Kickstarter Shout-out: Duke Grabowski

 photo duke01.jpg I was thinking about what the next Kickstarter Shout-out should be. I have a list of games that are on Kickstarter that I could easily do. I could write one covering Kitfox Games’ Moon Hunters, a cooperative action RPG with procedurally-generated worlds where you build your own mythology. The sprite work is beautiful and it looks like a game I would love to share. However, Square Enix has already pushed this game’s existence out in the open, due to their indie game program. Luckily, the game has surpassed its funding goal of $45K and is currently at over $100K, with the game coming to the PC and PlayStation 4. If you want to keep supporting them, you can go to this link and donate to their Kickstarter. Another project I wanted to tackle was Loki’s Exile, a 2D animated adventure game which had rough animation that reminded me of something Ralph Bakshi would do. It was interesting, but it didn’t really pull me in. However, if you are looking for a handdrawn 2D adventure game to back, you can go to their Kickstarter page to help get the team, Kreative Spill, reach their $10K funding goal. They are currently at over $5K. I just didn’t know which one to tackle next. I then saw a game called Duke Grabowski by Venture Moon Industries. Now, the studio might not sound familiar, but the people behind it would be very familiar to adventure game fans. The founders of the company are Bill Tiller, the amazing artist behind The Curse of Monkey Island and Kaptain Brawe 2: A Space Travesty (by the way, you should totally back Kaptain Brawe 2!). The second founder is Gene Mocsy, who worked on adventure games like 1945: Alcatraz, Perils of Man, and Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island. The final founder is Jeremiah Grant, who worked on games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, Rime, and films like “The Avengers” and “Pacific Rim.” I know you are probably asking why you should care about this developer and their Kickstarter project, Duke Grabowski, an adventure game about a muscular and short-tempered pirate. Put on your peg legs and eye patches and see why Duke Grabowski is getting my Kickstarter Shout-out!

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In this game, you play as the titular character, Duke Grabowski, a buff large wannabe pirate who has high goals of becoming the most suave and sophisticated of pirates. He is good-hearted, but he does have a tendency to get into trouble. Can he reach his goals and become the most suave pirate, win the hearts of three women, and become the captain of the Brazen Blade? The story very much reminds me of the Monkey Island games and the games made by Autumn Moon Entertainment. Bill Tiller, the artist and co-creator of Duke Grabowski said that the game will also tackle themes of “the dangers of following the herd, and watching a character mature and develop.” I think the game will be hilarious as we watch and see if Duke, a bulky and bumbling pirate, can become a ladies’ man. Before you all scream at the story in the comments, yes, the developer of the game has commented at how some people think that the game’s story might and slightly does sound sexist, but they do talk about it in their updates section of their Kickstarter. Trust me, this won’t turn into a Leisure Suit Larry game.

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The game has been described as a point-and-click adventure game with 2D backgrounds and 3D characters and comic book-style cutscenes. You will be controlling Duke as you solve inventory puzzles, and go through different conversation trees like any of the old Monkey Island games. Once again, I am being slightly vague with the details of the gameplay due to the same reason why I was the same way with Kaptain Brawe 2: A Space Travesty. I will explain this in the concerns section of this article.

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I like the graphics that have been shown off in the game. At first, I wasn’t a huge fan of Duke Grabowski’s design, I think it was the legs, but I grew to love the entire look of the game. Once again, Bill Tiller has a rather charming art style that I think a lot of adventure game developers took notice of during the mid-late 90s, due to the fact that right around the same time The Curse of Monkey Island came out, Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail and King’s Quest VII came out, both had hand-drawn animated graphical presentations. However, I could be incredibly wrong, since Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail came out a year before The Curse of Monkey Island. Then again, Lucasarts’ The Dig came out, which Bill Tiller also worked on, before Love for Sail. The point is a lot of adventure games had hand-drawn art styles during that period in time. Normally, I would like to talk about who is composing the music for the game, but I haven’t found out who is doing it yet. Hopefully, in a future update, they can talk about who is going to make the catchy pirate-themed soundtrack to go along with Duke’s grand adventure!

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My concerns are the same ones I had for Kaptain Brawe 2, in which they haven’t shown off a lot of gameplay. They just show off 3D models, and some small parts of the game. Again, I think every Kickstarter should have at least late alpha or mid-late beta style footage for the game, just so they have proof of concept in motion. Technically they do have proof of concept in motion, but still, I wish they could have shown more.

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Other than that, I think everyone should help get Duke Grabowski off the ground. I have a lot of faith in this game, and it does have people involved who have a lot of experience in the industry and with the adventure game genre. If you have played any of the games these guys have worked on, I think they deserve your support. The game’s funding goal is $40K and they are currently at over $21K with a couple of weeks left. The stretch goals include fully-animated cutscenes, more music, and more character models. Congrats to Duke Grabowski and the team at Venture Moon Industries, you guys get my official Kickstarter Shout-out!

(If you want to support this Kickstarter, go to this link!)