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Jolly Rover





Jolly Rover 


Avast ye lily livered land lubbers! Thar be a new pirate enterin’ port. Jolly Rover is a point and click adventure from independent Australian developer Brawsome. It’s time to scrape the barnacles off your mouse and prepare to set sail. The unwitting Gaius James Rover is about to be thrust into the adventure of his life and it’s up to you to guide him safely through. 

Jolly Rover has a fun cartoon-like appearance that compliments the game’s humorous tone. The game takes place in various tropical locations and these environments are full of bright colors. Brawsome has packed a ton of detail into each location to give players plenty to look at. Every location is beautifully drawn and it’s a pleasure to explore each one. The characters in the game are based on varying breeds of dogs. It was interesting to see how these dogs maintained their canine characteristics even as pirates. For instance, early on in the game you will encounter a bull dog buccaneer that has a less than sunny disposition. Of course it could be argued that this is the nature of a pirate and not the nature of the breed, but you get the point. On the whole this game avoids any significant violent imagery, which is impressive considering all of the pirates swaggering about. As far as other offensive content, there are several instances where drinking rum is portrayed as well as some tobacco use. Empty rum bottles or kegs of rum are very prominent and players will be required to visit the inside of a pirate bar at one point. Skeletons are also found throughout the game but they are nothing scarier than you would see in the average cartoon. It is also noteworthy that the publisher lists these potentially offensive items on their website making it clear that it was not their intention to sneak anything by unsuspecting parents.

The voice acting in this game is fantastic and had me laughing throughout the entire game. As if pirate lingo isn’t funny enough on its own, throw in all of the possible dog jokes you can think of and a boat load of witty dialog and you’ve got a sidesplitting swashbuckling hit. Much of the humor in the game comes from the writer’s uncanny ability to predict what the player is thinking when they choose to click on an object. Hearing your character verbally express your own cynical thoughts about a situation is quite amusing. Jolly Rover has a great soundtrack and this music stands out just as much as the beautiful artwork in the game. Sadly, there are some things that parents will want to be aware of when deciding whether or not to let their child experience this game. The “d-word” is used no less than four times and the “b-word” is used at least twice. Technically the “b-word” is used in reference to female dogs, but could have easily been avoided for some added family friendliness. In addition to the mild language, there are also some moments of innuendo that were also unnecessary.

For an adventure game Jolly Rover has a pleasantly surprising amount of extra content and replay value. This game is available via Steam and offers up 15 Steam achievements for players to attempt to unlock during gameplay. You will almost certainly be unable to unlock all of these on your first time through, so there’s some incentive to give it another go. Also scattered around the various game levels are flag pieces to collect. Collecting these will unlock character bios for the infamous pirate captains found in the game. Adventure game scavengers will also delight in trying to find all of the “pieces of eight” (coins) stashed about the game world. If you’re not into collecting coins, perhaps collecting crackers will appeal to you. The amount of crackers in the game borders on the absurd, but is yet another challenge for those looking for extra goodies in the game. In addition to their practical uses within the game, finding crackers and pieces of eight will unlock bonus features such as audio tracks and concept art. If you’re slightly obsessive about finding every item in a game, Jolly Rover will keep you busy for a while. This game is reasonably priced for the amount of content and the great adventure that it offers.

The gameplay of Jolly Rover is one of the most simple I’ve seen in an adventure game. Just about anything you want to do can be accomplished with a click. If you’re familiar with adventure games the interface will be a no brainer. There were several unique features that stood out to me in this game. For one, your current objective is always displayed at the top of the screen so you’re never unsure of what you should be doing at any given moment. In many adventure games this tends to be a source of frustration as your objective is not always made clear by the dialog alone. Jolly Rover also incorporates a hint system cleverly disguised as a parrot (this is where all those crackers you’ve been collecting come in). After all, what self-respecting pirate themed adventure game could show itself without bringing along a parrot? Those of us not wishing to spoil anything with hints can simply choose to ignore the parrot and avoid his hints altogether. Another interesting thing about the gameplay is that there is no save button. I can almost hear the collective gasps of seasoned adventure gamers everywhere. Before you go into full panic mode, fear not, the game saves itself automatically each time you enter a new screen. But what if I miss some critical plot item and can’t go back!? What if I’m about to enter a big boss battle and die without a restore point to fall back on!? Fortunately Jolly Rover ensures that you’ll never find yourself in that position. By design it is impossible to get stuck simply because you forgot to pick up that spatula three levels ago or die because you lack some crucial item with which to defeat the big bad. This aspect of the game makes it perfect for first time adventurers as well as those looking for a fresh point and click experience. I have very few negative points to make about the gameplay of Jolly Rover. One minor annoyance I found was that some of the achievement descriptions (which are viewable before you accomplish the task) give away some key plot points. While some of these descriptions were vague enough, several of them subtly reveal upcoming events in the game. Players will also find some of the puzzles to be repetitive though they somehow manage to remain enjoyable each time.

Jolly Rover had great potential to be completely family friendly, but unfortunately it fell a bit short in this category. Littered with alcohol references, mild language, and a substantial amount of Voodoo practice, this game is inappropriate for younger players. The publisher self-rates the game as “PG-13”, but parents will need to make an informed decision on this one. Jolly Rover is a truly great adventure game that would be a shame to miss, but some of the content may be a bit more than what parents will want their child exposed to. I look forward to more releases by Brawsome, but I hope in the future that the unnecessary offensive language and alcohol use will be left out to make things more appealing to families. 


Graphics: 70%
Sound: 66%
Replay/Extras: 83%
Gameplay: 88%
Family Friendly Factor: 62%
System: Personal Computer
Publisher: Brawsome
Rating: 'NR' for Not Rated

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