Do you have a half hour to kill? That’s about all it will take to beat Armand and the Foppish Hat, but it will be a fun and entertaining half hour. Maybe you’re waiting for a friend to arrive, or you’re just procrastinating from doing some work; whatever the cause of your free time (or procrastination), Armand and the Foppish Hat will give you a brief diversion, and little else.
Designed in 2007-2008 by John Hanson, it was meant as a Legend of Zelda-style puzzle game, with similarly un-complex graphics and an enjoyable story. You are Armand (or James Armand Boniface Raoul Restant), a handsome, daring traveler who, after a night of women and revelery, awakes to find your money, and more importantly your favourite hat, stolen from your hotel room. Thus begins your quest to find your Foppish Hat, which will take you through a well-secured town, meeting and talking to people in an attempt to find the thief.
As mentioned, the first thing you need to know about this game is that it is short. Quite short. Don’t download it expecting several hours, because you won’t find them. You’ll make your way to the boss, have a small plot twist, and the game will be done. Developer Hanson has done no more work on the game, as he discovered that laying out the pixilated screens took more time and patience than he wanted to commit; very understandable, as I would likely feel the same. However, it’s also a bit of a shame, as I was just starting to get in to the game when it ended. It would be nice to see someone pick it up and continue the story.
The main crux of the story requires talking to townsfolk and deciphering their clues in order to find the next step to catch the thief. As you get closer to the truth, you start having to fight off a few critters, including spiders, bats, and strange, bright yellow yield signs. These aren’t particularly difficult fights, though keeping your health up can be a bit of a challenge. You are also faced with a boss to fight, from whom you can recover your hat.
The graphics and sound are quite simple; very much in the style of the early Zelda games. However, as any game-lover can attest, the prettiest graphics can’t hide a poor story, whereas a good story make simple graphics worth it, as is the case in this game. You’ll start to get caught up, and graphics won’t matter much; you’ll simply be trying to figure out how to accomplish the next goal, or how to fight off the spider without getting killed.
As far as games go, Armand and the Foppish Hat is highly unfinished. It is the first stage of a much longer game, that could be developed, if Mr. Hanson were convinced to open it up to a developer; perhaps there is the right designer out there to turn this in to a full open source game. As it stands, it will entertain you for a brief time, if you need some light distraction. I hope someone does take the initiative to further the game!