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Thread: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

  1. #1
    ServBot (Level 11) Edmond Dantes's Avatar
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    Default Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

    So here's a game I bet a lot of you (especially Sega CD owners) have, but haven't played.

    The reason I say that is that at one time it was apparently a pack-in title, along with a compilation of Genesis games on CD (which is the edition I own, though I got mine secondhand). It also apparently exists for the Turbo CD and for PCs.

    So... I found out recently that apparently this game is based on a pen and paper game... I think. Actually the description that blog gives makes the physical book game sound like, in the blogger's own words, "A more involved Choose Your Own Adventure."

    I've never played that version, but I'm willing to bet that this digital game is an exact replication, just with FMV, because it plays similarly--basically, you're presented with three mysteries which you can play in any order, they all begin with a short movie, and then you have your choice of visiting people (or sending a Baker Street Irregular to pester them) or reading the London Times newspaper.

    I do wonder how well the mysteries transitioned though... I played the first one, "The Mummy's Curse," and one problem I had right off the bat is the game itself doesn't tell you what the date of the crime is (though this information IS in the manual). Turns out the most recent murder in this case happened near April 1889... but the case allows you to read newspapers from well into 1890! Which I feel is a bad choice as you're intended to start by reading a relevant Times article, but this wound up being one of the last things I did because I was chronologically confused and didn't think until late into my run to read the game's manual to narrow down a date.

    In fact, my first instinct was to visit Holmes' various contacts (that the game can tell you about in the introduction), and then visit any person whose name gets brought up. This wound up being a weird experience because at times Holmes and/or Watson would just casually drop a name that I myself haven't heard yet, giving me the feeling I was doing things out of order. But the game does nothing to stop you. This was actually a criticism back in the day... essentially the game only requires that you visit enough areas (and see enough FMVs) and then answer a quiz at the end, and I wound up "solving" the Mummy's Curse by brute-forcing said quiz.... and then learned in the ending sequence that I had missed the really obvious-in-hindsight logic that Holmes himself had employed.

    I'm sorry, Shinichi Kudo... I apparently learned nothing from marathoning your show.

    That being said.... I actually did enjoy my experience. Admittedly, as a video game Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective can rightfully be said to be lacking--the "gameplay" can come down to literally clicking places and watching FMVs (and I've heard of players who literally visit every name listed in the directory and brute-force the case that way)... this style probably made more sense in the original book-based edition... but at the same time, played the "proper" way, it really felt like a game that challenged my brain, not in an Adventure Gamey way where I'm just trying to figure out what item to use and where, but more just trying to put pieces together. It's probably the purest detective simulation that exists in gaming form because of the lack of proper "gameplay."

    ............

    So, a few random observations:

    .... I seem to have bad luck, as any time I get a copy there is always a "pinprick of death" somewhere on the CD. I would, just once, love to have a copy of this game that doesn't have such a pinprick (and also a copy that doesn't look like someone used it as a coaster).

    .... I'd be curious as to what, if any, differences exist between the Sega CD versions and the other releases. Chances are the only differences are higher-quality FMVs.

    .... You can apparently save your progress, but the mysteries can be beaten in less than a day unless you're slower than I am (and I'm pretty slow).

    .... There's a lot of Times articles and a lot of them are (I'm suspecting) just fluff, but that said I did catch bits that amuse me... there's apparently a personal ad from one "Bilbo Underhill," and in another there's a letter from someone who thinks its an affront to science that people don't take "the Challenger expedition which discovered an unknown land" more seriously. I imagine most people will get the former reference, but the latter is a deep cut (although fittingly, its a reference to another Sir Arthur Conan Doyle creation).

    ..... The London Directory is also fun. Unfortunately, in the first mystery at least, there is no special reaction to visiting the homes of Irene Adler or Mycroft Holmes.

    ..... So, let me talk about the FMVs... they kind of remind me of the Jeremy Brett version of Sherlock Holmes (the guy playing Holmes seems to be outright imitating Brett), although this game is played SLIGHTLY more campy, with a lot of Holmes' contacts having sort-of silly personalities. It's nothing too exaggerated though. Also, thankfully, Watson is played straight (just mentioning that for the sake of anyone afraid that they might do what the Basil Rathbone films did and make Watson an idiot).

    ..... Bit of a protip: There is no penalty for both sending a Baker Street Irregular to a place AND visiting the place in person... in fact the game almost expects you to do this. One guy whose name comes up, if you visit him in person, you'll get a generic placeholder "we got no information here" FMV, but if you send the Irregulars, it'll turn out the guy was murdered! I also saw one instance where the Irregulars fail to get info but going there in person triggered a story-advancing FMV. The moral? Always do both.

    .... Please take care of your Sega CD games.

  2. #2
    Alex (Level 15) Custom rank graphic
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    Default

    I actually have the PC version, and by memory I think I also own Volumes II and III as well. Few people seem to talk about the sequel games. I still haven't got around to playing them, they're packed with various other PC games. I believe I've had these games for over 10 years so far and just haven't got to them yet.

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    ServBot (Level 11) Edmond Dantes's Avatar
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    Honestly I almost would like to own the trilogy on PC, if only because Volume 3 never had a console release and because PC games tend to be more durable than CD-ROM console games (any time I've had a PC-CDROM that was bad it was still easy to image it).

    On a more general subject, apparently Japan has Famicom-exclusive Sherlock Holmes games, some of which have fan-translations, so that might be worth looking into.

    Sherlock Holmes should be required reading... I imagine if more people thought like the guy we'd have less problems in the world.

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    All of the individual cases from the first Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective game are also on Steam in 3 3-packs.

    I own almost all of board games and have played through about half of the cases in the first Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. They are fun, but very, very challenging and take a long time. The board game won the lauded Spier de Jahrs award for board games back in the 1980s. It has had some reprints over the years, but the translations are horrible. Get the originals if you want the board games. There also was a new release designed and released just last year called Sherlock Holmes The Baker Street Irregulars that was designed by a big Sherlock Holmes fan from the BoardGameGeek forums who has a master's degree in game design.

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