Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Deja Vu (1990)

Genre: Adventure | Players: 1 | Developer: ICOM Simulations Inc.

This entry in the NES Kemco-Seika trilogy finds you passed out in a seedy bathroom stall with no memory of who you are and very few clues to go on. They roll in at a fast enough pace, however, and before you know it you’re at the center of a small detective tale.

Compared to the mostly straight forward gameplay of Uninvited, Deja Vu opts to include several random elements in its narrative. These are ultimately harmless and can be worked around if you have the patience to abuse the save system and your reset button. On top of that, you will be gambling for cab fare and the math can work out such that you could be left stranded. I didn’t bother to find out what happens if you are, but you’re more than welcome to experiment on your own.

Again, the music falls equally into the discrete categories of awesome, okay, and ear-wrecking. Thankfully, I can only think of one screen where the last is an issue. I would also like to note that if you rapidly skip text on the final screen of the game it will happily erase your file. I was able to replicate this several times and I have no idea why it happens. The option to continue is the default on the game over splash and even then selecting end doesn’t erase your file any other time. It is a mystery.

Okay, I’m going to save you a LOT of frustration by sharing this game’s biggest fault: You’re going to face an obstacle detectives come across repeatedly in their work. You’re going to want to use a logical solution for the ones that cannot be circumvented by the standard means. It won’t work most of the time and the game will actually mock you for trying at one point. The problem is it does work a small number of times, and for me these instances came up after I had been chastised. My inclination to continue trying had been brought to zero. In short, keep trying solutions every time they are applicable.

In the end, the game can become an exercise in trial and error, with the final failure screens guiding you on how to fully prepare yourself. The process of how this is done left a bad taste in my mouth and I can’t help but feel Phoenix Wright would be ashamed.

I still have a fondness for Deja Vu but it is assuredly the annoying-ass little brother of this family of games.

Buyer’s Guide: Available on Apple IIGS, Mac, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amiga, DOS, NES, Game Boy Color, and Microsoft WIndows (Pocket PC). The GBC version includes its sequel.

2 Really Bad Tacos out of 5

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