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Review #492

Murder on the Titanic
Developer: Easy Interactive
Publisher: Joindots GmbH
Genre: Hidden Object/Adventure
Release Date: 12/6/2012

Murder on the Titanic is a remake of a PC hidden object/point and click adventure game that came out in May of 2012. The game was tepidly received by fans of the genres and I have to admit that I was not impressed when I played it via Big Fish Games. So I was a bit surprised when it was remade for the 3DS. I was hoping someone else on staff was going to pick up our review copy when it came in, but it sat there unloved and untouched. So, since we need filler for the beginning of the year I decided to play it. I mean, I had already played the original – how different could this be? The fact is it was noticeably different from the original with puzzles having different solutions and/or starting points, but most of the changes unfortunately made the game even worse. It’s sad because one would think the 3DS and its predecessor were the perfect point for point and click adventure games, but we just haven’t seem too many of them for either system, and those that we have seen…tend to be mediocre at best. So what awaits you with Murder on the Titanic besides two hours of hidden object finding and other puzzles? Let’s take a look.

As you might have surmised from the title, Murder on the Titanic is about…a murder on the Titanic. And no, the iceberg didn’t do it. Instead, this is the story of a murder of a coal shoveler on the ship. The captain of the Titanic knows the famous (according to the game; I’ve never heard of him) Inspector Magnusson is on board the ship and he beseeches the great Scandinavian to solve the murder of this lowly commoner before the actual paying vacationers get wind and have a freak out. How little do any of them suspect what is coming… I can’t say that the story impressed me. It was convoluted, implausible and in the scheme of things, we all know how the story of the Titanic ends, so what’s the point if the whole time you are going through this mystery, it’s overshadowed by the ship’s eventual fate. No, the whole plot was pretty bad to me and I’m kind of glad the entire game took me about two hours to complete.

The graphics of Murder on the Titanic have had an overhaul from the PC version. All the visuals are still made up of static images, but the graphics are crisp and everything looks realistic. The only problem with the visuals comes into play with the hidden object scenes where an item that was too small to be seen easily on the PC version become a grueling task (unless you use the hint function) with the tiny 3DS screens.

The menu and hint buttons have been completely redesigned and they are much smaller in this version. Unfortunately outside of the hidden object screens where the hint button highlights an item you’re having trouble finding, the hint button doesn’t work anymore. Instead it gives you a vague goal about what you are trying to do, which is never needed as every task is pretty bloody obvious. The lack of a fully functioning hint feature is enhanced when you realize the 3DS version is missing the ability to skip puzzles altogether –a feature that is in nearly every hidden object or adventure game these days as they are made primarily for the casual market. This means if you can’t get through a puzzle on your own, you’re permanently trapped. There’s not even a reset button to set the puzzle back to its default setting (another common device in these games), meaning you have to exit to the main menu and restart your game if you mess up a puzzle in any way. That’s just terrible. The fact that the PC version had these features, and for a lower price tag to boot, makes their absence from the 3DS version all the more unforgiveable. As such, you have game obviously made for the casual market audience, but without all the bells and whistles that allows them to get through the game. If it was any other genre, I’d be fine with that, but these days the majority of people who play HOGs an adventure games do so for the story and to deprive them of that when every other game on the market gives you some sort of help if needed, just makes Murder on the Titanic suck all the more than its original PC version.

Aurally, Murder on the Titanic is fine for what it is. There is no voice acting, and sound effects are rare. The musical score, while lacking in more than a handful of tunes, are all nicely done instrumental tracks that fit both the setting and time period of the game. The tracks aren’t especially memorable and you certain won’t get them caught in your head, but they are haunting and atmospheric, which is appropriate for e ride of the most tragic vessel of them all.

As this is a point and click adventure game, you’ll be doing everything with the touch pad and stylus. In the hidden object sections, you’ll have a list of objects to find and you’ll have to find them amongst the mess on your screen. Get it right, and the object is removed from your list. Get it wrong and nothing happens – unless you make too many wrong choices. Then the screen fuzzes over like a TV in the 50s with a bad aerial. You also earn points in the HO scenes, but as there isn’t a timer and you don’t lose points for incorrect guesses, nor do you get extra points for a rapid succession of finds, I’m not sure what the point of a score is at all here. Finally, the list of objects has been truncated in the 3DS version so only part of the list shows on the screen. This means if you click on an item that you have a strong feeling will be on the list – nothing happens. You have to wait for it to actually replace an object you’ve already found. This makes the hidden object scenes last longer than the PC version and you don’t have as many options. Pity.

As mentioned previously, the puzzles have been remixed in the 3DS version. They’re still the same puzzle in design, but the solutions have been slightly changed. This means even if you have played the original PC version, you still can get something out of the 3DS version. However with the lack of a functioning hint button and the inability to skip puzzles you just can’t get past, the game loses nearly all of its accessibility the target audience for this type of game tends to desire.

In terms of Replayability, Murder on the Titanic simply doesn’t have much unless you are looking to beat your high score, which seem to be arbitrary at best. The game is roughly two hours long and it’s extremely linear, so nothing will ever change from one playthrough to the next. So this is a one and done game – if that. You might as well just play this off of Big Fish’s new Unlimited Streaming option so you don’t actually have to purchase this. Sure it won’t be on the 3DS, but it’ll be cheaper and you won’t be stuck with this game on your 3DS forevermore.

Murder on the Titanic is a pretty generic adventure/hidden object hybrid. All of the puzzles in the game have been seen before countless times, and they’ve all been done a lot better. You have the “put a ripped up piece of paper together” puzzle, the “move items to get a different item through a maze” puzzle and so many others any fan of the genre will have encountered so many times before this, they probably don’t even count as puzzles anymore. Hell, even the puzzles in the PC version (including the hidden object bits) were done better. The game is pretty easy for the most part, however if you get stuck, you’ll be perma-stuck as you can’t skip puzzles like in most games of this nature and any walkthrough you try to look up will be for the PC version. Considering all the puzzles have been remixed those will probably hurt you more than help you. So in a nutshell, you’re getting a very short, very linear download that was done better on the PC and whose puzzles were done better in literally hundreds, if not thousands, of other game similar to it. That’s…not a good sign, now is it?

At the end of the day, I’m not sure who this version of Murder on the Titanic was made for. It’s missing all the bells and whistles that casual gamers, especially for this genre, tend to want. I appreciated the puzzles being remixed, but they’re still puzzles every generic adventure game uses and so it’s not like they feel fresh or new because of this. The story is trite, the gameplay is noticeably neutered in this version and it’s just not very fun. Granted you don’t have a lot of hidden object or point and click adventure options in the eShop right now and it doesn’t help that Nintendo’s store doesn’t list hidden object as a genre choice and that it confuses the adventure genre, which has always been point and click only, with the action genre, making it harder to find games of this nature that are actually better. Hell if I even do a search for “hidden object,” this game doesn’t even come up. Only iSpot Japan and Hot and Cold does. You can’t fault this game for Nintendo’s lack of forethought in regards to these two genres though, but it’s still irksome that consoles treat fans of this genre with disdain unless it’s something by Telltale Games.

With a $7.99 price tag though, you’re paying a pretty penny for a game that was done a lot better and for at least a dollar less on the PC. You might as well stay away from this one – it’s just not very good. Although Nintendo’s own website erroneously claims this is the only game of its kind on the eShop right now, we’ve not only seen in this review that said claim isn’t true, but that if this is the kind of quality we’re going to get for this genre, fans of hidden object adventure games are just going to want to stick to their PC. Pity that.

The Scores:
Story: 4/10
Graphics: 5/10
Sound: 5.5/10
Control and Gameplay: 5/10
Replayability: 2/10
Balance: 5/10
Originality: 3/10
Addictiveness: 5/10
Appeal Factor: 4/10
Miscellaneous: 3/10
Total Score: 41.5
FINAL SCORE: 4.0 (Poor Game!)

Short Attention Span Summary
Murder on the Titanic is a remake of the PC game by the same name. Unfortunately not only was the PC version of the game not very good, but it was still better than the 3DS port. With a lot of the functions and style missing from this version, curious parties should stick to the original, especially as it’s cheaper than the one in the 3DS eShop. For your eight dollars you get an exceptionally linear affair that should take you no more than two hours to get through. Factor in it’s a casual gamer title where the 3DS version is missing the usual bells and whistles that make hidden object/adventure hybrids attractive to that audience and you have to wonder that they were going for with this one. Spend your eight dollars on something better.

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