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A freeware masterpiece that no adventure gamer should ignore, No-Action Jackson is a superb point-and-click freeware adventure game that could have been packaged in a box, stamped with LucasArts' logo, put on retail shelves, at which point I would gladly pay a full retail price for it. Yes, the game is THAT good.
For starters, the game puts you in a role that most of us are familiar with, although strangely enough has not been used in many games: you play a young geek named Jackson who must escape his house to join a fun D&D gaming session with his friends at a local comic book/game store.
The first thing you will notice about the game is how good the graphics is. Similar to Day of the Tentacle, excellent hand-drawn VGA graphics that is chock full of detail in every scene fully brings Jackson's world to life. And they are not just pretty scenery, either: I had fun clicking LOOK on various items in Jackson's room just to read funny, item-specific descriptions that are many notches better than the "you see nothing special" response you get in a typical adventure game. Everything in this game screams "labor of love" - the designer anticipates a lot of verb+object possibilities, and builds in clever retorts in response. There are also many sound effects to add to the atmosphere.
As every die-hard adventure gamer knows, there is plenty of horrible adventure games that tout excellent graphics, and fortunately No-Action Jackson is not one of them. For starters, the puzzles are quite fun to solve, and a few are even quite memorable for their ingenuity. In the best LucasArts decision, the most challenging puzzles in the game require you to pay close attention to the scene, observe how NPCs behave, and use the right object(s) at the right time. There is some pixel-hunting (especially clicking on the right TV cable), but fortunately the crosshairs-shaped cursor makes it possible to click on the exact pixel you want.
To round things off, both the plot and pacing are also very well-designed: the game is split into a few short "episodes," each of which is introduced by a short cut-scene. Your goal in the first portion of the game is to get out of the house, so you are limited to using objects in various rooms. After your successful escape, the game 'opens up' considerably with many more areas to explore, and even a bit of non-linearity (i.e. you can choose which friend to 'rescue' first). No-Action Jackson is very funny, very professional-looking, and even has challenging puzzles to boot. Hands down one of the best adventure games I have ever played, freeware or otherwise. If we can have games like this one, who needs commercial developers? :) A must-have for every adventure gamer.
Note: This download is labelled "final beta" but it is complete - the only downside is that you are allowed to save only one game at a time. But given the excellent "no deadend or random death" game design, this is just a minor discomfort. Just press F5 to save, and save often to avoid any bugs you might encounter (I did not encounter any, but I have heard reports of some nasty bugs).
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No-Action Jackson screenshot
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