Ever since Monkey Island, pirates and Adventure Games go together like vampires and teenage-girl fiction. Just months after Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island, we have yet another Point-and-Click games with a pirate theme — but this time, the scurvy dogs really have bite.
Meet Gaius James Rover, a dachshund who aspires to follow his late father's footsteps as a circus clown. He accidentally creates a popular blend of rum that he names, in honor of his father, "Jolly Rover". When sailing with a shipment of Jolly Rover to Governor DeSilver of Groggy Island, James is captured by bulldog pirate Captain Howell. James reports the incident to Governor DeSilver, but is shocked to see Howell entering the Governor's office, delivering the very shipment of Jolly Rover that he stole from James! DeSilver rewards Howell, but takes James to task for failing to honor his contract — not only has DeSilver refused to take his case, he now owes DeSilver money!
Something is mangy here, and James's subsequent investigations will dig up old bones that refuse to be laid to rest.
Two things are notable about this modest but competent Point-and-Click adventure, designed by Andrew Goulding as the first release of Brawsome Games: first, it brings back the "score" meter of old Sierra titles (but without the sadism associated with Sierra). Second, the game has a few tricks to make you play through it more than once.
Jolly Rover contains examples of:
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Captain Silvereye: Wanted for acts of piracy including murder, kidnapping, arson .... disturbing the peace, and docking without a permit."
- Blood Magic: The "Raise the Dead" voodoo spell requires some blood from a living relative. Fortunately, Clara is amenable to providing some of hers if James presents her with the jar he's collecting ingredients in.
- Bridge Logic
- Cain and Abel: Governor Guy DeSilver and his brother Alexander a.k.a. Captain Silvereye, in that order.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: When he's given alcohol from Captain Howell, James collapses long enough for Howell to take him as a sacrifice to Cannibal Island. Upon waking up, he lampshades it by saying "This is why I prefer tea."
- Cannibal Clan: Averted. "Cannibal Island" is actually the home of a band of lady pirates who use the name and some artful masks to keep people - especially men - from finding their camp.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: crazy recluse Ron Copper explains the prevalence of voodoo in pirate games:Ron: Pirates be a superstitious and none-too-bright lot, makin' things possible out there that ain't bein' possible in a more civilised location.
- Collection Sidequest: Three: crackers (for unlocking concept art); pieces of eight (for unlocking music), and flags (for unlocking pirate biographies). These items are Permanently Missable, lots of Backtracking is sometimes required, and in at least one case can only be discovered in a rather counter-intuitive manner.
- Companion Cube: Beatrice, the portrait in the ship's hold (who looks uncannily like Clara in a dress). After three weeks down there, James has taken to discussing escape plans with her.
- Concept Art Gallery: unlocked by collecting crackers.
- Crazy-Prepared: Ron Copper, fearing that someone will take his life, has mounted several cannons in front of his shack.
- Deal with the Devil: DeSilver makes a deal with a voodoo priest to get even with his brother, at the price of his soul. His primary motivation in the game is weaseling his way out of his end of this contract.
- Dog Stereotype: James Rover is a fun-loving Dachshund. Howell and his cronies are Bulldogs. Governor DeSilver and his overachieving brother are Great Danes. An enthusiastic Pug is the barkeep. Cooks, being French, are poodles of lard. The lady pirates are either elegant sheepdogs or spaniels, but have a Rottweiler bitch as dumb door guard.
- Embarrassing First Name: With the exception of his initial meeting with Captain Howell, James completely ignores his first name, "Gaius."
- Expy: Rover is too close in character to Guybrush Threepwood for comfort: he is apt to pestering people with pleas, for example.
- Fake Longevity: let us count the ways:
- Collection Sidequest.
- An achievement-like system of "medals". These are actual Achievements in the Steam version.
- The game cannot be saved manually, but saves itself automatically every time you leave a scene, overwriting the previous save. This ensures that stuff lost are really lost forever — a bane to 100% completists.
- New Game Plus: having beaten the game once allows you to unlock the "designer commentary" during subsequent plays. The author is apologetic, knowing people will see it as a cheap way of extending the play, but says he got this idea from Portal.
- Funny Animal
- Ghost Pirate: Captain Silvereye.
- Hint System: giving crackers to your parrot unlocks hints.
- Hollywood Voodoo: so simple that even pirates can use it.
- Informing the Fourth Wall: James's monologues are often lampshaded, both by himself and by other characters.
- Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: At the beginning, James is locked in a storeroom with all the supplies anyone could use to escape. He doesn't use them because he's too stupid to realize this, and escapes through dumb luck anyway.
- MacGuffin Delivery Service: James Rover inadvertently leading DeSilver to the pirate booty, and to Clara.
- Moon Logic Puzzle: they don't tell you, but the "lure beast" spell is the "repel beast" spell in reverse.
- Naturally Huskless Coconuts: In the early game, it's hard to tell due to trees being far away but a palm tree in the later game clearly shows a coconut seed growing from a palm tree.
- Oh, Crap!: James used the heat iron spell along with some gun powder and an iron sword to open a chasm...but he realizes too late that he's a little TOO CLOSE to the focus of the blast! Fortunately, he's alive...but the explosion was a bit too loud.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: a hat is enough to fool Captain Howell's crew to mistake you as Davy, one of their own. Later subverted when you meet the actual Davy: he looks and dresses just like you!
- Permanently Missable Content: Any collectibles left behind when you move onto a new area, but even more annoyingly, a Piece of Eight can only be acquired by following one specific, non-obvious strand of non-repeating dialogue.
- Pirate Parrot: Juan Leon, your portable hint dispenser.
- Sibling Triangle: In the backstory of Governor DeSilver and Captain Silvereye.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Captain Howell and Captain Butcher. They get married in the end.
- Spirit Advisor: James's dad.
- Talk Like a Pirate: with occasional Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe.
- 3 + 5 = 4: A variant appears, where you need exactly one unit of water to proceed.
- The Uriah Gambit: In the backstory, Governor DeSilver tries to get rid of his brother Alexander (Captain Silvereye) by ordering him to fight a Spaniel Galleon, and he threw in some Unfriendly Fire just in case.
- Videogame Objectives: The status bar at the top of the screen is constantly updated, not only with James' current objective, but with whatever's going on, period - usually a bizarre nonsense objective during a cutscene, or James' current (and frequently hilarious) thoughts.
- World of Pun: Count up all the dog-related puns you can find in this game. Go ahead, count 'em. Don't make a drinking game out of it, though, or you'll make yourself very sick.