Monday, February 2, 2015

Nerdicus NES Review #168: Deja Vu

Title : Deja Vu

Publisher : Kemco

Developer : ICOM Simulations Inc.

Genre : Point-and-Click Adventure

Players : 1

Release Date : 1990

Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $7-$10

I don't think there is a person out there that isn't familiar with DEJA VU for the NES. It's one of those games that everyone at least heard of, or played at a friends house, and was immediately enthralled by the "dick-tracy" atmosphere of the game. How can you not compare it to Dick Tracy? The guy on the box art looks exactly like him, yellow trench coat and all. But this isn't Dick Tracy. Forget about the campy humor, or comic book styled world. This is real world, 1940's crime-ridden Chicago. And someone is out to frame you, or worse yet, KILL YOU.

How is a 8 year old kid supposed to play a game as frightening as this!? I'm not even joking, the game scared the crap out of me. The dead bodies, the gangsters pointing guns at you. Sneaking around trying to find clues, all the while looking over your shoulder. And that moment you find that fat woman in the trunk of the car. WHO CAN FORGET THAT!?!?!?

I really can't put an exact number on the amount of times I must have rented this game in an attempt to beat it. I still have the Nintendo Power issue that gives you an exact walkthrough that I tried to avoid using at all costs because I didn't want to spoil the mystery for myself. Although, I'm pretty sure I ended up using it in the end.

There weren't many games like Deja Vu out there, besides Shadowgate, Uninvited, and even Maniac Mansion, although the presentation was different. And it's a damn shame because these were some of the most uniquely designed and engrossing games out there. I guess it was because the market was somewhat small, and not everyone was into a slow-paced, mystery solving game. Not for 8-year old me though. I was all over it.

Welcome to 1940's Chicago. A city of crime. A city of passion. A city of INTRIGUE. You are Theodore "ACE" Harding. Retired boxer, and private eye. You've just woken up in a bathroom stall, with no memory of who you are or what has happened to you. Not to mention there's a dead body in the room upstairs. You, my friend, are about to be framed for MURDER. It's the start of every detective novel you may have read, and there can be no better way to start a video game. You jump right into it with the jazzy music, and the enticing atmosphere built by the scenarios in each "screen" of the game.

The basic premise of the game is to basically search for clues and uncover the mystery of who you are and who has been sent out to get rid of you. You'll hop from location to location, questioning people, gathering evidence, battling against adversaries and eventually determining your own fate. Are you really the killer?

When I say there is a ton to do in this game, I kid you not. It'll keep you hooked to your television for HOURS on end.

The entire game is seen through your eyes by use of the HUD screen above. The top left is what is in your visual range. The bottom is a list of your options that you can do, which is anything from examining, speaking, hitting, closing, opening, taking, leaving, moving, etc. If you've played a point-and-click adventure, you know the drill.

Most of the time, you will be collecting objects and trying to figure out exactly what you are supposed to do with them. The fact of the matter is, most of these objects are downright useless, and the game is forcing you to tap into your "detective mindset" and actually determine what matters and what doesn't matter. Hell, the biggest pain in the ass in this game is just scrolling through your massive inventory. I don't know how he carries all this junk.

The game also does a brilliant job of presenting numerous ways in which your character can die. You need to approach each situation as if you would in real life. If you come face to face with a ganster pointing a gun at you, would you punch him? No, you wouldn't. You'd get shot. You'd try to talk him down, or give him a few bucks to leave. Hell, you might even offer more money to exchange for some information. The game does THAT much. Every situation has an out, and it's just up to you to figure it out. 

Sure, you'll find yourself going back and forth between locations, revisiting areas in hopes of finding something you may have missed, but that's the real glory of this game.

DEJA VU offers some of the best visuals and audio out of any NES game I have ever played. Each image is designed perfectly, setting a mood, and really drawing your character into the world. As a kid I must have felt like I really WAS the detective. It's not often that you can say a game effectively gave you the creeps.

Think about it - Point-and-Click games haven't really changed all that much since the early 80's when they were first released for the computer. Heck, there's no reason to mess with the formula, and even now these styled games are becoming more and more of a success. Just take a look at the WALKING DEAD episodic series that came out. It was absolutely brilliant. But they really aren't for everyone as I said before. There for those that enjoy a deep story, and want to really get involved with the characters. So for your run-and-gunner gamer, these may not peek your interest. 

But don't let it deter you from experiencing something truly epic, and if you want to go back to one of the very originals, look no further than DEJA VU.

Final Score (out of 5)

Until next time, keep on gaming!




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