Saturday, 23 January 2016

CLUEDO (CLUE)


Out of all of the classic board games stored away in the spare room, Cluedo (or simply Clue to some) gets dusted off more than most in my household. It's a game that relies on skill and reasoning more than blind luck (of which I have none) and it certainly tickles your inner Poirot or Miss Marple. In 1994, Hasbro Interactive decided to bring the game to Panasonic's ill-fated CD-i system, and in doing so, set the wheels in motion for something drastically different with the license.

There were two games on the CD-i, each with three different stories (of which there are four variants), but it's the 1996 Windows port that I remember playing. While the video technology couldn't compete with a system designed around this premise, what we got was nevertheless a far superior game in my opinion. The original slavishly followed the formula of the board came, complete with a digital representation of the board while the Windows version went a completely different route with a style of game-play that feels more like an adventure game than anything else. In fact, the only thing that wasn't improved upon or altered is perhaps the video themselves. While the CD-i was capable of high-quality, full-screen FMV that took up less CD space, the PC port relies on low quality Quicktime movies that take up a quarter of the screen.

Of the six original tales, three were given the PC treatment, one from the first game and two from the second. The variations for each difficulty remain so in total there are 12 mysteries to solve. I expect the plan was to develop a sequel that would include the remaining stories but I guess the fates transpired against them. What we do have is a trio of fun mysteries with good, deliberately hokey acting and one of the few such games where I actually want to hunt out and witness all of the videos.

Each mystery begins with an introduction from the butler played by Terence Harvey (apparently the go-to TV butler of the 80s and 90s) who'll guide us on our investigation. Like the board game, it's Mr Boddy, the mansion's patriarch, who'll be the victim but you won't know who did it until you tally up all of your clues, including some that are not found in the original. The stories play out like an episode of Murder She Wrote with an impressive cast of actors. You may still recognise Mrs. White (Joan Sims) from the Carry On films but the rest are relatively unknown unless you're a connoisseur of British TV in the 90s. David Healey's presence as Professor Plum was something of a selling point in his final role, but it appears his most significant performances were on the stage.

After the introduction, we're transported into the large house, ready to explore. You view this in the first-person 7th Guest style which makes for a welcome change to the bland original which stuck to the board game look. It may be just me, but this mansion creeps me the hell out. As first I was unsure why but then I realised -  there's no front door! The entrance can't be it as this is a centralised room, surrounded by corridors. You're trapped wondering the impossible hallways like some kind of purgatory witnessing the same man get murdered over and over again. I shiver just thinking about it.

There are no dice rolls in this game. In fact, a person's turn ends once they've reached a room. Not only does this make the game faster, but it also means that single player can be just as fun. The rooms are given a graphical overhaul too. Originally they were static photographs which scrolled left and right but here they're an impressive CGI creation that can spin around as you search each room for clues. In fact, interactive spots will actually glow as you do so, which is perhaps a blessing considering these segments are rather pixellated - a necessity evil for the limited 1996 tech. Each room will have an exit which glows green, a red bell and a blue grandfather clock. The clock will play a short scene taking place in the room which can reveal some interesting twists. If you're ready to accuse someone, click on the bell and select your triangle of evidence. You can also talk to any person present or hunt for more clues, which will glow a feint white.

You have to keep an eye on what you find, as these will be imperative to solving the riddle (and escape purgatory?) but there's little incentive to play through them again. Once you've completed a story, the outcome is always the same. Kudos should be given for changing things up for each difficulty setting, but it's not random like the board game.

I should also mention how difficult it was to get this running on modern systems. The Windows 3.1 emulation on DOSBox isn't strong enough to play the game as intended, but it's still entirely playable. If you ignore the error that comes up, the only problems you'll encounter is in the frame-rate in the mansion's corridors. The videos, menus and rooms are all fine, but you will get slowdown if you upscale it to a higher resolution than the recommended 640x480. It took a lot of tinkering to get it to run as it is, but it's better than nothing.

Even with the technical issues, I had a lot of fun with Cluedo, and would perhaps call it one of the better FMV games out there. Get your sleuthing on and give it a go yourself.


To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses the DOSBox Daum build of DOSBox 0.74 running Windows '95. Tested on Windows 10.


IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting DOSBox. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Press Ctrl-F9 when it is safe to do so. 
  17.09.2016 - Version 2 - Changed emulated operating system from Windows 3.1 to Windows '95
                                         This minimises crashes and bugs that mey occur
  26.04.2017 - Version 3 - Now uses IDE emulation to mount ISOs

Download


Clue / Cluedo is © Hasbro Interactive
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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Atmosfear: The Third Dimension  Star Wars Monopoly  Ripley's Believe it or Not: The Riddle of Master Lu

15 comments:

  1. Hi there,

    I wanna grab the opportunity to thank you for some great retro pleasures you've given to me by this wonderful site of yours. So far, the herein featured classic "Clue" captured my attention, together with the sophisticated "Ceremony Of Innocence" and the not less ambitiously "The Gene Machine" which I had a soft spot for since its release in 1996, but didn't have the PC horsepower with my 486-33 at that time. By the way, I'm still flirting with the idea to get another one of your wonderfully executed, pre-installed games which is known by its title "Return Of The Phantom"... :-)

    I also enjoy any of your descriptions that comes in combination with all those glorious games and names of the golden 1990s' era, as it brings back so many precious memories from my youthful days. Well, I must say that I found your site by chance, and - oh my gosh! - what a lucky guy I am! :-)

    So keep up your magnificent project that I regard as a jewel within this big wide web world we're getting our minds into day by day. Good to have found you!

    With best thanks from Germany,
    Thomas

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    1. Thanks Thomas. I'm glad you like them.

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  2. You're my new favorite person! I love everything Clue(do), especially this old CD-Rom gem. I used to be able to play it on my parents' Windows XP desktop (yay, compatibility mode), but that machine has long since bit the dust, and no newer computer has been able to run the game at all. So glad I've stumbled upon your blog! I'm looking forward to enjoying this game again, and perhaps discovering some other titles to enjoy as I dig deeper into your "chamber." Thanks for all your hard work reviving these old games!

    -- Sam

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I appreciate it. Gonna have some new stuff up later today after some busy months.

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  3. Hi:
    I purchased this game years ago and loved it. been trying to find it again for years to play again.
    your link takes me to 4shared to download, but when I click to download any of the files it brings me to a countdown page starting at 60 seconds, but the counter never counts down and I am stuck. Please give me detailed instructions if you can so that I can enjoy this classic Gem again.
    Thank you so much
    -Jesse

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    Replies
    1. Jesse:

      Does the same page you mention above show an option for a manual download without the 4Shared downloader?

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    2. You don't need the 4Shared downloader to download from this site, though its layout is a little confusing. From the link, click on the individual files wich will take you to a 20 second countdown.

      If you join 4Shared with a free account, you can download all files at once in a B1 compressed file (a bespoke file system similar to zip), though this is probably more complicated than it's worth.

      I'm thinking of adding a FAQ for questions such as these.

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  4. Hi there! Thank you for all the hard work in making this game available!

    I seem to have run into a bug playing the game on Windows 8. I can enter the rooms, no trouble, but it seems when I try to do anything that would take me out of the module for looking at the room, the game locks up. Music continues to play, but I can take no action.

    I know this is an old game, and it's obviously a butt to get to work on modern systems, but if you or anyone else can provide support for this issue, it would very much be appreciated. Thanks!

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    1. Hello Brad. This was definitely a tricky one to get working, and isn't particularly the most stable on my site. That being said I was still able to complete many scenarios, with only a few annoying niggles along the way.

      While there are still many errors present (it can crash randomly) I'm having difficulty replicating what you're describing. Does any error messages pop up at all? Can you describe what room it occurs in, what scenario you're playing and what action your trying to make (eg talk to someone, investigate).

      You may want to look at the .cong files (named 1.conf - 3.conf) and replace output=overlay to output=ddraw. It might give you a better performance.

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    2. Hey Biffman! Thanks for the fast response! :)

      Unfortunately, no error messages appear that I can see. It may be possible that I do not know how to view the error message if it is appearing in the Windows 3.1 virtual system.

      I'm playing Deadly Patent as one player on Expert difficulty. In the two times I have played, both times I have been able to manifest the bug by going into any room, interacting with a photographic object in the room, then trying to speak with a suspect or leave the room. In both cases, the screen does not dissolve like I have seen on YouTube footage; instead, the game sits there frozen, with only the mouse movement responding.

      I'll give the configuration changes you have suggested a try, and I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks!

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    3. I have managed to replicate the issue but it appears to only happen in expert mode only. Playing on the other three difficulty setting (which are linear, removing the randomness) seems to work as well as I could get it before. Perhaps the code used to randomize the rooms and clues cause a conflict.

      This game (along with most others) uses DOSBox 0.74, the last stable build which is quite old now. I've managed to solve the problem with the most recent daily build. These can be unstable and prone to issues which is why I don't tend to use them but I've played on Expert for about an 1/2 hour now with no issues. I'll update the download when I have time.

      In the meantime, you can download the daily build here (I used 9th September)

      http://www.emucr.com/search/label/DOSBox

      Place everything from inside the 7zip file in the main install folder and replace duplicate files. Rename doxbox.exe to Run.exe. You may need to run it blind first to accept any admin issues.

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    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    5. Magnificent! Hard to believe that you were able to recreate, troubleshoot and offer a resolution to the issue within two days! Thank you so much! It may be a few days until I am able to try this out, but I am definitely looking forward to it.

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  5. Thank you for your 26.04.2017 update. Downloading it now.

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    1. You're welcome. Nothing much has really changed beyond the way a CD is mounted. It is now done through IDE emulation by DOSBox instead of CloneCD under the eulated OS. It might improve speed for some.

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