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BLUE HEAT: THE COVER GIRL MURDERS

The first erotic CD-ROM to feature high-quality graphics and gameplay!

You get to expose the crime!!! Beautiful Holly Jacobson, an L.A.P.D. Detective, must go under cover to catch a serial killer who is preying on the sexy models and cover girls of L.A. Erotica Magazine. Meet the steamy erotic dancers who reveal their innermost sexual secrets to you!
  • A stellar cast that includes: Rick Rossowich ("E.R", Top Gun), Elliott Gould (M*A*S*H), Corbin Bernsen ("L.A. Law"), Courtney Taylor, Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas) and Julie Cialini (Playboy 1995 Playmate of the Year)
  • Seven engrossing levels of game play
  • Immersive 360 degree photo-realistic environments comprised of more than 5,000 digital pulse-racing photographs
  • Fully interactive interviews composed of more than 2 1/2 hours of footage by a major Hollywood studio
  • Over 30 hours of interactive gameplay
~ from the back of the box

Orion Pictures, formed on the back of disgruntled employees of United Artists in 1978, gave us some cinematic masterpieces before their eventual demise in 1999. Movies like The Silence of the Lambs, Amadeus and Dances with Wolves earned them critical clout while it was First Blood, RoboCop and The Terminator that endeared them to the multiplex masses. Despite these successes, their foray into game publishing happened almost by accident.

Blue Heat, developed by the newly formed Californian-based software house Quarium Inc, was first announced in late 1996 among a spate of titles to be published by Cyberdreams of Dark Seed fame. Alongside the FMV adventure game, a first-person shooter named Ares Rising and a horror game called Wes Craven’s Principles of Fear were mentioned as part of an ambitious plan to become a third-party publisher, but it proved too ambitious and the company responsible for I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream folded in early 1997. Principles of Fear was permanently shelved while the Imagine Studios’ Ares Rising was published in-house.

Head to the police station to witness Elliott Gould
pondering on life, the universe and his shopping list.

The almost complete Blue Heat was left scrambling until a series of company merges and purchases lead to the formation of Orion Interactive. Basically, a company called Metromedia went on a shopping spree buying up companies who had filed for bankruptcy. This included Orion Pictures and another production house called the Motion Picture Corporation of America (MPCA for short). The MPCA just so happened to have their own interactive division that was responsible for the risible BloodWings: Pumpkinhead’s Revenge so you can understand their dire financial situation. More importantly, they also had a tangential hand in the development of Blue Heat itself. So, Orion Interactive was born and after testing the waters shortly after the merger with Sonic’s Schoolhouse in October 1996, they took over the publishing rights from Cyberdreams and put out their only other game 11 months later – Blue Heat.

Blue Heat: The Case of the Cover Girl Murders is perhaps a better fit for Orion’s movie-making identity than an educational title based on another company’s super popular property. It is a decidedly adult affair, being a psychosexual neo-noir tale taking inspiration from the likes of Basic Instinct, Body Double or Body of Evidence. It is a point-and-click FMV adventure starring recognisable faces such as Elliot Gould (Ocean's Eleven, The Long Goodbye) and Paul Sorvino (Dick Tracy, Romeo + Juliet) as well as some low-res nudity to serve the M-rated certificate proudly slapped on the box. It was made in conjunction with a little-known movie called Cover Me from 1995. It's little-known for a reason, but those cheap sets and stilted direction work best in the context of a game where awkward pauses are the norm as the player chooses the next line. You can tell more effort - and time - went into this game.

Video evidence and recorded interviews can be viewed at any time on your trusty PDA.

In the seedy Los Angeles streets, girls featured on the cover of LA Erotica Magazine are turning up dead, and all signs point to a serial killer. You play as Detective Holly (played by Courtney Taylor whose voice and likeness can still be widely found in the videogame industry) who has been instructed by Elliott Gould’s Captain Richard to go undercover as a model for the titillating magazine. Your role will include posing for nude photos, but don’t forget to gather evidence and pass it on to the lab for processing while doing so. The outcome of the game is determined by it.

Most of the evidence is collected at crime scenes which will be sent to the lab or added to your electronic PDA device along with any potential suspects you might run into. You have to cross them off by finding alibies or highlight them by linking incriminating evidence. This is done as soon as you find evidence by bringing up your motive/alibi screen while looking at said evidence. While a tad cumbersome in execution, this mechanic forces you to put two-and-two together without much in the way of hints – that random restaurant receipt rules out one character while a nasty note points to another. You can’t just think it, though. You have to be on top of that receipt or fingerprint to log it correctly and if you don't, it's as if you'd never found it. While I liked keeping track of all of the clues in this way, it is very easy to miss or misconstrue what you're seeing, leaving vital information in the past.

The same can be said for verbal clues. You get the opportunity to interview several characters and suspects but you have to be careful not to derail the conversation. How you approach them determines what type of information you can glean from them and what will be locked away forever. A chat can go bad by being rude, overly flirtatious or simply by following the wrong line of reasoning that prevents you from talking about another. Most of the time a friendly yet curious approach does the trick, but there are times when a forceful attitude is needed. Take a look at the text responses to gauge what mood Holly will be in.

If you find a motive, like a hand-written death threat, make sure to log it in your PDA.

Once you get the hang of how the game plays, the story flows along quite nicely. Its twists and turns surprise while the adult subject matter isn’t treated as vulgar as you might expect. The male gaze is very much present, but it is mitigated somewhat by having you play a woman making some of the scenarios you find yourself in less creepy than they might otherwise be. Apart from those who meet a grisly end, the topless models are for the most part treated with respect, going so far as to include a sub-plot where the talent have agency in how their depicted, repelled by any insinuation otherwise.

Ultimately, Blue Heat is a rather neat detective adventure game with some interesting concepts and a thrilling mystery at its core. It didn’t sell well, as evidenced by it being Orion Interactive’s only wholly-published game, with its parent company dissolving two years later in 1999, but that shouldn’t mean Blue Heat was a bad game. Just a little mistimed.
 

To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses the DOSBox Daum build of DOSBox 0.74 running Microsoft Windows 3.1 to get the game working on modern systems. Manual included. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 1.56 Gb.  Install Size: 2.44 Gb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

WARNING:
This game is not suitable for kids. It is rated M by the ESRB which is equivalent to a PEGI 18+. User discretion advised.

Download


Blue Heat: The Cover Girl Murders is © Orion Pictures Corporation
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me


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10 comments:

  1. Thank you! Sounds just like my thing :)

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  2. I don't see the exe to start the gamw

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    Replies
    1. It should be Run.bat (or Run.exe) from the install folder (default "C:\Games\Collection Chamber\Blue Heat")

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    2. I see the uninstaller but not a run bat/exe. :(

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    3. Sounds like a bad install/download. Try downloading it again (all 4 files are needed) and re-install.

      Delete
  3. It should be noted that there is a fatal flaw with the OEM game. One of the video files on the disk is corrupt and will crash the game. The corrupt portion of the video is at the very end, so you can listen to most of it before it crashes. You can click to skip before the video ends to avoid the crash. They never updated the game or provided a patch to fix this.

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  4. Thanks for the info Biffman. I did re-download and install...it works now. Thanks for this game btw !

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  5. Thanks for a very interesting review. Your investigation of the twisting paper trail of its inception is almost a neo noir of its own - it's just missing a murder and a dame in need!

    The game also sounds interesting, almost an early ancestor of the Ace Attorney series, or perhaps more accurately L. A. Noire - while the A.A. games keep the player tightly on rails, the latter plays the formula more loosely, allowing you to screw up conversations and investigations in a way that seems familiar to your description of Blue Heat. This extra autonomy (up to and including allowing the player to fail irrecoverably) is potentially more immersive, but often more frustrating, as it is arguably just giving you enough of the proverbial rope. Shades of the LucasArts vs Sierra philosophies of adventure gaming here, perhaps.

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  6. Wow! What a day to be alive, gentlemen, what a day!

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