Game Review: Ben There, Dan That

Ben There Dan That

In 2009 I began working with Mrs B on her website FemaleGamers reviewing the latest console games. Sadly, our other commitments meant the website couldn’t continue and we brought it to an end early in 2010. I’ll be using this blog to review all the games, recent and not so recent, that I encounter. With Mrs B’s kind permission, I’ll also be posting some of the reviews I previously worked on, so don’t panic if they refer to previous years and months.

Ben There, Dan That! (2008) (PC)

Ben There Dan ThatWith games companies pushing each other to the limits to produce the next visual treat, it’s refreshing to play a game where exemplary graphics are secondary to a great story. With Ben There, Dan That!, Zombie Cow Studios have revisited the point and click adventures of old, the most famous being the Monkey Island series, and in doing so have created a memorable title.

The story begins quite unusually in Peru where Ben is faced with the unwanted headache of getting Dan’s corpse across a canyon to Doc Oddball’s shack where his sepulchral friend can be revived. It’s clear from the start that Ben and Dan are unorthodox but loyal friends who find themselves in some tricky situations. The game quickly moves on to a major crisis when Ben and the recently revived Dan are back home in London. They must replace the broken TV aerial before Magnum PI comes on! Our hapless heroes’ plans are scuppered by a pair of aliens that abduct Ben and Dan, forcing them to negotiate a series of alternate dimensions before they can get home – firstly for Magnum PI, secondly to stop the aliens.

As the plot already suggests, the main strength of the game is its humour. With some delightful dialogue to rival Monkey Island at its best, Ben There, Dan That! keeps the laughs coming as our friends face a series of obstacles – dinosaur game designers, zombie children locked up in cellars and a bunch of alcohol loving Brits fallen foul of strict American drinking laws. The sharp exchanges between Ben and Dan more than compensate for the unfortunate brevity of the game.

As Ben and Dan work through the dimensions you will be faced with a series of puzzles usually requiring you to obtain and use numerous objects to instigate some hilarious events. As well as your inventory there are a selection of commands available, including walk, talk, pick up and, most amusingly, the option of using Dan to overcome some problem that Ben is loathe to even contemplate.

The main weakness to Ben There, Dan That! is the brief story. It won’t take long for an enthusiastic player to complete the game; however, this is a small price to pay for this freely downloadable game. The graphics may not seem astounding compared to many titles released today but this is easily overlooked once you are absorbed in the story and, if anything, makes it easier to perceive objects in the myriad of surroundings Ben and Dan find themselves in. Lastly, a point to note is the game is not universally accessible the same way Monkey Island is. The modern dialogue can be quite coarse so this certainly isn’t suitable for younger gamers.

Ben There, Dan That! is a fond reminder of the importance of gameplay over visuals. It is a brief but memorable foray into the world of Ben and Dan but as a free download this offers exceptional value. There is also the option of making a small donation to Zombie Cow Studios. Based on this evidence, I hope the donations come flooding in.

Final Score: 82%

* Originally published on FemaleGamers

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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