This ain't a nice neighbourhood. Even the 'roaches go around in pairs. Sure, there's the 87th Street precinct headquarters down the street. But the cops don't like my kind any better than the two-bit gangsters living on this block. My kind is a detective, Sam Cruise is the name. You can read it any day of the week on the door of my third-floor office.
I'm working on a case right now. The case of the Bali Budgie. It all began with a phone call... the best ones always do. A classy dame, Lana, asked me to meet her at the fifth floor of the Hotel Royale on the next block. She sounded sweet, like syrup.
When I got there, the bird had flown, but I wasn't alone. The body on the floor was crumpled in a way that only means one thing. The envelope in the corner contained the $100 Lana had promised me, but even the phone ringing on the desk didn't drown out the noise of the cops in the lobby of the hotel. It was a set-up, and I was the bait.
The voice growled its message and then hung up. It was probably meant for the poor sap on the floor, but to me it was the only clue I had in this case, and the only piece of hard evidence I had to work on if I was to prove my innocence. A private investigator's licence ain't easy to get in this town. The only way out of a jam like this is to put on a disguise, fuse the lights and get back to the office...
Such is the daily routine of a private investigator, Sam Cruise... the athletic hero from Microsphere's Contact Sam Cruise. I say athletic, because despite the sort of 'cool' we've come to expect from these 'Bogey-type' investigators, Cruise spends most of his time on the mean and moody streets performing aerial somersaults and forward rolls. Dodging sniper's bullets is one reason for these acts of physical fitness, but he's also trying to trap the passing banknotes from a recent bank job to supplement his income.
But it's not only the gangsters you have to watch, it's the cops too. Entering the buildings illegally - that is, without a key - is quickly picked up by the police and the only way out is to don a quick disguise. Of the eight disguises Sam can choose from, only those in blue can fool the police - but you have to watch out as his disguise can slip anytime, especially when there are cops around.
Sam can pick up various clues to help his investigation. Phoning up his office gets Daisy, his secretary, keeping him up to date with his messages. Clues are liberally spread all over the neighbourhood, and Sam picks these up simply by walking over them. There's also a whole lot of cash up for grabs - it's just a case of finding it...
Cruise has ten lives -displayed as the ten first aid kits required to patch him up when he gets shot up by a passing mobster.
Icons, so trendy these days, are an essential part of the game. Doors, fuses, light switches and phones all flash up on-screen when Cruise passes them, and then it's just a matter of finding the appropriate key to use them.
Contact Sam Cruise is a strange game... unless, of course, you've experience of the Skool series of games. When you start off, keeping Cruise alive is the biggest problem but that soon passes once you've got enough dollars in your pocket to get yourself out of jail on bail and pay off the petty thieves that hang out on your block. All you've got to do then is try and make some sense out the weird and wonderful clues that come your way... It may not be the Maltese Falcon you're looking for, but the Bali Budgie's just as difficult to find.
The graphics do get a bit difficult to sort out sometimes - especially when you've got dollar bills, passers-by and cops all vying for the same spot on-screen - but if you're looking for a bit of private eyeing, take my advice kid, and contact Sam Cruise.
Make a mug of cocoa and stick yer tired feet on the coffee table ("Get them off" oo-er- mum), as Duncan MacDonald guides you through the spooky world of budget games.
Reviewer: Duncan MacDonald
This is a viewed side-on arcade adventure with a humourous feel. You play, obviously, Sam Cruise, and at the start of play receive a telephone call asking you to meet a woman in a hotel. You move Sam around using up, down, left, right controls, which enable him to walk the street, enter doors, climb stairs etc. Your view is always that of outside the street - when Sam enters a building he disappears from view, and you can only see him as he passes windows. Icons at the bottom of the screen will tell you what objects are in your immediate vicinity, and you can inter-react by pressing various keys on the keybaord.
This is quite an absorbing, atmospheric little game which is nice to look at - and pretty hard too.
Rerelease/Original score 9
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