Reader Review: Jolly Rover

Reader Review: Jolly Rover

Do you have what it takes to get a review published right here on Kotaku? Richard Moss does, as he asks his parrot called Juan to write this review.

Yes, that’s right, we’re now publishing reader reviews here on Kotaku. This is your chance to deliver sensible game purchasing advice to the rest of the Kotaku community.

And thanks to the very kind chaps at Madman Entertainment, purveyor of all kinds of cool, indie and esoteric film, the best reader review we publish each month will win a prize pack containing ten of the latest Madman DVD releases.

This review was submitted by Richard Moss. If you’ve played Jolly Rover, or just want to ask Richard more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Jolly Rover (PC, Mac)

Jolly Rover builds on the formula of the LucasArts and Sierra adventure games of old to take you on a swashbuckling pirate adventure in a world where everyone is a dog. It is blatantly derivative on multiple levels, but manages to turn this to its advantage.


Great Twist on a Tired Premise: How do you make a game about pirates feel fresh? Turn them all into dogs. Jolly Rover brilliantly taps into stereotypical pirate terminology – such as sea-dogs and scurvy pirate (dog in this instance) – to turn the famous Dogs Playing Poker paintings into a game.

Witty Writing and Dialogue: Jolly Rover is unashamedly pun-tastic. The main character is particularly keen on the word play, and there is lots of self-referential humour, in addition to some fantastic one-liners.

Unintrusive Hint System: Jolly Rover uses an in-game character – a parrot called Juan – for hints. You can ask Juan for help at any time, with more specific instructions each call, but he stays out of your way – and in your inventory – until you need him. This is sure to help casual players complete the game whilst avoiding the wrath of experienced adventure gamers.

Monkey Island-Inspired Story: It has a polite pirate in over his head, voodoo magic, cannibals, and several set-pieces and places that draw more than a little influence from the Monkey Island games.

Presentation and Graphics: The characters and environments have great detail and personality in their appearance. Subtitles are shown as coloured text in the classic LucasArts style. And a simple press of the space bar highlights all interactive elements on the screen.


Unimpressive Voice Acting: The voice talent is by no means bad, but it fails to bring out the best in the writing. Some jokes live and die by intonation and timing – unfortunately, many lines in Jolly Rover fall flat because of stilted or uneven delivery.

Lack of Interaction: One of my favourite things about the 90s LucasArts adventure games is the inventive and varied interaction in managing your inventory and exploring the environments. This is perhaps a harsh criticism given that the game was made (mostly) by one guy, but it is a blemish on both the longevity and general entertainment value – not to mention puzzle complexity – that there are not more items, interactions between items, and jokes about strange combinations of items.

Lack of Cultural References and Criticism: Jolly Rover has some social commentary and pop culture references, but falls far short of both LucasArts’ classic SCUMM titles and Sierra’s Quest games in making jokes and observations about modern society. This hurts the relevance of the game, which is a huge part of the appeal for comedic point-and-click adventures.

Jolly Rover is a fun game that should be considered by anyone who likes the point-and-click adventure games of old. Its twist on genre conventions is subtle, but well thought-out and executed. It has walking, talking, attitude-filled pirate-dogs. Who wouldn’t want that?

Reviewed by: Richard Moss

You can have your Reader Review published on Kotaku. Send your review to us at the usual address. Make sure it’s written in the same format as above and in under 500 words – yes, we’ve upped the word limit. We’ll publish the best ones we get and the best of the month will win a Madman DVD prize pack.


  • looks like the reader reviews have gone to the dogs…

    haha couldn’t help it!

    I’m still pretty keen on this game – anyone know if it’s part of the big steam sale at the mo?

  • That’s interesting becuase other sources have praised the voice acting. I suppose all reviews are a matter of opinion though.

    • I may have been expecting too much — for a low budget offering, the voice acting is great. But I found it lacking when compared to other adventure games like Monkey Island, Sam and Max, or The Longest Journey. I think the voice work is inconsistent, like sometimes the voice actors didn’t get the joke, and so could not deliver it properly, but other times they are right on the money.

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