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 1995 graphic adventure game 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 is the tenth game to use the SCUMM adventure game engine.
Players control the protagonist, Ben, from a third-person perspective using a mouse, much like other LucasArts adventure games. By positioning the mouse cursor (represented by white cross-hairs) and clicking the left button, players can move him around a scene, or to a new location when the cursor becomes a red arrow (when on foot), or a yellow, diamond-shaped road sign with a black arrow (when on Ben's bike). When holding the left mouse button down over certain objects in a scene (indicated by a red box surrounding the cross-hairs), a graphic menu appears, rendered as a flaming skull, the emblem of Ben's biker gang, the Polecats. Each icon on the menu represents a different interaction the player can use on an interactive object — a fist ("use", "grab" or "hit"), eyes ("examine"), tongue ("speak" or "taste") and boot ("kick"). The inventory of collected tools or weapons is invoked by right-clicking anywhere on the screen, whereupon items can be selected by left-clicking, or examined by a further right-click. 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, contains various moments that make it unique. In certain portions, players are required to drive Ben with the mouse, and combat enemy bikers (either with punches, kicks, or crude weapons). The game also includes situations where Ben may die, following a wrong choice of action, or from reacting too slowly. However, such events are followed by Ben narrating his mistake, before the sequence starts over, allowing the player to retry.
The story is set in a dystopian future, around the year 2040, in which motorized vehicles are giving way to anti-gravitational hovercrafts, though motorbikes and big-rigs still remain. Much of the game takes place within a desert region (much like those in the Western United States), along a route known as Highway 9, and features a large gorge, a bike-stop bar, a small town with a junkyard, and the Corley Motors factory.
- Ben (voiced by Roy Conrad) is the protagonist of the game and a biker gang leader, seeking to save the other members of his gang, the Polecats, after he and they are falsely accused of murder of the murder of Malcolm Corley. His behaviour is typical of biker gangs, often seeking revenge for anyone messing with his gang and himself, yet prefers to not hire his gang out as thugs-for-hire and protect those who need it, with deep respect for Malcolm and his company. Ben's entire name appears only in the manual as "Ben Whatsisname", though Tim Schafer stated that Ben's last name is "Throttle" yet 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 is secretly a member of the Vultures. She has a stoic and skeptic personality, and works as a mechanic, knowing her way around bikes. At the end of the game, she inherits her father's company and sidelines 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. He has a high respect for bikers, but no love for his Vice-President, while ashamed of keeping his daughter secret.
- Adrian Ripburger (voiced by Mark Hamill) is the Vice-President of Corley Motors and the main antagonist of the game. He is ruthless, cunning, and capable of malice when needed, whilst making certain things are not overlooked. His actions to murder Malcolm and frame the Polecats become his undoing, when he's exposed for his crimes, before falling into a gorge after trying to kill Ben and Maureen for thwarting his schemes. In 2010 IGN ranked Adrian Ripburger 96th in the "Top 100 Videogames Villains".
- Father Torque (voiced by Hamilton Camp) is the former leader of the Polecats, now retired but seeking trouble from other biker gangs to gain some excitement. Ben respects him as a father figure and elder.
- Suzi (voiced by Tress MacNeille) is the leader of the Vultures. She devises the plan to fake Ben and Mo's deaths at a demolition rally to make Ripburger drop his guard and believe the two are really dead.
- Bolus (voiced by Jack Angel) is Malcolm Corley's bodyguard, secretly in league with Adrian Ripburger. He is strong and big, but considered not to be bright.
- Nestor (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) is Malcolm Corley's driver, also in league with Ripburger, described as the "smart one" of the Ripburger's henchman. Nestor's only reason for going along with his boss' schemes is a promotion and a fair share of stocks in Corley Motors.
Whilst riding down Highway 9 in his personal limo for an annual meeting with his company's shareholders, Malcolm Corley, CEO and founder of the last domestic motorcycle manufacturer in the country, Corley Motors, raises concerns over the latest plan of his vice president — Adrian Ripburger, a man Malcolm despises for being quite sinister and greedy, despite respecting his business know-how. While discussing Ripburger's plan, the limo is suddenly overtaken by a motorcycle gang called the Polecats, whose leader, a hardened biker named Ben, unceremoniously drives over the limousine, crushing its hood ornament. Intrigued and impressed by them, Malcolm demands to meet then, and soon finds them stopped at a local road-side bar.
As Ben and his gang relax within the bar, Malcolm enters and befriends Ben with stories of his own biker history. Not too long after entering, Ripburger enters and asks to speak to Ben privately, whereupon he explains how Malcolm has not long to live, before aggressively requesting that Ben and his gang help to "escort" his boss to the shareholder's meeting. When Ben refuses, Ripburger's henchmen, Nestor and Bolus, knock him out and throw him in a dumpster. When Ben recovers, he quickly learns from the bartender that his gang had left before he woke, after Ripburger lied to them that he had agreed to escort Corley to the shareholder's meeting, and went ahead to scout a path, before also being told that an ambush was planned for them further along the road. While trying to catch up with them, Ben gets into a road-battle with a rival biker, only to discover during a victory manoeuvre he performs that his bike had been sabotaged, causing him to crash. Falling unconscious, a reporter named Miranda discovers him and take him and his bike to a mechanic in the town of Melonweed, called Maureen (or Mo for short), who helps to patches up his bike with a few parts Ben has to retrieve around the town, along with adding a special booster.
During this time, Miranda witnesses Ripburger beating Corley to death outside a rest-stop bathroom and takes pictures. Bolus catches her in the act and snatches the camera, while she escapes. Ripburger quickly sends Bolus to find Corley's daughter, and attempts to finish the job on Malcolm only to be forced to leave when Ben arrives and finds Malcolm. With his dying words, Malcolm tells Ben that Ripburger is going to take over the company and produce mini-vans instead of motorcycles before asking him to set things straight by finding Corley's daughter — revealed to be Maureen — and making Ben promise to avenge him by stopping Ripburger. Ben quickly heads back to Melonweed, only to find that Maureen managed to escape. With his gang now framed and jailed for Corley's murder, Ben finds himself as a fugitive when he heads back to the road-side bar, running into Miranda, who pleads with him to find the pictures she took and show them to someone important. Hitching a ride from Emmet, the driver of a semi-truck, Ben manages to reach a shut-down mink farm that Maureen uses to hide in, only for Emmet to steal his bike's fuel line, while Maureen makes a break for it on her bike, but not before stealing his booster's fuel.
Emmet unwittingly drives into the territory of a nasty biker gang, the enigmatic Cavefish, and winds up being forced to dump his load along the road to get rid of them, but not before explosives are planted on his cab, detonating whilst he crosses the Poyahoga Gorge, killing him and destroying the only bridge in the area; Maureen manages to get across before this happens. Needing to cross it, Ben seeks out items to help him, including a ramp, whilst also running into his gang's former leader, Father Torque, who guides him with his battles with the Cavefish, and members of two other gangs — the high-speed loving Vultures (of which Mo is later revealed to be a member) and the brutal Rottwheelers. In addition to these matters, Ben also manages to thwart the efforts of Bolus and Nestor to eliminate him. Crossing the gorge, Ben quickly makes it to Corley Motors factory in the region, and soon locates the Vultures' hideout that Maureen was at, only to be caught by them. Before he can be executed, Ben tells Maureen the name her father gave her and advises her to develop Miranda's film, which saves his life. Seeking to stop Ripburger, Ben suggests exposing him at the shareholder's meeting, but Maureen reveals Ripburger cancelled the meeting until both of them are dead, so they and the Vultures devise a plan to fool Ripburger into believing that they will die in a demolition derby being held at the factory's arena. The plan works well, with the Vultures recovering a special bike being offered as a prize, containing a key to Malcolm's safe, while Ben manages to escape from Bolus and Nestor who had been entered into the event at the last minute, both being killed when the demolition car they use catches fire and explodes.
At the shareholder's meeting, Ben and Maureen manage to expose Ripburger as Corley's murderer by projecting 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 kill them by ramming them off the road in his semi-truck. Maureen's gang quickly arrives in a land-driven cargo plane to immobilize Ripburger's truck, with Ben forced to stop it before it reaches demolished bridge at the gorge. Trapped on the semi after it shot out from the plane, Ben manages to unhitch Ripburger from an extended machine-gun of the truck, causing him to fall to his death, while escaping from the plane on his bike before it and the truck explode.
Corley's funeral soon follows after this, as all of the biker gangs come together to pay their respects to Malcolm, and where Father Torque delivers a touching eulogy. With the Polecats freed and Maureen in her rightful place, Ben and Mo share a few moments before Ben decides to ride into the sunset on his bike.
Developed for CD-ROM, Full Throttle featured completely voiced dialogue, full motion video, and a digital audio 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 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.
Full Throttle was released on April 30, 1995. According to Metacritic, the game received generally favorable reviews, and has over time become a cult classic among 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.
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 production 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".
Hell on Wheels
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 the 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 ceased all internal development in 2013, shortly after their parent company Lucasfilm was purchased by The Walt Disney Company.
- 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.
- Adrian Ripburger is number 96 - IGN, IGN, May 3, 2010
- 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.
- "Overview over Full Throttle reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
- 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" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2010.
- Tiller, Bill (4 July 2006). Interview with Bill Tiller - A Vampyre Story. Interview with Ellesar; Fallen_Angel; qrious. Adventure Advocate. Archived from the original on July 12, 2006. 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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