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Written by  :  Nowhere Girl (5601)
Written on  :  Sep 08, 2019
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.29 Stars3.29 Stars3.29 Stars3.29 Stars3.29 Stars

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Summary

I felt offended by the assumption that I don't know these things...

The Good

"Eagle Eye Mysteries in London" is a game very similar in its premises to its predecessor. This time, the siblings travel to the United Kingdom to spend the summer with their British relatives in London and vicinity. However, they also "take" their company with them - they are already known at least within their family for their detective skills and so first their aunt, uncle and cousin ask them to help them figure everything out when something strange is happening, then their fame spreads to the family's friends...

The game's structure is just a little bit different: while "Eagle Eye Mysteries 1" featured 24 + 24 + 6 cases and the subsequent books were repetitions of cases solved before, but with different details and solutions, this time there are no repetitions, just two books with 24 unique cases each. And while I'm not sure if an ending sequence exists - I couldn't finish about 3 cases due to technical bugs, with the game crashing or freezing during these cases - the game anyway gives a feeling of satisfaction and completion.
In a few cases someone called "Macavity" sends messages to the police, with letters cut out from newspapers (veeery typical criminal trick...) to prevent handwriting recognition, typically claiming that they (in this case "they" should be understood as "singular they" - pronoun for a person of non-binary gender or for someone whose gender we don't know) have stolen something and put it in a safe place - which has to be figured out with the help of clues they had left... So no serious criminal, rather someone who annoys the police by giving them the embarrassing feeling of being confused... And in the final case "Macavity" appears again and the game culminates in revealing their identity...
The Eagle Eye Detective Agency mostly solves rather simple crimes. At some point Jennifer exclaims: "Murder? This is far outside our league, you should call the police!" - and this case turns out to be a social game instead, with a guest pretending to be dead and the detectives expected to find out who "killed" him by interrogating everyone who was at the scene of "crime". So some of the cases are not even real crimes - several of them, for example, involve using the kids' detective skills to solve a historical mystery (for example, "Has the real castle of legendary king Arthur been found?", which is also an opportunity to learn some facts.

As before, this relatively simple game nevertheless has beautiful graphics. This time they are more varied - anyway, Richview was just a fairly large town, London is a big city and we also venture outside it, to places such as Stratford-upon-Avon, Stonehenge. So this game also features short sequences of one of the children travelling with a cab, double decker bus or train. They are also interspersed by copy protection which appears every now and then. It's not necessarily nice to play, but at least it often looks interesting. I enjoy temporary changes in a game's graphics style and these intermissions allow such changes.

The Bad

Most of my objections to "Eagle Eye Mysteries" apply here as well. As before: in order to make the game more immersive, the player is introduced as a character into the game. You don't just play as Jake and/or Jennifer, you play as "yourself" and collaborate with the children. And this solution just doesn't appeal to me. If we always work directly with one of the siblings, the other one's role is strongly reduced. And the sibling with whom we travel doesn't have much to do either, he or she mostly prompts and gives suggestions and I often had the feeling that I'm doing all the work for Jennifer. ;) No, really - I'd just rather see the siblings as player characters. It would have been less immersive, but more consequent.

As I mentioned, the game - unlike its predecessor - has copy protection, which in fact often looks interesting. Nevertheless, it is usually irritating and disrupting. I'm quite sure that today, the game already - and for a long time - counts as "abandonware". However, it was (rather unfortunately, because it's a decent game anyway) never popular - and so scanned manuals for the game are not easy to find. Some copy protection puzzles are nevertheless fun to solve without any manual (for example the semaphore code puzzle), but some, without the manual, degenerate into pure guessing or worse (the platform number puzzles - at least three times in the game).

However, there is one aspect particular to this game and not its predecessor, which I found very annoying. "Eagle Eye Mysteries in London" doesn't teach just logical thinking - it also delivers quite a bit of encyclopedic knowledge. Mostly scattered as "tidbits", but interesting anyway. However, it accepts a very low level of presumed player knowledge. Jennifer and Jake are probably about 14 years old. Players may be a little younger, but it's rather not a game for an eight-year-old - for a child of this age it will most likely be too hard. And yet the game assumes that the player hardly knows anything about history, has no clue about the differences between American English and British English, doesn't know what "Macbeth" is or who Jules Verne was...
Jennifer (or Jake) appears quite embarrassingly clueless about such things and I felt even offended - offended by the assumption that I don't know such things, that I didn't know them when I was at the game's intended age, and that children generally are so stupid and uneducated. At an age of 13-14 I already - as a foreign speaker - knew the basics of British/American differences (although, mostly in the area of the lexical - lift vs. elevator, for example, and not purely spelling-based differences such as honour vs. honor), had heard about Shakespeare's most important plays (and seen "Hamlet" in theatre), had read Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days" and seen it, too, as a theatre play, or maybe rather show... Some of this is basic school knowledge, and as for spelling - well, Jennifer and Jake, as Americans who have British relatives, should have an idea about it even more than an average American teenager.
In Eastern Europe there seems to be a fairly widespread belief that most American schools have a pitiful level. I have certainly seen it in Poland and found the same in reportage from Russia. In our case, it's a form of sociopolitical consolation at someone else's expense - it's akin to saying "Yes, we are underdeveloped for historical reasons - but at least we benefit from the old, more demanding European school system, while Americans just learn some pathetic basics at schools...". No, I don't believe this myth - its persuasive function is too clear and I doubt the suggested "facts" anyway. But suddenly, in this game, we get the "uneducated American" stereotype again in all its dubious glory...
"Eagle Eye Mysteries 1" also had a bit of encyclopedic knowledge - particularly the case when Bobby Garcia spent his pocket money on, if I remember well, an alleged autograph of Thomas Jefferson and wanted the detectives to verify its authenticity before his mother discovers everything... And in that case it was presented in a much better way, which showed historical facts genuinely unknown to a lot of people and didn't make the protagonists appear like idiots...

The Bottom Line

The game is worth trying. Because of its structure of quite short cases, it is also served in a player-friendly way. While most adventure games offer a possibility to save the game, there is always a chance that we forget exactly where we were, what we had done before, what happened earlier... In "Eagle Eye Mysteries", cases generally have little to do with one another, so it's fine to solve one or two, abandon the game, return to it later... But still, be prepared to find the assumption of player's pitiful knowledge annoying - or even a little offensive, if you can't help but take it personally ("Why do you consider me an idiot who doesn't know such obvious things?"). It reminds me of yet another thing: a French edition of "Candide" I have at home, which takes care to explain who a pope or an admiral is, who Homer was, what patience is ("To take things with patience: to be patient")... I don't like it, it looks as if the publisher assumed readers / the developer assumed players to be idiots with next to zero knowledge...