June 25, 2009
DreamCatcher Interactive Kids
Release Date: June 1999
This ain't your daddy's Jonny Quest! Well, actually he is not much different. Jonny's new adventures have been modernized and computerized. Instead of thieves and smugglers, the Quest Team now faces off against holographic hooligans and paranormal poachers. Jonny's father, Dr. Quest, has created Questworld, a virtual reality dimension that has allowed the Quest Team to update their adventures from the 60s to the 90s. Unfortunately, this newest incarnation of Jonny Quest never caught on with today's cartoon viewers, and neither will this well-intentioned but misbegotten attempt to convert the Quest Team's adventures to the home computer.
Jonny Quest's first rise to popularity was in 1964. In what was a novel approach at the time, the Quest Team attempted to solve problems and save the earth by using brain over brawn. Of course, Race Bannon was always available to provide, when needed, a dose of muscle. Jonny was the impetuous young teenager, Hadji his adopted brother and master of all things Indian (i.e., mysterious), Jessie, the comely but still tomboyish daughter of Race and, of course, Bandit, the world's greatest pooch (take that, Lassie!). Generations of children grew up watching the poorly animated but well-written Hanna-Barbera escapades of Jonny Quest. In 1994, Ted Turner and his Cartoon Network decided to update this beloved series for a new generation of cartoon lovers. The All-New T.V. Adventures of Jonny Quest, though it garnered excellent reviews, never did catch the fancy of a new, jaded Nintendo generation and was summarily canceled after only 52 episodes. Why Dreamcatcher decided to distribute a game based on a show that has had no new episodes on the air for almost two years is a mystery that only Jonny Quest could solve (in all fairness, though, the newQuest show has lived on in syndication).
This episode of Jonny Quest (one of the really neat things about this game is that whenever you return to your game, the announcer intones, "Previously on Jonny Quest," and you then view quick flashbacks of what formerly occurred) concerns a UFO that has jettisoned several alien artifacts before crash-landing in Roswell, New Mexico. The Quest Team must now race against time, the evil Dr. Surd and a corrupt branch of the U.S. government in order to be the first to ascertain the secrets of this alien technology. We will travel to the dark side of New York, the depths of the Bermuda Triangle, the jungles of Peru, the heat of Tanzania and finally the mind meld of Questworld--and all this globetrotting on only two CDs! While the story may seem to be mundane--there are no unexpected plot twists, nor is there any character depth beyond the personalities we are already familiar with--this is geared toward pre-teens and young teenagers and as such would want to rely more heavily on puzzles and animation. The story succeeds on these basic terms; it never pretends to be more than it is meant to be--an entertaining journey with bad guys, aliens and a constantly moving storyline. Grade B.
The game's animation is as splendid and colorful as the cartoon series. Actually, it appears to be nothing more than an episode of the series with puzzles and arcade sequences inserted at the appropriate spots. This is were the game faces its greatest challenge--matching the graphic quality of cartoon--and it fails miserably. The animation for the puzzles that have been inserted into the game occasionally looks like it was created on a Commodore 64. The ludicrously poor quality of such puzzles as landing a helicopter on a skyscraper roof or navigating a whitewater raft are especially jarring when interspersed with cut-scenes from the series. Unfortunately, these are the majority of the interactive parts of the game. The rest of the interaction consists of still scenes that must be clicked on to proceed in a chosen direction. This quickly dissolves into a slide show as you are forced to proceed to preset locations. While the animation from the series receives an A, the aforementioned puzzle graphics receive the biggest grade of F possible. Final score for graphics: C.
While the puzzles are usually quite easy, and they should be for the age group they are aimed at, they are also the downfall of the game, but not because of their simplicity. Rather, many of the "puzzles" are poorly realized arcade sequences. The crudeness of the navigation of the helicopter and sea-slug puzzles is mind-boggling and a slap in the face to the 90s gamer. Compare these puzzles to the deviousness and the splendid 3D graphics of the chess piece puzzle, and I really question whether the game creators had decided on their audience. But wait, that's not all. Someone decided that it would be neat if some of the game's puzzles were in actual 3D and even provided a pair of 3D glasses with the packaging! The glasses do nothing to make the puzzles easier to solve and, in fact, you will probably find yourself ripping them up in frustration. This hodgepodge of styles never quite meshes, and the final grade for the game's puzzles is a D.
The one category where The Adventures of Jonny Quest truly shines is the music and voice acting. It should, though, since it was taken directly from the series. If you are at all familiar with the show, then you know what to expect. The actors' voices and the background music are all familiar and, while not of Oscar quality, are still a step above the usual fare for this type of game. This game has even provided me with my favorite cheesiest line of all time! As Jonny, Hadji and Jessie stand outside a diner in New York, Jonny moans about his hunger pangs, exclaiming, "I sure could go for a hamburger right now!" to which the ever-wise Hadji proclaims, "Ah, as could I, but first we must feed our appetite for adventure." Pass me the barf bag! Music and voice acting: grade of B.
If you are a Jonny Quest fan, then you will enjoy "pretending" to be in his shoes--or flippers as the location dictates--for a while. I believe, though, that this game was released more to capitalize on the continuing popularity of Jonny Quest than to convert new followers. There are some nice touches to the game, such as the built-in hint system for the puzzles (honestly, though, you would have to posses the intelligence of a cucumber to get stuck on some of these puzzles), but the majority of the positives come more from what was taken directly from the television series than from what the computer programmers added into the mix. One final redeeming factor is that this game can be purchased at a retail price of $19.99.
Final grade for The Adventures of Jonny Quest: C.
Minimum System Requirements:Windows 95/988 MB RAM2X or faster CD-ROM drivePentium CPU