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James Peris: No Licence Nor Control

James Peris: No Licence Nor Control

 

    The title screen.The title screen.
Developer: Pavo Entertainment
Released: 2012.04.17
Genre: Mystery / Comedy
Graphics: Cartoon / 2D
Perspective: Third person
Gameplay: Point-and-Click



 

 

 

 

 

 





 

 


 

Note: this game can be played with ScummVM software.

 


 

The name is Bond, James Bond. But what happens when Mr Bond isn't around? Well, some less experienced spy gets the job. Peris, James Peris in this case.

James Peris isn't exactly a total newbie agent, as he made his debut in the game James Peris es el agente 00,5. That game was a freeware game made with AGS. No Licence Nor Control, or Sin licencia ni control which is the original Spanish name, is a modified commercial remake of the first game. The second coming of James Peris has better graphics, enhanced puzzles, and full Spanish voice acting which was missing from the original game. For obvious reasons some things have been taken out, like the James Bond theme which was in the freeware version. (The developers probably had no licence nor control of that music, eh...) And the underlying engine has also been switched from AGS to Wintermute, a random player probably doesn't care about that, but what is noticeable is the cursor-driven interface instead of the old verb icons.

Different versions of secret underground base: new.Different versions of secret underground base: new.

Different versions of secret underground base: old.Different versions of secret underground base: old.

Spanish adventure comedies have a reputation of having somewhat rough sense of humour, and James Peris does absolutely nothing to change that stereotype. Already the optional tutorial has the protagonist picking up poop from the ground, and as the game progresses there will be more poop, something of a running gag theme about condoms, James Peris will be looking at tits, farting around, trying to break out of a gay club toilet, stealing ladies' underwear and so on. Not too cerebral to say the least, not that it necessarily needs to be. There is surprising depth in the many intertextual pop culture references though. For instance, seeing the word "Malpaso" printed on the map doesn't necessarily get much notice, but for those who know their film and game history, there's much to find. (Regarding Malpaso, check information about Clint Eastwood's production company.)

There is an attempt to have a story with plot and all. It's too confusing to even describe, let's just say somebody steals something and the protagonist needs to solve the case. Spoiler alert: the game ends with an announcement of James Peris 2, so nothing really gets solved this time. As a unique way to develop the story, it kind of resets itself a couple of times, which makes it very hard to know what the protagonist is really attempting to even do. Something about cheating in school exams, some missing secret agent, some stolen diamond or whatever, the plot is all over the place.

The game also tries very hard to have all adventure clichés in one game, which is presumably something that has been carried over from the game having been an amateur project years back. There will be locked doors, entering and re-entering places to get something change, lots of fetch questing, and even a maze if everything else wasn't enough. In the latter half of the game it is possible to be carrying over 30 items in the inventory simultaneously, so the object manipulation in the game is excessive. Some inventory items are very cool though, like the size-gun which can be used to change sizes of some objects, or at least get a joke out of attempting to do so.

The protagonist agent in London.The protagonist agent in London.

Old games by Sierra and some other companies kept score and gave points to the player for the actions taken in the game. So does James Peris, although the scoring doesn't make much sense. Many things that are needed to finish the game don't contribute a single point to the maximum of 1000 available points, but doing something crazy can give a good number of points. In the end, there will be a quiz about the game, where right answers give points and wrong answers remove them. If the final score is over 1000 points, there will be three special game modes unlocked: developers' text commentary, and one enabling uncensored play (more tits!) and the other adding potential deaths in the game. Those not only give some replayability to the game, but also force it. It is not possible to use old saves in a new game mode, which kind of makes the whole idea of new games modes stupid. Very few people are going to be playing the game again and again just to see something added here and there. In addition to those, there are unlockable minigames, which are nothing special, but a small bonus nonetheless. The unusual thing there is that the minigames are not part of the gameplay, but their own thing altogether.

The English translation is very sloppy. Having voice acting only in Spanish is quite OK, although in most cases English localisation almost automatically means English audio as well. There are some very clumsy translations in the game, several typos, and in some cases very bizarre errors like using the pronoun "he" for an inanimate object. In a couple of cases the on-screen text shows both Spanish and English descriptions at the same time, which can't even be counted as bad translation, but a sloppy job. These things don't kill the game, and with some jokes where the original meaning doesn't properly translate to English, there is even a good attempt to create a unique English equivalent in translation, but overall the impression is amateurish, not professional.

Asking fundamental questions.Asking fundamental questions.

The game could have used some extra hands during the production. At least a producer to keep the whole thing more coherent, and a localising expert to make sure that the international version is flawless. Some might say that the game could have also used a person with good taste to trim the humour to a more intelligent direction, but such views are very subjective, and no definitive arguments can be made about that. Suffice to say, not everyone is going to appreciate a game like this. But who cares, if it's fun to play! So... is it?

There is certainly lots good in the game. The cartoon graphics is mostly very good, and in the different category than the original freeware version was. The Spanish voice acting is decent, remembering of course that overacting is part of the humour in the genre like this. The game has a narrator that comments on what James Peris is doing from time to time. That's a funny and cute idea, unfortunately it should be used in moderation, not as excessively as it has been used here. A joke here or there makes you want to laugh out loud, only to be followed by something which makes the player think "did they really include this in the game". There is lots of original music in this remake version of the game, unfortunately many of the tracks are so short that having them repeated over and over gets annoying. In a couple of places the player gets to actually choose the background music from the game soundtrack breaking the fourth wall while doing so, which is entertaining.

In the end the game remains just another game in the genre. It's undeniably nicer to have the game in the completed adventure backlog than not having played the game at all. But that special greatness is just not there. Maybe in the sequel, if it ever gets made. The developers should be congratulated for having their own game idea, making a freeware game of that, then improving it massively, and getting in many ways to acceptable commercial level. To create something very special though, there would need to be a serious re-evaluation of what actually works and what does not. No Licence Nor Control leaves the player stirred, but not shaken.

The door is locked.The door is locked.

 


 

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