It says 1989 at the bottom, but it sure doesn't look like it!
Game 30 on the playlist is the sequel to Manhunter: New York, a game I enjoyed quite a bit despite some technical flaws and illogical puzzle solutions. This time, as the title suggests, the game will be set in San Francisco, and it follows on directly from the events of the first game (which closed with the unnamed protagonist hopping into an alien craft and chasing the antagonist Phil Cook out of the city). The sequel was published in 1989 by Sierra On-Line, and was once again created by Evryware, a company owned and run by the Murry family (Barry, Dave and Dee Dee). The only non-Murry credit associated with the game is that of Barbara Ward, who apparently assisted with “additional story”, although I can’t see her name attached to any other games.
I like this cover. It's suitably dark and is immediately recognisable due to the monk robes
The Murry’s chose San Francisco because they wanted the game to be based somewhere on the west coast of America, and they felt the city had the most recognizable landmarks. As with New York, the family flew down to the locations that eventually ended up in the game, re-enacting the scenes they’d written and taking photographs to make sure the result was as accurate as possible. It’s immediately noticable when looking at screenshots that Manhunter 2 was built using the same engine as the first game, which is Sierra’s AGI engine. In fact, it was the last game ever produced using that engine, as Sierra had already released a stack of games that utilized their much improved SCI technology. Obviously I’ve played through all of those games in recent months, which will undoubtedly make Manhunter 2 struggle to impress technically, particularly on the graphics and sound fronts.
Goodbye New York
I’m not certain whether the Murry’s were forced to use AGI rather than SCI by Sierra (since they weren’t internal employees) or whether they chose to due to their previous experience with it and the modifications they’d already made while making the first game, but it can’t have helped the critical response and sales on release. I’ve only watched the introduction so far and I’m shocked at how bad the visuals and sound are, even though it has only been a year (one release year that is) since the last one. I’m also dubious as to whether the game is going to break any new ground in any other way. The story once again involves tracking down Phil Cook by investigating his murders, it utilises the same MAD tracking device to do so, and from what I understand, include numerous arcade mini-games just as the first one did. Despite all these reservations, I’ll be giving Manhunter 2 every opportunity to impress me, and I’m very keen to see whether I can get through it unassisted (Jarikith’s mocking laughter in a recent comment suggests I might be in for a rocky ride).
Hello San Francisco
I can’t find the game available for sale anywhere, so I’ve downloaded a DOS version copy which I’ll be running through SCUMMVM. I’ve started using SCUMMVM over DOSBox recently because I can take screenshots really easily and in high resolution. That makes a lot of difference for me while I attempt to blog my way through. I’ve also found a quick reference card and a copy of the original manual, which once again is called a Manhunter’s Field Guide. It’s set out in the same way as the Field Guide that came with the first game, although it does contain a note written by the protagonist while pursuing Phil in the alien craft that helps set the scene. How he wrote a two page note while controlling the craft is anyone’s guess, but it helped remind me of some of the game mechanics. I’ll begin the game tomorrow and can’t help but wonder whether this will be the game that someone places an assistance bet on. Anyone dare challenge me?
I guess I can't criticise the Manhunter for writing journal entries while on the job
Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've recently written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 points (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle unassisted (see below for an example). If you get it right I will reward you with 80 points in return (it's going to keep going up until someone beats me)! It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw, which I'm yet to figure out the form of (we'll cross that bridge when we get there).
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Jub nz V sbe 20 PNCf?
Extra Note: Once again, Lars-Erik will gift the next readily available game on the list to the reader that correctly predicts what score I will give this game. So, if you predict the right score (or are closest), you will get 10 CAPs and a copy of Tex Murphy 1 & 2 from GOG! Good luck!