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Game 69: Cruise for a Corpse - Introduction (1991)

Written by Joe Pranevich


The butler did it!
Ahoy, adventure gamers! We have reached the third and final adventure game from Delphine Studios, one of the great European game development houses of the 1990s. While most of their games are outside the scope of this blog, the two that we have played, Future Wars (43 points on the PISSED scale) and Operation: Stealth (44 points), have been disappointing. So why am I still excited to play this game? Because in 1991, Delphine Studios also released one of the most cinematic platform games of the era, Another World (also known as Out of this World in the US). That game topped sales charts, won numerous awards, and was one of the first computer games exhibited by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was also a favorite of mine as a kid and well worth your time. With Cruise for a Corpse under development at the same time, did any of that genius rub off? Is this a lost classic? It’s time to find out!

 
I admit that this is not my only reason for picking up this game. When this blog changed to a multi-author format, I played Operation: Stealth as one of our first fan-reviewed games. I still look back on that first game with some embarrassment. At the time, I knew almost nothing about Delphine or the history of our genre; I even asked Ilmari to write the introductory post for me! I also played the “wrong” version of the game: the original edition was a licensed James Bond tie-in, while I played a watered-down version with a generic spy. I would have enjoyed researching Bond and I wonder now if that would have changed my feelings on the game. I have learned a great deal since starting to review games for this blog and this will be my last chance to do right by Delphine Studios.

Of course, I still will be unable to play the original version of this game. Even though Duolingo insists that I know nearly 500 French words, I am still far from being able to enjoy Croisière pour un cadavre, the original French version of the game. All indications are that the English version is the same game, but I remember that Delphine had some very strange translation issues last time. Will they do better now?


Cruise for a consistent logo treatment?

We’re already familiar with two of the three designers on this game: Paul Cuisset and Philippe Chastel. Mr. Cuisset was a designer on Future Wars, while Mr. Chastel was one of the scriptwriters for Operation: Stealth. They also each pulled double-duty as programmers on both games. The third member of the team was Dennis Mercier, but this will be his only story credit on an adventure game. This is also Delphine’s last attempt at a point-and-click adventure game, but I don’t think we can draw any conclusions from that just yet. I am a bit dismayed to discover that none of our three designers had anything to do with Another World, but I suppose they were busy at the time. Let’s hope that game’s quality osmosed onto this one in some other way.

The manual is nothing special, a very basic description of the controls and some advice for novice adventurers. Unlike a number of recent games, Delphine doesn’t seem to see the manual as more than a utilitarian document. The game control appears to be similar to their previous outings: left-click to manipulate items using a verb list, right-click to use inventory items. I recall that Operation: Stealth had far too much pixel-hunting for my tastes (remember that rubber band puzzle?), but we’ll just have to see if they learned any lessons from that.

Introduction


Arr! Be this a pirate mystery, mateys?

The game opens in Paris, April 1927. Raoul Dusentier, a police inspector, receives a mysterious invitation in the mail: a relaxing cruise sponsored by the “wealthy Niklos Karaboudjan”. Raoul accepts the invitation, but before long tragedy strikes: Niklos has been murdered. Good thing someone thought to invite a police inspector, right? Raoul is led by Niklos’s personal butler to his office to see the body. Before we can even start our investigation, Raoul is attacked from behind and knocked out. When we awake the following day, the body is missing and it’s time to play the game!


Look how tall we are!

Since I did so poorly on predictions last time, I should make some more:
  • Niklos isn’t really dead; we’re just meant to think that. No body means no murder, right?
  • We will discover who invited Raoul to the cruise… and it won’t be Niklos!
  • I will find a way to make a pirate joke every post.
  • I will discover why this is Delphine Studios’ final adventure game. 
  • The butler did it!

Time to look for clues… next week!

Tune in next time for the first play post!

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

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