Friday 6 May 2016

Game 68: Elvira II: The Jaws of Cerberus - Introduction

Written by Deimar

The sassy lassie with a classy chassis is back!! And being a non-native english speaker I don’t even know what I just said. But it sounds cool and serves as introduction for our next game: Elvira II: The Jaws of Cerberus.

Fetch the bone, doggy!! Fetch!!

Just one year after the release of the first game, Horrorsoft came back to Elvira to milk the license a bit more. The company increased its size during that time, almost doubling the staff involved in the second game, especially in the play testing department. It will be interesting to see if their efforts managed to solve the problems the first game had.

The titular character was already introduced in the first game. Elvira is a movie star that inherits a castle in England from a distant relative only to discover that the castle is cursed and one of her ancestors is trying to take over the world. After cleaning the mess in England, Elvira returns to the States to use her well earned money (maybe a medieval bed & breakfast is a better investment than I thought) to build her own production company in Hollywood. Behold: Black Widow Productions!!

To be honest, I expected to be greeted by a giant spider...

The story so far is that we are part of the company. What part is not specified but we are somehow in charge of getting “the suits in New York” to spend some money in expanding the studios. I find this role remarkable, taking into account that the first thing you have to do in the game is choose a profession between: stuntman, private eye, programmer and knife thrower. If you are baffled by the wide range of options just imagine those suits in the meeting room thinking about lending money to someone that is throwing knifes at one of them. My best guess is that the negotiation went something like this.

In any case, we are returning home after our success to the embrace of Elvira. In a letter (delivered by a flying pigeon maybe? Who has learnt about that magical thing called a phone?) she tells us that the company has started the production of three different movies: House of Horror, Kiss of the Spider and It Came from the Grave, with all three productions having strange accidents on set. But that is apparently not important, as she suggest that our brave efforts in New York will be compensated (that’s an interesting benefit of working for this company). It should be obvious by this point that the brave ghostbuster from the previous game has been ditched, or else he is the person with the most interesting resumé in the story of mankind. The boyfriend is dead, long live the boyfriend!!!

The game starts, and we go to fetch Elvira after arriving in Hollywood for a night out. The first thing that happens after getting out of the car is that we receive a telepathic message from the mistress herself telling us that this 11-foot-tall dog has cursed the studios and has her secluded somewhere in the premises for some nonsense about the end of the world. These supernatural beings are not the most original lot.

I see you are still the focus of unwanted attention… Maybe less meddling with the dead may help?

And here is where the story begins. And ends to be honest, in spite of some minor plot advances through the game. Horrorsoft again missed the opportunity to have Elvira be the star of her own game, which is a pity, but at least it seems like this scenario will be better suited for the character than the previous castle (and it is still a better use of her than the horrendous arcade game that was released that same year). The structure is very similar to the first game, although now the game is a bit more focused on the RPG part of its hybrid nature, which is the reason why the game was borderline for this blog’s purpose.

In general, the game had good reviews, or at least the Amiga version did. In the worst review, the writer just doesn’t stop complaining about the gore in the game (Rejoice! There will be more and more gruesome deaths this time!), which seems to suggest that it just was not her cup of tea. Chet from the CRPGAddict blog already played through the game and his opinion is that is a better RPG than Elvira I but still not a good RPG at all. We shall see how it fares in the adventure genre then.

I will be playing the DOS version using DosBOX and the Munt driver to emulate a Roland MT-32 soundcard. I tried the other sound options (PC Speaker, Sound Blaster, etc…) and the music was getting on my nerves. At least the Roland MT-32 is a bit more melodic.If any of you wants to play along, the game is supported by ScummVM and that version includes not only a Roland MT-32 emulator (in fact, it is Munt but without the hassle of having to configure it), but also digital samples for sound effects that the normal DOS version doesn’t include and that can be downloaded from the ScummVM page. The game itself can be bought from the Adventure Soft web page. Or you can get it from other sources. In that case, this might be useful.

Just compare them both and you will understand my pain...

It is a bit strange to start a game already with a request for assistance but as it happens, I started playing just before Trickster started MI2 and I think I am almost finished with the game. I avoided some pitfalls from my own memories of playing the game when I was a child, although I never finished it. Others have been avoided after reading some of the complaints from reviews, specifically Scorpia’s. However, I have been stuck on a puzzle for a few weeks now that is preventing me from completing the game. In the true spirit of sportsmanship, I will ROT13 the request so you can bet where I have been stuck before providing the answer (don’t cheat!!). I would like to also propose another type of bet, regarding the number of different death sequences I am able to “discover”. Let’s say 20 CAPS for the one that gets closer to the final number (as a reference, the game is said to be quite bigger than Elvira I).

RFA: Gurer vf n inzcver va gur nggvp bs gur unhagrq znafvba. V unir gevrq gur Ubyl Oneevre naq Abin fcryyf, gur jbbq fgnxr naq znyyrg, gur pehpvsvk, gur ubyl jngre naq abguvat frrzf gb jbex. Gur yvoenel frrzf gb fhttrfg gung fhayvtug vf gur nafjre, naq gurer vf n jvaqbj va gur fperra ohg V unira'g orra noyr gb oernx vg jvgu nalguvat.

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points:
There's 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 CAPs 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 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return. 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.


  1. Very glad to be on a new game! My guess is 55.

    We have some excitement coming up soon about HorrorSoft. Stay tuned...

  2. Ooh. Guessing time.

    I'm guessing less than the first game as being a better RPG than the first suggests it's likely to be worse at Adventureness.

    So... I'll guess 47 and 21 deaths!

    And, I don't know if you did it on purpose, but I thought I should point out that it's impossible to use the phrase 'the titular character' in reference to Elvira without it automatically being a double entendre.

    1. I would like to take the credit but sadly it has been just luck. Actually I am missing the other meaning of the phrase to be honest ^^U

    2. The "titular" character, making a pun on the slang term for breasts.

  3. 56! I'm definitely feeling a 56 here.

  4. I'll guess 54 and 30 deaths.

  5. Gonna go for a square 50, and 15 deaths.

  6. The dice says score 39 and 76 deaths. One day they will be right.

    1. Also gotta say I dig the cover, it looks like a heavy metal album with the fantasy and mythology themes.

  7. I'll guess a score of 49 and 24 deaths.

  8. Oh, and in reference to this: "The sassy lassie with a classy chassis is back!!" At least you know that "chassis" is supposed to rhyme with "classy". It's a rare non-native speaker that knows that, I think, if they know the word at all.

  9. I bet ten CAPs that you won't be able to trg cnfg gur inzcver va gur nggvp bs gur unhagrq znafvba without any help. Um. Waaiitt.. :)

    I'll say a score of about 40, with 15 or so individual death screens (but encountering them about double that amount). I haven't actually played the game, though, so I'm not able to help without just consulting a walkthrough - I'll leave the request for someone with experience.

  10. That code wheel site is great! Nostalgia without the breaking it by spinning it too much factor!

  11. OK, Deimar, I have no first hand info having not played the game, but I've checked out some walkthroughs and have a few hints for you...

    1. Fbhaqf yvxr lbh qba'g unir nalguvat gung zvtug oernx tynff. Gur vgrz qbrf rkvfg, ohg lbh qvqa'g zragvba gelvat vg fb yvxryl qba'g unir vg lrg.

    2. Gubebhtuyl frnepu gur arneol ebbzf

    3. Vapyhqvat nal orqf lbh svaq

    4. Qba'g sbetrg gb zbir/gnxr gur cvyybjf

    5. Unir lbh purpxrq gur orq lbh jnxr hc va nsgre orpbzvat hapbafpvbhf naq zrrgvat n fhpphohf

    6. Qb lbh unir n ghavat sbex lrg?

    7. Nf fbba nf lbh trg gb gur nggvp, HFR gur ghavat sbex

    1. Thanks TBD. Turns out I did have the item, but I just dismissed it as needed for a spell and didn't relate it to the problem (luckily, I didn't craft the spell or I would had to go back a lot...). In perspective, I see the logic of the solution but it seems to be a bit cartoonish...

    2. No probs. Glad it helped.

      Of course, if you'd have paid more attention to our Martian Memorandum WON post, you'd have known exactly what to do :)

  12. Without having ever played the game, I'll guess 48 as the final rating and 21 as the number of deaths.

  13. A bit of history (which might be very useful soon...):

    You say that they "milk" the Elvira, which is true, but during the mid-80s to early-90s, this was the bread and butter of HorrorSoft-- which you may know better as either Adventure International UK or AdventureSoft, they are all the same company. They were founded to import Scott Adams games to Europe and port them to European computers (the ZX Spectrum, mostly), but segued into doing games based on tons of random licensed properties: the Gremlins movies, British TV shows, He-Man, etc. Elvira is special because they used her as something of an umbrella brand for all of their horror games, but really she fits right into what the company had been doing for 5-6 years at this point. The next big game series for AdventureSoft that I look forward to covering will be "Simon the Sorcerer", their first real play at their own characters and settings.

    Why do I know all this stuff? Well... we have a surprise or two coming in a few days! Shh.

    1. 'Milk' Elvira? For shame, Joe. For shame.

  14. I´m guessing 45, and 35 deaths.

  15. I think it was a little better than the first game, so I'll guess
    Rating: 54
    Deaths: 69, dudes!