Tuesday, October 23, 2007

one little boy detective playing a pc game; before long it was morning, and then he just felt lame

Out of some perverse desire to screw up any hope of getting my sleep onto a proper schedule, I was up until almost 3 last night finishing a computer game, And Then There Were None, based on the Agatha Christie novel. I hadn't played a PC game in several years (indeed, I'm not sure I have since graduate school), but I was intrigued by it because back in junior high I read all of Agatha Christie's novels. I was curious how one would adapt And Then There Were None into a game, especially since the box promised the game was not compromised if you'd already read the book--it was the world's all-time best-selling mystery novel, and still is if you refuse to acknowledge that the first Harry Potter book is a mystery novel.

As a sociological aside, And Then There Were None has its title because the American publishers in 1940 chose not to bring it out under it's original UK title, Ten Little [N-Words]. (That title is based on a nursery rhyme that is central to the plot.) An American paperback in 1964 used the name that had been used by an earlier play, Ten Little Indians. Current versions of the paperback apparently omit the "Indians" as well and go with "Soldiers." The game I was playing used "Sailor Boys."

The game does indeed have a different ending than the book. I used online hints liberally, because there was no way I was giving this a week or whatever of my life. As a result of these hints, I was able to solve a series of puzzles that first had me break a code to open a secret passage to an underground cavern, then take a raft ride to an abandoned village, then build a giant parachute to try to fly off the island, and then find a buoy at sea with a secret German radio beacon. All this, in turn, turned out to be absolutely irrelevant to the solving the murder or anything else with how the game ends.

The game was sold as a Double Mystery Pack, along with Murder on the Orient Express. It promises "an all-new surprise ending." Murder on the Orient Express is one of the two Christie novels known especially for its distinctive solution, the other being The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. My suspicion looking at the materials was that they were going to trade the ending of Murder on the Orient Express with the ending for The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I'm not sure I'm going to play through the game to find out if I'm right, though.

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