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Nick Bounty:
A Case of the Crabs
Developer:Pinhead Games
Publisher:Pinhead Games
Platform:PC, Mac
Release Date:2004
Article Posted:December 2006
System Requirements

Technology often changes the way our favorite media work. It also helps in making media available to more people. The most recent examples would be the drastic changes that the .mp3 has brought in the way we listen to our favorite music, and sites like YouTube which made video publishing a lot easier, for better or worse. What does that have to do with this review and the game in question? Simple; through the advancement of technology and Macromedia's Flash it is now possible to play entire adventure games in your browser, with no download or installation necessary, and A Case of the Crabs, created by Pinhead Games, is one of those games.

More on the game itself, A Case of the Crabs is an independently developed adventure game, starring a young and enthusiastic, though not terribly experienced, private investigator called Nick Bounty. We join Nick as he is about to find himself trapped in a multi-threaded conspiracy involving, well, crabs, those pesky crustaceans. The game borrows heavily from the Noir genre of film, and this is obvious in its presentation and its setting. A Case of the Crabs is fully in black and white and starts with an off-camera narration from the protagonist himself, in typical Noir fashion. Before long, a murder has already taken place and it is up to Nick to solve the mystery.

It should be pointed out however, that A Case of the Crabs is a comedy adventure which does not take itself too seriously, so you should not be expecting a serious Noir story from it. The developers have no intentions to hide the fact that their inspiration came from the classic LucasArts games of the late 80's and early 90's. In fact, this inspiration can be seen in both the interface and the wacky humor of the game, both of which will remind you of the aforementioned games.

The thing about the game that will probably catch your attention, besides the obvious Noir influences, is its humor. Nick comments on the unfolding events in a hilarious manner, the supporting cast with their, shall we say, distinct personalities also add a lot of humor, while the events themselves are often funny in their own right. The writing is for the most part very good, but sadly there are several spelling errors found in the game, which does make it seem slightly amateurish. Another somewhat disappointing aspect of the game's writing is the fact that sometimes there is a discrepancy between the written and the spoken text, which makes one think that the script could have done with a little more proofreading.

Speaking of the voice-overs, they are easily one of the most accomplished aspects of the game. While not necessarily of professional quality, they certainly get their job done, and help with the delivery of the numerous jokes in the game. The music themes are also very good, and fit in perfectly with the game's Noir atmosphere.

Graphically, A Case of the Crabs is among the better looking independent games. While it uses the two-dimensional graphics commonly associated with the genre, they are well drawn and animated, and the occasional cut-scenes are also very well done. As it has been mentioned before, the entire game is in black and white, which gives it a unique look.

The gameplay found in A Case of the Crabs is exactly what you would expect from a 2D point and click adventure, influenced by such games as Monkey Island. In other words, there are familiar dialog and inventory puzzles. Even lthough they are not the most original puzzles you will ever find, they are logical and fair, so they get their job done. The interface borrows heavily from the early SCUMM system developed by LucasArts, complete with several verbs you can use to perform various actions. However, oftentimes using a verb on a hotspot will only give you a token answer, which does become slightly annoying after a while.

All in all, given the fact that A Case of the Crabs is a game offered completely for free, and also given that you can play it without installing a single file, make it worth checking out for fans of the genre. Of course, the game itself is very enjoyable and entertaining, which is all the more reason for you play it.

The game can be found at www.OtterArchives.com/BountyGame.html where you have the option to either play it online on your browser, or download it to your computer. At 8MB, even modem users should be able to download it without too many problems. It is also worth mentioning that Pinhead Games is offering all their finished games in a CD for those who are unable to download them, only charging you for the packaging and shipping costs.

PC System Requirements:
Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
Pentium 600 MHz
128 MB RAM
Video Card capable of 320x200 in 16-bit color
Windows compatible soundcard
Note: This game may well run on slower machines than listed above