Rob Blanc 1: Better Days of a Defender of the Universe review
Short but funny game
Rob Blanc is a game created by the well-known Yahtzee and was one of the first games to use the AGS Engine, a freeware for making adventure games in the old way, like Maniac Mansion, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis or Monkey Island. Yahtzee is also the author of the quadrilogy Chzos Mythos with 5 days a stranger, 7 days a skeptic, Tribly's Notes and 6 days a sacrifice.
AGS Engine was also used by Grundislav Games for its series Ben Jordan. And well, I couldn't not to mention Ben Jordan because it's the door which I entered the AGS world by. That's also why the gameplay was familiar to me.
Rob Blanc 1 is narrating the first mission of the new defender of the Universe, a young chip shop worker from England, Robert Blanc. He's been chosen by the High Ones, sort of peacekeepers in the galaxy (well, they reminded me the Imperial Guards from Star Wars), too much occupied by telling each other some jokes than preventing Armageddon... Well, somewhere, they decided to make Rob an hero... even if he's coming from a primitive planet (well, according to them) called Earth and the only one neutral to what happens in the Universe. Rob is sent into a Remman ship (don't ask me what is a Remman, I only know that they're aliens and that they need neon and oxygen for breathing) in order to investigate what happened to the crew. Notice also that High Ones have a great humor and a singular view on our species.
So, there you are, in a very coloured ship (bright green) lost somewhere in space, for a kind of test. Anyway, you have to walk, speak with... well, what can still speak, pick up objects, using them and well, trying to know what could have happened in this vessel. As it's the AGS Engine, if you played Ben Jordan till the third case, you'll be used to the four icons and the inventory. Well, for walking, you have to select "walk" (a little man), for picking objects or interacting with your environment, you have to select the icon hand, for speaking, well, use the (!) for opening the dialog box at the bottom in order to choose your sentences and for looking, use the magnifying glass.
The graphics are made by MS Paint as it was a earlier version of AGS but still, they're really good if you don't mind these kind of graphics. Anyway, it's still clear what you have to do for progressing... well, if you're not doing like me, forgetting that a droid can talk.
Apparently, having read some user comments and a review on Abandonia Reloaded, Rob Blanc has an upbeat soundtrack, going along very well with the game. Well, I would have been happy if the music had played. I mean, it seems that my two-year-old computer couldn't read the music files. Even with autodetect selected in the configuration programs, music was still absent. I don't know if it's me or the version downloaded (but why the AGS official website would have provided an incomplete program when the user comments said that music was good?) but I miss having some soundtrack.
Another problem for me, being used to Ben Jordan in a small window (I choose the option), is that Rob Blanc was running full screen and well, the bright colors seemed too much for my eyes. It would have been better to have a small windows but again, I think that it's the AGS version that wasn't allowing it. Remember that Rob Blanc was created in 2000 and that AGS Engine was released in 1999.
Rob Blanc is very short. Well, I beat the game in 30 minutes (because of forgetting to speak to the droid) but it could end in 20 minutes. If you need a break, it's like the first case of Ben Jordan, Rob Blanc is what you can play in a short amount of time. But as announced in the game (and well, being in 2008, we know that Rob Blanc is a trilogy), there is a sequel, probably much longer and more elaborated. As told by the High Ones, it was just a test and well, they didn't need to have their hero to be killed in this easy mission.
So, did I recommend the game? Yes, but only if you're searching something short for a pause. If you need something longer, you can try the others AGS games, like Ben Jordan or the quadrilogy of the Chzos Mythos, or download the two others games in the Rob Blanc Trilogy.