Game 103: Putt-Putt Joins the Parade (1992) – Introduction

From The Adventure Gamer

By Ilmari

In 1937, a young person, known only as a Junior, got into a fight with his mother over his future career choice. Like all mothers, she wanted him to get a proper education, grow up into a respectable citizen and follow in his father’s footsteps. But pleasures of big city lured Junior away from school road and led him into a seedy bar. With a drink too strong for minors removing his last inhibitions, Junior became too cocky, went playing on railroad tracks and was promptly hit by a train. You’d think he was a goner, but only a short trip to hospital was required to get Junior running again. This wasn’t any miracle, since Junior was a cartoon car.

Streamlined Greta Green, first known instance of sentient vehicles appearing in animation

When one animator had let the cat out of the bag, others were bound to follow. Casey Junior, Pedro, the young mail plane, and Little Toot were examples just from the world’s biggest animation studio. After a while, this trend was largely forgotten, and anthropomorphism was restricted to animals – at least if you don’t count some weird British animations.

This is what they do to unmutuals

Almost right at the start of a new millennium, Pixar, the Disney of digital age, succumbed to the temptation of cold steel and produced Cars. Then, there was no stopping to the onslaught of sentient vehicles. Planes wasn’t enough, but we also got Roary the Racing Car, Tractor Tom, Chuggington, Theodore Tugboat, Space Racers and all the friends of Bob the Builder.

You might have noticed my slightly negative attitude towards these metallic monsters, and indeed, the gasoline godzillas are a bit too near uncanny valley to my taste. Just think of it, when you are hitching a ride from one of these things, you are literally entering the maw of a living creature. And when you start to consider the social implications of these stories, the results are often dystopian. It’s hard to say which is more disturbing – the outright slavery of Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends or the evident lack of all human life in the world of Cars.

Did they turn against their creators?

It it thus with some trepidation that I approach the first game of Humongous Entertainment. To tell the truth, before doing research for this post I hadn’t really heard about the company – what can I say, I haven’t touched children’s games that much. Thus I was quite surprised to find out that Humongous was founded by none other than Ron Gilbert of Monkey Island fame, after he had left LucasArts. Apparently it is not him that I should blame for the choice of their first adventure game character, but Shelley Day, co-founder of Humongous, who had also worked for LucasArts. Indeed, the character of Putt-Putt had been invented as a bedtime story for her 3-year old son.

In addition to these two persons from LucasArts, other notable names involved in the making of the game are Laurie Rose Bauman and Annie Fox, who were responsible for the writing of the game and who were also involved with Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. I should probably also mention the child actor Jason Ellefson, who was the voice of Putt-Putt in almost all of his games.

Putt-Putt games were targeted for children from 3 to 7 years. Unfortunately, when I tried to get my children help me in reviewing the game, the three-year-old couldn’t really understand the game due to a language barrier, while the seven-year-old deemed it too childish. Thus, I am forced to play this game of cars with unnaturally large eyes all by myself. Luckily, I am certain this cannot be a really long game. Let’s get rolling!

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it’s an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won’t be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return. It’s also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

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