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NES Quest

NES Quest


    The title screen.The title screen.
Developer: KCD Games
Released: 2008.04.01
Genre: Comedy
Graphics: Cartoon / 2D
Perspective: Third person
Gameplay: Point-and-Click










When cousins return a borrowed NES in broken condition, that's a crisis, and there's obviously only one objective: to get that console repaired. Unfortunately that is not the easiest thing to do, with no money, no spare parts, and no knowledge of repair shop's location to begin with.

The plot premise seems to be very basic, but for any serious gaming geek it is easy to relate to the teenage protagonist's problems. Even if it wouldn't be, the concept of a broken gaming console being the starting point and main plot device should be laughable enough to work as comedy, as intended. What is so special about NES is an interesting question that never gets answered, the game could as easily be about SNES, or even Sega, but NES it is.

The game begins in the protagonist's home and his own room, and from there the goal is simply to get that NES fixed. Why buying a new unit is not even mentioned is another unanswered question, given how difficult repairing the damaged one ends up being, but that's how things are for the protagonist - and the player of NES Quest.

The protagonist with his broken NES.The protagonist with his broken NES.
There are few rooms to explore inside the house, and some locked doors that can never be accessed, and the rest of the game takes place outside in the surrounding town. Other places to visit are a central park, geek friend's home, repair shop (obviously), and a dark alley. Some places are inaccessible and invisible in the beginning, and only show up after talking to someone. There is a town map screen which can be used to access different places in the game. Too bad that the pathfinding in the map is horrible, often the protagonist takes the longest possible route around the park to go to the nearest location. While this only takes a second or two, it is still annoying to have that happening.

Locations are kind of what one expects to see in an adventure game. There are people to talk to, objects to pick up. And that's "pick up", not "pickup", even though that's what the action verb says. According to Merriam-Webster (and other similar sources), "pickup" is a noun, "pick up" is a verb. A minor mistake, but seeing that all the time on the screen really stands out. There are also other spelling errors in the game, so unfortunately it seems that no one proofread the game before (or after) its release. That's a shame, as otherwise it's mostly well done.

Humour in the game is much more accessible to those who know lots about gaming culture, game characters, and hardware. It is not impossible for someone unfamiliar with all of that to enjoy the game, but seeing and picking up (heh!) all those references certainly makes the game more enjoyable. In an amusing twist, sort of breaking the fourth wall, an overly stereotypical geek character in the game is called "Mr. T", which is also the programmer's nickname in real life. How realistic a picture the in-game version of him is, can only be guessed, but it is always entertaining to see developers making game characters of themselves.

Geek place.Geek place.
The game has been criticised by some for illogical and random puzzle solutions. To some extent this is really true. For instance, when the protagonist needs to break an object, one might think it is possible to do that with a rock that can be picked (space) up elsewhere in the game. But no. The solution calls for using another object to do that. Fortunately the object that is used for that purpose is comedy gold, so the developers went for laughs there, but it is understandable that not everyone likes that approach.

There are several Nintendo influences in the game. The music that is played in different locations is NES-styled, but the melodies should be longer, as they soon start to get very repetitive, if exploring same location for a longer time. Otherwise the soundscape is basic, with few sound effects and no voiceovers. There is even a game in a game that allows players to play Nintendo Game & Watch, although that is not needed to complete the game.

The game graphics is very simple cartoon style, nothing that would really stand out, but something that does the job and is fun enough to look at. There are a couple of occasions when pixel hunting is necessary, and probably intended. There is hardly a way to accidentally lose objects in the background like in pixel arts, so those items are deliberately hidden. That's another controversial design choice, but one that doesn't ruin the game, but can annoy those who already find the puzzles too random to begin with.

Overall this game seems to be the developers' love letter to both NES and point-and-clicks simultaneously (which is sort of ironic, as NES really isn't a strong point-and-click platform), and as such it's a very charming game. With all that fanboy stuff and geek humour removed, the game probably wouldn't stand too strongly on its own merits. That's OK, that isn't even the intention here. The game isn't very long, but for its duration, it's very entertaining in its own geeky way.

And it should also be noted that this game serves as an educational software. It teaches an important lesson: never lend your gaming consoles to anyone!

The door is locked.The door is locked.



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