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Deja Vu: The Nightmare Comes True

1990 Mindscape



You wake up dazed in a dingy bathroom stall. There's a gun in your pocket, a dead man in your office, a fat lady in your trunk, and you can't remember who you are... welcome to Deja VU. You play detective Ace Harding as he attempts to recover his memory and unravel a plot to frame him for a kidnapping-homicide in the seedy streets of 1941 Chicago. Lots of breaking and entering, punching muggers, shooting alligators, and picking up random things ensues.

The game is a noirish murder mystery presented in via a first person point and click interface, the type of game where you slowly wander through various screens, picking objects up and trying to figure out where they go and how to use them. Such adventure games were very popular on home computers back in the day mainly because they were quick to program and didn't rely too heavily on specialized graphics hardware that tended to vary greatly from machine to machine. However these types of mouse driven adventure games generally do not translate well to home consoles, the main obstacle usually being lack of a decent interface. A game pad does not adapt to mouse controls easily. They either go with a full mouse type emulation (which usually sucks,) or make the game menu driven (which also usually sucks.)

In this particular case, the developers chose to go a hybrid mouse/menu route. When over the actual "playing field," the cursor takes on a mouse type functionality, while over the various verb choices it acts as more of a menu pointer. Surprisingly this works rather well for the most part. There are some areas where the speed of the "mouse" seems a tad inconsistent, luckily none of the screens rely on speed puzzles or anything of the like.

For those of you who have never played a game like this (what, did you like, actually go outside and stuff when you were a kid?) These types of games involve a series of "rooms," each that has some sort of puzzle to solve, most of which involve using one of any number of items obtained throughout the game (I always like how the main character in these games always seems to have infinite pocket space.) Usually the puzzles are pretty straightforward - use the key to unlock the door, take the medicine to counteract the poison, hit the wine bottle to open the secret passageway, etc. Of course there's always a few areas where you get stuck and you have to follow the ol' trial and error, try-every-item-until-you-get-it routine. Most of the puzzles in this game use logical sense however.

The game is rather slow - those of you who's definition of a murder mystery is crashing through a window and taking out a whole room full of Mafioso with a Tommy gun while dodging energy charged ninja stars thrown by flying reptile aliens are going to be disappointed. There isn't much in the way of action besides the aforementioned mugger and alligator encounters. Actually the game could use a little more tension. There are a few timed events - such as you eventually permanently losing your memory and going insane, however at no time is there ever a sense of urgency to any of your actions. For instance there's a fat lady in the trunk of your car - you would think it would be prudent to like, get her out of there before she woke up. But because of the type of game this is, she'll never actually wake up, she'll stay unconscious in the trunk for years on end if that's how long it takes. Just a tad bit unrealistic.

There are some small differences between this port and the DOS and Mac versions to make the game more kid friendly, such as the hypodermic needle has been replaced by "drug capsules," Sugar Shack the prostitute is just called a "Lady," the Large, beefy mugger who you actually kill has been removed, etc. For the most part everything else is present, the changes aren't so much that if you're familiar with one of the other versions you still would be able to play this one. Due to the nature of the game though once you beat it, then you've beat it. There is little to no replay value in these types of games.

A good port of an excellent adventure game. The interface can be a bit clunky until you get used to it, and the music tends to start driving you bonkers. A good story line and solid, logical puzzles that actually make sense mean that anyone should be able to figure it out within their lifetime.

Graphics: Decent, somewhat blocky graphics. Not much in the way of animation (in fact, there is next to none at all.) What is there is represented well.

Sound: Annoying music starts to get on your nerves after a while. Blagh.

Gameplay: Intriguing puzzles that actually have logical solutions unlike some games I could mention. However the game is extremely linear and has zero replay value.


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