3DO’s killer Rom-com
Before we had Heavy Rain or Until Dawn, Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties was a pioneer in the interactive storytelling genre. I guess you could say it was ahead of it’s time.
The game treats you to a opening FMV, followed by the publishers logo, showing off the swirl effects. The game then gives you the option to view the opening sequences or to just skip to the first decision, which saves having to go through the introduction clips.
One thing you will notice about the voice acting is how finished or unpolished it is, with background noise and microphone artifacts able to be heard. This is very noticeable on the voices that play when selecting an option.
The goal of the game is to get John and Jane together.
Left: Emma, the woman John’s mother wants him to marry, Right: Jane’s father with the butler from Tomb Raider
Parking Lot: The first major decision come up and it is at this point we are introduced to the game narrator. You are given a choice of three options, either John makes the first move, Jane makes the first move or neither of them make the first move.
Picking the third option results in a really long cut-scene slideshow between several other characters, which also makes little sense. I’m not sure if these characters are canon, since they wouldn’t appear in the other two options, or will they ever appear in the game again.
The game then ends and you are promoted to choose another option, as this seems to be the one incorrect option.
The Job Interview: Jane is in the middle of a job interview and you are given a choice on how to proceed, either she gets the job, she gets turned down for the position, or Thresher can take advantage of the situation
The third option is when the game become a Harvey Weinstein simulation, and offers Jane the position if she agrees to take her clothes off. This leads to another decision where she can either agree to do it, or she declines
Picking the first option results in her stripping off, before she smacks Thrasher and runs. Here a chase scene starts with Thrasher armed with a weapon (There’s no gameplay, just still images. This would have been a great opportunity for a mini-game) Jane runs outside back in the parking lot.
If you chose the second option, she will strip off and the game will end
The Chase: Once outside, another decision you will have to make. John can either case after Jane, or he can distract Thresher from her. Choosing the first option results in a long case scene.
The second option results in Thresher flirting with John, and the two end in a relationship leaving Jane standing on her own, possibly becomes a nun to tie in with the other ending?
The chase takes place all around Hollywood, and concludes in an vacant office building where Thresher give Jane an offer. Here another decision is to be made.
The first option has Jane choose Thresher, leaving John on his own.
The second option results in John and Jane getting together, meanwhile Thresher hooks up with Yoko Ono
The Ending: The final decision lets you choose the ending, you only have two possible choices. The normal Hollywood style ending or something completely different where Jane becomes a nun.
The game experience was ported to the Microsoft Windows platform, and was designed for Windows 3.x series of operating systems, This made use of the MPC (Multimedia PC Standard) and requires a 4x CD-ROM drive, a compatible soundcard and a capable video card. Compared to the 3DO version, some effects are missing like the zoom in/out whilst John is on the phone to his mother. This is possibly due to the PC’s of the era not being able to pull off the effect.
The game will run OK in PCem or 86Box, using a 486 (Or 386 running at 40Mhz). The game is simply displaying bitmapped images with a WAV file playing in background, no JPEG compression, possibly to reduce CPU and decompression times.
The game runs the same as it would on the 3DO, but it lacks the opening FMV video of Jane at the start of the game. Aside from that it’s mostly accurate. You can actually browse the games images from the File Explorer/Manager and open them outside of the game.
There is no installer, the program just runs straight from the CD-ROM drive.
Also remember to disable your screensaver, as it will appear whilst in the game.
Full Motion Video?
Most of the game is presented using still images, with the occasional zoom/scaling effect being added. One possibility was the game was still in the prototype stage, which would explain why the still images look like key frames (but does not explain the wacky filters that are used), and the game was just released without encoding the video.
Another possibility being the game running out of space on the disc, the BIN/CUE image is over 500Mb with the still images, and would have been larger had they used actual FMV. Also remember that even though the 3DO was capable of full PAL/NTSC resolution video, it was limited to MJPEG-like video (The exact Codec would vary depending on the game being used), with MPEG1 support only offered as part of an external addon (This predated MPEG2 which was used for DVD and DVB digital TV)
A third possible theory was due to the multiple decisions possible in the game, it was have been preferable to use still images than having to re shoot multiple scenes for each decision in order to save on production costs. Instead they could alter the images and record different voice lines which was much cheaper. This make no sense for the opening and introduction sequences, since that will always be the same.
I’m also curious if this game was ever ported to other platforms besides the 3DO and Windows. The Sega CD would have been a good candidate.
One of the possible endings