A review by slydos 30th June 2001
With Gilbert Goodmate we are offered again a point&click adventure in good old 2D-style of the earlier Lucas Arts adventures. And the similarities are intended. Not only the graphics but also the humorous original story remind of Monkey Island, Galador or Simon the Sorcerer.
The installation runs automatically from CD 1 under Windows and offers 3 installation modes: Minimum - only the most necessary, medium - without cutscenes and speech, maximum - everything - approx. 400 MB. I selected minimum. There are no CD-changes: if CD 2 is requested, you simply insert it and can play from this CD even after you've stopped playing for a while and then resuming it.
The game controls are easy to learn - a short, colored ilustrated manual informs about it. The option menu can be opened with F1. Here you can save, load, quit the game and can adjust game settings: turn on/off shadows or speech text, slow down or speed up the mouse or text speed and set the volume for sound, speech and music.
But first for the story: In Phungoria, our fictitious country, there is an annual celebration since long times in honours of a giant mushroom, which once helped a young phungarian hero in the past to defeat the evil sorcerer Karn and thus saved the country.
Each year one inhabitant of Phungoria is chosen, to be the guardian of this mushroom. This time it is Gilbert's grandfather Abraham. But grandpa is overwhelmed and the mushroom is stolen. And the phungarian justice doensn't grant any pardon here: The old Goodmate has to pay for it with his life the same evening. Of course young Gilbert Goodmate wants to prevent this. He gets unexpected assistance from the beautiful and intelligent princess Michelle, who has to criticize some things in the country of Phungoria. She advices Gilbert, he should transform himself into a convincing copy of the original king, Michelle's father, up to the evening, and make disposition to respite the execution facing the people of Phungoria. (The real king is not particularly asserting himself and steals himself away by hiding in the palace from his responsibility.)
So this is Gilbert's first task: Stop the execution of grandpa. Afterwards he will devote himself to the search for the mushroom and the thief.
In the game the tasks are clearly defined, i.e. the gamer knows exactly, what has to come out in the long run. However for one task a larger number of subtasks must be completed. The further we advance in the game, the more nested and more complex these tasks can be. Gilbert Goodmate is not by hundred percent linear, because some subtasks sometimes have to be solved in a certain order while others don't.
The degree of difficulty of the puzzles first slowly increases, but later achieves throughout expert level. Those mainly inventory- or object-oriented puzzles are never illogical, however there are some hard nuts to crack. The inventory, which extends as window over the major part of the screen, is filled very fast and sometimes you have to click through 3 pages full of objects. Because the possibility exists to use all objects with each other or with the objects on the screen you can easily imagine, that those gamers, who try to get ahead with pure trying out will need a lot of time.
The game is controlled exclusively by the mouse, up to the option menu which is opened with F1. Arrows (naturally in the form of small mushrooms), which show the way to another scene, appear when the mouse is over them. If you want to reach an already visited place faster, then you can do this with a double-click on the left mouse button over the mushroom arrow - however Gilbert cannot be moved faster thereby.
Characters or objects to interact with are likewise indicated by texts, which are displayed when the mouse drives across them. If you click and hold the left mouse button at such a place, a cute popup window in mushroom shape with animated eyes, mouth and hands opens. The three interaction possibilities for an object are mostly "look", "speak" and "take" however there are quite a number of other verbs used, for example "climb", "blow up" etc..
Gilbert also moves directly to the clicked object or area and gives us a description in word and - depending upon adjustment - in text. With comments and annotations neither Gilbert nor any of the numerous other actors are stingy.
Gilbert leads very detailed and long conversations with all characters, at least when first meeting - mostly humorous and ironical, sometimes serious. So it can appear at the beginning of the game, as if it would consist only of these conversations, since all participants first offer a large quantity of dialogues. Many of the spoken words actually are only accessories, pointing us eye blinking, scoffing and sometimes even wise, like Vandersteen (the blacksmith) at the local gossip - of course I mean background informations - about the phungarian people. But since you have to reckon with a more or less hidden hint almost each time, you shouldn't too fast click through the conversation (escape-key) and should also simply only enjoy one bonmot or another. Through this conversations for every - often funny or odd - inhabitant of Phungoria a detailed and affectionately described background story develops.
And what kind of types does Gilbert meet: the Sheriff (rather looking like a witch master) with that Spanish accent which can't be over-heard; the three of the defense brigade, who know that the 50 years of peace with the Vikings is only a 'scurilous deception': the shoemaker Saul, the legionary Pete Fedursky not yielding from his cannon and third in this league - a 'speaking' sock; the beautiful and intelligent princess Michelle with her strong will and a goal; a cross-dressing Viking, whom Gilbert has to help with depilating (no, that beard is o.k. - but those legs!); the blind Sam, whose faith in his dog can't be shaken by nothing; Lipton - the English gentleman and tea expert with colonial experience; and the executioner with the Darth Vader voice ("The Dark Side of the Mushroom"), to name only a few of them.
The voices by professional actors succeeded very well, many of the characters speak with accent or in dialect, or have other peculiarities, like the whining hypochondriac Arver. Since English is not my mother tongue, I also was glad that the large amount of text, which must be understood was always very clear and clearly spoken. However if one should not understand everything, then the speech text which can be switched on alternatively is of excellent help. It always appears absolutely synchronous to the spoken words.
But those who are not sure if they are able to understand the large text quantity, and in particular the one or other fast sly hint or joke, should rather wait for the German version. (the German publisher is Bushido Gamewear, a release date is not known yet.)
The few accompanying music themes are fine selected and not obtruding, even if one must spend some hours within the village area, which is underlaid by a Bolero á la Ravel (but more of the non-erotic type). At the docks there is a quiet seaman's waltz with the sounds of an accordion, in the Viking village you can hear medieval, folk-song sounds of a turning lyre etc.. The scenery is animated by a multiplicity of noises such as bird chirping, the noise of mill wings in the wind, terribly howling dogs when it has to become exciting...
The graphics are splendid, beautiful handpainted 2D backgrounds where the likewise 2D characters are moving. The interspersed cutscenes are of not so high quality than the remaining graphics, what hardly harms the game in the whole. Many backgrounds can be scrolled to the left and to the right, if Gilbert moves there. That gives open-endedness and width to the scene. Gilbert and the others are always presented correctly and it never occurs, as you may know it often from other - 3D-games - that Gilbert would run like a spirit through a desk or something similar. With the change from one scene to another a black transition screen showed up for some seconds, possibly due to the minimum installation I chose.
Except the delay in the screne transitions I couldn't determine any more technical problems. I'm sure that the development time of 5 years has a lot to do with the fact that the game runs round and is of such a large game depth (Gilbert Goodmate first was initiated as a hobby project).
Nevertheless here and there an inconsistency or a small error was noticeable to me: Gilbert telephoned from Liptons telephone although he before had paralyzed the phungarian telephone network! If Gilbert pays the three broken glass balls again, the game is continued, as if they would be still available!The story is old - but also new again. That a young, inexperienced hero finally saves the country by wits and imagination and the princess at last... the basic structure naturally is nothing new. But the developers did much about the decoration of the facet-rich characters and background story, and surprise us thereby that they let a character sometime act typically, like absent-minded professor Elton or somewhat differently, in an unusual way, like the purposeful, self-confident princess. And who would have thought that Vikings indulge in the oriental slave trade?
I really enjoyed Gilbert Goodmate very much - although or even because some puzzles made me really crazy. I enjoyed the humor, the sly hints on Lucas Arts and others and spent actually almost 40 hours with it. It is by the way the first time that I watched the credits more than three times and can only recommend not to miss them.
I rate the game in total with 83% (very recommendable).
- 80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable
- 70% - 79% good game, recommendable
- 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable
- 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable)
- 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
- 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
- Windows 95/98/ME/2000/NT4.0 (with SP5)
- Pentium 166 MHz
32 MB RAM
- 4x CD-ROM-drive
- 2 MB Graphic card (100% DirectX compatible)
- at least 10 MB free space on harddisk
- Mouse and keyboard
- Windows 95
- PII 233 MHz
- 64 MB RAM
- 4 MB graphic card
Homepage 1: http://www.gilbertgoodmate.com/ Homepage 2: http://www.gilbertgoodmate.co.uk/ Walkthrough english: http://www.gameboomers.com/wtcheats/pcGg/GilbertGoodmate.htm Boxshots Downloads: Movie 8,2 MB Trailer 16 MB Demo 41,5 MB