Written by  :  Hannu Siivonen (18)
Written on  :  Apr 10, 2007
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.83 Stars3.83 Stars3.83 Stars3.83 Stars3.83 Stars

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Proof that infamous word "video trash" doesn't have to mean bad games

The Good

Doing a game about mostly forgotten showman, and timing it between world wars seems like really bad idea. But when the game itself is made well, and storyline is interesting, bad idea becomes a great idea. That's also the of using video characters on a rendered background. When it's done well, it works.

For most "video trash" games, the real problem was that, developers used a lot of time and effort to make video and other graphics look nice, but they forgot that game should be fun to play. People who made Master Lu, actually concentrated on the gameplay and story. Almost every puzzle or task is logical, but still not too obvious. Choosing what to say in a conversation actually matters, as you might miss something important (but never critical information) if you select wrong thing to say. That means, it actually matter how you treat people.

Video looks great for its time, and doesn't look that bad even for today's standards. Actors are above average in a Hollywood scale, and superior compared to most "multimedia adventures". Just don't expect any strong Interpretation. Characters are mostly vain and stereotypical, but it also means they don't make you angry. Game like this doesn't actually need very strong characters, as most of them are quite casual acquaintances more than significant characters. Ripley himself is portrayed as an interesting character. I like to play games, where the hero is such a nice guy.

Different locations around the world are portrayed excellently, and they look believable (but I'm not sure if they are made to look like real places). It's fun to look around in Easter Island or Middle European mansion, even though only in a game. Designers have been quite innovative, when creating different secrets, and ways to get there.

One funny addition, are jokes that have nothing to do with the storyline itself. It's nice to see some time and effort have been made to create comical nonsense, just to make playing little more fun.

The Bad

Programming isn't that good, as the game crashes quite often. Also videos and sounds intend to pause and glitch. In result it's sometimes hard to make sense of conversations, which is becomes even worse, as there is no subtitles.

Absolutely the worst thing in this game is the most horrible maze ever. If you don't have a map (which has to be drawn by yourself), you could get trapped in there for ever. Even with a map the maze is just too long and boring.

Speaking of boring - every character in this game move like they are skiing uphill in quicksand. It wouldn't matter, if there wouldn't be for those parts, where you have wait for a character to move enough, before you can do anything. Who thought this was a good idea?

Interface isn't exactly the best there is, but decent.

The Bottom Line

Even with it's faults, Riddle of Master Lu is a great peace of adventure, though not masterpiece like Monkey Island or such. Even the infernal maze is forgivable, as there is way to skip it. Must try for every old school adventure fan or "video trash" fan. Also a curiosity, since it has for some reason been forgotten.