Full Moon in San Francisco
Review by Old
Edmonton Has Long Winters
Full Moon in San Francisco is an adventure title from Alternative
Games, a small development house in the frozen north of Alberta,
Canada. The enthusiasm, energy and dedication of the team becomes
evident when one visits the nicely designed and presented website.
The promotion of Full Moon and the general game description
is inviting and encouraging. Unfortunately, I'm compelled to say,
the game itself is tragically subparcharacterized by a primitive
interface, outdated graphics, horrible voice acting, simplistic
puzzles, unfunny jokes, and a potentially interesting story muddied
by an amateur script.
As we proceed from a smooth installation, the first peculiarity
of concern rears its head. Full Moon demands the letter of
your CD-ROM drive to proceed, does a search to verify your selection,
then lets you hit a continue button. Okay, fine. But it does this
every time you start or restart the game! The ensuing menu hints
at the kind of humor to come, with selections such as, "New
Game, New Pain," and "Laugh and Load."
Character Creation and Skill Selection
Does Full Moon have RPG-like components? Is there variability
in how the game proceeds based on such selections? Are there even
different outcomes depending on your choices? One may think so,
but one would be quite wrong. Full Moon does offer the choice
of playing a male or female lead, and there are 140 points to distribute
among general ability, age, aim, strength, perception and magical
energy. You can even pick a virtual, irrelevant and annoying popup
petin my case a gorilla with a "radiant smile and sporty
shorts." These popup visits, which you will quickly turn off,
feature such side-splitting (a little sarcasm here) comments as,
"Do you like coconuts as much as I do?" and "Guess
what, I need to go to the washroom." Yet all of these selected
attributes, except possibly for the money amount, do little or nothing
to measurably affect the flow and outcome of a very linear game.
Barely having the endurance to finish the title once, I tried another
game, this time playing the female P.I. with other characteristics,
finding nothing obviously different in gameplay.
"Where Are My Shoes; Where Did You Put Them?" Tracy
You play the role of a private investigator, newly hired by the
Copper Detective Agency (that's Copper, not Cooper, get it?) to
locate a stolen painting. About a third of the way into the game,
you are immersed in solving the mystery of the gruesome serial decapitator
("heads roll for a mile or so")the Full Moon killer.
The premise is interesting, as are some of the story components;
but it's largely intended to be played for laughs and, I'm afraid,
the laughs come very rarely in this game. There are oblique movie
references, inside developer jokes, and such feeble attempted funny
lines as these:
- "I have a heart of gold but can't take it out to show you;
I would die;"
- "Beating Paranormal Butts Since 1980" (agency slogan);
- "Be there or be square;"
- "The officers [911 call] aren't available; they're watching
- "Look good every day" (an unreflective mirror);
- "You scumbag; you're a jerk;"
- "Freaking Far Avenue" (the most distant street on
To top it all off, the developers suggest that the conversational
spider system "offers a high degree of replayability and hundreds
of jokes." Please, help us! This statement misleads, in that
there are no differences in the linear gameplay progressiononly
more of the awful jokes! Not only that, but you can't skip through
these conversations, which are virtually meaningless substance-wise.
Another gimmick the developers find funny is the "Full Moon
Action Button." Occasionally available, this button allows
such opportunities as hitting a vending machine three times to produce
a drink, drawing a happy face on a wall, and taking a shower, which
elicits the comment: "Now you smell good; people will enjoy
talking to you." Retiring to your bed in the evening (alone)
produces a "Yahoo!" and a "Mega-thud."
"Life Is a Puzzle and I Have to Unpuzzle It"
Full Moon's interface rolls from the bottom and right side
of the game screen. Due to borders, the actual gameplay window comprises
only two-thirds of the screen. The game uses a first-person view,
point and click, with horizontal view and movement only. Hotspots
are readily indicated, as are locked doors. Indeed, primary puzzle
solving involves finding keys, letters, numbers, combinations, and
opening locked doors. There's very little that's at all complex.
The inventory is accessed by moving the mouse all the way to the
right of the screen, and it easily slips away from your control,
especially when needing to scroll to later pages. This frustrating
feature could have been alleviated by using a simple "I"
key access. You can save anywhere, any time, although the saves
are arranged alphabetically, not chronologically. Perhaps the most
interesting feature, and one that helps boost my rating a bit, is
an "Objectives" button on the lower toolbar. This shows
what you have to accomplish next, although not how.
Graphics are, to be kind, retro. They're colorful, 800x600 resolution,
but the cartoon-like characters simply face you, with no other animation
or movement except unsynched lip activity.
The voice acting is as bad as I've ever heard in a direct English
adventure game (one not translated from German, for example). Unfortunately,
the worst of this was "featured" with the male lead, the
voice you hear the most. His ongoing ruminations, sounding as if
spoken in a shower stall, are laughable, but not for the reasons
intended. Most of the characterssome obviously playing different
rolesalso fall flat. They aren't helped by the inane script,
to which even Russell Crowe would have trouble giving life and expression.
"Will You Be Part of Their Crazy Team?" Invitation
to the Agency
No, I'm afraid not; neither the Copper Agency nor this failed attempt
at a tongue-in-cheek adventure game. Edmonton has long winters,
and I'm sure these folks worked long and hard on their "baby,"
undoubtedly feeling pleased with and proud of their creation. But
Full Moon just doesn't cut it as a commercially viable adventure
title. Perhaps Canadian humour is differentwhat they find
funny, we in the U.S. may not. Still, I found the game excruciatingly
dull, hard to finish, and only groaningly funny on two occasions.
Adventure gamers are a patient lot, playing and reminiscing about
the good old games, hoping for the next great, or even decent, title.
We're willing to have "retro" graphics for the sake of
good puzzles, an involving story, an entertaining script. Unfortunately,
Full Moon fails to deliver in any respect, leading what some
may call "campy" graphics or "deliberately over-the-top"
voice acting to be revealed for what it isdated, primitive
To switch genres for a moment, RPG and action gamers don't accept
the kind of game today they played ten years ago, and neither should
we. Nor should we be so desperate or blinded as to welcome a game
of this uneven design and quality. The Dark
Falls and Tony
Toughs are out there, and these are the kind of efforts
we need to support. Full Moon may have been an interesting
little shareware title, but I can neither recommend it for your
purchase consideration or playing time. All of the major factors
that make a game good are flawedinterface, graphics, script,
acting, puzzles. The Edmonton group is planning a second Full
Moon title. We wish them well in their efforts during their
long winter, hoping that the outcome will not be "part two,
deja vu," with all of the critical limitations we've examined
Release Date: October 2002
Four Fat Chicks Links
64 MB RAM
350 MB free HD space
12X CD-ROM drive
Where to Find It
Links provided for informational purposes only.
FFC makes no warranty with regard to any transaction entered into
by any party(ies).