Full Throttle (1995 video game)
The cover artwork for Full Throttle depicts
the game's protagonist, Ben
INSANE (cut scenes)
|Release date(s)||April 30, 1995|
Full Throttle is a computer adventure game developed and published by LucasArts. It was designed by Tim Schafer, who would later go on to design Grim Fandango, Psychonauts and Brütal Legend. The game features voice actors Roy Conrad and Mark Hamill. It was released on April 30, 1995. It is the tenth game to use the SCUMM adventure game engine.
Players view Ben, the protagonist, in third-person. Using the mouse, players click the left button to move him and hold it over certain objects to view their interactive options; a graphic menu rendered as a flaming skull displays a fist ("use", "grab" or "hit"), eyes ("examine"), tongue ("speak" or "taste") and boot ("kick"), the emblem of the Polecats, the biker gang to which Ben belongs. After the menu appears, the player then selects one of these icons for the desired interaction. The inventory of collected tools or weapons is invoked by right-clicking anywhere on the screen. It also contains portions where the player is required to drive, combating enemy bikers with punches and kicks, and later chains, planks, and other crude weapons.
Dialogue plays a large part in the game, during which story elements and information necessary to advance are presented. Several choices of dialogue are presented in certain situations, allowing players to choose the path of conversation and ultimately advance the scene by selecting the right choice of words (something common in several LucasArts adventure games of the era).
The game, somewhat in contrast to other SCUMM engine games, may present situations where the player can die. During some sequences, it is possible to make a wrong choice of action, or react too slowly, resulting in killing the main character. Such events are followed with Ben's voiceover ("Let me try that again" or "Damn"), after which the sequence starts over to allow the player to retry. There are no "lives" nor "game over" messages in Full Throttle and players may retry as often as necessary to advance.
The story is set in a dystopian future where motorized vehicles are giving way to anti-gravitational hovercrafts. A hardened biker named Ben is the leader of a motorcycle gang called the Polecats. Riding down Highway 9, they come across an expensive white hovercraft limousine. Ben unceremoniously drives over the limousine, crushing its hood ornament. Inside the limo is Malcolm Corley, CEO and founder of the last domestic motorcycle manufacturer in the country, Corley Motors. Intrigued and impressed, Corley demands his driver catch up to the gang.
As Ben and his gang relax at a bar, Corley arrives and befriends Ben with stories of his own biker history. Before long, Corley's sinister vice president Adrian Ripburger enters and asks to speak to Ben privately. However, when Ben refuses to have his gang appear at the upcoming annual Corley Motors shareholder's meeting as an "escort", he is knocked out and thrown in a dumpster by Ripburger's henchmen, Nestor and Bolus. Ben later wakes to find Ripburger and his gang have already left, having agreed to escort Corley to the shareholder's meeting. While trying to catch up with them, Ben discovers his bike had been sabotaged and after crashing, and falling unconscious, he is discovered by a reporter named Miranda. She brings him to a female mechanic named Maureen (or Mo for short), who patches up his bike with a few parts Ben has to retrieve.
Miranda witnesses Ripburger beating Corley to death outside a rest-stop bathroom and takes pictures, but Bolus snatches the camera. Miranda escapes. After they leave, Ben discovers Corley, and with his dying words, he tells Ben that Ripburger is going to take over the company and produce mini-vans instead of motorcycles. Ben is asked to set things straight by finding Corley's daughter - revealed to be Maureen.
With his gang now jailed in connection to Corley's murder, Ben crosses the desert as a fugitive in order to find a way to clear his name, save his gang, and prevent Ripburger from turning Corley Motors into a minivan producer. He crosses paths with other motorcycle gangs: the speed-addicted Vultures (of which Mo is later revealed to be a member), the brutal Rottwheelers, and the enigmatic Cavefish. He also encounters Father Torque, the retired once-leader of the Polecats, who dispenses sage advice to Ben to aid him in his travels. Several diversions also come Ben's way: he must acquire items to cross a gorge when its bridge is destroyed, convince Maureen he didn't kill Corley via Miranda's recovered film, and fight through Ripburger's henchmen to stop Ripburger from taking over the company and getting away with murder.
Ben and Maureen eventually expose Ripburger as Corley's murderer with the pictures Miranda took, and broadcast the last will and testament of Malcolm Corley, who names Mo rightful successor to his company. Exposed, Ripburger flees the scene. As Ben and Maureen ride away, Ripburger makes one final attempt to ram them off the road in his semi-truck. Maureen's gang, The Vultures, arrive in a land-driven cargo plane to immobilize Ripburger's truck. The vehicle comes to a screeching halt over the bridge demolished earlier in the game, and after a final conflict, Ripburger falls to his death. Corley's funeral follows, where Father Torque delivers the eulogy, and with the Polecats freed and Maureen in her rightful place, Ben rides into the sunset on his bike.
- Ben (voiced by Roy Conrad) is the protagonist of the game and a biker gang leader, though the other Polecats spend most of the game in prison with Ben trying to get them out of it. Ben's entire name appears only in the manual as "Ben Whatsisname". Tim Schafer stated that Ben's last name is "Throttle" but it wasn't included in the game because of fears of a legal action by the producers of Biker Mice from Mars, which featured a character by the name of Throttle.
- Maureen "Mo" Corley (voiced by Kath Soucie) is Malcolm Corley's illegitimate daughter and, secretly, a member of the Vultures. She has a stoic and skeptic personality, and works as a mechanic. At the end of the game, she inherits her father's company and abandons her biker lifestyle. However, as shown in the trailer, she was supposed to return as a biker in the sequel.
- Malcolm Corley (voiced by Hamilton Camp) is the owner of Corley Motors, the last domestic motorcycle manufacturer, and a patriarch of the biker society respected equally by all gangs.
- Adrian Ripburger (voiced by Mark Hamill) is the Vice-President of Corley Motors and the main antagonist of the game. In 2010 IGN ranked Adrian Ripburger 96th in the "Top 100 Videogames Villains".
- Bolus (voiced by Jack Angel) is Malcolm Corley's bodyguard, secretly in league with Adrian Ripburger.
- Nestor (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) is Malcolm Corley's driver, also in league with Ripburger, who describes him as the "smart one" of the two henchmen.
Full Throttle was released only on CD-ROM, featuring a full voiceover soundtrack. The project was led by Day of the Tentacle creator Tim Schafer, who was also its writer and designer. It was also one of the few LucasArts games to use externally recorded music, courtesy of The Gone Jackals. Certain tracks from their album, Bone to Pick, were featured in the game.
Full Throttle employed several skilled voice acting professionals, such as Roy Conrad, Kath Soucie, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, Hamilton Camp, Steven Jay Blum and Mark Hamill. Full Throttle was the first computer game to employ mostly SAG-registered professional voice actors instead of relying entirely on in-house talent, and also featured a few pieces of licensed music.
According to Tim Schafer, Full Throttle originally would have featured a sequence where Ben undergoes a peyote-induced hallucinogenic trip. This was eventually ejected from the game, because the developers couldn't get it to "work out" with the publishing. The concept eventually became the basis of Psychonauts.
Being a title from LucasArts, a few Star Wars references were worked into the game: Truck driver Emmet is seen with an Imperial emblem tattoo on his right forearm in one scene, and a rival driver during the demolition derby sequence was illustrated to look like George Lucas. One of the opposing Rottwheeler bikers on the "Old Mine Road" has a Rebel emblem tattooed on his forehead. The Cavefish resemble Tusken Raiders in appearance. Also, in a scene where Ben is talking to the reporter, Miranda, she says "Help me Ben, You're my only hope!", a paraphrase of a classic Star Wars line. Curiously, the name "Ben" is the alias of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the person whom the classic line was originally addressed to.
According to Schafer, Full Throttle had a budget of approximately $1.5 million.
The game received, according to Metacritic, generally favorable reviews, and has over the time become a cult classic of adventure games. Weak points of the game include its short duration. Full Throttle retains a stable fanbase that keeps developing the setting and the story on their own, for example, through modules for a popular role-playing game system Fudge.
Canceled sequels 
In spring 2000, LucasArts began production of Full Throttle: Payback, an official sequel to continue the storyline of Full Throttle. Since Tim Schafer had already left the company at the time, Larry Ahern, who was involved in the original game's development, was appointed the project lead and Bill Tiller, the art director. Both Ahern and Tiller left LucasArts in 2001, after Payback was cancelled. At the early stages, the project received positive feedback from other LucasArts employees but according to Tiller, it eventually fell apart because of disagreements on the game style between the productive team and "a particularly influential person" within the management, which led to a series of "mistakes". The production ceased in November 2000, when 25% of the levels and about 40% of the preproduction art were complete. LucasArts never released an official statement regarding the game cancellation.
The story would have focused on Ben's efforts to foil a plan by a "large corporation" and the local governor to replace all paved highways with hover pads, robbing the bikers and truckers of their traditional ground. In the first half of the game, Ben would have prevented an assassination attempt on Father Torque, who now leads the anti-hovercraft rally, then team up with a "persistent undercover female reporter" to bring down the villainous governor. In Tiller's opinion, Payback "was going to capture the feel of the first game yet expand upon the milieu".
In mid-2002, LucasArts announced Full Throttle: Hell on Wheels for Windows and, for the first time in the series, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The game was to be an action-adventure, with more emphasis on action and fighting than adventure, because the designers wanted the game to feel more physical than the first. Sean Clark was named the project lead of Hell on Wheels and the development progressed smoothly until late 2003, when it was abruptly canceled. Just months prior to that, at E3 2003, a playable demo was shown and a teaser trailer was released by LucasArts. Simon Jeffery (then president of LucasArts) said that "We do not want to disappoint the many fans of Full Throttle, and hope everyone can understand how committed we are to delivering the best-quality gaming experience that we possibly can" in the official press release. Critics cited poor graphics compared to other 3D action adventures of the time and Tim Schafer's lack of involvement in the project as possible reasons for its cancellation. Additionally, Roy Conrad, the original voice actor for Ben, died in 2002.
Hell on Wheels would have been set in El Nada, Ben's "old stomping ground", whose roads have been mysteriously destroyed. Ben believes that one of the new gangs introduced in the game, the Hound Dogs, are behind this but soon discovers a more sinister and murderous plot. Together with Father Torque and Maureen, he would have thwarted the unnamed villain's plan and protected "the freedom of the open road".
Critics considered development of new sequels to Full Throttle unlikely. LucasArts' interest shifted away from adventure genre in later years, and failure to develop two sequels presumably hindered the possibility of a third. Also, nearly all developers who were involved with the original Full Throttle in 1995 had since left LucasArts. LucasArts closed in 2013, shortly after their parent company Lucas Films was purchased by The Walt Disney Company.
- "Overview over Full Throttle reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
- Schafer, Tim. "Trivia". Kickstand. Retrieved 25 December 2006. "Okay, here's the first thing I have to clear up: His name is Ben Throttle. We just couldn't say that in the game because we were scared the people who made Biker Mice from Mars would sue us because their rat biker guy was called Throttle. But now Biker Mice from Mars is dead! So let it be known, Ben does have a last name."
- Goldstein, Hilary (3 February 2005). "Tim Schafer: A Man and His Beard". Yahoo! Games. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
- Dutton, Fred (2012-02-10). "Double Fine Adventure passes Day of the Tentacle budget". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
- Ratliff, Marshall; Jong, Philip (26 August 2008). "The rise and fall of Full Throttle: a conversation with Bill Tiller". Adventure Classing Gaming. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
- Wedig, James (July 24, 2002). "Full Throttle, A Role Playing Game for FUDGE". Archived from the original on October 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2010.
- Adrian Ripburger is number 96 - IGN, IGN, May 3, 2010
- Tiller, Bill (4 July 2006). Interview with Ellesar. Fallen_Angel, qrious. Adventure Advocate. http://adventureadvocate.gr/html/page.php?file=VampyreEN.php. Retrieved 6 July 2006.
- The Empire Strikes Out - LucasArts And The Death Of Adventure Games
- "Roy Conrad". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 18 September 2008.
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