Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Many years ago, there was a truly terrible IF game called “Detective”. But that’s not really what’s important. What matters is what happened next. Inspired by the wonderful TV series Mystery Science Theatre 3000, currently returning to us via Kickstarter, another player set about first reimplementing the whole cursed thing… and then ripping the piss out of it, courtesy of TV’s Mike, Crow and Tom Servo.
You are still on the streets. To the north is a restraunt
MIKE: Uh, I think you mean “restaurant,” Matt.
where the mayor ate often. To the east is the Mayor’s home.
CROW: Hey, isn’t the street back to the east?
You are about to enter the restraunt when two guys jump you. They take your wallet and beat you a bit. Then you flash your badge and that riles them. Your body was discovered in a river 10 miles away.
MIKE: Man, that is one rough T.G.I. Friday’s!
It’s the perfect combination. Detective isn’t actually that bad as a game, by which I mean it’s about at the level of most peoples’ first dabblings with IF. The map makes no sense, the plot changes as the author completely forgets what’s come before, objects are baked into scene descriptions and so keep showing up even after you’ve taken them, and there’s a charming innocence to its view of how police work… well… works, even without the snarky commentary. You’re supposed to be investigating the murder of the Mayor before the FBI comes in to take over what mockingly passes for an investigation. But Detective isn’t a game that worries about the likes of ‘clues’.
You get admitance from the guy at the desk and go to the holding cells. You ask each offender if they know anything.
You promise a lighter sentance for the ones who help. But one guy really sets you straight.
“I got caught wit’ t’ree ounces o’crack. I’m supposed to get 20 years but I’ll be out in 2. You can’t make me talk cuz it don’t matter to me. If I squeal, da guys who did it are gonna come lookin’ for me. I know but I ain’t gonna tell ya. Now git outta my face.”
You are surprised but used to it.
But, playing along with Mike and the Bots is the closest you can get to a wingman both enjoying the ride and spotting the kind of thing you might have missed. Like for instance, this clue that the game literally pulls out of its ass near the end.
You are outside. It’s bitter cold and you pull your jacket around yourself. To the north is a nice, warm Holiday Inn hotel, where the killer is rumored to be staying.
CROW: Where did we hear THAT?!
Since MST3K Presents: Detective came out of course, there’s been many a video riff of weird, wonderful and terrible games, which are closer to the MST3K style in both style and spirit than this, an evolution of ‘MSTings’ of bad fan-fiction and the like – the most famous probably being Adam Cadre’s assassination of infamous fantasy flop The Eye of Argon. I’m still fond of this one though just for the interactive element of it, and the fun of finding new jokes and problems. The whole thing can be played online right here. Just be careful. The online viewer, Parchment, only allows one Undo, and there are a couple of moments where that can leave you in a stickier end than casually stumbling into the Murderer’s Lounge.
You are in the so called “Murderers Lounge”. Unfortunately, there ARE murderers here, and when you check around, they get angry. But, that’s life. Ya lose!
TOM: And that’s death.
CROW: But it’s nice to know that this city has establishments that cater exclusively to criminals.
MIKE: No weapon, no criminal record, no service!
But quite a few laughs. So that’s okay!