Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective

Consulting Detective CD ROM
A Game on CD ROM
Reviewed by Narrelle Harris and Tim Richards

This game, available on CD for computers, is based on the role playing game of the same name. In it, you are given the background of some crime (usually a murder!) and you have to play Holmes and solve it in the shortest time possible, cutting to the heart of the matter in the least number of turns. You can consult The London Times, Holmes’ directory, the Baker Street Irregulars and a host of other resources including Porky Shinwell, Inspector Lestrade and Langdale Pike. Of course you can also interview other people connected with the crime, visit hotels and railway stations etc.

The CD ROM version retains all the complexity and fun of the original game. A lot of the fun of the computer version is in the filmed sequences which play on your computer screen as you interview suspects and talk to sources. These are live action sequences, not animation, and have been quite nicely done. The product, being American made, is full of American actors trying to do convincing British accents. They are mostly successful, but there are a few painful exceptions. The actor playing Holmes is actually very good - a little avuncular, but with a certain acerbity and wit. Watson is from the Nigel Bruce School of Bungling to some extent, but is still an engaging character. Sepia-tone illustrations are also used to give it a period feel.

The three games on the first volume are “The Mummy’s Curse”, “The Case of the Mystified Murderess” and “The Case of the Tin Soldier”. Each one is fairly complex but solvable - all the clues are there, if only you are observant enough to pick out the important ones from the red herrings! We found that it was important to peruse The London Times around the period of the crime as there was always some small but essential clue to be found there. Other sources such as the Baker Street Irregulars were less useful, but still produced hints from time to time. Holmes’ regular sources such as Shinwell and Pike were only helpful when the crime intersected with their sphere of influence, so it was important to consider whether they would be able to help before visiting them. We also found it imperative to take notes as you progressed to avoid losing track of names, dates and places.

It’s an older game, produced in the 1980s so you don’t need a very powerful computer to run it, and it is compatible with both PCs and Macs. Copies are still available in computer shops around Perth, often as part of a pack of three CD ROMs. Keep an eye out for them as they’re quite cheap. If you can’t find them in the shops (there are at least two other volumes of adventures) try writing to ICOM Simulations Inc, 648 South Wheeling Road, Wheeling IL 60090, USA. They may also have a site on the World Wide Web.

Overall, a fun game, if not as technically flashy as the modern generation of CD ROMs. Worth whiling away over a Sunday afternoon.

© 1997 Tim Richards and Narrelle Harris