Game Review - by James Allen
"I remember another gentle visitor from the heavens. He came in peace, and then died, only to come back to life. And his name was... E.T., the extraterrestrial " -Reverend Lovejoy, "The Simpsons." So, the second E.T. game I get to review (assuming that they are posted in order) is E.T.: Phone Home Adventure, melding the adventure game to the E.T. universe. Now, I've had some bad experiences with adventure games, see The Legend of the Prophet and the Assassin as well as The Mystery of the Druid. I think this is mainly due to the fact that they suck. So, I braced myself for E.T.: Phone Home Adventure. Will E.T.: Phone Home Adventure be the saving grace of adventure games in general, or get taken far, far away to a land of doom, never to return?
The adventure game included in E.T.: Phone Home Adventure isn't terribly long, but that's to be expected in a children's adventure game. There really isn't much else to say about the features, but I will relate a grand tale that pretty much sums up the game. You need Quick Time 4, which is included on the disk. So, I selected my language and it was installed. After it was done, I found out that, despite that I selected the English install, it installed in FRENCH. Good thing I took four years of French in high school. I think this relates pretty accurately the quality of the presentation of E.T.: Phone Home Adventure: not very good.
The characters in the game spout several canned instructions, and continue to spout them no matter what the situation until you satisfy their needs. The music is OK, but that only serves to try and overcome the few other sounds of the game. Most annoying is the constant corrections given every time you screw up in a game. I actually turned off my speakers so I wouldn't have to listen to the annoying, grating phrases any longer. They are THAT bad. Ugh.
It is important in a game geared to kids to make the game easy to play and understand. E.T.: Phone Home Adventure is neither of these things. First off, it has one of the most repulsive interfaces in any adventure game. There are two phases for your mouse icon, and the second of which does not inform you whether you are going to enter a room, open a drawer, or select an object. This is intolerable that the game gives this little information about moving around the environment, especially in a game that is totally mouse driven. I can say that I have rarely screamed at the computer in frustration while playing a game, but I sure did during E.T.: Phone Home Adventure. And if I got mad at the game, imagine what kids would do. Some of the games are impossibly difficult to control and the instructions are too basic. For example, I learned several things during the flower game that I should have been informed of on the outset, instead of discovering them myself. There is a slight variability of the games included, from moving objects to moving more objects. Some of them are quite difficult, not because of the game itself, but because of the controls. None of them, however, you'd really want to play over again in another sitting. E.T.: Phone Home Adventure is a collection of less than average adventure games with a glossy E.T. finish.
The graphics in E.T.: Phone Home Adventure are the traditional adventure theme of 3D characters on 2D backgrounds. In general, all of the characters and backgrounds look pretty good. There is a decent amount of detail contained in them, and they are really on par with most of the graphics you'd see in adventure games these days. I guess adventure gamers don't care too much about the graphics, and certainly kids do not as much as more adult people would. I never saw any instances where characters became disjoined from the background, so that's a plus. There were some places where critical objects were off-screen, but the camera was never disorientating or in an obscure location. So, a pretty decent job was done here with the graphics.
E.T.: Phone Home Adventure is a mediocre adventure game for kids. Despite passable graphics, the rest of the game just isn't entertaining. You won't want to replay the game, not that you'd probably want to play it the FIRST time. The E.T. license serves as the basis for the adventure game, but doesn't solve the problem that E.T.: Phone Home Adventure isn't fun, and actually is frustrating. Kids and parents alike should steer clear from this offering.