The game is a classic point and click adventure game that resembles the tone of the Leisure Suit Larry series by Sierra Games, in that it approaches the adult style of humor featured, which is implied but never shown, all while remaining faithful to the family-friendly tone established in the corresponding animated series broadcasting at the time.
Part of the fun (and challenge) of writing this series is getting some of these old games to work at all. I thought I was clever and could get this game working using a virtual machine but after trying with Windows 3.x, 95, 98 and eventually Windows 7 I kept running into issues with speed, sync and random crashes. I took some inspiration from what they’re doing at The Collection Chamber and got this up and running using DOSBox by first installing Windows 3.11.
This worked like a charm, and by using DOSBox-X I could even take advantage of CPU speed hacks and save states. The latter were less relevant as this game saves your progress anytime you exit the game - but still better safe than sorry.
You play as Ace Ventura, the Pet Detective - but not the one from the movie of the same name. This game is based off the animated series that I never knew existed. I guess this came out as I was aging out of Saturday morning cartoons, but it’s kind of interesting to know that one of the writers on that show was Seth MacFarlane.
Though there’s a weak plot underlying this game, you’re basically just moving from one minigame to the next. For example, after you leave your apartment the first time, you end up underwater trying to get onto a sub through the garbage shute - which you have to swim up. While doing this you have to avoid garbage while collecting oxygen. Later you have to build a totem pole with random parts, then keep a whale centered on sonar, then jump from moving whale to moving whale … etc. None of these are particularly fun, but at least they’re typically short.
Like most adventure games you have to randomly hunt for items to help you solve certain puzzles. There really isn’t all that much to collect in this game and the things you can interact with are pretty obvious. If you try to use the wrong items together or interact with anything but the exact thing Ace is supposed to focus on on any particular screen you just get a generic “Nope. Can’t do it” type of response, so finding the correct targets is easy.
One item combination puzzle is almost insanely nonsensical, though it makes a bit of sense in retrospect. When you get to your apartment the second time you find out the landlord has cut your power, so to use your computer you need to attach a cable from the tv to the fuse box, attach the other end to the tub, fill the tub with water, pick up some electric eels, pick up some rubber gloves, grab the eels with the gloves and drop them in the tub. Easy right???
Solving the product ordering puzzle was also a bit obtuse. I ended up leaning on the walkthrough for the majority of the endgame just because things weren’t making sense anymore. It’s not that they were hard - just - confusing. Maybe if I had a bit more patience I could have worked my though these naturally but honestly after a couple hours plugging away at these puzzles and mini games I was just getting frustrated and the story progression wasn’t keeping me engaged.
Eventually you get to the castle in Bavaria - because that’s where Phatteus Lardass’ lair is. Yeah, you’re reading that right … I’m sure 16 year old me would be laughing his ass off at this, but it just gets an eye roll at this point. Anyway, a couple of simple puzzles and one overly complex pattern matching puzzle later and you get to the stage where Lardass is shooting you with a laser. Avoid this long enough and he “brings the house down” literally, and that’s the end of the game.
I used to love this type of comedy - and Ace Ventura specifically, so this game made me feel old. I guess the fact that I could remember how to install Windows 3.11 without needing to resort to instructions because I’d done it a few times over the years also made me feel old. Honestly, that part was more fun than this game, so thanks Ace Ventura for giving me that experience at least.
Overall experience here was pretty lackluster. There’s really nothing notable about the background music or sound effects, and though the art style is expectedly cartoonish, most ot the game is just static backgrounds. There’s very little to interact with and you’re kind of left to fill in the gaps in the story yourself. Maybe these are pulled from episodes of the TV show, and if I’d watched it the game might have made more sense.
If it weren’t in the list for this series there’s no reason I’d ever have played this game, and honestly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.
|Bomico Entertainment Software
|October 31, 1996
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