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Questprobe Featuring The Hulk: Adventure Game Review Part 2

About.com Rating 1.5 Star Rating

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(Continued from Part 1)

In the intro to this review I mentioned the only weapon the tied up Bruce Banner had was "his Teeth", and by that I mean, if you were able to locate a hint book or had a friend who happened to have played the game, you'd finally learn that you need to instruct banner to "bite lip".

"Ouch! I scream!
I'm
The, Incredible Hulk (Tm)
Now!"

Accompanied by a comic book style illustration of Banner turning into The Hulk!

But as soon as Banner turns into The Hulk and breaks free, a mysterious, never-explained gas fills the room, permeates his skin, and he turns back into Banner.

While the comic book, TV series, cartoons, and movies never actually had Banner quick transform himself to The Hulk by biting his lip (although it would explain his fast transformation in The Avengers movie), it is something you're going to have to do incessantly throughout the game.

This is part of an elaborate puzzle that Scott Adams designed for this first episode of the Questprobe computer game series. Throughout the game players have to constantly turn Banner back and fourth to The Hulk as they search out a series of gems , to then dump into a warp zone connecting each location. Once all of the regular gems and special Bio Gem have been collected then place them in the warp, the "Chief Examiner" gives out a password and the game is over.

Along the way The Hulk lifts domes, digs holes, saves Ant Man from Ultron, gets pointers from Doctor Strange, and faces giant killer ants while hunting out and collecting more orbs. He also has memories of a nightmare that help keep his gamma rage going longer than normal. Unfortunately you never get to find out just what that nightmare is (and never will).

While the manual states that many of these are "common sense decisions", the a great number actions the player must make don't make any sense at all, creating an extremely frustrating experience. These nonsensical bits include instructing the game to "bite lip", closing The Hulks eyes to avoid the giant killer ants, and eating the Natter Energy Egg so it doesn't blow up and kill you.

Speaking of dying in the game, it's possible to walk back to your game via a stairway from heaven, however if that egg blowing up is what kills you, it will not come back and neither will the bio gem next to it, making it impossible to actually finish the game. Of course you won't discover this as there are never any indicators you've hit a dead end.

...but you won't be missing much. The ending consists of the Grand Inquisitor giving you a password as he stands behind a desk in an office suited for an accountant over an omnipotent being.

Story? We Don't Need No Stinking Story!...Actually We Do...

So who is the Grand Inquisitor? Who tied Bruce Banner up? What are the gems, bio gems and egg for? Why are you collecting them? How would Banner even know to collect them? And what the heck is all this about?

None of this is ever explained in the game. While the games story is suppose to be tied to the narrative of the comic book, Questprobe #1, the questions are not answered there either, and the story mechanic used to connect the two, a black portal that zaps the energy from whatever passes though it, doesn't make any sense either.

The Art:

The game credits John Romita Sr., Mark Gruenwald and Kem McNair with creating the art, however it is not clear if this is the in-game art, or the artwork in the manual. The manual feature images so detailed they could have been pulled directly out of the comics. Unfortunately the power and memory required to obtain the same rich illustration quality were not possible in 1984 due to the power and memory limitations of the computers, let alone being able to fit graphic large enough on a single floppy disk (even if it was double sided). Because of this the in-game graphics felt crude in comparison to the comic books, however they greatly improved in the subsequent games.

And another thing...The Hulk never smashes!

Smashing is kind of Hulk's thing. He really has interests in little else. Each incarnation of The Hulk, in every form of media, consists of the Hulk smashing. However in Questprobe we get the a pacifist Hulk; one that does not believe in causing any kind of destruction, because if you even at attempting The Hulks signature "Smash", you get a message stating...

"Sorry,
The Incredible Hulk (Tm)
Is no vandal!"

...but he kind of is. Not having the Hulk Smash is like having a graphic adventure game with no story...which is exactly what Questprobe featuring the Hulk is.

Final Thoughts:

While crafting a game that ties directly in with a comic book is an ambitious experiment, the game side of Questprobe featuring the Hulk, feels like a half-hatred attempt; putting The Hulk into a game that could feature any generic super-hero character, not having him do anything Hulk-like, and lacking both in story and in gameplay.

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