How do you create an original game while recreating the
kinds of memorable characters, enjoyable challenges and humor found in the
classic adventures? Himalaya Studios -- developers of the King’s Quest 1
and 2 remakes – has taken on this ambitious task in Al Emmo and the
Lost Dutchman’s Mine.
Al Emmo is a comical point-and-click adventure viewed in third
person perspective. The game opens with a flashback showing an
encounter between treasure hunting miners. How this fits into the plot
will become apparent later.
We watch as Al Emmo arrives in the town of Anozira by train. He is on
a quest – he hopes to prove to his parents (and to himself) that he is man
enough to make a woman happy. In Anozira, he has a rendezvous with a mail
order bride. He plans to marry this person immediately, after which he’ll
escort her home and display her to his delighted and astonished parents.
Of course things don’t work out exactly as planned….
Remember the Alamo
The environments in Al Emmo are one of its strengths. The game
takes place in the American southwest, with its wide-open rocky landscapes
and expansive skies. The graphical style recalls that of the classic
Sierra and LucasArts games. The resolution is not terribly sharp, but on
the plus side the 2D cartoon-like locations look like they have been
drawn, tinted and textured by hand. The result is an unusually warm and
picturesque gameworld – an effect that is absent in games that use
photorealistic or 3D graphics.
Once you join Al on his quest you’ll find lots of places to explore and
truckloads of stuff to find. The cursor doesn’t change to identify
hotspots, so you have to click on absolutely everything.
For the most part I enjoyed the environments in Al Emmo, and
didn’t mind returning frequently to each one through the course of the
One Among Them Claims to be Royalty
The people you meet in this game will make you laugh, groan, choke and
(possibly) hide your eyes. There’s Al himself -- the ultimate antihero.
He has long arms, huge hands and a potbelly. He wears
thick glasses and clompy black shoes.
Al is assisted (or hindered) by a cast of unusual characters. My
favorite was Koko, the winsome, spaced-out storekeeper who hates to
complete a sale. Al’s rival in love (Antonio) is
slimy and intimidating in a most satisfactory way, especially when he
lisps. For some unknown reason, Antonio’s name changes partway through
the game (maybe he has an evil twin?).
During dialog sequences you’ll see a framed close-up of the character
who is speaking. Since the in-game character models lack detail and are
pixelated, these close-ups help the gamer see each person more clearly.
Lip synch when the characters speak is surprisingly good. You can click
through the dialogs if you don’t want to hear every word.
Voice acting is a mixed bag. When I first heard Al’s voice I
thought: “I like it! But will it get old by game’s end?”
It didn’t get old. On the other hand, although I chuckled madly at
the Narrator’s first comments, by the middle of the game I turned on the
“Text Only” option to clear the air of that supercilious sneer. It’s
hard to imagine smacking a disembodied voice, but that is what I wanted to
An Aussie, a Virgin and a Cross-Dresser Walk into a Bar…
Of all the classic Sierra and LucasArts adventures to choose from, this
game is closest thematically to Leisure Suit Larry. It isn’t as ribald as
LSL, but there are times when it feeds from the same trough. Do you
remember the Steve Martin skits on Saturday Night Live where Steve was a
dweeb pretending to be a great romancer? There is a good deal of humor in
Al Emmo along that vein – including raunchy asides, bad puns and
sight gags in a local brothel. Sometimes the humor zings and sometimes it
We all have a different idea of what is funny. For me, the humor fell
flat often enough that by the middle of the game it had become frustrating
Al Emmo merits a rating of “M” for “Mature.” It is not a game
for children, mostly because of its sexual content, but partly because the
jokes would be incomprehensible to a child. The alert gamer will discover
riffs on films, popular music and pop culture. Since so much of Al
Emmo has a wacky feel to it, I thought these fit in well.
Eat Your Heart Out, Indiana Jones
The game’s pace accelerates in its last stage when the theme switches
from Al as a romancer to Al as the solver of an archaeological mystery.
You can die in the last chapter, but the game brings you right back to let
you try again. You will meet a few timed challenges, two of which are
tricky enough to qualify as mildly difficult.
Otherwise, challenges in the game are mostly inventory based. There
are two code/pattern puzzles, a sliding tile puzzle and a quiz (I
especially liked the quiz). There are no color based challenges or mazes,
though you will probably need to draw a map to help identify all the
Overall I wouldn’t characterize this as a difficult game. However,
there are potential showstoppers. It all depends on how thoroughly you’ve
been searching the place. For instance, I was held up for a long time
while looking for something with which to bait a hook. The number of
locations where one could expect to find this item was discouraging, to
say the least. When I finally consulted a walkthrough, I had that “no way
I ever would have thought to look here” experience.
There aren’t a lot of cutscenes in the game (aside from the generously
long opening and ending sequences). There are some freeze-framed comic
book sequences that occur at the end of the early acts. These are
dramatic, with the tongue solidly in the cheek. I liked them and was
disappointed when they abruptly stopped about halfway through the game.
The music in Al Emmo is varied, with a different theme for each
environment. The themes feature various Western sounds, and are sometimes
lively, sometimes melancholy. The heroine -- Rita Peralto -- sings
plaintively on stage at Kevin’s Saloon. Sometimes Al also sings. And
there’s a short but amusing duet that you’ll want to listen for.
I Came, I Saw, I Used, I Tasted
Ready to exercise your mouse finger? Al Emmo is a real
click-fest. If you like to click and hear commentary on every prickly pear,
condiment bottle, and wombat pellet dispenser, you will not be
disappointed. Left-clicking with the mouse performs any pre-selected
action. Right-clicking with the mouse allows the gamer to scroll through
several functions -- “look,” “use,” “talk/eat,” “inventory” (with the most
recently selected item available) and “walk.” This means that whenever
you feel like picking something up, you have to click through all the
other actions to get to the “use” cursor. It also means that whenever you
feel like walking, you have to click through all the other actions in
order to move.
It is possible to bypass right-clicking by moving the cursor to the top
of the screen and trying to find the pixel that activates a dropdown
“actions” menu. It’s easier to find the actions menu if you move the
cursor slightly to the left, then over to the right to find the menu,
rather than moving the cursor straight up. Even if you use the actions
menu, you’ll still have to cycle through the actions by right-clicking in
order to get to the “walk” cursor.
The inventory screen can be accessed different ways – I tried clicking
on the mouse scroll button for part of the game, but found that to be
awkward. I then tried moving the cursor to the top right of the screen,
which worked a little better. Inventory items can be brought up
individually by right-clicking until the cursor turns into an inventory
item, and then scrolling through all the items with the mouse scroll
If you really want to examine, touch and talk to everybody/thing, plus
use inventory items on the multitudes of hotspots in each screen, you end
up clicking a lot. I clicked more with Al than I have in any other game.
Double-clicking causes Al to run (a handy feature). You can also make
Al disappear and reappear exactly where you want him by clicking on a part
of the screen and pushing the Escape key. Less handy is the access to the
exit points from each screen. The location of the exits is inconsistent,
sometimes requiring the gamer to pass the cursor over unexpected areas of
the screen in order to find how to get out of there.
Al Emmo contains a few more small annoyances. Soon after
starting the game you retrieve a map that can be used to reach other
locations (once you’ve initially explored them). This can’t be activated
while Al is indoors, so you have to find the exit before accessing the
map. At the saloon you can’t talk to Kevin the bartender (your main
informant) until you sit on the barstool and wait for him to finish wiping
down the bar or polishing the glassware. Grrrrrrr.
Saves are unlimited, and you can usually save whenever you want. There
are a few places, however – mostly during timed sequences -- where you
can’t save until the sequence has ended.
Al Emmo installed without a glitch and was stable right through
to the ending credits.
Stop With the Double Entendres Already
I respect the ambition that led to the creation of Al Emmo and the
Lost Dutchman’s Mine. It’s a game that takes risks, with an unusual
hero who has chosen an unusual mission. The humor goes way out on a
limb. This means that at some point, for some gamers, it will fail. For
me the humor became repetitive and some of the sexual content
(particularly the bizarre sequence in the bordello) was off-putting.
Still, despite this, I confess that I can’t help but admire the game’s
Bottom Line for Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman’s Mine
If you leave Al to his own devices, he scratches his head, cracks his
knuckles, plays with a yo-yo and picks his nose. If you think it would be
funny to watch this over and over again, you will probably love this game.
Final Grade: B-
Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman’s Mine is an Independent
production of Himalaya Studios and can be purchased at the developer’s
design copyright ©