Just an immediate note before this all gets started. This here game is something I bought on a non-recommendation. It’s a game I continued to play through despite said non-recommendation. This review has also taken the longest to write of any I have yet written for RGG…So what’s the result? Guess you’ll have to read on, reader!
The early 1990’s was a time of fresh, big ideas and innovations. It was a creative time that pushed technology to its logical brink in terms of home entertainment and was a period that paved the way for much of what we hold dear in the here and now in some form or rather. One thing from this period was the explosion of the CD-ROM format. What came with CD’s? Capability for ‘Full Motion Video’, of course! All in the home and for a relatively reasonable price than what you’d find with similar, though superior, mediums. This is a review for one of more ‘popular’ titles of the period. This is a review for Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective on the Sega Mega-CD!
This ‘classic’ from ICOM Simulations wasn’t initially developed for the MCD, oh no – it got its start in life elsewhere, on the FM Towns, before getting ported to pretty much everything that could handle it: DOS, TG-CD, CDTV, etc. Debuting in 1991, it was also later re-released on DVD, then a third time round for iOS (iPad), OSX and Windows more recently. It’s a title that wont stay dead, that’s for sure. Think of it as RoboCod of the FMV world, so to speak. Essentially a single player adventure (of sorts), that blends all the obvious point-n-click, puzzle and interactive movie elements one might expect from a Holmes game in FMV form. ICOM as a company are a mixed bag kinda studio, having mainly focused their efforts on microcomputers in the 80’s, developing games like Déjà vu and Shadowgate, before petering off and dabbling in various licensed games such, with Looney Tunes and Beavis And Butthead being the clear preferences, mainly due to the Viacom New Media buyout. Nowadays the ICOM rights sit with a company known as Zojoi which itself was founded by former ICOM developers. Phew. But yeah, there’s some history for you, at least…
But, now the game itself. Although once hailed for its ‘ground-breaking’ use of multimedia, which I can surely appreciate from a historic point of view, how it sits in the current nostalgia market may not produce such as strong praise from the perspective of sheer playability. Quite frankly, it’s dull as all heck. Perhaps fans of low-rent Sherlock Holmes productions will get a healthy kick out of it, but unfortunately not this reviewer. Instead, it remains a point of contention and an example of buyer’s remorse. Having revelled in titles such as the uber-schlocky Night Trap and Double Switch, the brain-dead fun come brilliance that is Mad-Dog McCree and Ground Zero Texas…It really doesn’t hold up. Again, at least, for this reviewer.
The core gameplay, not surprisingly; is all about gathering up as many clues as possibly to present to a judge so you can be all “yes yes, I am Holmes, I am the best” and get a score result from Watson. Literally that’s the whole game. You do this, of course, with a quasi-point-n-click interface, as you rummage through the papers, go and chat to people and visit locations and of course you have to smack those little blighters known as the Baker Street irregulars to do your dirty work. It’s what kids are for, after all. The interface/menu system isn’t particular difficult to traverse, nor is it the most intuitive in its design, either. But it’s all a means to an end, so you can get the ‘pay-off’ of seeing another FMV clip, or at the very least a sound sample playing over a still image. Fun, fun!
Each mission begins with a cut scene the player is supposed to pay attention to, due to clues and…SNORE! Yeah. Again, you may enjoy it, I dunno. But one things for sure, it’s not campy enough to be, well, camp. Nor is it “blow me away” awesome to the point of being ridiculously impressed. It’s just, there…Sure, versions outside the Mega-CD port have superior video quality, so if that really is your thing then perhaps this tested version isn’t the one for you. Alas, one doth assume such sequences will be the same regardless. Mock Victorian-London accents running rampant and doing your head in. Ugh.
In terms of plotting, it’s freaking Sherlock Holmes, what the heck do you expect, son!? Yeah. But, they were kind enough to give you three possible missions from the off. I say from the off, you don’t unlock more, so nerr. But yes – The Mummy’s Curse, Tin Soldier and The Mystified Murderess. I could look up whether or not these are actual Sherlock stories, but after playing the game I really, really couldn’t be bothered in the slightest. I apologise for my lacking in journalism on this one. Or not. I guess the biggest pro of the title is its A/V, which are to a decent standard. Graphically speaking it's surely a 10/10, for it is after all...Real life.
How does it all play though!? Pretty much as I said. You point, you click, you read, you watch, you repeat. It’s repetitive, it’s dull and it’s frustrating in its pure boringness. That’s it. How does it sound!? Sounds like a dozen young souls being crushed by somebody buying them this game for Xmas one year. Seriously, Olly, why you hatin’? Haters gonna hate. I don’t like this game.
Watch the YouTube playthrough that will likely be embedded alongside this review. That’s what it looks sounds like, that’s also exactly what it plays like. You don’t have to play the game to play the game. Simples. It is what it is. Not only do I retain that buyers and indeed players remorse over this title, I also regret agreeing beforehand to review it. Even more so, I now regret delivering said review to you, the RGG readers. Perhaps it should have been saved simply for Transbot, or someone else could pop along who actually enjoys it rather than wanting to cleverly place nails between their toes to force them to sit at a desk to type this all up. One thing I did notice while writing, is the name. Ingeniously titled Consulting Detective. So basically it's Sherlock Holmes CD. Oh, ICOM. You sneaky fuckers!
Just remember…I never meant to be so bad to you. One thing I said that I would never do. A look from you and I would fall from grace…And that would wipe the smile right from my face... It was the heat of the moment.
PS: Sequels were made.
Verdict:- My verdict is to avoid this. Unless you’re desperate to have it in your collection, or truly are curious.
I shall fill the rest of my time by playing Bubsy 3D. It’s more entertaining. Failing that there's always shooting myself in the face or watching paint dry, both way more fun!
Second Opinion:- Transbot loves Sega, he has after all defended it and it's fans from harm for countless years however if all the games that came out on it's many fine systems were like this Transbot would have buggered off years ago.
To say this Conversion of a PC game was poor would be the understatement of the decade, it's frankly so poor that if you found it under a bus shelter you would stop and give it your spare change.
It's pieces of garbage like this that put so many people off buying a Mega CD / Sega CD in it's early days. FMV is as always awesome but the other stuff around it hurts my robot face! Get away from me game, you are an insult to a machine I love so very much and gaming in general... NO!
Transbot Scores:- 2 out of 10