|The butler did it! (Again.)|
ICOM Simulations, the game designer, has a history of making influential (but not necessarily good) adventure games and we’ve already played four: Déjà Vu (1985), Uninvited (1986), Shadowgate (1987), and Deja Vu II (1988). The clearest way to see how industry-leading these games were is to look at their numbers: Déjà Vu and Uninvited are games 4 and 9 on our blog, respectively. Will this one live up to those legacies? Or will this be a speedbump on the way to the 7th Guest (1993) and the CD-ROM adventures yet to come? I have no idea! I honestly had never heard of this game before volunteering to play it.
This is what I do know: this is a game, based on a gamebook, based on a fictional detective, and created by an influential game development house. It’s probably going to be a long introduction...
|I wear a deerstalker. Deerstalkers are cool.|
I should mention that I am not coming into this blind. While I am not a card-carrying Sherlockian, I have read nearly all of the short stories and novels and have a very nice collection with the original Sidney Paget illustrations on my bookshelf. I’m a big fan of Steven Moffat’s recent Sherlock adaptation, but I haven’t seen Elementary yet. In other words, I know enough to know who Mycroft and Moriarty are, but also enough to know that Mr. Doyle hardly ever had recurring plots; elements like these-- so common in adaptations-- are almost completely absent in the original stories.
|Original 1980s game cover.|
|Our first acting credits in an adventure game?|
Consulting Detective marks another turning point for ICOM. After this, they will take the Adventure International route and concentrate almost exclusively on licensed properties: two Consulting Detective sequels (in 1992 and 1993), Dracula Unleashed (1993), MTV: Club Dead (1994), and Beavis and Butt-Head in Virtual Stupidity (1995). All except the last of those appear to be FMV-based adventure games of some sort and I look forward to seeing how the company progresses. ICOM will be acquired by Viacom New Media in 1993 and a number of team members will transition onto their games. (Orpheo's Curse, for example, will be a Viacom game rather than an ICOM one.) Viacom will spin them back out in 1997, but their independence will be short lived as they closed in 1998. In more recent news, some of the original developers managed to acquire the rights to this and other ICOM games in 2012 and formed a new company, Zojoi. Remastered editions of Consulting Detective and a reboot of Shadowgate (2012) have been released and are available on Steam and other platforms. I’ve been in contact with Zojoi and I’m hoping they can shed some light on the development of this game and its remake.
The Manual & Introduction
|Mirror, mirror, on the wall… who is the greatest detective of them all?|
|A cast of original characters!|
- O’Brien - Contact at the Office of Records
- Ellis - Foreign news editor for the Times
- Murray - Scotland Yard criminology lab
- Hall - A young barrister, whatever that means.
- Hogg - Crime reporter for the Times
- Meek - Chief Medical Examiner
One final bit of clarification: I will be playing the final patched version of this game (“Release 4”) from 1993 rather than as it originally appeared in 1991. The upgrade appears to be limited to bug fixes and adding “VCR-like” controls to allow you to pause, fast-forward, and rewind the in-game videos. The manual addendum with that version clarifies one other thing: the “score” to the game is essentially backwards! The goal of the game is to complete each mystery with the lowest score. The score is really just a timer; the faster you solve the case, the better.
With that, it’s time for me to make some predictions and for you to guess the score. To help you out, here are the scores for the ICOM games so far: Deja Vu (45), Uninvited (30), Shadowgate (35), and Deja Vu II (33). That gives us an average score of 36, but a trendline that is not quite in the positive direction.
- Three episodes, but they will connect in some way.
- Mycroft, Moriarty, Irene Adler, or some other minor Holmes character will get a role.
- The butler will do it in at least one of the stories.
One more announcement: the nice people at Zojoi has suggested that they will provide a contest prize for our guess-the-score competition: a copy of the remastered game on Steam! We’re still working out the details, but all the more reason for you to think hard about your guess. Good luck!
|Our first case! Looks spooky!|