A fan made sequel of the infamous Zak Mckracken
"The New Adventures of Zak McKracken" is a game which starts out with a lot of potential, but sadly falls short of it in every way possible. The game is a fan-made sequel to the excellent game "Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders," published by LucasArts (then LucasFilm Games) in the late 1980s.
"The New Adventures of Zak McKracken" starts out simply enough. It has been one week since the ending of the original "Zak 1" game. Some of the "Epilogue Events" described in the finish of "Zak 1" (e.g. Zak and Annie falling in love, the world communicating by telepathy, etc.) have taken place, and others have not. Then one day, Zak discovers a note explaining that Annie has been kidnapped and he must save her. The majority of the game (but not all of it) revolves around accomplishing this goal.
Fans of the original "Zak 1" will be gratified when playing this game, until they get far enough to realize what a let down it is to the memory of the original. For instance, the makers of this game did an excellent job of imitating the look and feel of traditional LucasArts games. The gameplay is almost identical to that of "The Secret of Monkey Island." Many of the game's rooms and characters are simply retouched, VGA versions of the same rooms from the original "Zak 1," which gives fans a nice feeling of nostalgia. In order to finish writing the game in record time, LucasFan Games also stole other background scenes from tournament style games. Surprisingly, this flows nicely with the feel of the game and does not make for an awkward feel for players. LucasFan Games also did an excellent job of imitating the original LucasArts sense of humor and "Monkey Island 2" style of writing sequels. For instance, many of the characters from the original "Zak 1" reappear and divulge funny little quirks about their lives. Unfortunately, the makers did such a good job of imitating LucasArts games that they imitated the good as well as the bad. For instance, this game contains the trite references to "Sam and Max" and "Star Wars" which always got annoying after a while.
While many of the puzzles of this game are logical, hardly any hints are given about how to solve them, and the player is left to essentially try random actions with various objects, in the hopes that one of them will work. Even when s/he is on the right track, the game still gives the standard "That doesn't seem to work," answer, misleading the player into thinking s/he wasn't on the right track after all. The game's storyline is also too short and not complex enough to match up to the original. This also has the effect of throwing the player into difficult puzzles more quickly than the original "Zak 1" did.
In spite of this, this would make a very good adventure game if it had been released as a stand alone game and not as a sequel to a well known game still beloved to millions of fans worldwide. The game is a good starting point to writing a sequel for "Zak 1," but the writers have taken too many liberties and diverged from the original "Zak 1" game in too many ways. For instance, one would expect that in the sequel to "Zak 1," the player would again be able to change characters many times in the game, as that was a central theme in the original. Instead, the entire game is seen from Zak's point of view. Even when Annie is kidnapped, one would expect for Zak to at least use his dream sharing abilities to make sure she is okay, but he cannot even do that. No explanation for this is provided in the game, and the player is left to conveniently ignore this hole in logic.
Worse than this, however, is the way in which the game ends. Whereas the original "Zak 1" game left players with a "happily ever after" ending, and a feeling of happiness for the characters, "The New Adventures of Zak McKracken" ends with Zak and Annie chained up in the Ghost Pirate LeChuck's dungeon from "Monkey Island 2," with apparently no means of escape. The ending screen shows the words "The End" (which "Zak 1" never did), giving the impression that this is simply the end of the story. LucasFan Games has since ambiguously disappeared, leaving no forwarding information as to whether they intend to come back, and the last known news from them prior to their disappearance was that they turned down an opportunity to write a "Zak 3" game in favor of writing a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" game. Essentially, fans who were left feeling gratified for the characters they fell in love with in "Zak 1" are now left feeling "So that's it? They just die like that? What a rip off!"
Some of this game's supporters have argued that fan-made sequels are unfairly held to a higher standard than "legitimate" sequels and that it is therefore harder for them to succeed. While this may be true, it is also true that writing a sequel to any story that is beloved by so many people worldwide, should ever be taken lightly, and every attempt should be made to respect the wishes of the original authors, and honor the memory of the original game. "The New Adventures of Zak McKracken" simply fails to do that. The writers take too many liberties with the story, too much is left unexplained, too few hints are given, the storyline is not complex enough, and the game itself is too short, for it to ever live up to the original game.
This being said, however, this game is not completely bad. Fans of the original "Zak 1" will be gratified to explore many of the same scenes from the original and talk to many of the old characters. The writers did such a good job of imitating that good old LucasArts style of writing sequels, that it really does feel as though you're revisiting that world once more. Adventure Gamers who are not familiar with the original "Zak 1" will probably not be upset by the game's ending, and will find an enjoyable game worth playing here. Fans of "Zak 1" who try to look at this game as a serious sequel to the original, however, will be disappointed.
The New Adventures of Zak McKracken is a fan made sequel of the original game from Lucas Arts.
If you don’t remember, or didn’t play the original game then it’s definitely worth checking out as this fan remake picks up where we left off last time with our unlikely Hero.
The console is the same as all the classic Lucas Arts games where you can choose your actions from the bottom of the screen. The graphics are skilfully done to reproduce that good old adventure game feel.
The game play is great and the puzzles and humour make the game a worthy successor of the original title.
The New Adventures of Zak McKracken is one of the few freeware adventure games that I really enjoyed and is definitely worth the download.
I love the original and I love this one too! There are great references to the old one, like the bread that broke the sidewalk. Although I couldn't get past the Face of Mars on the original, I still am a fan. This is a great game.
Well, I hated it, GFX are bad and it is confusing at parts.