Thursday, April 26, 2012

Non-Adventure Review: Telltale Texas Hold'Em

When I first played this game, I didn’t know Poker well, so I was never able to win.  When Poker Night at the Inventory came out, I forced myself to learn Poker and now I can play Telltale Texas Hold’Em well enough to hear a lot of the comments in one play through, and I actually managed to win a few times.  I was actually pleasantly surprised that it’s still fun to play, considering it was Telltale’s first product and it was initially only meant as a test of the Telltale Tool.

The game does have it's shortcomings, mostly due to the fact it was Telltale's first project, and also because of it's age.  First of all, I noticed audio problems.  Some of the lines of speech would crackle at the end of the sentence, and some lines seemed to cut off prematurely.  Although, the latter is barely noticable, and the former doesn’t happen too often.  Also, There isn’t an option in the menu to change your screen resolution.  I personally didn’t mind this, but I know some might, especially with a widescreen monitor as the image stretches to fit the screen.

It also shows it’s age graphically.  The parts of the characters that are supposed to be rounded are somewhat jagged, especially on Harry’s and Boris Krinkle’s bald heads.  I don’t mind this personally, since I’ve never worried about graphics in games.  I’ve always believed in graphic design over graphic pizazz, and the design of the characters in this game is fittingly cartoony and charming. Beside the fact, the “jaggies” are nowhere near as bad, as say something from the late 90’s or early 2000’s like Escape from Monkey Island. However, if you’re the kind that worries about that kind of thing, you can tell it’s an older game (it was released in 2005).

The good parts of this game, however, far outweigh the bad.  The main selling point of this game is that it's really funny.  I read the rules for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised at how hilarious they are.  I’m glad that Telltale put humor into something that would otherwise be tedious.  One sentence in the rules actually made me chuckle out loud.  Another funny thing I noticed was that Poker Night at the Inventory make a reference to it’s spiritual predecessor through Telltale Texas Hold’Ems rules section.

The characters were great.  Boris Krinkle had some great lines.  I also enjoyed Grandma Shakey’s comments about being sadder than when her Nth dead husband died and X (X being everything from something unbelievably small to something catastrophically big).  I also found Harry Weinhead’s fourth wall breaking comment was funny too, as I love jokes like that.  Ted Theodore Dudebrough (you have to love the Bill & Ted reference) was basically a mellow Max (from Sam & Max), with a touch of Strong Bad (from Homestar Runner), which was great.  Like Ted, Max would usually follow your crazy bets even if he had bad cards.  Ted also said some pretty random stuff and he used some pop culture in funny ways.

The music is also wonderful.  It’s an upbeat Jazz score.  Jerry Logas and the Pier 23 Reunion Band did an excellent job with the soundtrack.  The voices are also surprisingly done well, considering this was before Bay Area Sound handled Telltale’s games.

While the facial animation was just average, the animation of the characters themselves was great considering this was Telltale’s first product (and was only originally intended as an internal test project).   Boris Krinkle, especially, had a lot of fun movement in his arms.  And I especially liked one particular animation involving Boris and Ted.  It was a great little piece of animation, and I enjoyed watching it every time.

Despite it’s age (and it’s lack of graphic options), it’s still fun to play, as it seems to play the same as Poker Night at the Inventory.  It’s also still funny, and like Poker Night at the Inventory after it, it will take you many plays before you hear all of the dialog. Telltale Texas Hold'Em is well worth buying if you can get it during a sale when it's around $5US, especially if you haven't yet played Poker Night at the Inventory. Even if you have played Poker Night, you may still find some fun with the game as there are a lot of good jokes here.

Final Verdict:

3½ out of 5

No comments: