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Tuesday 30 June 2015


In the 1930s, Robert Ripley made a name for himself by travelling the world in search of cultural oddities for his Odditorium museum of curiosities. He became quite famous for his daily newspaper comic strips and airing live radios reports from strange far-off places like a snake-pit or a cavern. A true adventurer who would later be referred to as the 'Real Indiana Jones', he makes for an intriguing subject matter for a point n' click adventure game...

Before its sad demise in 1999 (though all game development ceased in 1996), Sanctuary Woods developed two classic and underappreciated adventures - The Riddle of Master Lu released in 1995 would be their first. You play as a fictionalised version of Robert Ripley, a suave globetrotter ever on the lookout for bizarre new stories. After an encounter with the titular Master Lu, he decides to go in search of the tomb of the First Emperor of China. The story is entirely fictional - the tomb better known as the Terracotta Army wouldn't be discovered until the 1970s - but the manual does an excellent job in discerning the fact from the fiction.

Twenty years down the line and I'm still impressed by the effort that's gone into the art and graphics. The romanticised backgrounds are beautifully drawn with environments that truly spark the imagination. They may not be photo-real but the many real-world locations you visit will certainly be recognisable and are often surprisingly accurate. The character sprites are rendered from recorded footage of actors but it doesn't jar with the settings like you would think. In fact, it compliments them perfectly. The actors are all dressed in period clothes usually saved for Agatha Christie adaptations and the way they interact with hand-created objects is smooth and seamless.

The only niggle I have with the way it looks is that the camera to zoomed out too far - a decision presumably made due to the technical limitations of the time. Going by this setup alone, the nuances and character ticks the script requires will be missed by many players. The designers cleverly overcame this by inserting close-up videos placed over the screen whenever a facial expression or emotion is required.

The puzzles are predominantly inventory-based and it does err on the difficult side. Despite the need to try everything, the fact that you can actually die makes experimentation less inviting. Thankfully most deadly situations are fairly obvious and if you do make a wrong move, you'll automatically be taken back to the beginning of the scene. There is a fair amount of pixel hunting going on too - a major no-no in my book - and the fact that there are a huge amount of hotspots makes finding the right item a bit taxing. I had to often resort to a walkthrough for this reason alone during my first run and I'm thankful I did.

Out of the whole adventure, what truly shines is the story. It's full of excitement and intrigue and everything from the actors (whose voice and likeness are played by different people), the script and the interactive game-play only adds to the experience. Like our hero, the designers sure know how to spin a good yarn.

Ripley's Believe it or Not! The Riddle of Master Lu is a truly great game. It may have some flaws but they are minor considering how of fun it is to immerse yourself into the world. Before Sanctuary Woods' financial troubles a sequel was being considered and I can only mourn what could have been. Robert Ripley is a worthy hero and deserves to be the subject of many more adventures. I live in hope.

To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included. Tested on Windows 7 and Windows 10.
  26.04.2017 - Version 2 - Changed fullscreen resolution to suit all desktops
  07.06.2023 - Version 3 - Now uses DOSBox-X 2023.03.31 (64-bit SDL2)
                                          Added Manual and Mini Player's Guide in PDF format
                                          Added a load of saves found in the MAN folder
                                          Specified cycles in config to fix Danzig Gardener bug

File Size: 271 Mb.  Install Size: 665 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


Ripley's Believe it or Not! The Riddle of Master Lu is © Sanctuary Woods
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

Like this? Try These...

Return of the Phantom  The Gene Machine  3 Skulls of the Toltecs


  1. this game have a problem with hd graphics 1920

    1. I'm not entirely sure what you mean, but I'm guessing it could be the zoomed in issue. Open the DOSBox .conf using notepad and change fullresolution to desktop (fullresolution=desktop). A lot of my earlier games had the specific resolution I use which can obviously vary from machine to machine. Change it to desktop makes it compatible to all.

      This and the solution to many other problems you might encounter are in my FAQ. Take a look there if you're still stuck.


  2. Hi! Very nice sharing, but unfortunately the game does not work on my laptop with Windows 10, I do not know why, It's too bad! Because I thought it would be the only version that will work on Win10 :(( Please help if you can :) The installation proceeds correctly, but when the game starts and a cursor appears on a black screen, the program is turned off - I do not have DOS BOX installed on my computer, can it be a problem? Regards!

  3. Yes that was the problem! :D I checked it. Everything is working now! Thanks for the great game from the years of my youth! :))

  4. I still own the cd that this game came on. Such an awesome game that I was going to play but never got around to back in the day. Now I can play it again.

  5. Absolutely fantastic! Thank you. Worked perfectly on Win 10.
    Just avoid the very first conversation with the gardener in Danzig, the famous glitch is still there and game will freeze during the conversation.

    1. But is it possible to finish the game without that conversation?

    2. I got to the same area and the game crashed when I talked to the gardener how are you supposed to finish the game without talking to him

  6. you are really doing god's work out here lol, its amazing the sheer number of games you've made accessible.

    i tried to configure DOS to run this myself, but i kept running into issues. so grateful i found it here!!

  7. Thanks for this fix! Tried to play my german and english originals in DOSBox but had random crashes (even after the gardener scene), but when I switched to your version I could finish it without crash.

  8. Hi there I start to play the riddle of master lu in the baron gardener the game freeze

  9. Athe riddle of master lu has a bug with baron gardener

    1. With research, this appears to be a cycles issue. Open dosbox.conf in notepad (or similar program) and change cycles = auto to cycles = 9050. I'm working on an update now which you can copy over SAVES.DIR and the .SAV files from HDD/RIDDLE folder should you wish to use it and keep your progress.

  10. Hi. As I remember it, besides the gardener bug there was another even worse near the end. When you enter the tomb of master Lu the game freezes. There is no way around the bug because it freezes while walking forward.
    Maybe messing with the CPU cycles helps (that's how I managed to talk to the gardener many years ago) but I couldn't finish the game because of that and never tried since.
    If anyone finished the game would be nice to know.

  11. Thank you for fixing the Gardener bug now I can return to this game and complete it