Da New Guys: Day of the Jackass looks old and plays old. But that is not a bad thing, because this intentionally retro point-and-click adventure from indie developer Wadjet Eye Games has been geared to evoke memories of the glory days of Sierra and LucasArts in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This is an old-fashioned adventure like Roberta Williams used to make, complete with all of the pixel hunts and maddening puzzles that made the genre so beloved back in the day. A mostly charming all-ages story about wrestlers and streamlined scope make this trip back in time well worth taking for any aficionados of the genre.
As in the first adventure in the Da New Guys series released back in 2005, the plot revolves around the seedy world of second-rate pro wrestling. You once more step into the tights of Da New Guys, a baby-faced trio composed of the Brain, Simon, and the Defender. As the action begins, the Brain somehow weasels his way to winning the title belt. Other wrestlers in the Wrestle Zone circuit aren't too thrilled with this development, since the Brain is one of the worst grapplers to ever go over the top rope. They attack him in his apartment on the night of his big win, which forces you to lead him out a window and into an alleyway…where unknown assailants in a van kidnap him. From this point on you hit the town on a hunt for the Brain, playing as the Defender, Simon, and even the pint-sized criminal mastermind from the last game, Smiley Joe.
The story is lighthearted enough to be suitable for virtually all ages, though the odd expletive makes things slant slightly towards the older crowd. Graphics and sound are very out of date. Resolution tops out at 640x480, for instance, which hasn't been anywhere close to cutting edge since Bill Clinton was in the White House. Characters and backgrounds are drawn roughly and filled in with plain, cartoonish colors. Most scenes aren't packed with too many objects, which makes it easier than usual to spot and pick up the items you need to collect to solve puzzles, open doors, and just generally move forward through the adventure. The only somewhat modern aspect of the presentation is the voice acting. Every line of dialogue is spoken, which wasn't the case in the pre-CD days when you spent a lot of time reading your way through adventures. Most of the voice acting is handled quite well. This isn't master thespian stuff, to be sure, but the lines are spoken by talented actors who do a good job of bringing the slapstick saga to life.
Gameplay unfolds as a pretty standard point-and-click adventure. You explore rooms, collect random pieces of junk, chat up strangers to see about the usual odd jobs, and so forth. It's all very easy to get into, mostly because chances are good that you've played a game just like this a few dozen times before. With that said, Da New Guys: Day of the Jackass isn't particularly easy. As in the old-time adventures that the game emulates, there are some formidable leaps of logic here. You may need to use wet paint to forge a signature, deploy hair gel to loosen a handle, keep a door open with cheese, or wet down a wire to blow open a lock.
Many puzzles can't be beaten until you open them up with dialogue, which makes things confusing in spots. At one point, for instance, you know you need to open a locker to get a teddy bear, but the game doesn't let you do it even after you have figured out the combination of items that makes this possible. Instead, you must leave the room and find the person who wants the teddy bear, and only then can you combine the objects and spring teddy from his prison.
So you will get stuck. But, thankfully, the game isn't so big that you will get stuck for very long. As noted above, the backgrounds are pretty simple. This means there aren't all that many objects to be acquired. Just about everything you find has some use at some point, and those that aren't necessary for a while can't be picked up until their time has come. This is a big help, since your inventory is never so cluttered that you can't tell what to use on what. When you get stuck, you can generally experiment with the handful of different objects in your inventory until something clicks. Or you can go back to the fairly limited number of locations in the game and see what you might have missed. In the end, this relatively limited scope makes the game more fun and challenging than frustrating, which is a real step above many sprawling adventures from back in the day.
As a trip back to two decades ago when Sierra ruled the PC adventuring world, Da New Guys: Day of the Jackass is a real success. The game looks, sounds, and plays like a lost classic from the golden age of adventure games circa 1992, complete with a cute premise, a cast of likable lunks, and some of the flaws that annoyed even adventure diehards way back when. Still, this is a charming adventure true to its roots, warts and all, which makes it a worthwhile play for genre fans up for a few nostalgic evenings.