Tony Tough and the Night of Roasted Moths Review

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Publisher: Got Game Entertainment
Developer: Prograph Research

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium 200 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 8x CD ROM

Tony Tough is a diminutive private detective for Wallen & Wallen Investigations. For ten years, he has pursued an elusive villain who steals children's candy every Halloween. Tony fears that candy-mad aliens are preparing to conquer the planet, and that these petty crimes are only the first step in their scheme to subjugate humanity. Together with his purple pet Pantagruel, Tony is prepared to put an end to these petty crimes, and save humanity – if his allergies don't act up too much.

Kyle Ackerman

Tony Tough and the Night of Roasted Moths is a cartoonish, 2D adventure game that mimics the style of some of the LucasArts titles of old. In fact, there's even a fragment of flesh in one area that looks an awful lot like Purple Tentacle himself, from Day of the Tentacle. Exaggerated characters and outrageous dialog are the rule, along with the specious logic underlying many of the puzzles. Using the standard point and click interface, you navigate dialogue trees or search the landscape for useful (and not-so-useful) objects that can be combined to solve puzzles. In Tony's case, the problem is that his pet tapir Pantagruel has been kidnapped. Every step that Tony makes towards locating Pantagruel brings him closer to solving a long string of candy thefts. What do "roasted moths" have to do with Pantagruel's predicament? Tony never seems to find out.

The credits for Tony Tough and the Night of Roasted Moths tell you a lot about this title's history. The opening of the credit sequence, with "Copyright 1997, 99, Nayma Software and Protonie Interactive," contains a substantial story. Nayma Software is an Italian developer, who had an early version of Tony Tough in December, 1997. That's the year when adventure games such as The Curse of Monkey Island and The Last Express were released. The game's history is echoed in a few elements of its design – for instance, an impression on a pedestal near the end of the game looks like Nayma Software's spider-like symbol. Prograph Research, the official developer, is an Italian Company established in 1998 (responsible for titles such as Tsunami 2265) that now focuses on Game Boy Advance titles. Also from the credits, Protonic Interactive was the original name of Prograph's game division. In April of 2002, the company decided to release all software under the Prograph name, hence Prograph became the developer instead of Protonic, or for that matter, Nayma.

All of this means that Tony Tough and the Night of Roasted Moths has been around for a long time. This isn't such a bad thing, as there has been a dearth of good adventure games lately, and cartoonish, 2D graphics don't need the latest and greatest CPU or video card to be entertaining. Better yet, this game will even run on most older computers. The Italian development house manifests itself occasionally, as the game is clearly intended for international distribution. A pizza parlor has a menu outside in dollars, while the menu inside is in British pounds, and the interface was clearly designed to be transferable to any language. Almost all the menus and interface buttons are purely visual. Popover text exists in some, but not all cases. To move, you left-click. To talk to someone, you right-click, and then highlight Pantagruel's head. It seems odd at first, but becomes fairly comfortable quickly. Most importantly, the dialog throughout the game has been translated very well. The game is full of references to technology and literature, and the English usage feels very natural. It's not quite as humorous as the old LucasArts games, but is certainly entertaining enough to elicit the occasional chuckle. The production values are good, but not perfect. While the voice acting is usually skillful, words are occasionally skipped or repeated and sometimes bear little resemblance to the written text.

Adventure games are rather like crossword puzzles. They adhere to an internal logic all their own, and developing the knack for solving these puzzles is a unique skill. In that sense, Tony Tough veers between being the Sunday crossword for the New York Times, a conundrum that only the most skilled adventure gamer could decipher, and a block of random letters assembled by a madman. Tony's is a world where a dry crust of bread and an old wad of chewing gum can be mistaken for a shrimp canapé (you'd think that knowing what a canapé looks like might help, but it rarely looks anything like jam on toast). For much of the adventure, Tony is in a search to locate ingredients for a complex potion that will help him locate his lost dog. Just as Tony denies that his dog is actually a purple tapir, the game pretends you are searching for specific ingredients. It usually turns out that the object of your search is totally unrelated to the ingredient you actually use, making the entire process confusing. While it is satisfying to solve the puzzle that ultimately gains you the ingredient used in place of coffee, I had that item in my inventory for a long time before the blind (and stubborn) combination of inventory items revealed the sludge in Tony's overcoat was the answer to the puzzle, and my wanderings had largely been for naught.

Almost all the puzzles can be solved simultaneously (before you enter a castle late in the game), so there are a fair number of areas to explore before you get stuck. This lets you move back and forth, testing your latest and greatest hunch. While nice in principle, it is possible to collect and hold nearly every item in the game in your inventory simultaneously. If you have to resort to testing every object on every other object, or on every character, the game can slow to a painful crawl. On easy difficulty, the puzzles are challenging, and the intermingling of objects is difficult to predict, but the game is ultimately solvable. Hard difficulty usually just means that certain objects are harder to find (stashed in trash cans or out of sight), but the game is both challenging and equally satisfying on easy, so there's no reason to add the extra frustration of "hard." The game is actually short, but is prolonged by the difficulty of the puzzles. Solving a puzzle can take a long time, a lot of exploration, and patient thought, but there's plenty of interaction with the denizens of Halloween Park to keep you occupied while casting about for answers.

As with other games of its genre, there's a good deal of extraneous dialog to disguise the occasional hints other characters give to Tony. In the same spirit, interacting with these characters is much of the fun in the game, so it's important that the dialog is usually well written and amusing. The game is billed as having "salty humor." Most of the talk is relatively innocuous, but there are some crude jokes and moments that seem inserted to make the game more adult rather than to make the game funnier. The perpetually vomiting pirate and parrot's jokes come to mind, in particular.

Tony Tough and the Night of Roasted Moths is a decent adventure game that harkens back to the style of the great LucasArts games. You'll find both good gameplay and nostalgia in this title filled with puzzles that are usually difficult and often surprising. The best thing about this title is that the publisher decided to retail it at $29.99, for which adventure fans should consider returning to the fold, exploring the world of Tony Tough, and picking up everything that isn't nailed down – just in case it turns out to be useful later.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on November 26, 2002 6:44 PM.

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