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Review: Thanksgiving Quest 
 PostSat Nov 01, 2008 5:10 am
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This is a review of Thanksgiving Quest.

Reposted from HamsterSpeak #20: http://superwalrusland.com/ohr/issue20/tq/tq.html

Thanksgiving Quest is one of the most popular OHR games, and is generally considered a classic. I had a great time playing it when it first came out in 2004, but going back and giving it a second look, it doesn't hold up quite as well as I'd remembered.

A quick breakdown of the story; a sentient sandwich wakes Adolf Hitler up in the middle of the night, and sends him on a magical journey through space and time. At first, he finds himself in North America shortly after the pilgrims make their landing, where he encounters an ally, Drew Carrey III. Together they battle many foes until they are sent to the future, where they fight an endless barrage of Castle Paradox in-jokes.

There are three types of jokes in this game; the completely absurd (talking sandwiches, ridiculous imported graphics for enemies), the obscene, and the referential. Of these, the absurd jokes were the only ones I still found amusing.

I'm not easily offended by tasteless jokes, but I can't enjoy humor whose entire punchline is "douchebag," "fag," or "LOOK IT'S HITLER." Hitler jokes have been done to death and beyond, and Thanksgiving Quest doesn't try to take them in any new direction. There are enough "LOOK I'M BEING RACIST" and "TIME FOR SWEARS" jokes that it overpowers the rest of the game's dialogue. It's a problem I had with OHR House 2, as well. Too many scenes feel like they're written by a twelve year old. The author has most definitely improved, though; the writing in House 3 is much classier, easier to read, and less repetitive, even when it's also doing edgy, racial humor.

The referential humor is another big problem with the game, and dates it horribly. There are a ton of references to Castle Paradox/OHR users and events, and I smiled at many of them, but honestly, they're completely devoid of value to an outsider. Very few of theNPCs you encounter have dialogue that goes beyond name drops, and this is meaningless if you don't know the names being referenced. Referential humor needs to be able to stand on its own at least a little bit; if you're not saying anything more than, "Hey guys, remember that guy from IRC? Yep. Me too" then you're not making a joke or really saying anything.

The graphics are for the most part intentionally ugly. The walkabouts that aren't intended to be funny range from poor to good. Some graphics just have text representing their names instead of sprites, and others are badly ripped from other games. Lots of bosses use imported images that are rarely appropriate, but usually pretty funny.

Aside from the battles, this is probably my favorite part of the game. Other parts, unfortunately, are both ugly and joke free.

I don't want it to sound like this game is without merit, because it does shine pretty strongly in one aspect; the battles. Each of your three characters has a distinct purpose; Adolf is the only one who can attack enemies directly, Lana uses status effect skills to make enemies weaker and allies stronger, and Drew Carry III is the team's healer. Since only one character can damage enemies, the battles revolve around boosting stats and keeping the team healthy, and JSH did a far better job balancing this than most OHR authors do. No one ever feels useless, and most battles are nearly impossible without taking advantage of everyone's skills. You can't just hold your space bar down to beat this game.

The maps could stand to be slightly smaller considering the amount of content you encounter in each one, but none are large enough to become boring. I will say though that I hate "wander blindly through the dark and press against every direction to find where walls are" mazes and I wish RPGs both professional and amateur would stop doing this. Thankfully there's only one in TQ and it's relatively short, but it's an exercise that consumes time but requires no real effort. RPG developers love this sort of puzzle.

Thanksgiving Quest is not a bad game, but the only reason I can say that is because I enjoy the battles so much (I could have done with slightly fewer Ghosts towards the end of the game, though). A lot of the humor that doesn't feel dated just falls flat. This game is very much a product of its time, and when it was released almost all of the people represented in it were active members of the community, and seeing how JSH chose to represent them was pretty funny. Unfortunately this is the problem with a lot of humor that focuses too heavily on what's happening at that exact moment in time; if you weren't there, you won't get it.

I love the way JSH handled the combat in this game, and I'd love to see him make another game with a similar system. I just want the next one to be able to stand on its own and appeal to wider audience.
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