FMV DOA + Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties!

By Kieron Gillen on May 17th, 2010 at 1:00 pm.

Ubisoft's next-stage of DRM proves unpopular with focus groups.

It’s the sort of thing I’d save for the Sunday Papers but Richard Cobbett’s – Videogames Journalism’s answer to Livy – piece on the rise and fall (or rather birth and early death) of FMV games is so comprehensive it deserves a post of its own. Go read it here. Anyone got fond memories of any of them? Best of all, Cobbett unearths the legendarily infamous Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties, which is playable, in its entirety, via Interactive Youtube videos. You’ve probably made jokes about it, but have you ever played it? Do so below…

My jaw was gaping from “That hot little mouse of yours” onwards. Sadly, it’s not quite complete, because the clearly perverted ending I went directly for has been removed. Oh noes!

You know, after all the jokes, over all the years, I’m amazed. Now that I’ve finally played it, it really is as bad as legend has it. I’m kind of astounded. That said, I do kind of approve of the story-hijacking. John can roll out his Brechtian analysis or something.

Really, I can’t get over this. I’ve just accidentally closed my window and I’m afraid to go back.

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65 Comments »

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  1. Snall says:

    I think I grabbed this off a site a few years back, just weird.

  2. Mistabashi says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFKylgGk73I

    Long live the FMV game!

  3. Richard says:

    The original is actually worse. As the Nerd and Game Heroes pointed out, the interface is appallingly coded and much slower than the nice clickable YouTube version. And of course, they charged for it.

    Don’t think you missed anything in the ending, BTW. As far as I remember, the three choices are that she gets together with John, becomes a nun in a Hilarious Twist Ending, or agrees to sleep with Thresher, who promptly tells her that he doesn’t in fact have a bazillion dollars after all. I’d go check, but I really, really don’t want to play Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties again.

  4. terry says:

    I think the 7th Guest was the only FMV game I actually enjoyed playing, mostly because despite the hilarious ham acting and cheap props, the game was really pretty eerie, and that rendered hallway blew my brain out my ears the first time I saw it.

    Of course, saying it’s the best FMV game is saying nothing much, because it still abounds with horrible design (“FEELING….LONELY?!!?!?”), crappy mazes, ill-explained puzzles and horrible mechanics.

  5. Risingson says:

    Wasn’t this Les Manley 2?

  6. L. Boom says:

    Ah, what a coinky-dink! Edge just did a “Making of… Ground Zero Texas”, for the Mega CD, recently. Strange to look back on a time when this would have been considered “THE FOOTURE OF INTRACTIVE ENTURTAAAAIIINMENT!!!!”
    Ah, what could have been…

  7. Sunjammer says:

    I thought The Darkening was absolutely fantastic. I loved the game, and i actually loved the FMV. The actors did a great job, the sets were elaborate and odd (in that Brazil/Blade Runner cyberpunk vein that nobody else seemed able to tap into), and i simply had a good experience playing it. Sure it was hokey at times but in that Lexx kind of way where it somehow works out to its benefit.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fa3Y7A4k6Ko

    Gabe Knight 2 is the only FMV game i’ve sampled for my own music however; It’s got some very good writing in it, and interesting subject matter. It also somehow managed to be creepy in spite of its hokey art style.

    I’m not convinced FMV was all that awful. Designers wanted to up the ante in terms of production design, and where home PC tech was failing, FMV was there to enable it. It’d be interesting to see what the current market would be like had the FMV years not occured. If anything, it was certainly an interesting time to be a gamer.

    • Richard says:

      The werewolves were hilarious. The rest I think still looks pretty good.

    • DK says:

      That’s because The Darkening had Clive Owen, Christopher Walken, John Hurt and Jürgen Prochnow. Best FMV cast ever.

    • bill says:

      Why has clive owen not aged??

      U-sol?

  8. Nikolaj says:

    Gabriel Knight 2 is definitely worth playing. Probably the best FMV game ever made.

    • Flint says:

      Gabriel Knight 2 was definitely the best FMV game but it’s moreso because the game was strong enough to survive through the FMV rather than because of the FMV.

  9. bildo says:

    surely you are aware AVGN made a video about it.

    http://www.gametrailers.com/video/angry-video-screwattack/52921

  10. Risingson says:

    After reading the article I disagree in oh so so many points. Firstly: Ripper had a great script and good actors EXCEPT Christopher Walken. It still is the best representation of Cyberpunk in a game. Second: “Puzzle of Flesh” is a very ironic exploit tale which is half Clive Barker and half bad Clive Barker, which is just something great in a videogame; the shock value is less gross and much more effective than the one shown in the first part. Third: it forgets “Harvester”, simply the best brutally ironic horror tale ever told in a videogame, an absolute atmosphere of sickness that only its twin, Dark Seed 2, rivaled. Yes, despite its design faults. Those two games had so much depth in their exploration of 50’s icons and depraved (with sometimes interrogation mark implied) sex subtext in them to just consider them as yet-another failure in FMVs.

    Fourth: I liked the Wing Commander movie. I really did. Maybe because I’m a sucker for b movies and film references (even when they are so forced as in the torpedo scene), and I love the wormhole treatment there. Despite the ending. Despite the enormous deus ex machina. It has Freddy Prince Jr and Matthew Lillard, and that’s “90’s in an 80’s prism” enough for me.

    So I think there the author ignores subtle subtext too many times. And I bet he only notices the sexual tension in GK2 because he read it somewhere.

    • Richard says:

      “After reading the article I disagree in oh so so many points. Firstly: Ripper had a great script and good actors EXCEPT Christopher Walken.”

      Next to Burgess Meredith, Walken deserves an Oscar. The guy who played Quinlan was pretty good though, and Rhys-Davies was superb in his small role near the end. I’m confused though. I just looked back over the entire article. Walken was the only person I mentioned, and I didn’t talk about the script at all. If you agree that Walken sucked… er… what do you disagree with again?

      “Second: “Puzzle of Flesh” is a very ironic exploit tale which is half Clive Barker and half bad Clive Barker, which is just something great in a videogame; the shock value is less gross and much more effective than the one shown in the first part.”

      I actually like some bits of Phantasmagoria 2. The basic backstory is nicely horrific, the Hecatomb is a pretty good villain, and some of the other details are decent. It’s still a mess though. Don’t agree with you that it’s ironic though. It’s often entertainingly silly, but…

      “Third: it forgets “Harvester”, simply the best brutally ironic horror tale ever told in a videogame, an absolute atmosphere of sickness that only its twin, Dark Seed 2, rivaled. Yes, despite its design faults. Those two games had so much depth in their exploration of 50’s icons and depraved (with sometimes interrogation mark implied) sex subtext in them to just consider them as yet-another failure in FMVs.”

      What? I mentioned Harvester once in passing. It’s a very unpleasant game which I don’t like at all, but my only real comment on it was that it was actually horrific, not that it was just another FMV game.

      “So I think there the author ignores subtle subtext too many times. And I bet he only notices the sexual tension in GK2 because he read it somewhere.”

      Oh, please.

    • Risingson says:

      I was just trolling a bit in the last part :P

  11. Sunjammer says:

    The Wing Commander movie was like having a rusty nail shoved up your urethra. I’m a big fan of sci-fi, a big fan of the WC games, and a big fan of bad movies. It was just fucking uncool man. It was like a steady stream of horse piss in your face throughout the entire film.

  12. Collic says:

    I fondly remember the Wing Commander games (4 in particular), so kudos for them on mentioning and recognising that it was actually pretty cool.

    But, they fail to mention Frankenstein through the eyes of the monster !. I loved that game; it had Tim Curry hamming it up, what else could you ask for? Granted, it wasn’t that much better than the rest of those Myst style adventure games, but it was definitely one of the better ones, and I actually completed it, which says a lot.

    • Richard says:

      Sorry, limited wordcount ;-) There were lots and lots of games that could have been mentioned, for good and bad, but only four pages or so to play with.

    • Collic says:

      It was a good read in any case :) Anyone else remember Privateer 2 as well? It had Clive Owen as Lev Arris. That was also an excellent game, though it might be a stretch to call it a fully fledged interactive movie.

    • Collic says:

      oops, re-reading you do mention that one, I just misremembered the title.

  13. Alexander Norris says:

    FMV cutscenes are probably the thing I miss the most from 90s gaming, and I really wish they’d bring them back, albeit with modern-day budgets.

    I mean, come on, who doesn’t fondly remember Jedi Knight?

    • Heliocentric says:

      Command and conquer says hi, and also bye.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      C&C’s only one game series, and I hate RTS. I’d like FMV in games I actually want to play, thanks very much. :P

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Myst and its sequels also effectively introduced FMV.

      I think the problem was that the “technology” was misinterpreted by game developers who would want to make everything (allow me the slight exaggeration) FMV. And so it got burned to the point it was shunned from then on.

      On some games it worked beautifully and was very well embed in the gameplay. A shame the sins of many ruined it for those who were actually starting to do great things with it.

    • frymaster says:

      jedi knight’s FMV was awesome, if you ignore some typicalls 90s green-screening. some relatively good acting in them, from what I recall

      some over-the-top-hammy acting in them too, but, well, it’s star wars

    • Alexander Norris says:

      On some games it worked beautifully and was very well embed in the gameplay.

      Actually, that’s a valid point: it seems FMV works better when the people in the cutscenes aren’t actually portrayed as ingame models. In Wing Commander, the actual game is the flight-sim-esque bit, and all you see of the characters are their actors in the FMVs. Ditto for C&C.

      Actually, that’s almost the case for Jedi Knight too, IIRC – I don’t think you ever see a third-person model of Katarn or anyone who has an actor in the cutscenes, except perhaps the end boss dude. This is why these work: the transition from gameplay to cutscene isn’t jarring.

    • bill says:

      jedi knight cutscenes rocked. Though i doubt they’d work these days without a huge budget.
      Terminator: SkyNet was ok too… though to be honest I prefered the comic style of Future Shock.

    • Nick says:

      I suggest you youtube Jedi Knights FMV to refresh your memory before commenting on good acting =)

      Kyle was decent, everyone else.. um.. not so much.

    • Nick says:

      Oh and Jedi Knight had a 3rd person camera option and it flipping into rotating 3rd person mode if you stood still doing nothing for too long, Kyle then shaved with his lightsaber. The only character in JK not to appear as an in game model was Jan and his dad, as far as I remember, all the others were bosses.

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    _Nocturnal says:

    I’ve played maybe three of those on my PlayStation back in the days. One is The X-Files Game of which I have fond memories: it did the atmosphere well and had some tricks up it’s sleeve. Another is Rebel Assault 2 which in retrospect was my first FMV game and seemed amazing even though it was basically a collection of mini-games with hi-scores, tied up by an FMV story. Maybe even because of that. It was well done as far as I remember. Then there was the terrible third game of which I have only vague memories. It actually was in Russian, though I’m not sure that was the original language. I hope to find it again someday and figure out what exactly it was about. Thanks for the article!

  15. Premium User Badge

    DollarOfReactivity says:

    Oh Rebel Assault… I had forgotten about that. :|

    But Wing Commander! Yes, I guess some didn’t like the interactive movie direction the series went, but I would grovel at a devs feet for another game (or any similar AAA space game for that matter). “No rest for the weary, colonel.”

    • Richard says:

      I was fine with the interactive movie direction. It was the “Becoming Prophecy” direction that irritated me ;-)

  16. Premium User Badge

    sasayan says:

    The Rebel Assault games were great fun. Loved that in the second one you could enter a code to mute the game and add parody subtitles. The stormtrooper and Imperial officer as a bickering married couple with the rest of stormtroopers doing the can-can in the background is the best!

    Pretty sure I have to CDs in a box somewhere, wonder if I can still remember the codes. They were all Star Wars quotes, can’t be too hard.

  17. Bhazor says:

    Jane (Jeanne Basone) also seems to be a professional ladies wrestler.

  18. Clovis says:

    Lulz, great tool-tip on the image at the top. I think that’s actually an early version of the Animus.

    It’s also funny because it implies that they care what their customer’s think.

  19. Jason Moyer says:

    I think my favorite FMV game was Burn:Cycle. Only played the cd-i version, but at the time (i.e. 1994) it seemed totally amazing. Apparently there was also a PC version. I would love to track that down.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Sagan says:

    Haha! I finished the game with the happy ending scene.

    Meaning I actually played it.

    Well I had it running in a window on my left screen while I was doing something different on the right one.

    I can’t imagine how crappy it must have been to seriously play that.

  21. Lachlan says:

    Where IS that screenshot at the top from? It reminds me of the Sam & Max intro, in some dark alternate universe where that game was softcore pornography.

    • Mr_Day says:

      It’s not you, it’s me. You’re just too nice of an evil scientist for someone like me.

  22. Kompi says:

    Ah, the FMV games, how I remember them. Oddly, in spite of being both a Star Wars and Wing Commander fan, my favorite FMV game of all time still stands as the apparently relatively unknown Realms of the Haunting which tried (and to a point actually succeeded) to combine First Person Shooters with Point and Click adventure games.

    It was also the first FPS I played that tried to be atmospheric and creepy in places. Ah, the fond memories..

  23. kromagg says:

    I was scrolling through that list going “FMV games, must’ve skipped those” (strapped for cash and a decent computer, at the time) when I came across Wing Commander (4). This was one of my favourite games of all time and a good showpiece for FMV gaming. I used to play that with my brother and sister watching, we were all pretty much glued to the story, wondering what was going to happen next, what choices I was gonna take. I remember being chided for not wanting to go back to the middle and try what would happen if I took the more “evil” choice.

    Sadly, I played it with a joystick, a piece of equipment I no longer have. I dread to go back and see what it would be like with mouse and keyboard. I reckon it’d be painful.

  24. Richard says:

    “Where IS that screenshot at the top from? It reminds me of the Sam & Max intro, in some dark alternate universe where that game was softcore pornography.”

    It’s from a game called Les Manley: Lost In LA. Crappy Leisure Suit Larry wannabe. I just find that shot really funny for some reason – it’s so incredibly stupid. And no, it makes no more sense in context.

  25. Grey_Ghost says:

    Wow, Critical Path… I actually liked that game. *runs away*

  26. TheSombreroKid says:

    this was the pinickle of fmv http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mg34gunxLR4

    • Harlander says:

      Oh, man, Hardwar! That was a pretty sweet game, and I even enjoyed the cheesy FMV.

      “There’s a war going on out there…”
      [WAR]
      “… and it ain’t easy.”
      [HARD]

      Heh heh heh. Also, there’s been nowhere near enough mention of the Tex Murphy games in this thread. So I’ve mentioned them. In this thread.

  27. Richard says:

    http://www.richardcobbett.com/posts/remembering-realms-of-the-haunting/

    Realms of the Haunting was superb. Hoping to do something else about it elsewhere relatively soonish. One of those games I picked up not expecting it to be that great but which just blew me away. The best kind, really, even if it hasn’t aged well at all.

  28. LionsPhil says:

    Tex Murphy. Film-noir fun, a bit like Max Payne except without a script written in little childrens’ crayons and trying to be edgy.

    trying to be edgy.

    What.

    BRB, trying to beat some sense into Cobbett while screaming “AFFECTIONATE PARODY, DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT?”.

  29. Thants says:

    No discussion of FMV games is complete without a mention of Spycraft, so: Spycraft!

  30. Richard says:

    It’s amazing how much more of a parody Max Payne became *after* people started laughing at it. With the exception of the fourth-wall breaking dream scenes, like the “I was in a videogame” bit, of course. I’m afraid that what I saw in the narration wasn’t a hilarious and witty pastiche, but rather a regular old shitty job of writing noir style that lucked out by being bad enough to be funny. Now, in Max Payne 2, they went much more for an overt pastiche with things like the funhouse and Captain Baseballbatboy.

    Edgy’s the wrong word though. Gritty. That’s a better one. I’ll say ‘gritty’.

  31. Premium User Badge

    Chaz says:

    Looks like they spent most of the budget on cocaine and viagra.

  32. bill says:

    Spycraft: The Great Game is a game I’ve always wanted to try. Unfortunately, as the author says, these kind of games rarely even show up on abandonware sites anymore, and are a pain to get running.

    I hope GOG picks it up sometime. I should have bought it that one time I saw it in oxfam… sigh.

  33. Tangotango says:

    This is the single greatest thing I have ever experienced.

  34. Birdman Tribe Leader says:

    Spycraft was a pretty decent game, although I never finished it.

    No love for Return to Zork? I’m blinded by nostalgia, I know, but that was an atmospheric and often funny (although ridiculously, unfairly hard) adventure.

  35. Richard says:

    Sorry, no, didn’t like Return to Zork. Zork: Grand Inquisitor was great though.

  36. GamerV says:

    I want to play a full version of a FMV-game called Silent Steel. It was about you being a captain on submarine and dying. A lot. Played a demo once, quite amusing, might have been the first FMV I played.

    No love? I imagine the full version just has even more dying.