The Mystery Of Arkham Manor (Melbourne House) Review | Crash - Everygamegoing


The Mystery Of Arkham Manor
By Melbourne House
Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Crash #43

The Mystery Of Arkham Manor

Please, please don't make me go through this one again. I've read the instructions three times and I'm still not convinced there's much point in playing this game. It's not just that The Mystery Of Arkham Manor is annoyingly slow, or that it's fundamentally boring, it's that there doesn't seem to be a concrete way of scoring.

Let me explain. You are a freelance reporter on assignment for The London Chronicle. The idea is to jot down events in your notebook and take photographs with those newfangled things called 'cameras', this being back in 1924, when people got their news from things called 'newspapers'.

Only trouble is, how does the computer know if you've compiled a good report for your newspaper, or just made the stuff up?

And it's not just scoring which is hit or miss.

You're following up a story in Arkham, a quiet country village. One Colonel Lemin, a former MP and member of the Foreign Office, has sent a letter to the Chronicle describing some peculiar happenings around the hamlet.

After a so-so intro tune, you begin the game armed with the Colonel's letter and a note in your notebook to meet the old blighter at the railway station. He doesn't meet you, though, and playing a little further you find out why - he's dead.

You get this piece of vital information from his wide, who I snapped as one of my photographcs. Don't ask me what you must photograph - I couldn't tell you! Scoring, and finding a direction to the game, is not easy.

Direction, indeed... that reminds me of something I'll get to after telling you about this camera lark.

It being 1924, your camera is one of the early portable plate jobs. It's not in the same league as today's models, and you'll find it impossible to move the viewfinder above head height. Luckily, the camera assumes you want the head above the neck as well!

There are three photographic plates which can be reused; they're shown at the bottom left of the screen. The cursor-controlled movement of the viewfinder is jerky, like just about every control in the game. (The menu system is particularly clumsy and awkward, and slows things down.)

Right, that direction business I was on about. As if the game didn't have enough major failings, the programmer throws in an absolutely mad movement system: your character walks into a new location from the opposite side to the one you've chosen.

This crazy mannerism isn't apparent at every move, but it does fit in with the scheme of things in a game that doesn't know where it's going or which way it's facing. Knowing where you're going and where you might end up is almost impossible.

The report area, where you construct your own page for The London Chronicle isn't immune from bugs though it's important. Selecting a headline and then a photo I found that, quite rightly, my write-up began next to the photo, forming a neat border. but the next line of text ran right through the photo, ruining it!

I got a little fed up with my career at The London Chronicle and decided Arkham Manor was best left to the zombies that roam its graveyard. May old Lemin rest in peace.


Difficulty: Instructions are too clever and stupid at the same time.
Graphics: Good
Presentation: Good
Input Facility: Menus leading to submenus
Response: Acceptable
General Rating: Flawed, but an original idea