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Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by a Scottish author. The character was famous for his powers of observation and deduction, which he used to solve any crime or mystery thanks to his keen eye for detail.
Holmes has been solving crimes here, there and everywhere for decades, as well as on the big screen. And now the famous detective has even begun to solve mysteries in the Nintendo DS.
Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Mummy is a game that was originally made for your PC but has been remade in order to be played on the DS. As it states in the title, there is a mystery to be solved involving a Mummy. But before you panic, this game is really not frightening but rather intriguing at times. The game was released in 2009.
The adventure is played out in the first person, so you step into the shoes of the character of Sherlock Holmes so you'd better pull on your thinking cap. As the game begins, you are informed about the mysterious death of an explorer. It soon becomes clear the deceased's daughter Elizabeth does not think the police can handle the case and so she hands it over to you, the experienced detective.
The scene then moves to a big manor house, where the rest of the game is set and its time to start looking for clues in order to find out the truth. The missing man was an Egyptologist and he has a lot of ancient Egyptian things around the manor, which is where the mummy comes into it.
The graphics are not entirely clear but good enough so that it doesn't jeopardise your enjoyment too much. At times the areas of the house are too dark but I suppose the game makers are trying to build an atmosphere.
Thanks to a 360 degree setting, you can explore the entire building although sometimes you are prevented from doing so when you come up against a locked door.
The controls are easy to get the hang of and you can move effortlessly between locations. Once in a room, you can use the stylus to explore the room and tap anything which you think look interesting or suspicious.
The game is shot as if you are looking through the eyes of Sherlock. As you go on your way you will locate hundred of clues using your tool kit which includes your trusty microscope. You will also need to solve numerous puzzles in order to gain access to new areas of the house or to reveal keys that will open new doors. And to prevent you from getting confused, you even have a little notebook in which to scrawl down your findings.
One of the problems with this game is that help is too readily available. I understand that there is nothing more frustrating than being stuck on a particular part of a game and therefore being unable to progress. However, this game basically gives you a walkthrough guide of everything that you need to do. I am quite impatient and although I like to try to complete games without help, this guide was too tempting and I referred to it almost all the way through. I think it's always better to earn your help such as in the Professor Layton games.
Due to the fact that I cheated my way through the game, it only took me a few days to complete it. The game comes in a variety of languages and is suitable for both adults and children alike. I bought mine from Tesco's for £15 but you will probably find it must cheaper, especially on Ebay or Amazon.
All in all, a pleasant game that won't need much brain power. It's enjoyable but forgettable once completed and it's not something I would ever replay. If you can get it at a cheap price, and you're not looking for something too challenging then you could give it a try. It probably won't turn out to be your new favourite game but it's enjoyable nevertheless if you enjoy solving mysteries.
As a fan of point 'n' click adventures, I was quite keen to get my hands on this DS title, even though reviews for it had not been the kindest. As ever, I approached it with an open mind to see what it offered.
The plot is fairly standard for both adventure games and Holmes mysteries. The famous detective receives a letter from a woman whose father has disappeared. Using all his sleuthing abilities, Holmes must uncover clues and solve puzzles to find the guilty party.
The name of Holmes is also clearly being used to sell the game, as outside of the main character, it has very little in common Conan Doyle's world. Watson barely appears and there are no appearances from other series regulars. Indeed, Holmes spends much of the game in splendid isolation with other characters only appear in cut scenes. This is not a game where you spend large parts of it trying to pick up clues from conversations with other characters.
It's also never going to wow you with its graphics or sound. Visually it's rather drab. There are only a few locations (all set within the mansion) and they mostly made up of dull browns and greys, with very little colour. True, this perfectly suits the slightly dingy atmosphere of the Victorian setting, but it doesn't really do a great deal for the eye. It can also make it tricky to spot items you need (particularly smaller ones) as they can disappear into the background. This does mean that you sometimes have to rely on the tried and trusted method of running your stylus over every inch of the screen to see if there is anything you should be paying attention to.
There are a number of cut scenes which are really quite poor. Featuring dubiously animated characters and dodgy scrolling, they are not a great showcase for the DS's abilities. Thankfully, they are relatively limited and whilst they don't particularly add anything to the game, neither are they too intrusive.
They can be slightly cheesy and unrealistic. In one, for example, Holmes observes a mummy suddenly appearing behind him. Now most people would either: a) run away screaming or b) follow the mummy to see what was going on. Holmes' response? To say "hmm. That's strange", before ignoring it completely!
Sound-wise, things are even worse. A grating and repetitive tune constantly assaults your ears. It is neither spooky nor appropriate to the period in which the game is set, so adds nothing to the atmosphere.
Worse, the game is populated by some pretty low quality "speech" (the DS isn't really powerful enough to do large amounts of dialogue) and the voice acting is abominable. Holmes has an awful nasal upper-class cockney accent, which is so poor that Dick Van Dyke instantly becomes a contender for Best Accent Ever. The other voices are just as bad and seem to have been recorded by people who have learned English through really bad 1930s films on a TV where the reception kept conking out. Thankfully, all speech is reproduced on screen as text, so I played through this entire game with the sound turned off. Trust me; your ears will thank you.
Still, it's game play that counts for most and here, at least, Holmes has something to offer. It might not be the best example of its genre and has a slightly old-fashioned feel to it, but it did keep me interested.
Puzzles are not particularly challenging. Progression is mostly achieved through finding objects and then using them in the correct place. This does make it quite a simple game and experienced adventurers will not take long to complete it. At the same time, at least it's not one of those games where you spend ages stuck on a particular puzzle unable to get any further.
Puzzles are also pretty logical and, providing you have found the right tool for the job, make sense. It's not one of those stupid games where you have to give the white rabbit a tip whilst standing on one leg balancing the Wicked Witch of the West on your left hand whilst standing in a bucket of cold custard singing the Marseillaise. The chances are if you find a locked door, you'll find a key somewhere to unlock it, and that's it. There's also a well designed help system to give you hints if you really get stuck, without ruining the game. This makes the game accessible to everyone, not just those with seriously warped minds who can think around corners.
Some of the tasks are a little nit-picky requiring you to complete the various steps in a pre-determined order when, in fact, there is no logical reason why step 3 can't be done before step 1. This can be frustrating as you have to keep experimenting to find precisely the correct sequence of actions before you can solve the problem.
Like many aspects of the game, the control system has a number of niggles which are mildly annoying but don't ruin it. Confusingly, the default icon is an eye, (in most adventure games this is the icon for examining objects). If you want to move to a new part of the room, you have to move the stylus over the screen until it changes to an arrow and then tap the screen. This can be a little finicky, requiring pixel perfect placing of the stylus before it changes. With practice, though, you soon begin to spot where the likely movement points are, so this ceases to be an issue.
The rest of the controls are context sensitive and generally logical (don't bother with the tutorial; it makes the game sound far more complex than it is). Find an object which can be picked up, for example, and the cursor changes to a grabbing hand; if it's an item you can interact with, it changes to a spanner. As noted above, this does mean you can be reduced to moving your stylus over everything to see when the cursor changes, but this is a weakness of the genre, not this particular game.
A nice touch is that you have a virtual notepad to record ideas which are accessible at any time. At first I thought this was a bit of a gimmick, but actually it's quite useful. You will come across some objects which are essential to later progress, but which you might have forgotten about by the time you need them. Being able to scribble a quick note for yourself (using the stylus as a pen) is a great idea and removes the need for you to have a real notepad to hand.
Holmes is not quite the disaster I was led to believe. It's a shame a little more care wasn't paid to the presentation because you do feel it could have been so much better. It also lacks any sort of long-term replay value; once you've completed it you're unlikely to ever play it again. Then again, it's not particularly expensive. It can be picked up new for around £10 online and for that sort of price, it's worth buying if only to tide you over until the next really great point 'n' click DS adventure comes along.
© Copyright SWSt 2010