Inside Pulse 12

Review: Da New Guys: Day of the Jackass (PC)

Da New Guys: Day of the Jackass
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
Developer: Icebox Studios
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 02/29/2012

It’s not secret that I’m a lifelong fan of wrestling. Even if I don’t watch it regularly anymore, I still get excited for big events like Wrestlemania and still smile when someone like The Miz or Daniel Bryan manages to win a world title.

My appreciation of wrestling went a long way into interesting me in Da New Guys. After all, it was about a group of guys in a wrestling promotion who essentially moonlight as a super hero group. After playing the demo, and seeing what kind of game it was, and the humor of the story, I was sold on the premise.

Now it’s up to the game to live up to my hopes.

Story

Day of the Jackass starts of with a six man hardcore match for the Wrestle Zone title. After the diminutive and annoying Brain manages to walk away with the belt, he’s kidnapped by someone who wants the belt for themselves. It’s up to Brain’s teammates, Defender and Simon, to figure out what happened, save their little “buddy” and win the day.

This is a game that is all about the laughs, and they come in droves. The characters are wacky, interesting, and have a ton of great dialogue. One of my favorites was Ice Cold, an obvious Stone Cold spoof, but one that was dumb as a bag of rocks. I thought for sure I’d find him annoying, but he grew on me. There are also a ton of great moments, such as a jailbreak, underground fighting, and even a honest to goodness wrestling match. There are others I could gush about, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

The jokes are constant, even during the most dramatic situations, yet they never got old, and many of them had me in stitches. Da New Guys also wins the title of “greatest fake out in video game history” in my book, but you’d have to see it to understand, and I sure as hell don’t want to spoil that moment. I think the best thing is that this is a fully realized world with a good number of minor characters and development. I honestly want the story to continue, and would gladly fork over money for another game. This game is a sequel by the way, and the original is available for free at the developers website.

It’s early in the year, but this is my contender for best story. If you like wrestling or simply good humor, make sure to give this a try.

Graphics

Da New Guys uses a simple flash style of animation that honestly looks like a cartoon that somebody drew up at home. It’s also shamelessly 2D. One of my favorite scenes involved a character getting struck by a car. Because he was in 2D already, he ended up lying flat on the road like the car was a bulldozer. It was simply amusing. The art style is something that doesn’t pop out as amazing, but grows on you as you play.

The animations are surprisingly robust, with lips matching speech, varying walk animations, and interactions with all kinds of objects. I’ve played a number of “higher end” adventure games the past couple of months, and they didn’t have nearly this attention to detail.

There were a couple instances of full blown 3D animation. These scenes really popped out. There was a bit of disconnect though, as it kept switching back to a couple of characters who didn’t get 3D models, but the scene was still so much better because of it.

While DotJ may not be winning awards for achievements in graphics, it still manages to look quite good. When you compare it to the first game, it’s like night and day, showing how much more was put into this title.

Audio

There is a ton of voice acting in this game, and all of it is great. Defender, Simon, and Brain are all voiced by the same guy, and yet each maintains a unique sound and personality. Best of all, the voices fit the characters to a tee. Simon sounds like a gruff bouncer, whereas Brain is a high pitched nuisance. Even the minor characters have nice voices as well. I was truly impressed.

Musically, the game is also surprisingly strong. The main theme is a catchy rock track that one could easily see as the theme for a wrestling promotion, and there are appropriate lobby tunes for the stadium and fast food place. There are also plenty of background tunes in other areas as well. Though these tend to be less catchy, they are typical adventure game songs and fit quite well. There isn’t a huge selection of tracks, but what’s here is good.

The audio effects are also pretty great, from doors and latches shutting to the ring of a wrestling bell. Once again, a lot of attention went into this game, and it shows. The aural presentation is one of the strongest selling points. I’ve played enough adventure games with terrible voice acting and boring music in my time. It was refreshing to have no complaints for once.

Gameplay

Da New Guys is a classic adventure game in pretty much every way. You click an area, and then your character goes there. Clicking on another person opens up a dialogue, while clicking on an item adds it to your inventory. Everything in the game is handled by mouse clicks. It’s very simply and easy to control.

There are a number of puzzles in the game. These involve using logic and your inventory to progress. For example, a crank needed to lower a ladder was stuck. The answer was to use a greasy rag to loosen it up. After that, the ladder still wasn’t down enough, so the golf club could be used to drag it in place. There will be times where you are quite lost, but this generally happens when you need to go back to an earlier location in order to interact with something that did nothing before. That greasy rag, for example, was created by taking a rag from one location, and dousing it in hair gel from another.

There are also plenty of one off puzzles that don’t involve using inventory items. These include an honest to god stealth section, a battle on top of a speedboat, and one incredibly devious puzzle in order to get a keycard for an elevator. I truly thank the heavens that I’ll never have to do that one again. These tend to be marquee moments, and they stick out because of how different they are and how well pulled off they are.

Conversing with characters is pretty simple. While there are optional topics of conversation that are there for background purposes, there are no real branching paths. Characters will usually just give you a task to complete, or clue you in to something you need to do. This is often accompanied with a witty remark or clever joke, so it’s all good. This is no social simulator, but there is still a solid payoff.

Overall, this is a classic adventure game. The puzzles are smart, interesting, and move the game forward at all times. You won’t find any random jigsaw puzzles or slide puzzles to get in your way. I really dig this approach, as it feels less contrived. There are a couple of rough spots, but for the most part, this is exactly what you want from this type of game.

Replayability

Sadly, this is where the game starts to fall short, sub this is often the case with adventure games. It simply doesn’t have much replay value, as you’ll have heard all of the jokes before, and the puzzles will be a cinch to work through. It tries to mitigate this with a trophies system. Various actions unlock trophies, which in turn unlock concept art for view in the main menu. While this is nifty, these can all be earned on the first playthrough if you know what you’re doing. I suppose some might be interested in coming back if they missed one, but there isn’t a huge incentive there.

In terms of how long the game will last you, that really depends on how good you are at the puzzles. It took me probably a good five to six hours to complete the game, and some of that was spent wandering out like a lost child. That’s about what downloadable titles tend to offer though, so it’s pretty standard. You really can’t expect too much more from a ten dollar game.

Balance

There is only one difficulty in the game, which makes since. Without hidden object sections, or other such things, there really isn’t anything you could do to make the game any easier without instituting a full on hint system. There’s a brief tutorial at the beginning to get you used to the basics, but that’s about it. That being said, those used to games with hint systems may be distraught for the lack of one here.

While most players will more than likely find a spot where they get stuck, the game is fairly good at letting you know what to do. Thanks to character’s inner monologue, you can review any item you have, which helps a lot. For example, one puzzle required you to shine a spotlight on a specific seat. You had a ticket, but the seat number was only visible for a brief moment earlier in the game. If you didn’t remember it, you could right click on it to have the character mention it. It was pretty much an unobtrusive hint system. It worked quite well.

Logic and ingenuity are the key ingredients to success. That’s pretty much how it should be.

Originality

Since this game combines a love of professional wrestling with classic point and click adventure games, it isn’t out for originality, rather than a great blend. It succeeds in the latter. This is kind of a bizarre mixture, but one that I am glad exists. It’s the kind of thing I’m sure a lot of people have talked about, but this studio actually went out and did it. Thanks!

That being said, this is a sequel, so the idea isn’t as new as it would seem. This sequel just has a much bigger marketing budget. I can’t in good conscience give it high points for originality, even though this will adversely affect the score. This makes me a sad panda.

Addictiveness

I honestly had trouble putting the game down. It wasn’t a revelation in the gameplay department or anything, but it was so damned funny, that I was really enjoying myself. I conquered the game in two extended sittings, which isn’t abnormal for me, but still counts for a lot. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been playing a lot of adventure games, and genre fatigue is a very serious thing. DotJ just didn’t suffer from it.

The only time you’ll really feel like putting the game down is when you get stuck for a while. In that case frustrating sets in and it can feel like the game is mocking you. For example, I needed to take a TV remote with me, but every time I tried to exit the room, Simon would ask me to change the channel, which I had to do. Though I eventually came across the logical solution, I was still annoyed to the point of wanting to turn the game off. I can see this happening to others.

Still, the strength of the story carries the game smartly throughout.

Appeal Factor

I’m not sure how big of a crossover there is between wrestling fans and adventure fans. I have to assume this is a very niche market, though adventure fans may pick it up anyway. I also know some people who would deny the game simply because the main characters are British, which is sad in and of itself.

Still, there is no reason that anyone shouldn’t be able to enjoy this game. Most of the jokes don’t require any knowledge of wrestling, even if there are plenty of references. The lack of a hint system makes it somewhat less accessible, but that in an of itself might help the game appeal to another sort of crowd altogether.

If you’re truly a fan of the genre, this is one game you shouldn’t miss, even if you don’t care too much for the subject matter. Just give it a chance.

Miscellaneous

For extras, the game doesn’t offer much. I mentioned the awards system and the concept art. That’s pretty much it. My version didn’t include the soundtrack, but according the the publisher’s site, downloaded copies will come with it. So that’s a plus.

Overall, this is one game I glad I decided to jump on. It’s been a long time since a game had me laughing WITH IT so much and so consistently. It is also such a huge step up from its predecessor, and one has to be appreciative of that. Here’s hoping the series will continue.

The Scores
Story: Classic
Graphics: Good
Audio: Great
Gameplay: Classic
Replayability: Very Poor
Balance: Good
Originality: Poor
Addictiveness: Great
Appeal Factor: Mediocre
Miscellaneous: Very Good
Final Score: Good Game!

Short Attention Span Summary

Da New Guys: Day of the Jackass is easily the best adventure game I’ve played since I started reviewing them at the beginning of the year. It does this with a fantastic story, timeless gameplay, and a surprisingly great presentation. If you appreciate the genre, this is one game you’re not going to want to miss. While it isn’t wholly original and it lacks replay value, that first ride is still worth the time and money you spend on it. This gets my stamp of approval in a big way.

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