Friday, 18 September 2020

THE ADVENTURES OF DOWN UNDER DAN


In the 90s, point and click games were in their prime. We had classics such as Grim Fandango, Monkey Island, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Myst, and many others.  While yes, the genre was flawed, good things did come out of it. One game that really flew under the radar was The Adventures of Down Under Dan, releasing in 1995 to the Australian and United Kingdom markets only. The game even takes place in Australia, if the title didn’t give it away. It boasted full voiceover, real videos, and digitized actors, which was still a selling point at that time.

We begin with Dan (played by the game's designer Geoff Wilkie) flying a plane over the Australian Outback in search of opal, a precious gemstone naturally found in the area (along with Brazil, Mexico and others). In Australia some hauls can fetch over $10,000 AU or $7,222 US. You can see why he’s hunting for this. As he’s flying, a miraculous flying emu appears and slams into his windshield.

When stepping on this bear trap, you get an animation of Dan wiggling his foot in pain (left).
Seriously who would know you can even go back here? (right)

This bizarre situation sets up the player for just how outlandish this game is going to be. Players must enable the plane’s autopilot and awkwardly scavenge the back for survival gear, as Dan will most likely have to jump. What you need to grab isn’t clear, as there’s even a survival knife you must stumble upon if you're lucky (Hint: it's behind a box).

If you scavenge items before the plane plummets, you must go back to the cockpit and find the unlabeled eject button. Dan falls, and the player must guide him through the air in order to not get hit by emus (didn't hink I'd ever write that sentence!). If the player didn’t grab that orange slab in the back of the plane, Dan will die due to his slow air speed. Select the orange slab in the menu and Dan will start air-surfing with it. You then must guide him around the birds, which is super frustrating as Dan will randomly yell “yeehaw” and get locked in a spinning animation. The only way to avoid making him do this is to carefully guide him through the air in strictly diagonal directions. Getting hit by the emus will inevitably happen, until you figure out how to do this whole sequence. You’ll be seeing the game over screen a lot.

Let this game over screen set the precedence for the rest of the game (left).
If you finish the game without visiting the help menu once, I'll give you $5 (not legally binding) (right).

The Adventures of Down Under Dan heavily involves trial and error with some strange logic to puzzle solutions. It’s one of those “What the hell do I do? Where do I go?” point and click games. Well, a lot of them were like that, but you get what I mean. Down Under Dan takes it to another extreme. The controls at times are also horrendous, but it would take me doing a video demonstration to explain why. Whether or not all of that is part of the humor, I’m not sure. If you get stuck, they do at least offer a Hints Menu.

As for the story, it features a healthy dose of dark humor, funny quips and great narration. The crazy events portrayed in the video content are a highlight of this game. It makes the flaws a lot more tolerable and sets it apart from other point and click adventures. It's probably one of the funnier ones I’ve played.

The compression of the backgrounds and the screen triggers make pathfinding confusing. 
There are three different paths in this screen (left). Dan being devoured by “meat-eating” ants (right).

In terms of length, The Adventures of Down Under Dan can be completed in a few hours if you know what to do. If not, it could take weeks as you try to figure it all out. You will shuffle off this mortal coil more often than an early Sierra game, although the inventive amount of ways you can die is very entertaining. They are nice details that only lovingly invested developers would put in.

The final product, however, is not something I'd recommend to inexperienced adventure gamers. Too many of the genre's most annoying tropes weed their way in to spoil it. If, like a veteran, you can look past them (or have a walkthrough constantly to hand), there's a lot to like. A recommendation with a forewarned caution.


To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included. Tested on and Windows 10.

File Size: 65.1 Mb.  Install Size: 116 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download

WATCH THE VIDEO REVIEW




The Adventures of Down Under Dan is © Geoff Wilkie
Review by Austin Brewer
Cover Design and Installer created by me


Like this? Try These...

http://collectionchamber.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/3-skulls-of-toltecs.html  http://collectionchamber.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/dust-tale-of-wired-west.html  https://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/2019/09/heavens-dawn.html


4 comments:

  1. This game is great fun! Everyone who hasn't been to Australia but is curious should try it. It is indeed tricky, as the review says, but well worth the effort, even with the multiple funny deaths. I did get stuck for ages just working out how to get out of the plane and onto the ground, but the puzzles were still enjoyable throughout.

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  2. I'm not overly surprised that I never ever heard of Down Under Dan before, because besides the fact that this quirky guy, along with his wacky adventures, turns out to be an Australian insider tipp for real, I also didn't have that many conscious points of contact with the Aussie pop culture in general. Well, if I'm excluding the two Wolf Creek movies, actor Joel Edgerton and the rock band INXS, that is. ;-)

    So thank you greatly, Austin, for bringing this little and sympathically obscure looking multimedia gaming jewel to my interested attention via your very-pleasant-to-read review plus download into which I will intensely delve. :-)

    Bye for now,
    Thomas

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  3. Nice! I've never even heard of this one, so that's always a pleasant surprise. Those screenshots look uh... interesting haha. Gonna have to check this one out. Good job!

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  4. In the falling through the sky with an orange boogie-board section, he's dodging pelicans, not emus. This game looks amazing. Thanks for bringing it into my world!

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