Case of the Rose Tattoo
The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes
Review by Al Giovetti
Price: $60
Genre: graphic adventure
Release: September 24, 1996
Developer: Electronic Arts
Programmer: John Dunn
Music: Ron Hubbard and Marchall Crutcher
Art: David Wood, John Williams, Jeff Glazier did room design
Producer: R. J. Berg
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Phone: 415-571-7171
Requirements: 486 DX, 66 MHz, 8 MB RAM, mouse, 2X CD ROM drive, 7 MB hard disk space

Company line: Set in Victorian England, the game reflects the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's tales. In addition, it features Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and other familiar Holmes characters. The story begins with an explosion that severely injures Holmes' brother. The explosion may not have been an accident. Playing the role of Watson and later Holmes, the player discovers an intricate web of criminal activities involving the government, royal family, and Ministry of Defense. Throughout the investigation the player is challenged by reluctant witnesses and suspects, and Scotland Yard which believes the explosion was an accident. The player is given several tools to aid in investigating the crimes including a lab table for conducting experiments, an inventory of objects picked up throughout the game, disguises, and a journal where Watson logs all conversations.

In addition, the player has a variety of easily navigable game commands to chose from, such as Look which produces facts about the case and Holmes's own thoughts on what he's seeing; and Talk, which allows the characters to speak to each other in fully digitized speech. Other commands, some specific to the object, include Examine, Exit, Pick Up, Move and Search. More than 80 fully-integrated video actors populate the lush interiors and exteriors of London, and professional voice characterizations were utilized to produce more than seven hours of speech.

History: The Case of the Rose Tattoo is the sequel to the Case of the Serrated Scalpel, where Holmes solved the mystery of the famous Jack the Ripper who cut up a number of ladies of the night in Elizabethan London in the late 18th Century. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created a character for the Strand, a magazine of the time, and the rest is history. While heated debate on the issue continues to this day, it is thought that Sherlock Holmes was based upon a diagnostician that Doyle had known at Charring Cross Hospital. The man merely had to look at a patient to know everything about him from his background, work and leisure habits, and where he had been most of his or her life.

Once created, Sherlock Holmes took on a life of his own. Even when Doyle had tired of the work that it took to create another Holmes short story or novel, and tried to kill off his hero, Holmes' fans forced Doyle to bring him back from the dead. Our fascination for Holmes continues unabated to this day, where he is firmly enthroned as one of the favorite characterizations of the modern world, and Doyle's books continue to be sold at a rapid pace in local bookstores.

Plot: Taking on a Holmes' story in print, film or multimedia is a dangerous undertaking, since the fans are particularly finicky about the character. Any un-Holmsian turns or twists to the character are bound to bring rabid fans to your door complaining. On the other hand, should you pull it off, the product is likely to be a huge success, and how creative do you need to be, just follow the formula. Mix in a two-brimmed cap, a capped long coat, a hawk-beak nose, a magnifying glass, and an encyclopedic knowledge of trivia such as types of tobacco and tobacconists that carry them and viola you have Holmes.

In this go round, brother Mycroft is injured in an explosion at the Diogenes Club. Holmes intuition and deductive powers tell him it was not an accident, and the "game is a foot" once again. (Just how can a game be a foot anyway? What is this soccer. Sorry. Ed)

In the beginning of this game you play Watson, the bumbling physician who was patterned after Connan Doyle. Once Watson has accumulated enough evidence to convince Holmes that he must join in the chase, you will play Holmes. What is determined is that the explosion is related to the theft of some secret documents related to the military.

Game play: You click on characters and objects to communicate or manipulate them. The interactive lab is found at 221B Baker Street, is an important tool which is used to perform experiments, solve clues, and generally mess around. Do not confuse the interactive lab with Professor Dewar's lab which is not interactive and only contains clues like most of the other locations. Talking to Watson will yield his normal child-like bumbling way of hitting on the salient part of any mystery.

Graphics: The filmed actors and prop objects appear on a hand drawn background. Flames and fire from the explosions are rather nice. The game sports more than 50, 256-color locations and , 3-D rendered animation.

The game offers detailed graphics allowing players to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of 1889 Victorian England. The game includes such fictional and non-fictional locations as 221B Baker Street, St. Bartholomew's Hospital, St. James's Park, and Scotland Yard. The detailed graphics were accomplished through 3-D rendering. The game's buildings and objects were assembled by placing graphic planes in all three spatial dimensions: height, width, and depth. The planes of each object were textured, lighted and placed in 3-D space to create shadows as well as the appropriate mood for each locale.

Puzzles: Range from difficult to easy.

Animation: Can be jerky and somewhat frustratingly slow. The actors are filmed on green or blue screen and overlayed on a rendered SVGA background. The lack of shadows and light sourcing results in an artificial look to an otherwise professional job. 3-D Rendered Animation Showcases More than 50 Locations Throughout London in an Original Holmes Tale. Some of the animations are subtle, acted well, and have a certain style about them.

Voice actors: The voice actors are capable and show the correct accents for Victorian England. Holmes is portrayed by an actor named Jarion Monroe with the right amount of brilliance and aloofness, without too much emotion for deductive reasoning. Watson, portrayed by Roger L. Jackson, is the ever loyal friend who bumbles into providing the grist for Holmes' deductions. Mrs. Hudson, played by Coralie Persee, Wiggins of the Baker Street Irregulars, played by Paul Vincent Black, and a cast of about 80 other professional actors round out the competent cast of the game who provided over seven hours of fully digitized dialog.

Music score: Ron Hubbard, the sound and music director, and Marchall Crutcher worked out the comptetently Victorian music score.

Sound effects: Marc Farly and David Whittaker were the sound designers who added the squeeks, pops, gun retorts, explosions, and other sounds needed to give the action that edge.


Multi-player: This is a single player game.

Internet: EA's home page for The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: Case of the Rose Tattoo (http://www.ea. com/holmes/index.html) contains screenshots, background information, and links to more than 20 Holmes fan sites.

Future: Future plans include further adventures of Holmes and Watson.

Hints: Save prior to using the crime lab since what happens there is based upon trial and error. Journalists: Peter really liked this one.

Lisa M. Howie, PC Gamer, volume 3, number 12, December, 1996, 80%
http://www.ea. com/holmes/index.html
Bernard Dy, Computer Player, volume 3, number 7, December, 1996, pg. 78, (70%).
Peter Olafson, PC Games, volume 3, number 12, December, 1996, 92%.