We have all heard: “There is no
such thing as a free lunch,” and “You get what you pay for.”
Generally, I have found these old maxims to be true. However, I am
happy to report that this is not the case with The Goat in the
Grey Fedora, which features the adventures of Nick Bounty,
detective not quite extraordinaire. Nick’s latest adventure, a free
flash game from Pinhead Games, successfully combines the shadow
drenched world of classic film noir with entertaining dialogue and
outlandish humor. It provided me with a fun, if short, gaming
experience. Although this was my first flash adventure, thanks to
Nick Bounty and Pinhead games, it will definitely not be my last.
The Goat in the Grey Fedora is the second outing for Nick,
a detective with a self described “photographic memory like an
Etch-a-Sketch. I lose it when I move.” Our hero is a “Class M
detective” because he has not quite filled out all the paperwork
necessary to be a “Private I.” Like every good detective, Nick
Bounty is determined to solve his case with style.
“I need you to find me a goat.” Kitty
The story: Our story begins as Nick
recounts his latest case to his poker buddies. This is where the
trouble begins. In slinks film noir’s requisite femme fatale,
Kitty, who has a small job for Nick. She wants him to find a goat
statue left to her by her Uncle but denied to her by his law office
because she is not immediate family.
Charmed by her seductiveness and (of course) needing a job, Nick
agrees and the story takes off. Nick follows the clues, moving
easily from location to location in search of the valuable statue.
Along the way, he interacts with some outlandish characters,
including a psychic Chinese shop owner, “a man with a seagull on his
lip,” and an eccentric millionaire collector. Nick is followed in
his adventure by two bad guys who can’t seem to get anything right.
This game is very story driven and ends with a twist and a flourish.
Two shining moments in this game are the tributes given to the
classic movie Casablanca and the classic game, Monkey
“Now that’s a handsome puppet.”—Nick Bounty
Graphics: As this is a free flash game, I
did not expect state-of-the-art graphics. The graphics are
prerendered and simple. In keeping with the game’s “film noir”
style, the shadows are hard-edged. The backgrounds are adequate to
the job asked of them. They hold the items Nick needs to find and
are clear and well drawn.
Other than Nick’s actions, there is very little movement in the
game. No flittering birds, rushing water or blowing curtains. I
did not miss them. Nick moves from point to point as do some of the
characters in the game, but for the most part, the characters he
interacts with are stationary, as is the background.
“Don’t leer at me young man. My mustache is deadly.”--Old
The characters are stereotypical, but that works well with the
expected tone of a “film noir” game. I noticed some pixelation on
the edges of the characters when I played in the full screen mode.
For some reason, the characters remind me of Lego people – a bit
blocky in full screen mode, with smooth, glossy faces and painted-on
features. This did not detract from my enjoyment of this game,
though, because the dialogue makes the characters so diverting.
“Where can I find him?”—Nick Bounty
The Goat in the Grey Fedora can be played either on the
www.pinheadgames.com or it can be downloaded and played
offline. The download is 46.5 MB. I played it both ways and found
it ran smoothly either way. Playing the game from a download
allowed for playing with a full screen, while playing online meant
playing in a smaller window.
“Does Brittney Spears stop singing just because the sound
of her voice causes irreversible brain damage?”--Stick Puppet Lady
Sounds: This game starts out with a bang.
It provides an amusing loading sequence with Nick in a variety of
comical situations, including one reminiscent of the old Coppertone
commercials. Snappy, upbeat music plays as the game loads. Though
it was a loop, I found myself snapping my fingers along with it.
The game ends on the same high note, with swing music playing as
the credits roll.
Some of the locations Nick visits in the game have background
music, while others do not. When present, the music was cheery and
enjoyable, and it contributes to the mood of the story. I found
having background music in some locations, but not in others to be
The ambient sounds in this game were more plentiful in the cut
scenes than during regular game play. It’s not that there were no
environmental sounds in actual game play, but they tended to occur
only when Nick did something. For example, when he walked, I heard
footsteps. When he opened a door, I heard a creaking sound. But
when he was just standing still, it was very quiet. There are no
ticking clocks or rustling papers, no chirping birds or passing
traffic. Perhaps because of the quietness of the rest of the
locations, I really enjoyed the wind chimes in one of the shops.
“Ah, my little pussywillow. That’s all thanks to
Voice Acting: Dialogue is very important in
this game. It is a game full of witty banter in the style of the
old Thin Man movies. The dialogue is almost always humorous
and is often sarcastic, but with an engaging twist. Nick interacts
with other characters; he comments on their appearance and on
inventory items, as well as on what he needs to do next. He quotes
old nursery rhymes and tells stupid jokes. He wisecracks with the
bad guys in the best style of Sam Spade, or even Indiana Jones.
Because of this, the voice acting is particularly important in this
game and it is well done.
Nick’s voice, done by Jason Ellis, had just the right touch of
self-deprecating amusement in it and was pleasant to listen to. The
voice acting enhanced the story and really helped me to like Nick
Bounty. With one exception, the other character’s voices were
equally suitably done. The voices brought life to the characters
with portrayals that were right on the mark. There was one
character whose voice acting I did not care for. It got on my
nerves, but it was a short part. The website touts professional
voice acting, and I can well believe it.
“Get a stick puppet and we’ll get the show started.”--Stick
Puzzles: The Goat in the Grey Fedora
is a straight inventory game. All puzzles are inventory based and
flow from the story. The puzzles usually made sense and they were
entertaining. They would be quite easy for a veteran gamer. There
is one puzzle that was a bit whacky and reminded me of something I
might have done in one of the Monkey Island games.
I did no pixel hunting as such, but there is one part of the game
played entirely in the dark. Happily, the cursor reveals labeled
areas and needed items, so it is not difficult to make your way
through this part.
“No I’m not going to lick it! I don’t even know why that
was an option. -- Nick Bounty
Inventory: Inventory can be combined in the
storage area across the bottom of the screen. The interface is
simple and easy to use. Left clicking on an item brings up three
choices. One will always be to examine, one is usually to use or
take, and the last varies with the situation. Often this third
choice will be quite droll. For example, the third choice for a
statue brought up the option to eat it. Other items included the
option to “steal,” “pilfer,” and “pull mustache.” When the item is
in inventory and needs to be used on something in the game screen,
the gamer simply left clicks on the item in inventory, selects
“use,” and then drags the item to where she thinks it should be
“Better leave the light on. I don’t want to break a
Mechanics and Options: This game is a pure
point-and-click adventure game played from a third person
perspective. It is totally mouse controlled. Large arrows mark
exits. The space bar skips the introduction and the dialogues. It
is Alt+Tab friendly, and it has subtitles. It is a linear game and
you can’t die.
The Goat in the Grey Fedora does contain the occasional
use of very mild expletives. They are the type you would hear on
television in prime time, and they fit the character and the
As Nick advances through the game, he will travel from location
to location via a map which is reminiscent of a tourist map with its
exaggerated perspective. The map is easy to read, easy to use, and
provides fast travel between locations.
To save the game, you use the options menu on the lower right
hand corner of the screen. You have only one save which overwrites
itself each time you save. Fortunately, one save is adequate for
this game—unless of course you want to go back and replay a certain
“What do I do now?”—Nick Bounty
Hints: A great feature of this game is the
built-in hint system. It is accessed through the question mark on
the bottom right side of the screen. However, the hints are online,
so if you are playing the downloaded version you will need to have
access to the net to use them. The hints page is written in the
same flippant style as the dialogue in the game, but it does a great
job of getting a stuck gamer back on the right track.
I finished the game in about two hours.
The website states that the game will play on the Mac as well as
the PC. I played on both an XP (download) and a very old 98
(online). The download time was fairly short on my DSL line. The
game was completely stable with no crashes or glitches, though
Nick’s dialogue had a very slight, occasional stutter on my 98
“But sometimes I can still smell her perfume in my office.”
Final Impression: The Goat in the Grey
Fedora is a lighthearted look at the old detective potboiler
genre. It is as if Pinhead Games rewrote Sam Spade with a risible
twist. It is a playful game with hilarious dialogue, and I
thoroughly enjoyed it. The story is not deep, but it has enough
twists and turns to make the game absorbing even if you guess the
ending. In this game, getting there is half the fun.
From a purely objective viewpoint, don’t go into this game
expecting state-of-the-art graphics, immersive ambient sounds, or an
extremely deep plot. If any of these things are necessary for you
to enjoy a game, this might not be the game for you. However, if
you are looking to fritter away an hour or two while laughing from
beginning to end, definitely give The Goat in the Grey Fedora
I think this game would be a great way to introduce someone to
adventure gaming. At the same time, it is an entertaining game for
a more experienced player looking for an interlude between longer
and more difficult games. I, for one, am already looking forward to
the next installment in this series.
Flash game plays online
or downloads, PC or Mac
totally mouse controlled
Puzzles are all inventory
Story driven short game
1 Save slot that
Online hint system
No timed, maze, sound,
sliders, or color based puzzles
I downloaded and played on:
Win XP Professional SP1
3.2 GHz Intel Pentium 4
1 GB Dual Channel DDR400 SDRAM
Sound Card: DirectX Version: 9.0b
52X32X52 speed Video Card: 128 DDR NVIDIA
Geforce FX5200 Ultra
I played online on:
Win 98 SE
Pentium II (400MHZ)
128 MB memory
DirectX Version: DX819696
Sound Card: Creative SB AudioPCI 128D
Video Card: NVIDIA RIVA TNT2 Ultra
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