Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon

Though the title suggests otherwise, Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon isn’t a Western. It’s set in an unusual Long Island bar where beings from different times and spaces can hang out in the now. From this base, your player character, Jake Stonebender, steps out into Five Vignettes and a Finale; saving rainforests, making the world safe for testosterone, helping broken-hearted, addicted, and dognapped pals, and orchestrating the endgame – all in a forgiving environment that eschews the dreaded “game over†for infinite second chances.

8_1Callahan’s is heavily textual and requires careful reading to solve puzzles and to experience the story cohesively. Your comrades’ many suggestions amount almost to online hints, but without the guilt. The puzzles, while generally fair, are sometimes bizarre. The in-game clues are quite well done, though occasionally I relied on structural feedback instead (e.g., inability to use an item except where I found it). Also well-handled: the sparing use and seamless integration of “I’m a puzzle!†puzzles like the Brazillian lock.

The conversation interface didn’t annoy me, but might others. It frequently spits you out at an option’s end and makes you talk to the subject again to continue. Used conversation options don’t gray out. This allows replays, which I liked, but can be frustrating if you hit a used option accidentally.

Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon features 360-degree scrolling (like Zork Nemesis but easier to control) which provides a natural-feeling journey through the familiar Legend cosmos. Callahan’s won’t impress those who expect breakthroughs in animation or visual effects; even full-motion video is all but absent from this game. But for me, and others like me who value originality, story, and intelligence, Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon is quite an interesting find.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win95

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