Written by  :  ETJB (450)
Written on  :  Apr 07, 2014
Platform  :  SEGA CD
Rating  :  3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars

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The Game Is Afoot

The Good

Sherlock Holmes was one of the first "interactive movie" games to be released for the Sega CD.

It was in the go-go, 1990s that the "Next Level" of gaming was presumed to lie in interactive movies, which could only be profitably, developed for the CD-ROM format.

Naturally, the buzz in the early 1990s, was all about Sega's and Nintendo's upcoming CD-ROM technology.

CD-based games could store much more memory then a cartridge and still be profitable sold at roughly the same price as a video cartridge.

"OK", many video game developers were thinking, "What could CD game do to show off the great potential of the new medium?"

Well, digitized voice, much less video, was rare in the days of video cartridges and disks. So, one of the first things that game developers decided to do with the CD format was put lots of full motion video into games. What could possible go wrong?

Had Sherlock Holmes been published on a cartridge or disk, it would have had to be a more traditional, third or first-person perspective adventure game.

Yet, the CD format allowed the game's characters and sets to be brought to life with real actors, real sets and other trappings of a film or television production.

It may not seem like much today, but, back in the day, it was hard to watch the Sega CD full motion video and not be impressed by the "Next Level".

In the 1990s, the idea of a video game looking and sounding like a Hollywood blockbuster or allowing you to control the direction your own Hollywood film, seemed much less like science fiction.

The Bad

The "interactive movie" concept was not really interactive, and it was saddled with numerous budgetary and hardware limitations.

In Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, the player watches introductory video clips as well as the video clips that play whenever you visit a character.

You do not get to control what Holmes or Dr, Watson say or do in these video clips. The clips basically exist to lay out a set of series of clues.

Once you have enough clues you can go before the judge and, if you answer his questions correctly. you have won the case. Your reward? Another video clip wrapping up the case and moving onto the next one.

The game's point system in the system is not important, but it does encourage you to do the least amount of work. It is not the sort of system that is going to make you want to re-play the cases.

Once you complete the first case, you are onto the next one. Only three cases exist in the game and they will not tax your detective skills too much.

While the extensive usage of full motion video was revolutionary for 1992, it was difficult to overlook the problems with this format, beyond the limited degree of interactivity.

The video is not full-screen, but shown in a limited window. The acting is in Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is better then other games of this sort, but it is not going to win any Academy Awards.

The game's period costumes and sets look good, although the hardware limitations of the Sega CD make it difficult to admire the production values.

The Sega CD could only display 64 colors on-screen out of a palette of 512. This was a limited standard for the "Next Level" in gaming, and it hurt the quality of the full motion video.

In the case of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, it is almost impossible to appreciate the production values that went into making this film.

Millions of dollars could have been spent recreating 19th century London, but the player has no way of being able to appreciate that by watching the video on the Sega CD.

The "Next Level" ended up being a small viewing window and video that was muddy and pixelated.

The Bottom Line

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective offers three cases to solve in a basic, adventure game format. In the early 1990s, the "Next Level" of gaming promised to be full motion video, and this is one of the forerunners in that respect. How much of that promise was delivered upon is something you will have to decide for yourself.