Jalopy - Drive, Repair, and Barter Your Way Across Eastern Europe
A Road Trip Behind the Iron Curtain
Hit the Open Road
The road trip is one of those universal ideas that are prevalent enough that it resonates even with those who don't own a car. Though it's thought of as a huge part of Americana, it's present in every part of the world with car culture. One such game to investigate this phenomenon is Jalopy, a truly unique game that's based around a memorable road trip.
Going on a Trip, Jalopy Style
At its core, Jalopy is about family. Your player is taking his uncle on a trip through the Eastern Bloc, starting in East Germany and eventually heading for Turkey. Yes, you're going to take a drive across Eastern Europe in a Soviet-era vehicle, and you're going to take the long way.
...take a drive across Eastern Europe in a Soviet-era vehicle...
This is an era and a world that doesn't get explored very often, especially in a narrative video game. Putting players in an undependable vehicle on a long road trip makes for a neat concept, especially as the trials and triumphs on the trip both feel very earned due to the car. The story itself isn't as fleshed out as it could be, but the base idea of the game stands on its own.
Concept Rating: 3/5
In Need of Restoration
Jalopy is an ugly game. There's no nicer way to put it, especially if you want to be honest. There's nothing in this game that couldn't have been done graphically at least a decade ago, and even then the game would have stood out as being ugly. This game is PS1 ugly. This game is SEGA-CD ugly. The game, in short, does not look good.
The game, in short, does not look good.
Oddly, part of the charm of the game is that it is so very ugly. While the audio is likewise nothing to write home about, something is charming about the idea that Jalopy takes place in an ugly world. Given the general state of the world in the game, it makes sense that you're not going to see the beauty around you; instead, you have to find the beauty in the situations in which you find yourself.
Graphics & Audio Rating: 2/5
Jalopy is honestly one of the most frustrating games ever, and some of that is intentional. The way that the game is constructed seems designed to slow you down and make you rethink the journey on which you are taking your character. Nothing in this game is automatic - if you want to do an action, you have laboriously made it through every step. It's a fun idea, at least, but one that just feels like a chore as the game goes on.
The giant host of bugs that infest the game will slow down your progress even more and you really can't forgive those as a design decision.
This is, of course, only true when the game is working correctly. The giant host of bugs that infest the game will slow down your progress even more and you really can't forgive those as a design decision. You are going to pay for almost every kilometre your car makes it down the road, and whether that's fun has more to do with your ability to deal with a buggy game.
Gameplay Rating: 2/5
Stay at Home
There's not all that much to like in this game if we're being perfectly honest. The concept of Jalopy is cute and some of the interactions are charming, but a bad interface and even worse quality assurance work together to create an experience that is going to turn most players off. There's the core of something that works here, but it needs a lot more polish to stand out.
Replayability Rating: 1/5
Jalopy is a frustrating, buggy trip through the Eastern Bloc.