Archaeologist SongBoth the CD and the disk version of Dagger of Amon Ra feature a digitized song, a cheeky one-minute ditty in Charleston style called Archaeologist Song. It is one of three pieces that play in the seedy Harlem speakeasy in Act 1, and is repeated in the ending credits.
The tune was composed by Chris Braymen, who also plays the trombone in the song. The other performers are Sierra’s sound designers Dan Kehler (bass) and Mark Seibert (guitar); the singer is Susan Kehler. The Dagger of Amon Ra’s producer/designer Bruce Balfour contributed the lyrics. They go as follows (transcript by Danelope):
The Archaeologist Song
I want to marry an archaeologist
And keep his artifacts warm
I'd travel with him through jungles and deserts
And weather out every storm
If he wants me to, I'll burrow and dig
On burials small and castles big
Oh, I want to marry an archaeologist
What a marvelous gig
Mummy would love him and Daddy too
We'd be famous and well-to-do
Oh, I want to marry an archaeologist
Then I could boop-e-doo, swahoo
I could boop-e-doo, ooh
We'd play peek-a-boo
You can listen to the Archaeologist Song over at Queststudios.com.
BrontosaurusThe Brontosaurus painting's commentary in the T-Rex room gives the story of a controversy between Othaniel Marsh and Earl Douglas about which kind of head the Brontosaurus had. "Only time, and more fossil evidence, will conclusively prove which of these esteemed gentlemen is correct", ends the description, accurately staying within the frame of knowledge of a 1926 museum.
For curious players, here's what time has proved: Douglas had been right; all Brontosaurus displays of the period featured the wrong kind of head. It took almost fifty years until the problem was settled in 1975.
CD versionThe CD conversion of The Dagger of Amon Ra makes use of several Sierra staff members for the voiceovers, including some not involved with the game’s production – such as Gabriel Knight mastermind Jane Jensen (playing a lewd flapper) or Scott Murphy of Space Quest fame. Both the game’s producer Bruce Balfour and writer Josh Mandel feature heavily in the cast, Mandel lending his voice to as many as five characters. Other notable guest voices: Lead programmer Brian K. Hughes as a bartender and supporting writer Lorelei Shannon (later co-designer of King’s Quest 7) as street urchin Stinky.
Besides adding voice-overs for all game characters including the narrator, the CD version removes the copy protection, cuts the taxi rides short (which last as long as the ride music in the disk version) and solves a few minor bugs.
CoverThe woman posing on the front of the game's box was actually Sierra's desk receptionist at the time. Roberta Williams said she found it cute when people asked where they had seen her before. In the game Laura Bow has red hair but on the box cover she is a brunette.
DeathsThere are numerous ways to die in The Dagger of Amon Ra. All of them are represented by a unique animation, some well worth seeing:
- Walk on the street in any of the New York locations
- Use your press pass on the speakeasy door
- Walk down the stairs to the basement without replacing the broken lightbulb
- Take the cheese from the rat trap in Wolf Heimlich’s office
- Stir the alcohol vats three times in a row
- Enter any secret passage without the lit lamp
- Open the steamer trunk in the storage room and wait for too long
- Be bitten by Dr. Myklos’ snake
- Be caught by the murdered in Act 5
- Fail to solve the riddle of Amon Ra at the cult ceremony
- Open the furnace door in the basement
- Fail to chase the snakes or the rats away in the tunnel from the furnace room
- Enter the left doorway at the top of the tunnel from the furnace room
- Leave the T-Rex room while being chased by the murderer
- And finally, of course: Fail to solve the case at the coroner’s interrogation!
DevelopmentIn the manual for the Roberta Williams Anthology, Roberta Williams writes about The Dagger of Amon Ra:
The writing and puzzle designs for Laura Bow II were handled by Bruce Balfour. It was my job to make sure the feel of The Colonel’s Bequest and The Dagger of Amon Ra remeined consistent. I wanted to make sure Laura Bow was the same person who would respond in the same way. I was involved from the beginning, working on characters, art, style, and the look and feel of the game. Then Bruce took over. It was a rewarding experience; I was freed from the huge time commitment to manage every single detail of the project, and I was delighted with the fresh ideas Bruce brought the game. By the way, on the box cover, we asked our receptionist Lisa Crabtree to pose as Laura Bow. It was kind of cute how visitors would sometimes ask where they’ve seen her before.
GagsHere are some fun things to try in the game:
- Touch everybody.
- Talk to the fossils in the Mastodon room.
- Look at every item in the medieval room. Examine the dog armor with the magnifying glass.
- Touch the dagger case in the Egyptian room.
- Press the top two button on the intercom in Dr. Carrington’s office and talk into it repeatedly.
- Try to take any weapon on the rack in Wolf Heimlich’s office EXCEPT for the sword.
- After the discovery of Ziggy’s head and the interrogation, touch the head on the wall.
- When you find the dead Countess, examine the papers around her with the magnifying glass.
- When you can enter the storage room in the preservation lab after 1.00 AM, you encounter Daisy, Dr. Myklos’ ferret. Ask Daisy about Dr. Carrington, Yvette Delacroix, Detective O’Riley, Wolf Heimlich, Olympia Myklos and the piece of cheese. You can also use the snake oil on her.
- Examine the mummy in the case on the right side of the door in the sarcophagus room.
HieroglyphsThe hieroglyphs used in the game are not fictitious. They follow the transliteral system, a representation of the 26 modern alphabetical letters by hieroglyphs. Such a transliteration was first published by Erman and Grapow in 1926, which would fit the timeframe of the game.
The representation of the Rosetta Stone in the game is (purposefully) wrong though; neither is it broken into two parts, nor do its hieroglyphs follow a transliteral alphabet.
- The musical theme that plays when you visit Dr. Olympia Myklos' office is the same as one of the themes that was used in the Addams Family 1960s TV series.
- The oceanliner Andrea Doria seen in the intro and on the docks is clearly inspired in shape and name by the famous Andrea Doria, which sunk after a collision near the Massachusetts coast. That was in 1956; the ship had been launched in 1951. Since The Dagger of Amon Ra is set in 1926, we can only assume that the ship in the game is a different Andrea Doria. Or an anachronism.
- According to the game, the Leyendecker museum is named after its founder Ignatz Leyendecker, a banana tycoon. The fictional Ignatz Leyendecker might have borrowed his unusual name from Joseph Christian Leyendecker, who really existed – he was one of the US’ most famous illustrators who, among other things, popularized the mainstream image of red-coated, white-bearded Santa Claus.
- The Leyendecker Museum’s front is clearly modeled after the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. All architectural details match.
References: SierraAs with most Sierra adventure games of the era, The Dagger of Amon Ra contains several allusions to other Sierra franchises.
- When Laura probes the storage vats in the museum’s basement, she finds a unicorn ("Possibly left over from a King's Quest game") and King Edward of Daventry preserved in alcohol. Edward is the ruler of Daventry in the first King's Quest (1984).
- In Carrington’s office, Laura discovers a telephone directory. The entry "T. Dargan" refers to Tammy Dargan, a producer at Sierra (Police Quest). "R. Williams" is, of course, Roberta Williams.
- If Laura examines the water glass with the magnifying lens, she finds an inscription: "Manufactured by Leyendecker Glassworks, Coarsegold, California". Coarsegold is an actual city in California, but it's more familiar to Sierra fans as the name of the town from Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist, a game which was in production at the time when The Dagger of Amon Ra was released.
- When Laura examines the stars in the night sky from Dr. Carrington’s office, she discoveres the star Deneb Kaitos Ecoquestus, in the constellation Cetus. This is a reference to EcoQuest: The Search for Cetus (1991).
- On the close-up of the Anonymous Bosch painting, Laura can examine the person depicted there to learn that it’s “a dead king named Graham”. Graham is the protagonist of the first, second and fifth instalment of the King's Quest series.
- When Laura and Steve flee from the furnace room and encounter the snakes in the tunnel, there is a line of faint hieroglyphs etched into the wall. Translated, they read: BUY SIERRA PRODUCTS.
References to the gameWhat happened to Laura Bow and Steve Dorian after the events in The Dagger of Amon Ra? Apparently, they got married! A note on the bulletin board in Tulane University in Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers informs students about a lecture on "Investigative Reporting techniques" to be held by "octogenarian Pulitzer Price winner Laura Bow Dorian". Octogenarian means: someone in their 80s.
- Computer Gaming World
- November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #7 Least Rewarding Ending of All Time