Thimbleweed Park-a-reno

This review has been updated with our thoughts on the Nintendo Switch version: Thimbleweed Park was great on PC, but PC was like its home, that is where Point & Click games started and spent the majority of their life. I can gladly say it’s transition to the Switch was a flawless one.

Whether playing it with a Pro Controller or Joy Cons, docked or undocked, the game plays very smooth. (With a nice explanation of the controls and shortcuts early on) Where TWP really thrives is in handheld mode with its use of the touchscreen. Making for very quick and clean response time.

The game continues to play just as well on the Switch, as it has everywhere else. If you are a big fan of buying everything you can for the Switch like we are, and love point and click games, this should be an instant buy-a-who.

Some people are so good at what they do and such a unique way of doing it, that their name becomes synonymous with what it is they do. M. Night Shyamalan’s movies, John Grisham’s suspense novels, Peewee Herman’s children’s show, and Ron Gilbert’s point and click adventure games. You might remember we highlighted Grim Fandango back in December’s point and click month, and this month I was thrilled to get a copy of Thimbleweed Park for your review! TWP, developed by Terrible Toybox, was crowdfunded through Kickstarter and is a spiritual successor to such games as Maniac Mansion. Ron Gilbert was a key player in creating some of my favorite childhood games including “Day of the Tentacle”, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, “Secret of Monkey Island”, “Total Annihilation” and he had his hands in more current games as “The Cave” and “Penny Arcade: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness” (which I want to play, but have yet to…) The big question is, are our memories of point and click adventure games tainted by nostalgia? Or do they hold up today?

Starting up TWP I found it interesting that I was offered the choice of difficulties: casual or hard. I’m not really sure what difference casual offers yet, but I’m quite accustomed to these types of games so picked ‘hard’. After this I was presented with a small tutorial of sorts that described what all the different buttons and commands are for. Already being familiar with the SCUMM engine, this part was a bit dry – might be better suited to throwing into a help menu. Also, it’s become quite common to make tutorials in-game, so you can get used to playing by doing instead of just reading. I guess the first part of the game is kept very simple for this reason. You’re quickly introduced to the story: someone is murdered and their body is left to pixelate in some reedy pool. A not-so-classic comedy whodunit ensues.

Though utilizing pixelated graphics, TWP still rises far above it’s predecessors with graphics that have been beautifully done. I feel like it would have been lacking in style to create this in 3D. Not only does this play on my nostalgia, but I think even those who’ve never played the older games could appreciate it.

The years haven’t hurt Gilbert’s humor, from a foul-mouthed (though censored) insult clown to the niece of the local pillow factory magnate – who simply wants to program games for Mmucas Flem Games – there are plenty of opportunities for humor and, despite sounding a bit embittered at LucasArts at times, it’s well done!

Speaking of the different characters that inhabit Thimbleweed Park, one of the many things I enjoyed about playing was that you weren’t pigeon-holed into playing one character from start to finish. From the outset (well, very shortly after the outset) you’re able to switch back and forth between the two main protagonists, Agent Ray and Agent Reyes. But it doesn’t stop there, in later scenes you control the characters mentioned above, as well as several others in a search to determine who the killer is.

Another modern twist that has been carefully crafted for our auditory pleasure: Thimbleweed Park has voice actors and it’s great to be able to listen to the zany dialog, instead of just reading it all. Though it can get repetitious listening to some of the dialog read over and over (and over… hey, i was stuck!) you can skip a line by pressing the period button on your keyboard.

As much as I loved finding all the “dead” ends in early Sierra games, like the Space Quest series, you’ll appreciate that Thimbleweed Park won’t let you die, or progress into the story without some key piece of equipment, leaving you hoping and pleading that you saved the game long enough ago that you don’t have to start from the beginning. I might’ve taken this fact for granted as I played, except that I was reminded of it in length, early on in the game, by a pair of plumbers dressed as pigeons.

All in all, Thimbleweed Park didn’t just live up to, it far exceeded my memories of how much I enjoy point and click adventure games. It’s as epic as getting roundhouse kicked in the face by Chuck Norris, while ninjas in My Little Pony costumes flip cartwheels all around you, and fireworks blast in the sky, while under your feet the earth quakes because it too has been waiting forever for a new retro point and click game. I really hope this is just the beginning of things to come. If this is a glimpse of what Gilbert and his team still have in store for the industry, then I would gladly contribute to Terrible Toybox’s next Kickstarter. Sign me up.

Thimbleweed Park is available to download for $19.99 from Steam, GOG, Xbox One, and the Mac App Store. Also, you can get your TWP gear over at FanGamer – hey, if you’re bored and want to send us a PinnyArcade pin, I won’t complain.

Bigfoot
Bigfoot has been playing video games for as long as he can remember, he was weaned straight from the bottle on to a Commodore 64 and hasn't looked back since. He enjoys sampling beer and hanging out with his family. A couple of his all-time favorite games are Earthbound (SNES) and Fallout 2 (PC).

One Response to Thimbleweed Park-a-reno

  1. […] been four months since we reviewed Thimbleweed Park… time flies, and that body is probably still left to pixelate alone, under the Thimbleweed […]

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