Saturday Crapshoot: Noctropolis

Richard Cobbett at

Every week, Richard Cobbett rolls the dice to bring you an obscure slice of gaming history, from lost gems to weapons grade atrocities. This week, a comic world unfurls itself to reveal a video of... what? Not a hero for the ages, that's for sure, but just maybe the hero within. Hmm. Nah.

You know what? This week, let's try something a bit different...

Click here to see the full, mostly unedited game, without that annoying babbling guy.

"Show" Notes: Yep, rough, I know. Never tried one of these before - that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it. Hopefully made for a fun experiment though, and don't worry, it's back to text next week. Not least because while I clearly can't type faster than I talk, I do type faster than I Premiere Pro.

To add a few more bits to the game itself (editing a recording goof being far more difficult than reworking a paragraph, especially when the neighbours want to sleep) Noctropolis certainly isn't a dreadful game. The city is wonderfully stylish, and really stood out at the time - as did simply attempting a mature theme, even if it did get more than a little bogged down in sexist tropes. The basic adventure though is weak, both in being a relentlessly linear tread through incredibly simplistic puzzles, and simply not making the most of what it's got. Why have five villains if one of them barely gets a scene, another's world serves no purpose, and only one is even pretending to be involved with the Big Bad?

I just realised I didn't rant about this awful, timed puzzle. Well, insert one here.

Likewise, the concept is a good one, though the use of FMV was a mistake for reasons that should be pretty obvious. Its main flaw is setting it up, then not really running with it. Peter barely reacts to anything that happens, to the point that even getting knifed has no weight. As for the villain, we don't know him. Original Darksheer comes across as a bit bloodthirsty in the tie-in comic, so it's not like Batman - who he totally is not, ahem - suddenly going rogue. I've heard that all joking aside, this was actually meant to be a Batman game, but the company couldn't get the license. That may be apocryphal, but I really wouldn't be surprised, and I'd have liked to play that hypothetical game. If it ever existed, of course.

Peter's own path from zero to hero is also entirely too easy. He gets badly hurt, true, and has to play detective a bit. All the encounters are staged though, to the point that he doesn't deserve the heroic status he has at the end. He's just the guy who flipped the coin. That could still work, if he was interesting. He's not though, and nobody else - even Stiletto - gets enough screen time.

Even so, three words: Faux Action Girl. A chronic case.

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

So then, Noctropolis. Good ideas. Not so good execution. It's campy FMV fun though, even if little that happens is particularly memorable. The soundtrack deserves props though, and in a nice gesture, 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 well worth sticking next to the likes of The 7th Guest.

As for the internal Tex Murphy argument? That's one for another week...

"Lumisheer" is not really a lemon-scented kitchen cleaner. But it totally should be.


Tags:   , ,