Crapshoot: The campy FMV enjoyable from Noctropolis


From 2010 to 2014, Richard Cobbett wrote Crapshoot, a column about rolling the cube to deliver random, obscure video games again to mild. This week a comic book e-book world unfolds to disclose a video of … what? Not a hero for the ages, that is for certain, however perhaps the hero inside. Hmm Nope.

You already know what? Let’s attempt one thing totally different this week …

Click on right here to see the complete, largely unedited sport with out that annoying chatter.

“Show notes: Yeah, roughly, I know. I’ve never tried any of these – that’s my excuse and I’ll stick with it. I hope it’s a fun experiment though, and don’t worry, it’s back in text next week. Not least because I clearly can’t type faster than I speak, but I type faster than Premiere Pro.

To add a few bits to the game itself (editing a pickup error is way harder than revising a paragraph, especially when the neighbors want to sleep), Noctropolis certainly isn’t a terrible game. The city is wonderfully stylish and has really stood out at the time – as well as trying to try a mature topic, even if it sinks more than a bit into the sexist tropics. The basic adventure is weak, however, as it’s both a relentlessly linear step through incredibly simple puzzles and just doesn’t get the most out of what it has. Why have five villains when one of them barely gets a scene, each other’s world is no use, and only one pretends to be involved in Big Bad?

I just realized I wasn't scolding about this terrible, timed conundrum.  Well, add one here.

I just realized I wasn’t scolding about this terrible, timed conundrum. Well, add one here.

Likewise, the concept is good, although using FMV was a mistake for reasons that should be pretty obvious. Its main mistake is setting it up and then not actually walking with it. Peter barely reacts to everything that happens, to the point that even a knife stab is of no consequence. As for the villain, we don’t know him. Original Darksheer comes across as a little bloodthirsty in the attached comic, so it’s not like Batman – who he absolutely isn’t, um – suddenly go rogue. I heard that this was supposed to be a Batman game, but the company couldn’t get the license. This may be apocryphal, but I really wouldn’t be surprised, and I would have loved to play this hypothetical game. If there ever was, of course.

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Peter’s own path from zero to hero is far too easy. He gets badly injured, agrees, and has to play a bit of detective. However, all encounters are staged in such a way that he does not deserve the heroic status he has in the end. He’s just the guy who flipped the coin. That could still work if it was interesting. It isn’t, however, and no one else – not even Stiletto – gets enough screen time.

Still three words: Faux Action Girl. A chronic case.

Another strange no-death situation.  I don't mind if games are forgiving or brutal per se, but it helps when they're consistent ...

Another strange no-death situation. I don’t mind if games are forgiving or brutal per se, but it helps when they’re consistent …

So Noctropolis. Good ideas. Not so good execution. However, it’s campy FMV fun, even when little happens, is especially memorable. The soundtrack deserves props, however, and as a nice touch, the composer has all of the main tracks in MP3 format. They’re much better quality than the MIDI versions you can squeeze out of the game, and it’s worth staying next to The 7th Guest.

As for Tex Murphy’s internal argument? That’s one for another week …

“Lumisheer” is not truly a lemon-scented kitchen cleaner. But it surely needs to be.

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