Jessica Plunkenstein and the Düsseldorf Conspiracy



Genre:   Adventure (freeware)

Developer & Publisher:    greGames

Released:  2005

PC Requirements:   Download





by nickie


“Look! A three headed monkey!”

“Like I’m going to fall for that one again.”

“It’s tap dancing!”

“Why didn’t you say so?!”

Sounds like you’ve followed the rabbit and are in a modern day Alice in Wonderland, doesn’t it? Come with me, and we’ll follow the llamas and yetis instead on this clever adventure game, chock full of parodies and a landscape full of lighthearted fun.

Jessica’s parents resort to drastic measures when they are unable to convince her to follow her stereotypical gender role. They arrange for her abduction to Miss Pernilla’s Institute for Unwifely Women (A Facility of Correctional Charm). At the airport, a mix-up of tickets at boarding results in Jessica flying to the Amazon, and the adventurer extraordinaire Dr. Harrison J. Harris taking Jessica’s place at the Institute. We have no sympathy for Harris, after he callously saved himself (via cut scene) by allowing a huge boulder to demolish a lemonade stand and two little boys that happened to be set up in a secret tomb. Fortunately Jessica doesn’t mind taking on an assignment to save the world from the diabolical plot hatched by the evil Baron von Düsseldorf, and calmly and sarcastically makes her way through a llama themed amusement park, a yodeling contest in the Norwegian Alps, and a cave belonging to the scariest of scary yetis to the ultimate destination of the Baron’s laboratory (and by extension, Broadway).

Sound silly? Absolutely! Is it fun? It is absolutely engaging. Adding in no small measure to its appeal is that it is a free download from its website If you have an archaic dialup like I do, you can also request the game on CD for a small fee from the developer. When I requested the CD, the developer responded at the speed of light and even included a nice note hoping I liked the game.

“…Why can’t I travel at the speed of light?”

“Because as a body approaches such a velocity, it becomes infinitely massive. Like your mother.”

Straight from the greGames! Website, we are informed that this game began as a senior project at Yale University in 2004. “…greGames! has blossomed from its entirely Greg-based staff to a cast of thousands, give or take 982. Despite its shameless solipsism, greGames! remains committed to bringing fun back to the adventure game…”  To save you from scurrying to the dictionary, solipsism is a word Ivy League graduates use to show that that they went to a better school than you did. It’s derived from the Latin word solus which means alone, and it means that you view yourself as the only reality.

But the game is not bound by any philosophical bent with the exception of good versus evil, and instead is rife with sight gags and in-your-face witty dialogue. I especially enjoyed Jessica being loaded onto the plane (but I’ll let you see this for yourself. I’ll just say it parodies a movie that you may have seen.) It is clever throughout, and gives you a five to ten hour romp for free. It’s like having Christmas early!

Of real interest is that the game shows what can be accomplished using readily available sources. The entire game was programmed using Chris Jones’ Adventure Game Studio, and the sound and other effects are from Microsoft Office.

The graphics are primitive in the extreme, although very colorful, and the score is basic but appropriate. Theatergoers will be pleased to guess at the music clips’ origin. There are sound effects and all the dialogue is spoken (and also appears as subtitles).  The voiceovers fit the characters, from the sassy heroine to the dastardly Baron. The game is mouse controlled, and you rotate through your options of game play with a right click. There is a figure walking – this is to signify moving your character, a head to signify talking to someone, an eye to look at something, and a hand to use to complete an action, such as opening a door. Once selected, a left click will complete the action. An exception from the mouse control is that you press the keyboard tab key to access inventory, and your shortcut keys to allow you to save, load, or exit the game. When saving the game you are allowed to name your save. I’m not aware of the saving being limited, as I never ran out of saves.

Occasionally it takes several clicks to get Jessica through doors, and in inventory it was easy to pick up the wrong item. Otherwise, the game was glitch free.

There is much to see in this third person adventure as Jessica travels through the different environments, and most objects can be accessed for a description. While this game can be played with a minimum of dialogue, its expanded dialogue is often where you find the best jokes, and sometimes clues. The dialogue and the puzzles are the strength of this little game.

The puzzles are almost all inventory based, and there are no sliders, timed sequences or mazes. Come to think of it, there actually is a maze, but your character stands on it and smirks, making a funny comment. I loved that. 

There is one puzzle that isn’t inventory based that has cropped up in adventure games before. Suffice it to say, you can probably click away and eventually achieve the solution, but there is a logical way to complete the puzzle too, or so I am told.

You can skip past the cut scenes with a right click or by pressing ESC. But as the website warns, “Short of replaying, you will never get to see these sequences again, and you will die lonely and embittered, forever wondering what might have been.”

The website also advises that “The game aspires to non-linearity. Accordingly, if you’re having trouble with a particular puzzle, look around, and most likely there is another puzzle you can fritter away at instead. Talk to everyone, and pick up everything that’s not lacquered to the wall.”

There are a couple of mild expletives, and one sexual innuendo, pretty tame stuff.

All in all, an impressive first game for greGames! and a developer to watch in the future. The brains behind greGames!, Greg Edwards has advised that he is currently working on a second game, scheduled for a December 2006 release. It is called “The Judgment of Quintus” and will be set in ancient Rome. In his words, “We’re still nailing down minor details (such as plot), but let’s say it will be a harrowing tale of treachery, deceit, and pluperfect subjunctives.” You just have to love this guy!

  If you love the old adventure games, you should take a look at Jessica Plunkenstein. And remember, “Friends don’t let friends be eaten by yetis.”



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