Release date: 2001
Developer: Silverstyle Entertainment
Publisher: THQ / RTL Playtainment
USK: 6 years and up
A review by slydos 25th October 2002
"The Clown" is a former successful TV-series from RTL (German TV station), which made it nevertheless to the 4th season. Who now thinks the fact that the game related to this action series is likewise an action game or at least an action adventure, will be mistaken. At the same time with the start of a new season, RTL published an adventure game about "The Clown". While TV-series has spectacular stunts and a lot of special effects, the 1st-person adventure "The Clown" is calm and nonviolent.
I must admit, I never watched a single episode of this Cologne TV-show. But that's not necessary to understand the game. The intro, which was probably the intro of the TV-show, tells us the prehistory of the man, who is called "The Clown": Max Zander is a special agent of the organization WIPA (World Intelligence Police Agency). He had to watch his best friend and colleague become victim of a bomb assassination of gangsters, he was hunting. Together with the journalist Claudia, whom he became acquainted with during his investigation, he tracks the culprits and uses a clown's mask during risky actions outside the law. Finally he is employed as "Clown" for halflegal and illegal jobs of a federal police agency. The notable intro speaker is Manfred Lehmann (for example dubbing voice of Bruce Willis).
the daughter of an influential businessman was kidnapped. He should testify against organized crime during an important trial and the kidnapping should persuade the father to an exculpatory wrong statement. Max Zander, alias "The Clown" and his team are put in charge by the organization to free the girl and deliver the wirepullers to the police.
the game comes on 1 CDROM as well as the German manual in a DVD-box. Unfortunately you'll look the exact operating system requirements in vain on the box. Under Windows XP there are installation problems anyway. But Windows ME could run the game. The automatic installation procedure of the approx. 305 MB was no problem. After start of the game you'll see the Intro, which can be exited immediately with the left mouse button, so that the main menu appears.
Here one can save, load, quit the game, look at the credits or watch film scenes from the TV-series. In the always visible interaction bar at the bottom of the screen we find the clown-icon, which lets us begin the game. The game starts at the houseboat, where the clown lives. Here we slip into his role.
"The Clown" is totally mouse-controlled. The largest part of the screen is taken by a photo of the current scene. Here one can accomplish only 2 actions: either talk with an actually present person by left-click or leave the scene through a door-icon in the lower right corner. At the bottom of the screen is an interaction bar. There we find on the left a scrollable inventory, in the center the clown-icon with which you can get back to the main menu and on the right an inventory-like area, which shows the interactive objects of the current scene.
Interactions with objects are possible only in this small part of the interactive bar. If you click on one of those items, you usually get a comment from Max in shape of a text bubble, which comes out of the clown's head. One can also take up the objects from the right and drop them on the left of the inventory. You get descriptions of inventory items in shape of bubbles when right-clicking with the mouse. One can move them by drag&drop over the clown mask and Max will either say that this action is not possible or he uses the object. Inventory objects do not disappear after using them. They cannot be combined by the gamer, however some objects can contain some other objects.
The cell-phone has a special function. If you drag it over the clown-icon, then the phone is shown together with Max' note book and we are able to dial a phone number by mouse-click. Here is the only possibility of contacting the team of the clown known from the series, the original actors of the series don't appear in the game.
If you leave the current scene through the door-icon, there is a city map, where at the beginning only the location of the houseboat is marked. As soon as Max collects more information, you can change to additional locations here by simple mouse-clicks.
A special feature is the faded in clock, which runs off in 10-minute intervals. If you want to keep an appointment or sneak into a house in a cloak and dagger operation, you can move the clock hand forward (likewise by clicking).
We can get back to the main menu at any time through the clown-icon, and from there exit the game, what can be done without delay. We can save up to 10 savegames, and enter a longer comment line for each. Savegames are automatically stored with the current place and time.
The controls are very simple and need no training up to the unusual handling of inventory objects.
the graphics consist of around 18 different photos of locations, and the sometimes inserted photos of characters, which are likewise rigid and not animated. The scenes serve only as backgrounds, where you neither can move nor find any things. The approx. 15 interlocutors are apparently amateurs, who look like just dragged in front of a camera. Fortunately these people do not have to speak, all dialogues run off in text mode. There are neither speech nor sound effects, only the music of the TV show can be heard. If one wouldn't have seen the intro, one would assume that it's a fanadventure and no commercial production. The game is produced most simple and cheap, and I hope, nobody had to pay the original price of 39 DM for it. Unfortunately none of the original actors or at least their voices was used, what surely disappointed the fans of the series. As a consolation one can watch the film clips from the main menu.
As already said, a clock is running during the game. Depending on how late it is, we can enter certain scenes or not. At certain times some persons are not present, so that one can examine the scene more closer (what goes by the name of "examine" in this game - one at least can get otherwise inaccessible objects). It's important, to get information from dialogues - partly in the multiple-choice- procedure - to use the cell-phone and objects in the correct places. You're then often awarded by a new location on the city map. Beyond this there is a sliding puzzle. The puzzle structure is relative linear and very simple. It should be possible to play the game to the end without walkthrough within 4 hours. I havn't experienced any dead ends or Game Overs.
The highlights of "The Clown" consist of adding new locations to the city map. There are neither exciting moments nor tricky situations. The whole thing is simply only of profound boredom. The story of the kidnapping case and exposing the gangster boss and his accomplices wouldn't be such a bad idea at all, but unfortunately perfectly unfeelingly and disinterestedly executed. Unfortunate too is, that the fans of the series do not even get their original heroes (except in the intro and the film clips from the main menu). So this game is hardly recommendable. People, who must however have played each and every adventure game and are looking for a brief pastime, can purchase it at the moment for around 5 euro for example at smm.de.Rating: 34%
80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable 70% - 79% good game, recommendable 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable) 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only) 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
- Pentium 200 Mhz
- 64 MB RAM
- Highcolor graphic card
- Sound card
- 4fach CDROM-drive
- MS compatible mouse
- Windows ME
- Pentium III 850
- 128 MB RAM
- Sound- and graphic card DirectX-compatible
- Toshiba DVD-ROM
The teacher of the kidnapped girl
Houseboat of the Clown
Max talks to his team per cell phone
Father of the kidnapped girl
A thrashed victim
Gangster boss Zypel
The Clown is operating by night too
Meeting at the docks