Callahan's Crosstime Saloon
for PC (DOS)

Mr Creosote:Elapno:Overall:
Popular Vote:
Company: Legend Entertainment
Year: 1997
Genre: Adventure
Theme: Apocalypse / Misc. Fantasy / Humour / Science Fiction
Language: English
Licence: Commercial
Views: 26246
Review by Mr Creosote (2009-05-09)

Jake Stonebender is one of the regulars at the prolific bar where people from the past, the future and various mythological dimensions meet. Some visitors share their personal problems freely with the protagonist - dragging him right into them as he tries to solve them. How do you turn a series of short stories into a computer game? Make it episodical. Each of the episodes can be played independently with the bar acting as the place where short interludes take place. Interestingly enough, each episode is quite long on its own, resulting in a massive game when combined.

What contributes even more to this feeling of massiveness is the seemingly insane way each screen is crammed full of objects. And there we are at the best indicator of this game being a total anachronism: At least since the early 1990s, the Adventure genre had been moving towards 'simple' and 'solution-focused' very fast. The old art of being entertaining on the counts of leading the player away from the actual plot was dying. Callahan's Crosstime Saloon swings into the opposite direction: There's so much to look at and so many people to talk to it might be too much for some players. A feast for seasoned Adventurers, though.

At least graphically, the game tries to break some new ground with its innovative (and to my knowledge never tried again) use of free-scaling, 1st person, 360° panning surroundings. A sense of perspective is supposedly added by twisting straight lines when something gets to the corners of the screen. This sometimes works and sometimes doesn't - gameplay-wise, it's certainly less inconvenient than static perspectives.

There's one more thing to talk about, and that's humour. Everything is oozing 'bizzare', every dialogue quickly turns into a duel of puns. Sometimes, this bias towards puns creeps into the puzzles, and that's the highlights of the game. A decent amount of knowledge about subjects such as 1970s rock music and 1940s horror movies is absolutely required as well.

But back to the humour: Sorry, as funny as the game is at times, it's just too much. And too 'American'. On the one hand, you have to admire the game's consistency and complete lack of shame to be what it is. On the other hand, for those whose thinking is just a little outside of the game's microcosm, its somehow limited view on the world can get a little annoying. While we're on this subject, I have to admit I haven't read any of the printed Callahan stories - the game could be heaven for fans and I wouldn't be able to tell you. This is a typical case of 'love it or hate it' - either you get it or you don't.

The game is still an experience I would recommend - however, it seems to have a very limited target audience on counts of both gameplay and contents. You know these diagrams with two circles overlapping? Not sure how large this area is for this game. If you're outside, you'll notice very quickly, but you might still enjoy it - I did.

Archived Review(s) ↓

Review by Elapno (2015-03-12)

This game is based on Spider Robinson's humoristic sci-fi novels and was written and designed by Josh Mandel. It doesn't get much better than that! This is along with Blackstone Chronicles my favorite Legend game and goes along with the company's premise of adapting literary works to point and click adventuring. You play 'Jake Stonebender', a down on his luck folksinger who frequents a bar called Callahan's. It would be a boring premise if not for the fact that Callahan's is a weird place frequented by aliens, vampires, astronauts and time travellers. Jake must go through errands throughout the world (and through time and space as well!) to help friends and patrons of Callahan's.

The voice acting is really good and for that you should get the full cd version and not a ripped copy. As a bonus, the cd version also contains some audio tracks sung by Spider Robinson himself and his blues band! And they are pretty good too. To listen to them you have to talk to Fast Eddie at Callahan's and ask him to play 'one of his specials'.

Some of the puzzles are really challenging, but most of them are very reasonable and logic. Lenghtwise the game should last at least some 20 hours if you use walkthroughs sparingly and actually bother to enjoy all the humor and conversations with the characters. There are points at the game where you can choose to do things at your own order(for instance, at the beginning of the game you can choose to travel to romania or take a different quest), but in the end the game is linear and nothing really changes.

I guess the real big problem when you play this and the other Legend games is that you will be left wanting for more. A shame the kickstarter craze hasn't touched Legend's legacy yet. I suppose it is because these games never got the appreciation they deserved. Legend never achieve the commercial and critical success of Lucas Arts and Sierra, and they also released their best games when point and click adventuring was already a dying genre.

If you enjoy this game, I suggest you read Spider Robinson's Callahan's series of novels and short stories. Nothing better than the real thing!

Comments (1) [Post comment]