Indie development team at Brawsome has created a charming adventure that
features a group of piratical seadogs. Our hero, Gaius James Rover, is a
professional clown who has invented a rum called Jolly Rover. Gaius is
sailing with his cargo to Groggy Island to personally deliver it to the
governor, who wants it in epic quantities. Pirates intervene and Gaius
finds himself a prisoner on their ship. Gaius, as earnest and honest as a
dog can be, must (through the course of his adventure) escape the pirates,
whip up mango based edibles, learn voodoo tricks, hijack creative
conveyances, and sniff out hidden treasure. He also tries to get everyone
to stop calling him "Jolly" (other dogs seem to confuse him with his rum).
I am not a pooch person,
but I did enjoy meeting the outrageous canine crew in Jolly Rover.
Each character is a different breed with a suitable personality. Gaius
James Rover is a dachshund, and since he walks upright (as do all the
other dogs) it's amusing to see what a stretch it is for his tailor to
construct suitable pants. My next favorite character after Gaius is Puggy,
the miniature proprietor of the Stumble Inn, who sits on a bar stool
trying to look tough and not succeeding.
With Quip and Quibble
plays from a third person perspective and has a point-and-click interface.
It is colorful, bright and amusing, mostly because Gaius has a
self-deprecating sense of humor. You'll recognize references to classic
adventure games (especially Monkey Island), and you'll encounter
absurdities, sight gags, and a number of bad puns. Dialogs are amusing, in
a chuckle inducing, rather than a laughing out loud manner. (You can click
through the dialogs if you prefer.) There is a significant amount of
character interaction in the game, though it never becomes excessive. The
game is fully voiced, and the actors do an excellent job of making their
characters come to life.
The story has some dark
twists, as corruption and deceit raise their scruffy heads and sniff the
air. The game contains a lot of communication with the dead, partly
through dreams/visions and partly instigated by voodoo rituals. Gaius'
visions of his father, in particular, add pathos to the game.
Revelling in Fresh
The graphics are
cartoon-like and detailed and show a surprising amount of polish for an
Indie game. Objects in the foreground frame the scenes, most of which also
have ambient animations. My favorite graphical theme: one of the castaways
on Cannibal Island has too much time on his hands, as many of the trees
have been carved into dog faces and dog shapes.
The game's background
music is orchestral, rhythmic and adventuresome, and is non-intrusive.
Take your File and
your Skeletonic Keys
Most of the challenges
in this game are inventory based. The inventory is easy to use and never
contains too many items. A few of the puzzles are timed, notably the
challenges that involve voodoo spells. One downside is that the game
contains a multitude of invisible triggers, so it pays to return to
locations you've traversed before and click again on just about
everything. Collectibles (crackers and pieces of eight) are hidden
throughout the environments.
Hitting the spacebar
reveals all hotspots/exits by placing a dim bar of light over the
interactive items. This is sometimes helpful. But at other times, pressing
the spacebar means that the whole screen lights up with dim light,
eliminating the feature's utility.
Yet, the Breeze is
but a Rover
contains casual elements, including tutorial instructions that whisk in
and out at the beginning of the game. An amusing parrot based hint system
is quite helpful. Saving is permitted only by an autosave system, a
limitation which caused me to lose progress a couple of times after
entering a new area. Gaius' tasks involve a fair amount of back-and-forthing
through the environments; he moves quickly but doesn't run.
Upon completion of the
game, a developer's commentary feature is enabled. You can play through
again, listening to designer (Andrew Goulding) describe the game's
development as you play. The commentary is informative, but I wish the
comments had been even lengthier and more detailed.
With a Pirate Head
and a Pirate Heart
I played Jolly Rover
in short chunks -- it's not a game that compelled hours of immersive
This is likely a
consequence of pirate overload. I've had more than my fill of pirates
lately, having played five games with piratical themes in the past six
months. It's no one's fault that several developers got the pirate bug
(or, in the case of the Monkey island Special Editions, the pirate
resurrection bug) at the same time. Still, at this point Jolly Rover
is going up against some excellent commercial pirate adventure games by
famous designers. That it manages to hold its own against games like
Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island, Treasure Island and Tales of Monkey
Island is a credit to the development team. I hope we will see more
adventure games from Brawsome.
Quick List for
A colorful piratical
adventure with cartoon style graphics in which all the main characters are
dogs. Comical dialog, absurd situations. You can click through the
dialogs. Excellent voiceovers. A satisfying ending.
third person perspective. No problems with installation and no glitches.
Appropriate for teens and up.
Inventory based challenges,
timed voodoo ritual challenges, no sliders, no sound based puzzles. Many
"invisible triggers." The most difficult challenge: the compass maze. A
clever hint system. Autosave only. You can't die.
Aimed at gamers who enjoy
comical adventures dogged by unusual characters.
Final grade: B+
Jolly Rover can be
purchased via download at the
The Adventure Shop, or
What I played it on:
Dell Studio XPS 8000
Core i5-750 processor
NVIDIA GeForce GT 220
Section headings are from "The Pirates of Penzance,"
libretto by W. S. Gilbert.
GameBoomers Review Guidelines