A&F hit the jackpot with their last game, Chuckle Egg, which became a best-seller on a number of different machines. Have they done it again with Gumshoe?
Using your joystick (there's no keyboard option, which is a pity) you must explore a house and find a young lady who's been kidnapped by baddies. Once you've found her you move on to the next level.
The screen is divided into floors joined by escalators, which occasionally change direction, ladders, and lifts which travel up and down stopping at each floor. The display scrolls appropriately as you move about.
You can also jump down laundry chutes, which take you down several floors, or through trap doors, which simply get you to the floor below.
There are ten different 'houses', each approximately fifteen screens in size. There isn't a lot of variety - it's the layout rather than the contents that change.
The different floors are crowded with trigger-happy hoodlums. You can either shoot them or, if you're lucky, bump into them. This sets off a nice fight sequence with a couple of 'ZAPS' and 'POWS'. Be warned. you usually lose. If you win, you're charged $150 for medical fees.
Money is an important part of the scoring system. You get cash for each hoodlum you kill, and a special bonus for finding the girl. But it gets spent on ammunition and medical fees.
It hardly seems fair to compare any game with Chuckle Egg. Gumshoe is still an enjoyable romp, even if it doesn't quite have the edge on its predecessor. It doesn't have anything outstandingly original to offer, but it has a sense of humour and is very playable.
The idea was very attractive - but it didn't quite have enough gameplay to make it gripping. It certainly doesn't rival Chuckie Egg for addictiveness.
Gumshoe himself moved very nicely. There's a certain pleasure in ducking the baddies' bullets and it feels real good when you duff one up in hand-to-hand combat, but you just keep on going up and down, shooting and dodging until you find the kidnapped heiress.
What made the game for me was the sadistic grin which Gumshoe wore whenever he killed a gangster.
The gangsters die very realistically, clutching their stomachs, bending over and finally falling. And I loved the way Gumshoe kept on firing even when plunging to his own death.
An itchy trigger finger is very handy in Gumshoe since in a good game you can put away over a hundred kidnappers. Great fun, especially the fist fights where you really get to grips with your adversary.
The game concept is simple but captivating.