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Review by
Steve Cooke
(The White Wizard)

 

 
Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!
Perry Mason -
The Case of the Mandarin Murder
1985 Telarium Corp.
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the twelfth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: March 13th, 1986).
 
PERRY MASON -- THE
CASE OF THE MANDARIN MURDER

Telarium, 19.95 disk only
 

ust as I'd finished getting one up on my brothers in Amber, I found myself defending Laura Kapp in court. Telarium seem to be concentrating on adapting programs from well-known works of fiction at the moment and since Erle Stanley Gardner has always been one of my favourite writers, I was looking forward immensely to this 'interactive' version of one of his best-known books.


Like Nine Princes, Perry Mason comes on two disks in a smart package with plenty of documentation. Unusually, the instructions contain a complete vocabulary listing for the game, which tots up to nearly 800 words. Far from spoiling the fun, I found the listing a great help -- most of the puzzles in the program involve heavy brain-duty, and on these occasions the last obstacles one wants to overcome are those caused by a limited, or uncertain, vocabulary.

The plot of the game is perfectly straightforward. Your pal, Laura Kapp, has been arrested for murder. Hardly surprising, since she was found in a state of shock five inches from the gun that had just shot her husband. As good old Pee-Wee, you must take on her case and defend her in court. There are three ways out: either you fail, and she goes to the chair; you succeed in convincing the jury that she's innocent; or you get her off AND nail the real villain responsible.

The great strength of Erle Stanley Gardner's books lies in their meticulous (and well-Informed) descriptions of court procedures. Almost all his works end up in court and the reader is treated to a highly lifelike, and beautifully observed, courtroom sequence that ends with Mr Mason confounding everyone with his brilliant legal mind, and unmasking the truth for all to see.

Telarium's game obviously seeks to mimic this aspect of Gardner's work. Much of it actually takes place in court and the player has to indulge in some quite complex legal duelling. Luckily, the documentation that comes with game is pretty comprehensive and even includes a little 'lawyers' exam paper' for you to test yourself! Although it's strange at first, you soon find yourself cross-examining, raising objections and challenging witnesses in a way calculated to arouse the admiration of even the most hard-boiled jury.

Basically, whereas Nine Princes involves manipulating characters, The Mandarin Murder has you manipulating evidence -- and boy! Is there enough of it. You can visit Kapp's apartment to search his belongings, go to jail to question his widow, or just skip the whole investigation scene and go straight to court and start the trial.

Progress in the game is slightly fragmentary. You frequently have to 'press any key' to load in a new section (especially when moving between locations), but these interruptions are compensated by the sheer volume of material you have to sift through at each stage of your inquiry.

Aided by your faithful accomplice, Della Street, and your tame detective, Paul Drake, you should get quite a kick out of solving this mystery. The music and graphics are excellent, though again not quite up to Activision's standards. Definitely recommended to all whodunnit fans and frustrated lawyers alike.

 
Atmosphere 85%
Interaction 88%
Lasting Interest 87%

Value for Money

81%

Overall

87%
 


If you want a walkthrough, visit
Jacob Gunness
' Classic Adventures Solution Archive or
Martin Brunner's C64 Adventure Game Solutions Site

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (26 Apr 2004)
There were no screenshots in the original review.

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