendish, succumbing to the all too familiar adventure logic in which you spend more time trying to work out what the designer was thinking rather than taking clues from the environment. Fortunately almost every item combination in the game has a unique line to at least keep you amused while you try clicking on absolutely everything. Not that it’s all frustration, some of the puzzles are inspired. Throughout the game you can make use of time rips that have opened up throughout 1940s London, a machine that ages or de-ages objects placed in it, an arm covered in Hitler’s bloody shit and, of course, a roomful of dead cats. There’s some really memorable solutions to the majority of the puzzles; the one involving two old-school adventure games (one text based, one an old graphic adventure featuring Hitler) is a genuinely clever and inventive piece of puzzle design.

I seem to have forgotten one important detail: It costs £2.99 and its predecessor is free. It should be a crime to not at least give it a go at that price.

Also, if you’re a deus ex machina fan: the game ends on a blatant deus ex machina.

24 hours to write about the 5th best release of 2006. That’s called a ticking clock… works great in the movies.


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