Saturday, 14 April 2018

Game 94: Inspector Gadget: Mission I: Global Terror - Introduction (1992)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Say what you will about 1992, but there were a lot of licensed games. We’ve already seen Sherlock Holmes, Indiana Jones, Gateway, Dune, Star Trek, L. A. Law, and Hook and we will have a few more before the year is out. Is this the peak year where everyone wanted to get in the boat of low-quality point-and-click adventures? Had technology and design-plagiarism finally reached the point where these sorts of adventures were easy wins? Or did that same technology advancement mean that designers could finally produce the tie-in games that they had always dreamed of? I have no idea. What I do know is that I have open on my laptop our first (and likely only) Inspector Gadget game. Are you excited?

This game, given the unwieldy title of Inspector Gadget: Mission I: Global Terror, will be another of those games of uncertain pedigree that I find so difficult to predict. We have seen virtually unknown designers do amazing things in the first Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes game, while similarly unknown designers came up shorter in Hook and Star Trek: 25th Anniversary. If this thing has one thing going for it, it is that Inspector Gadget is a pretty fun series and one of my favorites as a kid. If they manage to strike the right tone with a silly-but-interesting mystery with plenty for Penny and Brain to do, I could be pretty happy.

Notice no subtitle.

If you did not have my childhood, you may be unfamiliar with Inspector Gadget. The cartoon of the same name ran for 86 episodes between 1983 and 1986, with a one-off Christmas special released in 1992. Gadget features the adventures of spy-policeman “Inspector Gadget”, an inept but well-meaning investigator who tries to keep us safe from the schemes of M.A.D. and its leader, Dr. Claw. Gadget is voiced by Don Adams, best remembered for playing Maxwell Smart on the spy-spoof Get Smart, and he brings the same likable dimwittedness to this character. In my kid-brain, I assumed that Inspector Gadget was Maxwell Smart, just after suffering some type of severe injury while fighting against C.H.A.O.S. This is silly, but there are just about enough similarities between the characters to explain my confusion. Gadget is unknowingly aided by his two sidekicks, his niece Penny and her dog Brain. Through their help, he always managed to somehow solve the case. The show itself seems to have borrowed elements from Get Smart, Mission: Impossible, and the Pink Panther series of films. Gadget is, or at least appears to be, a cyborg although I am uncertain if this is ever clearly addressed on the show. His body has been replaced by a series of “gadgets” that he can spring out from just about everywhere ranging from roller skates in his feet, a helicopter in his head, extendable limbs, and more as the plot of the week required. Often the humor would come from these gadgets not working quite right or having the wrong one come out at the wrong time. It’s probably better that we not think too much about this.

It’s hard to speculate on why DiC licensed an Inspector Gadget game in 1992, except that they may have been testing the waters for a new spinoff or a continuation of the old show. The Christmas special, released a few months after this game, may have served the same purpose. DiC was right to keep the property in the public eye as they have successfully launched four more Gadget television series, two live-action theatrical films, and two more direct-to-DVD animated films in the intervening years. Despite the title promising more missions, this appears to be the only Inspector Gadget adventure game produced. Previous titles included a 1987 action game and a 1991 coloring book game for young children.

Even these children of the Underworld are no match for Azeroth steel!

This particular game was developed and distributed by Azeroth, a small development house that had previously worked only on a Windows version of the board game Risk and a strategy game for the Atari ST. The company’s name preceded Warcraft by a few years and so is more likely to have been named for the Azeroth in C. J. Cherryh’s series of science-fiction books from the 1970s. I haven’t been able to find much detail at all about the company, in large part because of its soon-to-be-famous name, but it seems to have folded sometime after 1994. While the title suggests they had planned a whole Inspector Gadget series, this is the only one they released. After the company was folded, a number of team members ended up at Synergistic Software (soon to be the creator of the infamous Beverly Hillbillies game) as well as Humongous Entertainment, the post-LucasArts home of Ron Gilbert, maker of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion. I’m not sure what we can glean from that, but it’s good to know that many of the team members stayed in the industry.

This game was designed by Ken Hard and John Hartman, neither of whom had previous adventure game credits. Ken had previously worked on a number of sports games while this is John’s only game credit. They are joined by writers Mike Dungan, Kirt Lemons, Timothy J. Miller, and Bill Moss. Of those, only Mr. Lemons has an extensive bibliography of games before or after this one, although largely in the art department. He was one of the writers on the upcoming Beverly Hillbillies game.

The back of the box.

I haven’t been able to find a high-quality scan of the manual, but what I read sounds straightforward enough. This is explicitly a game for children, an “attractive alternative to some of the action games inundating the market.” The premise is that Dr. Claw has kidnapped six members of a special United Nations council on the environment. They have been replaced with robotic duplicates committing acts of ecological terrorism and it’s up to Inspector Gadget to rescue them. We find that we will be controlling Gadget’s niece, Penny, and her dog, Brain, during the adventure and will be able to switch between them at will. The rest of the manual describes a fairly standard interface except that we carry around an item, Penny’s Computer Book, that will provide us a few additional options to conduct research and contact Brain or the Chief. I’ll look at that more when I start the game.

There’s no opening cinematic here, just a fast start into Inspector Gadget’s living room. I also have no advice for guessing the score. Your guess is probably better than mine. There is nothing left to do but play!

Admittedly, the graphics look kind of nice...

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 20 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. I've never played this one, I'll go with 42

  2. I've played this. It was pretty simple and I assume it was probably meant for children. It is somewhat repetitive in its style, so I don't assume it will score high. Let's say 41.

    1. In its defense, US children's cartoons of the 1980s were also largely formulaic.

  3. also, the back of the box says Azeroth. I demand that you search for easter eggs of orcs saying "stop poooooking me !!!".

  4. I'll guess 38, but that's probably a little pessimistic given how some of my other guesses have turned out. Anyway, I'm not really a fan of the art style and that may be a factor too.

  5. I'll give it a guess of 45.

    I remember liking Inspector Gadget cartoons as a kid, and now I've got the theme tune in my head, so I will look forward to seeing how this goes!

  6. 43 for me. I don't know the game but I enjoyed the cartoon. In Spain the theme song was in french if I remember correctly.

  7. Can't imagine this being very good, but how knows? I'm going to be a bit tactical and guess 37, so I get the scores from there and down.

  8. Like many others I watched this show as a kid as well. Remember fondly the episode in Peru and Transylvania. Lucky for me most 80's show got reruns in the 90's when the Swedish television monopoly crumbled to dust.

    And the dice says... 9. Fate doesn't like this game it appears.

  9. I watched the show a little as a kid.

    My random guess says... 44, because all the other low 40s are taken