Elroy Hits the Pavement

Review by Jen

Elroy Hits the Pavement is the follow-up to Elroy Goes Bugzerk, a game I reviewed a little while ago. It is touted for ages 8 to 98, but it is really aimed more toward children.

This time around, Elroy must either do a science project that will satisfy his teacher or go to summer school. At the same time, he is distressed by the lassitude of his faithful companion, his blue dog Blue, so he decides to create a dog revitalizer. He and his lab partner, Sid, get to work and actually get the dog revitalizer built, but then ... it goes missing! Along with Blue! Elroy and Sid set out to recover both their invention and Blue, and in so doing they uncover a nefarious plot involving dog-napping, gum-chewing mobsters, and Elroy's arch-nemesis, Gordon Smugs.

In my Bugzerk review, I had complained about the console-style save system—while you could save-and-quit at any time in the game, you had to restart at the beginning of the scene if you went back to the game later. In hindsight, I think it was done this way so that children would get a little refresher about where they were in the game, but I still didn't like it because there was a lot of "dying" and I got sick of repeating the scenes to get back to the point where I went astray. Well, in this game, the save system is automatic (you have a login name), but you must still repeat scenes if'n you screw up. There is a lot less "dying," though—I probably only had to restart three or four puzzles throughout the entire game. So that counts as an improvement in my book.

Another nice addition is an on-disk hint system. It works just like the Universal Hint System; in fact, Jason Strautman, founder of the UHS, is listed as one of the designers of the Elroy Hits the Pavement hint system. This is a welcome addition; for those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the hints are doled out in progressively more specific increments, from vague to outright spoiler, depending on how much help you want. None of the puzzles in this game are very difficult, but I did use the hints a few times when I didn't care to repeat puzzles enough times to solve them myself.

This review is turning into more of a compare-and-contrast between Bugzerk and Hits the Pavement, so methinks I will stick with that theme and say next that Hits the Pavement has a lot less overt educational content than Bugzerk; in fact it has practically none. This is a good thing in my view; I know my own kids are turned off by blatant book-learnin' in entertainment titles. I think Hits the Pavement is only intended to promote critical thinking and provide a fun experience for the player.

The puzzles are all organic to the plot, and solving them is required to advance the story. The game is very linear; you must progress through the game in a set order. There is no inventory but you are occasionally called upon to use one or more items on the screen on something else on the same screen. There are a couple of quiz-like puzzles, as with Bugzerk, but answering the questions is easy if you pay attention to all of the clues leading up to that point.

The graphics are the same Macromedia slide-show style as Bugzerk, again with the collage-ish animations sometimes overlaid on photos. The voice actors who play Elroy and Blue are the same in this game, and there is the addition of the lab partner, Sid, this time. She also is played by a scratchy-voiced, chain-smoking(?) woman—the gravelly voices seem to be a theme for these games. They all do a fine job, though; none of them sound as if they are reading as is the case with so many adventure games.

Elroy Hits the Pavement is an entertaining, albeit short (for me, a grown woman playing a kids' game), experience, and it has several improvements over its predecessor. All in all, it is slightly better than Bugzerk; it really is well-done with the glaring exception of the save system. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Headbone Interactive
Publisher: Headbone Interactive
Release Date: 1995

Available for: Macintosh Windows

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Screenshots

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System Requirements

PC:
33 MHz 486 processor or better
Microsoft Windows 3.1 or Windows 95
8 MB RAM
Double-speed CD-ROM drive
640×480 256-color display
Windows-compatible sound card
Speakers and mouse

Mac:
25 MHz 68040 processor or better
System 7 or higher
8 MB RAM
640×480 256-color display
Double-speed CD-ROM drive

Where to Find It

Playing Games 5.95



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