Jazz and Faust
Release date Russian version: 09/2001
Release date US-Version: 06/2002
Developer: Saturn+ Company
Publisher: 1 C Company
Trailer 21,5 MB
Trailer 65 MB
Patch 600 KB
A review by slydos 04th August 2002
Already in September 2001 the 3rd-person point&click adventure game "Jazz and Faust" was released in Russia. "Jazz and Faust" is a completely actionfree fantasy adventure, which presents however some violent scenes, slavery and also drug dealing and consumption. Even if our heroes mostly keep themselves away from it and also proclaim that they condemn it and want to have nothing to do with it, it is not it a family game, but rather suitable for older children starting from 12.
In our neighbour country Poland the game is also already available. What's more, the Russian Publisher 1C Company decided to take on the North American distribution and thus it is at least possible to examine this English-language version (language and interactive screen text). When a German version will come into the shops is still unknown.
We can select at the beginning, from which perspective we want to play the game, as the dreamful captain Faust or as the smuggler Jazz. Depending on which hero you select, you will experience a perfectly different game process. The two will meet one another again and again, but gamers cannot change during the game between the characters. So there are two different linear strands, which lead in the long run to two different endings. One can start the game again with the other character and experience all events from a completely different point of view, stamped by the different origins and weltanschauung of the two leading actors.
The world of "Jazz and Faust" consists of 90 scenes in four very different main locations, altogether animated by 53 interactive 3D-charakters.
The game begins in Er-Elp, a port, which reminds with its impressing gothic buildings of a medieval city in Europe. The story is affected by princess Lousa, who is connected with two murders at the beginning of the game. Both Jazz and Faust take to search the lady, however out of completely different motives: Jazz believes that he could find a treasure, Faust falls in love with Lousa.
We travel to the Black Isle, an island settlement surrounded by jungle and visit the city Khaen, reminding of the old orient with minarets and tea houses. Through the desert we go to a caravanserai, filled with all kinds of travelers, dealers and crooks. Gold, camels, spices are commercial objects and smugglers and receivers of stolen goods try to sell their booty. Finally we find the City of the Dead in the sand desert. In the black-and-white illustrated, 32 pages of the manual we find the extensive prehistories of Lousa, Jazz and Faust. It is not necessary to read it but it brings at the beginning somewhat more clarity into the story.
The game comes on one CD and can easily and error free be installed and took together with the savegames around 310 MB on hard disk. If you start "Jazz and Faust" for the first time, you are led automatically through a setup program, in which you can adapt the game to your system. Here one can adjust graphic and sound settings, select e.g. light and shade effects and adjust the smoothing. The game ran on my PC under Windows XP error free with maximum settings.
From the starting menu one can start, load and save a game, call the option menu or the credtits or quit "Jazz and Faust". With the start of a new game our two heroes sit at a dice table and we must determine with a mouseclick, who of the two is to accompany us first.
Using ESC one can open the main menu with the save and load functions. The number of savegames is not limited, but the save function leaves a lot to be desired: The savegames, automatically added with a small picture of the scene, is not ordered by last saving time but by name, so you will be always searching your last games. Though you can name your savegames by yourself, but the names are limited to 8 characters. In addition only 5 savegames in the list can be seen at the same time, and you have to scroll down for your searched savegame. I didn't succeed in overwriting an existing savegame. Pro: the Autosave Function (sometimes you have to replay certain parts here too) and the Quick Save and Load Functions with F5 and F6.
I also missed a button in the main menu, to resume playing by mouse-click. You have to do this by ESC-key too.
You control the two main characters with the mouse. You simply click with the left mouse button on the spot, to which Jazz or Faust should go, a doubleclick lets them pleasantly run fast. Our heroes can and even must be moved for some puzzles freely on the screen. While obstacles are bypassed automatically, one has relative much freedom of movement with "Jazz and Faust".
The mouse cursor changes from the basic arrow shape into other icons depending upon function. There is an enormously large compass inclusive text for areas, where you can change to other locations, and this is helpful, since during the game new exits are added at certain places. A hand-icon indicates objects, which can be taken, and/or if nothing happens, to which one can apply an inventory object. As soon as you select an inventory object, it appears in the lower right corner and the cursor changes from a hand-icon to an animated anvil-icon. Interesting and helpful it is also that each cursor has its own sound. If you turn the music down, you can rely completely well on your hearing. Objects are often very well hidden or in the darkness, so that the flipping hand cursor is much assistance. Other cursor forms make it possible to look at objects or speak with other characters, by the way also with camels!
The inventory is called by the right mouse button and then always takes, as enormous dragon claw, a large part of the screen. So beautiful to look at, so little comfortable it is. Only one object is always visible and one must scroll with the arrow keys through the inventory and then get a description of the object. Awkward too, that objects change their position within the inventory, if you add something new. I found it still more awkward that just taken up objects were combined automatically with inventory objects, without any information for the player. Some time I pondered, why an object from the inventory had suddenly disappeared, repeated certain parts, in order to see, in which place it disappears.
All inventory objects disappear, as soon as one does not need them any longer, so the inventory remains still quite clear despite scrolling.
Using an inventory object takes place this way: open inventory with right-click, look for object in inventory with arrow keys, select object with left mouse button, close inventory with right mouse button. Move cursor over the intended area on the screen, until the anvil-icon appears - then use object with left-click. If the object does not function with the hotspot, one can apply the selected object to another hotspot or put it back again with right-click.
While character controlling is very easy, object handling is quite pedantic.
"Jazz and Faust" has wonderful, highly detailed prerendered 2D-backgrounds wherein our 3D-characters move. The numerous, mainly eastern looking, very complex decorated scenes are subject to the changes of the course of the day: day, dawn, night, afterglow. Fires, water, flags in the wind, fireflies, fog and other animations liven up the scenery, but are not all completely naturalistic - the water of the port reminded me a little of the water around Lummerland (note: in Germany well-known island in a puppet show on TV)!
On the other hand the character animations are better, particularly the moves of the main actors. Unfortunately they make only suggested movements, and do not hand an object over, so that one could see it. There are also only few mimic and speech animations. What irritated me however more, is the fact that the two don't look like themselves at all in the film sequences. Besides the film sequences are very blurred.
The accompanying music, mainly eastern themes, can please first, however affects somewhat importunately after some time and repetitions. It is anyway better to turn the music down so that you can hear the noises of the variable cursor, because that is really important. Other sounds are economically used and suitably. The English dubbing seems successful to me, only with Faust I would have wished myself more aliveness. Sometimes the spoken text is somewhat indistinct so that it is better to let sub-titles switched on. Those are big enough, however in a very stylish font, so that reading can sometimes make problems, e.g. if you can hardly differentiate the letter "K" from the letter "R". One shouldn't experiment with sub-titles, but pay attention to legibility!
The degree of difficulty of Jazz's and Faust's game parts are different. While you can play Faust's part to the end quite fluently and thus faster without hard brain teasers, there is more challenge with Jazz.
Naturally in this game again you have to come into the possession of a set of objects to solve your task. The game is extremely linear, so that you must solve nearly all puzzles in a given order. So one cannot take a cup before it must be used, even if it is already there before as hotspot. There are puzzles where you have to find out a certain order to visit locations and speak with people. Many objects emerge later in places already visited. In addition they are partly well hidden, therefore here again a pointer to the flipping hand cursor, which can very much facilitate the search. In the Jazz part of the game we must build quite a difficult jig-saw-puzzle, whereby we must find out first of all, how the parts are to turn and be exchanged. There are no combination or code puzzles, no labyrinths and also no time-dependent game parts. Not all puzzles seem completely logical at first sight, so that alone from this and also from the strict linearity already a certain game length results.
"Jazz and Faust" is not a bad game but no highlight too. It was really interesting to experience the story from two perspectives. You must listen to a few dialogues twice, but otherwise really a new picture developed, even with new locations. While story, background graphics and the puzzles in the Jazz part left a very positive impression, an altogether quite uncomfortable handling (menu, inventory) and the reduced freedom through linearity were not so amusing. The average gamer will be busy with both parts for approx. 16 hours, which is today already a usual gaming length, but I would spend gladly some Euro more, if I could get for it the double play time, as it was "normal" in earlier years, when a game entertains 35 to 40 hours long.My total rating: 65% Adventure-Archiv-rating system:
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)
Minimal System requirements:
- Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
- Pentium II 300 MMX
- 32 MB RAM
- 8x CDROM-drive
- 300 MB on hard disk
- 3D graphic card with 4 MB RAM
- PC-compatible mouse
- 16-bit stereo DirectX-compatible sound card
- Windows XP
- P IV 1,6 GHz
- 512 MB RAM
- 16x DVD-ROM (Artec WRA-A40)
- nVidia GeForce 2MX400 64 MB graphic card
- Sound card DirectX-compatible
The main menu