Saturday, 27 January 2018

The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

And here we are, finally at the end of the Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes. We solved a murder (or three), reunited a woman with her son, and explored the highs and lows of 19th century London. This has been a fun game, but it will also be a challenging one to rate. I know many of you have fond memories of this game, but nostalgia makes everything nicer. I had never played this game before. All we can do is start the rating and see where it ends up. As I explained in my last post, we will be doing a small experiment this time around by including some reader ratings for the game. I’ll include them as a counterpoint after I complete my own review.

Before we can get there, we have one piece of unfinished business: our “unexpected” contest!

The world’s greatest detective.

An Unexpected Contest Answers

We asked for you to name the reference from each of the various post titles, as well as who the detective was in each one. Here are the answers:

“Murder”, He Wrote - Based on Murder, She Wrote, a popular American detective series that ran from 1984 to 1996. It spanned 264 episodes and four TV movies, with the final of those airing in 2003. The detective in that series was Jessica Fletcher, played by Angela Lansbury. I selected this title based on the idea that Watson was just starting his journal for our case with the murder of Ms. Sarah Carroway.

“P” is for Pixel Hunting - Based on the “Alphabet Mysteries”, a series of 25 novels by Sue Grafton. Regretfully, she passed away before she could complete the series. Each of the titles has a different letter, starting with “A” is for Alibi in 1982. The detective in that series is Kinsey Millhone. I selected this due to the laborious pixel-hunting which this game makes you go through to not miss any clues. Incidentally, Ms. Grafton’s “P” novel was “P” is for Peril.

It’s also for “penguin”, but it didn’t make as edgy a title.

The No. 1 Gentlemen’s Detective Agency - A gender-swapped version of “The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency”, a series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith, set in Botswana and featuring Mma Precious Ramotswe as the detective. The series began in 1998 and is up to eighteen novels so far. I selected this because of the “posh” nature of some of the locations that we had visited.

Fer-de-Fléchette - Likely bad French, this is based on Fer-de-Lance, the title of the first Nero Wolfe novel from 1934. “Fer-de-lance” means the “iron of the spear”, or just “spearpoint” in English. A “fléchette” (I hope) is French for the kind of dart used in the game of darts. In case you are curious, “flèche” is the French word for arrow (such as fired from a bow) and that is where we get the English word “fletcher”, meaning arrow-maker. And since our first detective was Jessica Fletcher, we can see that it is all connected! The Nero Wolfe series consists of 72 stories told from 1934 through 1975. This post was the one that contained the dart game.

The Secret of the Old Smock - A take on The Secret of the Old Clock, the very first Nancy Drew novel from 1930. There are officially 175 books in the series, but several of the books have two versions which are different in all but title after a 1960s-era refresh of the older material. All of these books are written under the pen name of Carolyn Keene; a handful were even written by James Lawrence who we will talk about much more next week when I get to Seastalker. Counting up all of the various novels in all of her spin-off series, there seem to be at least 478 total novels, making Nancy Drew almost certainly the detective with the most individual stories of the ones on our list. This post was the one where we found the smock that led us to Blackwood at the dock.

Lady in a Blue Dress - This was intended to be a take on Devil in a Blue Dress, a 1990 novel by Walter Mosley and the first in the “Easy” Rawlins detective series. He’s written fourteen novels so far. TBD and Reiko both provided an alternate solution, the novel Lady in the Red Dress by James T. Rogers. That purports to be the last of three (so far) Jack Winters mysteries, but I am unfamiliar with the series and it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry. I’m pretty sure TBD’s was just a random guess, but a random guess that worked out! This title refers to Lady Brumwell who we first encountered in this post.

One way ticket to Istanbul (not Constantinople). 

Murder on the 9:10 Express to Bedford - Once again, I am foiled by smart people having better answers than the one I intended. I was aiming for the answer to be the Hercule Poirot mystery, Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie. Mr. Poirot starred in approximately 84 official stories. TBD nearly came up with “Mummy on the Orient Express” (although he got the title wrong), a Doctor Who story inspired by the Agatha Christie tale featuring the 12th Doctor solving a time-traveling mystery while being pursued by a mummy on a space train. Ilmari came up with an even better answer, 4.50 from Paddington, a Miss Marple story also by Agatha Christie, one of 32 such stories written by her. That story was retitled Murder, She Said for its film adaptation, thus proving once again that all roads lead to Jessica Fletcher. This title of course is based on the unfortunate death of Detective Moorehead. I’ll at least be proud of myself that I researched where trains from Paddington station may have gone in the 1880s and the time matches the in-game time.

With that, Reiko is our winner with our perfect score. She’ll receive 38 extra CAPs. For good measure, we’ll also award 24 to Lupus Yonderboy, 14 to TBD, and 8 for Ilmari. Congratulations! Extra points if you can find any more creative ways to link our various detective stories to everyone’s favorite resident of Cabot Cove.

One of the first of many clues in this game. 

Our Rating

Puzzles and Solvability

This first grade is more difficult than it appears. On one hand, we have few traditional adventure puzzles in this game, for better and worse. The few that we have are enjoyable, except for some of the Scotland Yard bureaucracy puzzles, but overall those are well done, The sequences with the flower girl and the cufflinks and when we captured Blackwood are two of my favorites. Most of the game is played as a straight mystery where we have to search for clues to unlock locations and dialog options, but those parts have a tendency to descend quickly into pixel-hunting. The game never gets a dull as Cruise for a Corpse did, but the twentieth time mousing over a room because we didn’t notice a bookmark or a stain on the wall gets old quickly. Thankfully, there were never too many objects in each room (like the individual floorboards in Cruise) and for the most part the period details made exploring more interesting than it would otherwise have. We’ll discuss that more shortly.

Next time, I’ll play against Gilligan.

The game featured one minigame, a variation on darts that Holmes could play against an assemblage of bar patrons. (Some dialog makes me suspect that the developers may have intended a snooker game as well, but if so it was never added.) I am no fan of mini-games overall, but this one had the the right level of challenge. With practice and strategy, I was able to beat all four contenders. Do I try to aim for the difficult triple-score or keep to the (easier) bullseyes? What targets would be the safest choice for reaching exactly zero? For players with less patience, the game can be skipped by solving a mystery puzzle. I do not regret spending the time on it.

This leaves the overall mystery of the game. This was extremely well done with one investigation leading to another, a cute trick where the killer got what he wanted without knowing it, and plenty of people to interrogate. I was just smart enough to guess some of the details (such as pinning the serrated scalpel on a taxidermist), but I completely missed the major twists and turns in the plot. Too much of the game is in dialog and there was rarely any challenge in brute-forcing conversation options, but the game at least appears to provide you with real choices. A few times Holmes would catch on to something I did not, but that is to be expected. There was no danger in picking the wrong options because the game does not appear to have any walking dead situations.

There are negatives: a few shortcuts where the story did not make sense (especially the mix-up between the secret admirer and Blackwood) and I got stuck on a few occasions. I also dislike games where a random object in the first (or early) room becomes important in the finale, as we had here with the iron bar. All in all, I have to rate this category a seven. So many good things, but there was less “adventure” elements than I would have liked and too much of the game was brute-forcing dialogs or moving the mouse very slowly around a room for the twentieth time.

My score: 7

Basic inventory interface

Interface and Inventory

The interface in this game is surprisingly good, with features borrowed lovingly from other contemporary adventure games. The basic “click the verb” interface is done exactly right: the verbs are self-explanatory and they usually do what you expect. Sometimes you have to “use” instead of “give” an item to show it to a NPC, but overall it is fine. I especially like that the game doesn’t always make you select a verb. If you click without selecting one, it picks a sensible default for you (usually “look” but sometimes other things). Those are highlighted when you mouse over something you can interact with, giving you even more of a clue what you might be able to do with an object. You can play a surprising amount of the game just with the default actions. For a first game, the interface is surprisingly polished with even keyboard shortcuts for most of the selectable verbs! Typing “L” for “look” is easier than moving the mouse up and down the screen when you are slowly pixel-hunting.

The conversation interface is simpler with no (or few) branching conversations of any importance. Instead, you can select what Holmes will say with greyed-out lines things that you have tried already. You do need to work to find new conversation options, either by finding a clue or by interrogating someone else, but most of the time you just have to try every possible conversation option on each person to figure out what you are missing.

An exceptionally detailed journal!

The journal is another amazing addition to the game and this is the first game that I have seen with such a robust log of conversations and actions. In addition to recording dialog from everyone that you talk to, Watson occasionally elaborates with his own notes to make things clearer. The journal is fully searchable and I found it invaluable when writing these reviews each week as I could just pull up old conversations instead of my usual trick of using dozens of save games to double-check things for the write-up. It also has other useful extras such as being able to change the font. The only major drawback to this game is that the inventory system itself is so poor. You can only see a handful of items at a time and scrolling through all of them is a major pain. There is also no way to combine an object or use one on another. Despite this weakness, the overall game plays extraordinarily well. I can’t go less than an eight here.

My score: 8.

Scotland Yard: Ignoring evidence that doesn’t fit their theories since 1888.

Story and Setting

This story is in a word: fantastic. Three murders and one (possibly two) suicides, multiple criminals, and all to reunite a child with his real mother. I especially like that the situation began to snowball out of control for the villains as what should have been just a robbery escalated as Lord Brumwell struggled to contain what he had started. There’s a real sense of satisfaction at the end, even if everything didn’t quite go to plan. I also liked that the story seemed simple enough at first that I confidently predicted who the murderer would be (and was roughly correct), only to have the rug pulled out from under me. This was a truly pleasurable mystery.

That said, the game really dropped the ball on characterization. Watson is nothing more than a Holmes fan-boy in this game with none of the wit or intelligence that he shows in the stories, although more in line with some of his TV presentations. He’s a military doctor and still had nothing to add to the various crime scenes and dead bodies than just to nod at Holmes approvingly? None of the other characters ever emerged off the page. Lord Brumwell’s complex relationships with Anna and Lady Brumwell, as well as the latter’s feelings on the whole scandal, are never really addressed. We don’t get into Anna’s head at all, especially since we don’t meet her until the end. Not one character is given more than a passing character trait and that is a shame and a weakness of the writing.

Detailed maps of London

The setting of the game is meticulous and well-done. Using the map of London as the “hub” of the game, as well as watching our little carriage dash through the streets, is a nice touch. The locations as far as I have been able to ascertain are detailed and include numerous historic allusions. I do not know what reference material they were using to paint such a detailed picture of London life in 1888, but I approve of it. Even the exterior of Baker Street was well-researched! If I had commented on every period detail in every scene, I would have written a novel by now but take my word for it that those details made exploring fun.

My score: 8

The Introduction: Some of the best art in the game

Sound and Graphics

As I have already mentioned, this is a game awash in period details and for the most part the graphics helped that to shine. Characters are well-drawn both in the normal view and their character portraits. We get resting animations and other fun details that show how much effort the developers invested in this game. Unfortunately, the game never went back to the beautiful particle and light effects used in the introductory sequence, but at least they never went back to the off-model character animation from the same introduction either. The one thing that pulled down the graphics is the similarity of so many of the environments. How many one-room flats can we visit? There was little creativity in layout or camera position or even composition of many of the screens. Most screens developed a “sameness” that you have to play for a while to really feel. Still, when you are complaining about the introduction and scene composition, that says something positive about all of the other aspects of the art.

I know that this music is well-loved, but it honestly did not stay with me long after playing. It’s not “hummable” like the music in the Quest for Glory series, for example. That is a series whose music stays in my head for months after I play while this one just sort of blended well into the background. Some commentators have noted that some of the music didn’t loop, meaning that we’d get a brief piece and then have silence as we continued to explore the room or section. I never once noticed this which may suggest exactly what impact the music was having on me. That said, the Baker Street music and a few other bits were great, but this is a game that was more “good” than “grand” in the music department.

As well as some of the worst.

Some of the most important sequences in the game are competently voice acted with David Davies performing the voice of Sherlock Holmes. Star Wars fans may recognize him as the voice of Obi Wan in Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds and Rogue Squadron II. He was the only voice that really stuck out for me and I would have wished for more dialog. Mr. Davies has had a long career since then in narrating audiobooks, including a set of every short story in the Holmes canon through One Voice Recordings (and available on Audible). If you liked him, as I did, you might want to seek out his other work. I tried to reach out to Mr. Davies for this post, but his email listed at One Voice bounced.

Overall, this was a solid effort, even if the locations get repetitive (and even bland) after a while. Music is great but unobtrusive and the voice acting that we had was good, but I might have hoped for more. I’m going with a seven here.

My score: 7

Environment and Atmosphere

As I already noted, this game is fantastic for its period detail and number of locations. I wish that the locations had been more varied, but we did get to visit everywhere from an opera house dressing room to a zoo so perhaps I am being overly critical. The inclusion of the London map helped to solidify these as real places connected by real streets, even as the connective tissue is invisible to us. The city may have felt sanitized with less garbage and pollution than in the real place of the period, but as the original author hardly ever mentioned such in his writings, it’s at least true to form that none of those elements had a place here.

The game also does very well to build a rising sense of tension as we trace Anna Carroway’s thread throughout the story. She goes from being a person of interest in her sister’s death to a woman on the run, finally to kidnap victim. Along the way, we players could feel the tightening suspense as others were killed, new threats revealed, and the villains became more desperate. It all played very well for me. This has been my favorite mystery adventure so far.

My score: 8

I assume this is funny if you know London geography.

Dialog and Acting

We arrive at the final category and one of the reasons why I love this game as much as I do: the writing is fantastic and there is just enough voice acting to bring the characters to life, while not forcing me to listen to someone talk hundreds of times. It’s a good balance and well-done. I have no idea who was writing the dialog, but very little missed the mark. Perhaps some of the characters weren’t quite three-dimensional enough, but the text was a joy to read. While the story was quite serious, there were one or two moments of levity that worked to cut the tension.

I will complain again that Watson was made far too much of an idiot for my liking and that the way the story was written made it difficult to feel as if I inhabited Holmes as a character. As I read back on my own posts, I kept reverting to “Holmes” did this or that instead of “I” as I often do when narrating games. Still, Holmes at least was true to form and I want to play more games made by this development team.

My score: 8

Final Rating

Let’s add up the scores: (7+8+8+7+8+8)/.6 = 77 points. Wow that is high. Reviewing the scores now, I don’t know that I would change much. Graphics could be a bit higher and environment a bit lower, but all in all it feels like the correct scores. This places this game #3 best adventure game so far in our rankings! I am thrilled that I finally got to play one of the “good” ones!

The average score was 73, so most of you might think that I am being overly generous here. With a guess of 76, Torch is our winner this time! Congratulations! I’d also like to welcome first-time guessers Christophe and Limbeck. Welcome to the game! Christophe especially came quite close to winning this one with the second-closest score, so I’m going to give him some “beginners luck” CAPs. Laukku and Joseph Curwen will also get some bonus CAPs for nearly correctly guessing how many posts the game would take to win. (They were both off by one.)

As I discussed, a few of our readers penned their own mini-reviews. These are condensed and lightly edited:
  • Alex felt that this may be one of the best games of the 1990s with special love for the music: “The amount of detail, and the calm atmosphere makes it a perfect candidate to play it with a cup of coffee on a rainy Sunday. A game that has very little classic obtuse puzzles, and more finding contradictions in each room to advance some dialogue with someone. Pixel art shines in here; love how the characters are basically faceless and then have a nice animating sprite for closeups. Music is one of the best in the genre and is perfectly synchronized with London of the 19th century. My personal favorites are the themes for Detective Moorehead and Gardner's private office, Sarah Carroway apartment (it feels so lonely in there), the opera backroom (nice song for finding secrets), the zoo (can't get that march out my head!), the equestrian shop (so merry, for being a douche inside the store), Anna's house (if I have a huge Victorian mansion, I want that song playing), and of course inside Holmes room (a variation of the Baker Street song, and also leitmotif of the entire game).”

I agree!
  • Laukku agrees that this is an “outstanding example of what adventure games excel at - mystery thrillers!”. He continues that “Not only does the story make good use of non-linearity by having multiple often concurrent investigation threads, the subject matter involved in the crime motivations (parental rights and class differences) I also found interesting. The research and attention to detail really shows in the gritty, noir-like portrayal of London, and the true-to-canon characterisation of the main duo, with the vocabulary and expressions to match - even the occasional digressions on art and architecture were welcome! The only real flaws are some filler non-puzzles, pixel hunting, a couple unclear plot elements and a few rather poorly drawn pixel art portraits; but even with these I find the game to be clearly above average in every category.”
  • Finally, Limbeck said that he “liked the atmosphere and the setting. OK, it's late Victorian London, so you can rarely mess this up, but still I think they did a good job, with all the roundabout ways of expressing their opinions (whether good or bad).” He found the puzzles to be too simple, more like an interesting interactive story than a true adventure game. 
Overall, I say that we are in agreement on the rating!

With that, I conclude my coverage of the Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes. This one has truly been a pleasure to share with you. My next main-line game is coming up very soon, another one of fiction’s great detectives: Inspector Gadget: Global Terror. If anyone could defeat Mr. Holmes in a battle of wits it would be Inspector Gadget…’s niece Penny. Before then, I am going to try to get through Infocom’s Seastalker and Cutthroats, better known as the games keeping me from playing the Hitchhiker’s Guide game. I have been reading Jim Lawrence novels to prepare me for Seastalker, so it should be a lot of fun. Alex is up next with L.A. Law, a licensed game that I seriously considered playing, but I am very much looking forward to his unique take on the property. 

CAP Distribution

100 CAPs to Joe Pranevich
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes for our enjoyment
45 CAPs to Limbeck
  • What's Your Story Award - 25 CAPs - For telling us his story
  • Companion Blogger Award - 20 CAPs - For playing the game and telling us his opinion about it
40 CAPs to Laukku
  • How Many Posts Award - 5 CAPs - For nearly guessing how many posts the game would take
  • Companion Blogger Award - 20 CAPs - For playing the game and telling us his opinion about it
  • Doctor of Holmesology Award - 15 CAPs - For sharing information on the game
38 CAPs to Reiko
  • Know Your Detectives Award - 28 CAPs - For seven right answers in the Unexpected Competition
  • Unexpected Award - 10 CAPs - For winning the Unexpected Competition
35 CAPs to Alex Romanov
  • Companion Blogger Award - 20 CAPs - For playing the game and telling us his opinion about it
  • Doctor of Holmesology Award - 15 CAPs - For sharing information on the game
24 CAPs to Lupus Yonderboy
  • Know Your Detectives Award - 24 CAPs - For six right answers in the Unexpected Competition
14 CAPs to TBD
  • Know Your Detectives Award - 14 CAPs - For three and a half right answers in the Unexpected Competition
13 CAPs to Ilmari
  • Know Your Detectives Award - 8 CAPs - For two right answers in the Unexpected Competition
  • Christmas Detective Award - 5 CAPs - For finding more Christmas-themed games to Joe to play
10 CAPs to Torch
  • Psychic Prediction Award - 10 CAPs - For the closest guess of the score of the game
10 CAPs to Bruce
  • Visiting Author Award - 10 CAPs - For coming by and commenting on Elves 87, which he authored
5 CAPs to Joseph Curwen
  • How Many Posts Award - 5 CAPs - For nearly guessing how many posts the game would take
5 CAPs to Christophe
  • Beginner's Luck Award - 5 CAPs - For nearly guessing the correct score with his first ever guess


  1. A really fine review sir ! Congratulations, hope to see you on the next one

  2. Well done

    And congratulations to Mr. Holmes for reaching our top 10... er... top 11 games list!

    1. I believe we need 3 games with a score of 66 or higher to make it a top 10 again. Fate of Atlantis and King's Quest VI will probably be among the ones to do it, but what else? Quest for Glory III? (Which I find the weakest of the series.)

    2. For all I know, L.A. Law might be the best thing since the sliced bread and land in the top 10. It's unlikely, but possible.

  3. Hey guys, not official Adventure Gamer business, so I'll just put this in a comment. One of my New Years goals this year is to read more. To that end, I have invited my family and friends to suggest books for me to read and then I'll pick which ones I read in an overly elaborate process. (Already I have more suggested than I am likely to be able to read.)

    Since I consider all of you my friends as well, if anyone would like to recommend any books (non-fiction or fiction, any genre), I'll include them in my lists and I might end up picking them at some point this year. I am doing a tiny write-up on my blog as well for each one.

    For TAG, I've also decided that anytime I play a game by someone that has published a book, I would try to read it. This means that I hope to read something by Mr. Berlyn and I have already read two YA novels by Jim Lawrence.

    As I said, not TAG-related, but I appreciate ideas for reading material.

    1. Sinuhe the Egyptian, by Mika Waltari. Although AFAIK the only English translation is heavily censored and abridged, so you may want to read it in another language if possible (from glancing at its German Wikipedia page, a new proper German translation was released in 2014). Despite the historical information being outdated in places, it's probably the best story I know of from a literary standpoint and which I would rank above the likes of The Brothers Karamazov and Anna Karenina (I'm currently in the middle of War and Peace, which may or may not prove to be better though). It's also a very depressing book with a cynical view on humanity, so it may not please you if you just want to be entertained.

    2. Try Jorge Luis Borges work, the one writer who deserved the Nobel

    3. A nice idea.

      I suggest the last book I read - an interesting little crime thriller called The Spinster and the Madman

    4. Alex, any specific books of his?

    5. Anything adventure-related should probably come to this blog, at least in some form. For example, the works of Jane Jensen are probably worthy of a blog entry, as of course the reads of Terry Pratchett, among others. (Those are the first two that came to mind... ) Some years down the line, a borderline listed game is in the database "Seven Games of the Soul" (aka "Faust") which has an obvious book companion to it. As done another borderline entry, "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon". That's just a quick browsing of the list, I'm sure I missed many.

      As for non-adventure, there were some popular books from a few years back that are either favorites of mine or just guilty pleasures, such as The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern, or even the werewolf series of books by Martin Millar. That series might not be high literature, but I've always found them enjoyable...

    6. So, are you restricting yourself to text-only books or can we suggest also comic books? I am still eager to find some European Bandes Dessinées you'd enjoy, and thus I would suggest you'd try Christin and Mézières' Valerian and Laureline -series, specifically either Heroes of the Equinox (great parody of superhero comics and a story against all types of totalitarianism) or Ambassador of the Shadows (great twist on Star Trek -like utopian Federation and a story against imperialism).

      If you are restricting yourself to proper literature, I'll suggest Brian O'Nolan's Third Policeman (written under the pen name Flann O'Brien). It is a classic of post-modern fantasy, full of interesting bits of pseudo-scientific/philosophic discussions.

    7. Michael: I'll be reviewing at least one more Zork book for this blog and when I get to the other Infocom books (probably not this year), I'll have them here as well. The others, we'll see. I'll link to anything relevant at the very least.

      Ilmari: Comics/manga are okay. I already have "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck" on the list and I'm still planning to read Asterix in French. (I've started, but I'm still missing too much vocabulary.)

    8. I've been off the book train for a good long while, but some of my favorites included Patrick Suskind's Perfume, Michael Ende's Neverending Story, Umberto Eco's In the Name of the Rose (which has had a few video game adaptations), Bulgakov's Master and Margarita, Melville's Moby Dick, Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, Cervantes' Don Quixote, Homer's the Odyssey...

      and there's no better time to start getting into Ursula le Guin!

    9. @Joe: If you're going to read The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, I recommend you get a version that includes the extra stories featuring Glittering Goldie - I believe there's a separately sold volume called The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion. Not strictly necessary if you're already familiar with the Barks story "Back to the Klondike", but it's interesting to see Rosa's take on the her character and otherwise can give a "WTF was that character all about?" on the reader if left out.

      Some further graphic novel/comic book suggestions:
      V for Vendetta

    10. I have three volumes, including the companion. I do not know what stories are in them as I haven't read them yet, or at least very much of them. I'm about halfway through the first volume.

      I'm not particularly familiar with Barks at all. My experience with the Duck universe is nearly entirely through Ducktales.

      Of those other suggestions, I have read V for Vendetta and Watchmen already, but I'll make a note of the other two.

    11. Rowan: Any specific recommendations for Ursula le Guin books?

    12. The Day Of The Triffids - John Wyndham
      The Forever War - Joe Haldeman
      The Rats - James Herbert
      The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich - Philip K. Dick
      The Prestige - Christopher Priest
      The Dead Zone - Stephen King
      The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
      All of Terry Pratchett (esp. Discworld)

      1491 - Charles C Mann (about pre-colombian america)

    13. Seconding Haldeman's Forever War, and if you like space war stories, a different take is Old Man's War, by John Scalzi (pretty much any Scalzi work is thought-provoking or funny or both).

      I don't know what you've already read, but my go-to recommendation is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (not Eco's The Name of the Rose, LOL, but that's worth reading too). Unfortunately the trilogy isn't done yet, but the prose is so good I recommend it anyway.

    14. I second "The Prestige" from Christopher Priest, even if you have seen the movie, the book adds a lot of very interesting plotlines.
      And if want to have a lot of fun, try "The Anubis Gates" from Tim Powers.

    15. There's a couple of non-fiction books I'm planning of reading and thought would as well suggest to Joe:

      War and Peace and War - Peter Turchin
      The Evolutionary Psychology Behind Politics: How Conservatism and Liberalism Evolved Within Humans - Anonymous Conservative

  4. Excellent! I actually have a Murder, She Wrote blog, so I was quite surprised to see J. B. Fletcher at the top of this post. Nicely done, sir, nicely done indeed.

    1. I have many fond memories of Murder She Wrote with my grandparents, though they stopped watching prior to the New York series. I do have a vague recollection of her crossover with Magnum PI and I tried very hard to make a reference to that someplace, but failed. Maybe I'll find a way to wiggle that into the sequel.

    2. (And what is your blog address? I want to check it out.)

  5. Yay, I won!

    I'm a bit late to the party here, but great write-up, Joe. Seems like quite an enjoyable game.

  6. Heh, thanks for the beginner's luck CAP's, that was quite unexpected :)

    I'm happy you enjoyed the game. It must have been the third real PC game I played (after Secret of the Silver Blades and Dune II), coming from the NES, and I was amazed PC's could do such stuff. What an awesome game it was. Glad it still holds up!

    Like your blog btw, recently discovered it and I'm trying to play along when I can. Looking forward to Fate of Atlantis, as I've never played that game (only watched the trailer for a million times - it was on my DoTT CDrom).

  7. I can’t get enough of these graphics. I haven’t played the game yet, but these images are great enough. Those colors, that intricate work on perspective… Yeah, I tip my hat to the game designer who did this.

  8. Maybe i said this in another post, being this my favourite game of all time, but the pixel art in this game is amazing. What they do with every source of light and the shadows they cast is beautiful. The Digital Antiquarian wrote a very interesting article about the game's pixel art work and the team behind it in his blog if anyone want to check it out

  9. I had the luck to play the game in a 3do,with better music,graphics,full voiced and actors. I enjoyed every minute of it. As a matter of fact replayed the game last year,in dosbox and its still great ,like an old wine