The Goat in the Grey Fedora



Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Pinhead Games

Released:  2005

PC Requirements:   Downloaded game





by looney4labs


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 storyOur 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 Island

“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 Chinese man

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 web at 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 distracting. 

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 you.”--Nick Bounty

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 Puppet Lady

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 used.

“Better leave the light on.  I don’t want to break a goat.”—Nick Bounty

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 situation. 

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 scene.   

“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 machine. 

“But sometimes I can still smell her perfume in my office.” Nick Bounty

Final ImpressionThe 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 a try. 

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. 

Quick List:

Flash game plays online or downloads, PC or Mac

3rd person perspective

Point-and-click movement, totally mouse controlled

Linear Game

Puzzles are all inventory based

Story driven short game

Entertaining dialogue


1 Save slot that overwrites

Alt+Tab friendly

Online hint system

No dying

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 (4.09.0000.0902)

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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