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Ripley's Believe It or Not!: The Riddle of Master Lu

aka: Das R├Ątsel des Master Lu, Ripley's Believe It or Not!: L'enigma di Master Lu, Ripley's Croyez-le ou non ! L'Enigme de Ma├«tre Lu
Moby ID: 1996
DOS Specs

Description official descriptions

In this game, you control a historical character, Robert Ripley (1893-1949), a famous traveler and collector of rarities. One day, during a travel in Egypt, Ripley was attacked by mysterious Chinese assassins. The trail leads him and his Chinese girlfriend Mei Chen to the Forbidden City of Beijing. There he becomes involved in a mystery that will take him to exotic locations all around the globe.

The game plays like a traditional puzzle-solving adventure. Ripley will have to talk to various people, searching for information, but the main emphasis of the gameplay is still on puzzles, mainly inventory-based. The game features live actors filmed over pre-rendered backgrounds. Cut scenes are often presented as full-motion movies shown in small screens with close-up on the actors.

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Credits (DOS version)

135 People (131 developers, 4 thanks) · View all

Designed by
Written by
Art Direction
Background Designer
Lead Game Programmer
Lead Systems Programmer
Original Score
Sound Design
Original Concept
Produced by
Background Art
3D Modeling
Additional Background Design
Animation Design
Animation
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 82% (based on 28 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 43 ratings with 2 reviews)

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.

DOS · by Hannu Siivonen (15) · 2007

A underappreciated romp into the life of a real life Indiana Jones!

The Good
I liked everything. It was all a good adventure game should be. The plot and puzzles were well thought out. Voice acting was good (if not grand). The life of Robert Ripley is something that has been ignored by history. It is refreshing to see a game, or any piece of entertainment, that embraces his exciting, debonaire lifestyle.

The Bad
There were a few minor bugs...

The Bottom Line
This is a must buy for any adventure fan (if you can find the damn thing!). Sanctuary Woods should be commended on the sheer quality of this title (if Sanctuary Woods were still in existence, that is!).

DOS · by sultan12 (3) · 2001

Discussion

Subject By Date
William Lee Pseudo_Intellectual (65481) Jul 3rd, 2013

Trivia

Some of the items featured in the game were actually real items that Robert L. Ripley collected for his museums and featured in his comic strips.

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Related Sites +

  • A Sequel To The Riddle of Master Lu? Believe it or Not!
    Interview with Lee Sheldon about a sequel to Master Lu that didn't make it past pre-production.
  • DOSBox Setup
    Inferno explains how to use DOSBox to play this game on your Windows system.
  • Game Nostalgia
    Provides extensive background info for The Riddle of Master Lu, with pictures of the cast and examples of voice-overs, full credits with shots and info about the design team, a demo of the game, specific details about the game, various goodies, all musical themes, shots of every location in the game, saved games, a list of reviews, including a "nostalgic "review and tech specs.
  • UHS Hints-Page for the game
    The Hints-Page on UHS

Identifiers +

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by elron.

Macintosh added by Jeanne.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, Jeanne, Apogee IV, Ghost Pirate, martin jurgens, game nostalgia, Dennis Ploeger, Dudujones.

Game added July 19th, 2000. Last modified September 29th, 2023.