|Developer:||Maximum Effect|||||Release Date:||1993|||||Systems:||Amiga|
This week on Super Adventures I had a sudden urge to play Dinosaur Detective Agency for the Amiga, and I'm as confused as anyone about it.
I'm surprised I even remember the game, as if you add up the number of minutes I've spent playing the game they'd be less than the number of years since I last booted it up. In fact I was expecting the hero to look more like Sam Spade than Sherlock Holmes. Naughty game, encouraging kids to smoke pipes.
Hang on, does that say "1993" down there? Wow, what are the chances of this coming out the same year as 'Jurassic Park'? To be fair dinosaurs were already plenty popular before the movie, so I wouldn't say this is cynically cashing in on a fad. Because if they were he'd be riding a skateboard like Radical Rex.
So I'm apparently playing as a detective who looks like Sherlock Holmes but is called Sherlock Ness. There's a joke there I'm sure of it, but I don't quite see it. Oh that's supposed to be a H, not a K! It's hard to see with this grey on grey text. So he's Sherloch Ness then... I suppose that explains why he's got a picture of a sea monster next to that photo of his lunch.
I hope he's getting paid a bit for this case as his office really needs some work doing. His desk is falling to pieces, his door is crooked and half the stuff in the room is being held together by bones. The door has bones for hinges, the tiny mouse door has tiny bones for hinges and he's even using a rotary bone phone!
Alright, I'm getting out of here before that venus crocodile plant gets bored with licking spiders and comes after me.
The game seems a bit slow, but it's got decent movement and even a tiny bit of parallax scrolling there. The guy should really stop turning his head like that while he walks though. No one does that, not even dinosaurs! And wasn't he wearing a deerstalker hat and a bow tie earlier?
I honestly didn't think there'd be a shred of detective work in this, but I'm starting off at the bank and following the breadcrumb trail of coins straight to the thief, so that makes sense. Not sure why the 10 coin said "18" and then gave me 100 points when I picked it up though.
Actually what I need to do is grab that blue flashbulb down there to get some flashes for my camera. But not the egg, that's another enemy in disguise.
Plus if I keep using my camera defensively I'm going to end up with a roll of photos that all look like this:
|(It's from Jurassic Park Interactive)|
Aww I can only hold five hit points? I should've wasted one on the spider along the way. Or better yet, not waste my precious time at all. The counter's ticking down.
So I've got a choice between going up or down now. Up takes more effort to reach so I'll investigate that first.
Hang on, where's my fifth dinosaur head gone? I had five a second ago and now there's four.
I've discovered something else as well:
And it turns out that I can. Okay game you win this round.
This is an entirely different block of yellow rock, but pushing that first rock paid off so I'm seeing where I can shove it.
I can imagine it'd be more of an issue for players who chose to turn the music on earlier and are only now coming to realise that they can't stand it and that it'll never stop looping. Me though, I like it just fine, even if some of the instruments are a bit grating. It's not quite catchy enough to get stuck in my head though.
Wait, hang on, that's actual game over? I've actually lost the game, there's no lives? Damn, man. Fortunately I was able to continue from the beginning of the level, which in this case is also the beginning of the whole game.
So I played through the level and got back here again to see what was on the other side of the mine carts. And... all I found was a bit of cash and a dead end, then I had to ride the mine carts back again. This isn't the first time the game's pulled this on me either, as this would be my... fourth dead end so far I think.
LATER, AFTER GETTING BACK UP TO WHERE I LEFT OFF.
I wish the creatures would flash or something to let me know that they’re definitely stunned. A dumb shocked expression would also help; the one on the left knows what I'm talking about.
By the way, now that I've got another GIF with my score on it I've been reminded that my points aren't wiped when I use a continue. So I could beat the high score table just by failing enough times.
ANOTHER RUN OF THE LEVEL LATER.
But there's one thing I don't understand: why does Sherlock dig lying on his side? You can see the top of his hat even when he's digging sideways and it's weird.
Well I just checked a Longplay video and it turns out that the missing ingredient may be flashes. I need to be carrying some to photograph the boss inside and I have none left. I can't backtrack to find more as all the enemies I passed will have become unstunned so I guess I'll have to retry from the beginning again and try not to be so careless with my snapshots this time. It'll only take five minutes, it's not a huge level.
Okay I've replayed the entire level again with 6 flashes left this time and it still won't let me in so I don't know what's going on here. What does it want from me? Do I need to know the secret handshake? Do I have to press F6? Did I load up the demo by mistake?
Oh no, I've just figured it out, and the truth is horrifying.
EVENTUALLY, IN THE SECRET HIDEOUT.
For this bit I had to move the crosshair to get a clear photo of the criminal as he runs and leaps around his stolen loot. Took me seven shots but I finally nailed him with one flash left. Dunno what would've happened if I'd ran out of flashes before getting a good photo but I can't imagine it would've been anything good.
It actually did give me a bonus by the way, I just cut it out to keep the filesize down.
Alright my next job is to find this woman's kidnapped pet, Terrance. I think I can handle that, as long as there's a sign saying 'PET KIDNAPPER'S LAIR' right next their hideout.
We’re Back: A Dinosaur's Story.
Actually it's like an evil version of Soccer Kid with the saturation up too high, it's horrible. In the mines it was obvious where I could go, but this is a sprawling mess and I can't tell which parts I can jump on and what I'll fall right through. This is a bit of a problem because I have to search every corner of it collect all the items I need to open the exit.
I was actually kind of liking the game earlier, but my enthusiasm has just crashed.
It's funny how Dinosaur Detective Agency is about a prehistoric dinosaur who dresses like a Victorian detective and jumps around a modern city, because the game itself doesn't quite belong in any time either. It was a budget release from the start and it was never meant to compete with full price platformers, but it more or less looks the early 90s title that it is. The gameplay on the other hand comes from the 80s when Amiga games were all ports of C64 and Atari ST games; it doesn't even give you a couple of flashes of invulnerability after you take damage. It's not quite as basic as Manic Miner, but it did make me jump over patrolling enemies and collect all the items in the level to leave.
The game's definitely made for kids, but then it's a platformer from the 90s, so like duh! It's not a cakewalk though as there's no lives or checkpoints, and it may take several attempts to get through a level with enough ammo left for the photo shoot boss battle. I didn't stick with it long enough to know if continues are infinite, but they lasted longer than my interest for sure. It's only a four level game though apparently, so I've just shown you more than a quarter of it.
I wouldn't really recommend this to anyone, but I wouldn't warn you to stay well clear either. Reviewers at the time seemed to agree that it's trash, but I'd say it's more mid-tier from what I've seen and you could find some fun in this if you keep your expectations to a minimum. Amiga platformers get far worse than this.
You can also share your thoughts about the game and my site in the comment box. Though I'm sure I don't have to tell you that.