noiseredux vs.

Posted on Apr 25th 2011 at 01:32:11 AM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Game Boy Color, PS2, Movies

April's Together Retro game club pick at was Deja Vu, a classic adventure game that goes back to the early Mac gaming days, and found a bit of a cult-following on the NES. It was later ported to the Game Boy Color, which is arguably the best version of the game out there. Not only are the graphics bright and the command interface refined, but the cartridge also features the lesser-known sequel as well.

As a fan of adventure games, I was really looking forward to playing my way through this one. The game borrows heavily from film noire, as you a hard boiled detective who wakes up in a bathroom stall with amnesia. And you don't know that you're a detective, but you feel like you've been drugged. It's up to you to piece this case together and figure out who you are. Sounds like fun, right? Well, not so much.

The problem is the utterly frustrating puzzle element of the game. Much of the puzzle solving in this game is completely infuriatingly unfair. So while the game isn't actually incredibly long, it can last much longer because you'll often need to start over due to some game-breaking situation. For instance in my first playthrough I was going from location to location via taxi cab. Each trip cost me 3 of my 20 coins. Eventually I got to a point where I was out of coins and couldn't leave the location I was at. I was stuck and irritated by the time a fellow forum member told me I could get more coins by gambing in the casino (back in the building I had started in). With this new knowledge I restarted my game. I went to the casino and gambled away all 20 of my coins in a slot machine. Turns out the slot machine on the left is a winner, but the one on the right is a loser. So I had to restart my game again.

So how much trial and error is too much? For me, Deja Vu was far too brutal. Too demanding. Too unfair. I think it's easy to write this off as a matter of "games were just harder back then," but I don't think that's the case. I tend to think that making the game so unfair was an attemt at making it last longer. I've played my way through some excellent adventure games like The Secret Of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion, and although I may have found myself stumped at times, I never thought that the solution was completely arbitrary either.

But sadly I couldn't even finish Deja Vu, a relatively short game even when I used a FAQ. You see at the very end of the game you must ditch all of your incriminating evidence in a sewer before bringing your proof of innocense to the police department. But the computer wouldn't let me dispose of my gun. After days of trial and error and scouring the internet it came down to the fact that I had never shot open a certain cabinet. I had collected all of the proof I was supposed to, but I couldn't complete this game without shooting open a stupid cabinet. How exactly would anyone be expected to figure this out? Had they made it as far as I had, and seemed to have solved all of the amnesiac puzzles, how would they know they missed a cabinet that had to be shot open?

I was so disgusted that I just stopped playing. I didn't even care if I beat the game or not. And I was certainly not motivated to start up the second.

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I have fond memories of the NES version of Deja Vu but I know I never would have beaten it as a kid without the help of Nintendo Power. There were a few issues where the Counselor's Corner section laid out all of the important things you needed to have on you (and those you had to dispose of) at the end of the game.

I've never played Deja Vu II but I loved the NES versions of Shadowgate and Uninvited.  These games are what got me hooked on point and click adventures at a young age!
Thank you for mentioning this game! I hate adventure games for the same reasons, even though I'm in my mid 30's and I grew up around the times when the genre was born and thriving. But every now and then I give some of the more modern, "friendlier" games like Hotel Dusk and Indigo Prophecy a chance.  I was considering giving this version of Deja Vu a chance, but actually bought a mint copy of Shadowgate for GameBoy Color instead. After playing it for 2 hours and getting frustrated I put it up on Ebay, thinking about buying Deja Vu next because I heard from good sources that it isn't as hard. Luckily, the kinds of old game conventions you complain about are the ones I'm trying to avoid, so you just saved me some money!
@ShellShock: I can't believe you mentioned Indigo Prophecy, haha. The ORIGINAL version of this post was actually going to contain a second half, about how instead of moving on to Deja Vu II, I decided instead to play Indigo Prophecy... also very film noire-inspired, also begins with our main character waking up in a bathroom, etc. Anyway, it got late, I got tired and figured that would end up being its own post. Smiley
I too have very fond memories of these point and click adventures, and I agree that Deja Vu is the most aggravating of the original NES titles (dropping the evidence, running out of money for cabs, getting robbed, etc.).  Growing up I remember spending hours playing the King's Quest and Space Quest series at a friend's house and getting so excited when we figured out the smallest pieces of each puzzle.  The NES point and clicks, though not appealing to ever gamer, reminded me of those earlier PC games and I think enhanced my enjoyment of them.  Great article!
Aw, what a shame. The graphics looked great, and I was hoping for a nice P&C Adventure game to try on my GBC.
@lisalover1: Pick up Scooby-Doo Classic Creep Capers instead. Trust me.
@noiseredux:Well, like I said before, I played the N64 version of Scooby Doo CCC a while back. I guess I will try emulating the GBC version to see how different the missions are from the console version before I buy it. I assume the GBC version is more similar to the SNES/Genesis Scooby Doo adventure game.
@lisalover1: NOOOOOO! The GBC port is like Maniac Fucking Mansion, man!! It's in a league of its own. Get it! Play it! Now!
whoa, I agree with noiseredux, pick up Scooby-Doo Classic Creep Capers! I own both this and Deja Vu, and Scooby-Doo, is a ton of fun, it's like Maniac Mansion with a talking dog! Definitely worth a buy!

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