We made a promise to ourselves and to you, dear reader, that we’d never do it. I’d never compare a point-and-clicker to The Secret of Monkey Island, or any other LucasArts adventure.
That would be lazy and obvious games journalism, and in any respect, LucasArts’ early ’90s output was so polished that it only leads to unfavourable comparisons. But then along comes a game like Jack Keane that practically comes with a ‘Wish You Were Here’ postcard of Monkey Island stapled to the box.
Consider the facts: a jittery hero in a flouncy white shirt, a female sidekick who’s tougher than she looks, an obligatory ‘scare a bird off’ puzzle, and an obsession with monkeys. This is a total own-brand version of Monkey Island. We’ve met more innovative sausages than this and if Keane couldn’t be bothered to be original, then why should we, eh? But here’s the caveat: if you don’t judge it against anything else, this is a decent little game.
Jack Keane comes from Deck 13, the German studio responsible for the likeable-ish Ankh adventures, and through research, collaborations with Telltale Games (of Sam & Max fame) and sheer hard graft, they’ve reached the point where they can put together a solid point-and-click game.
Jack Keane’s numerous locations are bright and breezy, the controls streamlined, the puzzles logical - which is more than can be said for many of its peers - and the pacing is spot-on. Indeed, the speed in which the characters move make Jack Keane somewhat of a leader in its genre. The game never drags in the way that even Monkey Island et al often could. And the characters are definitely likeable enough, despite the imbecility of them having British accents that seem to have been voiced by morons who wouldn’t be able to locate England on a map of England.
The problem with Jack Keane is that it’s just not funny. The game tries too hard to be something its not. Watching these ‘zany characters’ (the game’s website’s words, not ours) rattle off their tepid jokes is an experience that’ll see you crack one smile for every four groans.
Jack Keane is a very respectable adventure, and there’s definitely plenty
of it. We like point-and-click games, and we like Jack Keane, so make of that what you will. But often while playing it, you’ll wish there was a game out there with a little more charisma, with a little more natural charm. And there is: Monkey Island.
March 7, 2008