Tibba Games’ Stellar Mess: The Princess Conundrum (Chapter 1) pays homage to the LucasArts classics, employing the nostalgic SCUMM Interface (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion), charming art, and captivating music to create an engaging and amusing science fiction adventure.
Set in 1991 in Patagonia, Argentina, Diego — an unsuspecting comic bookshop owner — discovers that his favorite movie franchise, Stellar Battles, is not a work of fiction but a reality. He also learns that his secret crush is real and needs his help. Diego embarks on a journey filled with friendship, love, and betrayal, all wrapped up in the comical spirit of Maniac Mansion.
The game’s music creates an energetic and playful atmosphere. The fast-paced tunes on the title screen and during various scenes, such as the Phone Booth Center and Diego’s travels, evoke a sense of urgency and perfectly complement the game’s humorous narrative.
Stellar Mess utilizes the classic point-and-click interface, viewed from a third-person perspective, to guide Diego’s actions. With vibrant, pixel art graphics occupying the top of the screen, a verb list in the lower-left corner, and an inventory in the lower-right, players construct commands by clicking on verbs, objects, or characters. The game executes these commands, creating an interactive and immersive experience. In a quirky twist, certain actions in the English version of the game appear in Spanish, adding to the game’s charm (this minor bug will likely be resolved).
The story unfolds through short serialized chapters, with Diego’s objective in the first chapter being to enlist his friend Marty’s help in finding a missing person by stopping his video game duel. As the plot progresses, Diego starts to realize that the people around him might not be who they seem. (The quirky dialogs are not voiced.)
During his adventure, Diego navigates various locations, with the standout being the cleverly named comic bookstore he owns, “Diego’s Dungeon.” Filled with nostalgic robot toys and action figures, the store serves as an entertaining backdrop and plays a pivotal role in solving a particularly ingenious puzzle.
While most of the puzzles in the game are well-clued, one stands out as being slightly confusing. To obtain an item that will convince Marty to help, Diego must answer a riddle. The solution involves pressing apartment intercoms, but the connection between the riddle and the intercoms could be clearer. As a result, players might resort to guessing the answer, which detracts slightly from the experience. Furthermore, the save and load icons in the game can be difficult to distinguish due to their dark appearance, causing players to click on the wrong icon on multiple occasions.
Despite these minor issues, Stellar Mess: The Princess Conundrum (Chapter 1) is an enjoyable gaming experience that fans of classic adventure games should play. Its engaging narrative, nostalgic elements, and clever puzzles create a charming and entertaining journey that players will surely appreciate.
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