Welcome to the 4th installment of BBP's Cluedo pages! This page is here to honour a minor adventure game, that is obviously based on Cluedo: FoulPlay.
FoulPlay was released by Softkey in 1998. It bears strong resemblance to the Cluedo? game that was released for CD-I, although the medium allows it to be much more detailed: the FMV content is much smaller. This causes the game to host up to 14 rooms depending on difficulty level, 8 possible weapons, and 6 suspects, plus up to 7 possible times, leading to 4704 possible outcomes. The way the suspects have been divided into a professor (Dr Quandry), a military man (Major Gallop), a businessman (Senator Bluster), a beauty (Miss Sang Lo), a posh lady (Mrs Thatcham) and a maid (Mrs Drabble), is clearly copied from the board game. The game is overseen by an all-knowing butler, who does most of the voice work and who never did it. Like Cluedo? the real heart of the game lies in finding the right objects. Unlike the CD-I game though, all possible hiding places must be checked for clues, so it will take up much more time. The amount of hiding places is vast.
Note: I only have the Dutch version. The Dutch edition of the game is reasonably acted, except for the cleaning lady. The Dutch names are: butler Voetenveeg (unpolite name for a butler), mevrouw Modder (Mrs Mud, the cleaner), mevrouw Dasspeld (Mrs Tie-pin. Dutch word "das" can also mean "badger". Mrs Dasspeld is busy building a badger sanctuary), juffrouw Song-Goe (ms Sang Lo), Dokter Dilemma, Majoor Galop, and Baron Blaasbalg (baron Bellows).
GAMEPLAY & Observations
The gameplay is straightforward enough to make me wonder why I am writing a companion for it. The heart of the game is simply clicking around until you find the right objects.
So, what are you looking for:
WEAPON Regardless of difficulty level, there are 8 weapons in the game: poison, icepick, dagger, dog leash, blow darts, scissors, gun, and the hammer. The game tries to hide them in places large enough, and there aren't many instances where you will raise your eyebrows.
The murderer hid the weapon after use, either in the murder room, or in one of the room he visits afterwards. So check the rest of the room for possible clues on who the killer is.
The game can be solved if you don't find the weapon: if you find the murderer, click on the giant question mark in the interrogation screen, and the butler will tell you which weapons he/she is likely to have used, if (s)he is the culprit. However there is a bug here: it's ALWAYS the first one of the two the butler mentions. Worse, there is another bug: the string "or the blow darts" is missing. In case you get this, just hope you clicked the question mark only once: if you clicked it twice, you're tossed out and you'll never know who did it. If the game pops up its error message, click Continue. You'll end up on the Map image. Click one of the rooms, and the game continues.
WATCH Sir John Stiffling's watch was shattered at the murder scene, and the murderer hid it.
The game will tell you the time of the murder in the earlier levels, and give you 4 possible time blocks for the murder in the higher levels, and 7 possible time blocks for Level 10. Because of a nasty bug, when you're in level 4 or 5, the sound will be missing from the watch clue. The remaining options will have to indicate what time the murder took place: ask the killer when he was at the crime scene.
The entire system causes level 9 to be the easiest: all levels open, but with a maximum of 4 timeblocks, the clues are never scattered. If you find one clue in the kitchen, you know you can skip the top floor except for the ballroom.
The watch can usually be found in little hiding places, the game seems to make a difference between the bigger and smaller spots.
ROOM The murder room can be identified by the traces of struggle. These can be found in the more major hiding spots, although these can be found at more ludricrous positions. Don't be surprised if you find them in a fire place, behind the curtain or under a chair.
If you can't find the traces, there's no need to panic: you can always find the watch and check with the murderer.
MURDERER The murderer can be identified using the following means:
- Find the location, then eliminate all suspects who weren't there
- Find the weapon, then eliminate all suspects who have a different favourite weapon
- Find the time, then eliminate all suspects who were together with someone else at the time of the murder
- Eliminate the suspects who weren't at the location where you found either of the three murder clues
- Listen to the radio, maybe the police will cross off one person on the suspect list
- If you're having research difficulties, the phone will eventually ring. Answer it, and the police will probably give you a clue on who the murderer is
BUTLER When you push a bell button, the butler may come up, unless he's busy. He might give you info on who was in a certain room at a certain time. His info will always deal with the room you are in. He will never mention more than 1 name, even if that suspect wasn't alone at the time. He may state that there was nobody in that room, which has no use at all: you may even hear it in the murder room.
Other Clues Other clues in this game tend to be useless. Jewelry, postcards, letters, cough drops: a suspect will always lose at least one item in every room he was in before 8 o'clock. They can come in handy if you have found any of the three murder clues, you may use them to eliminate suspects. This is of little use in the hall and ballroom, these rooms are usually visited by every suspect. Also the amount of hiding locations is so vast you just might overlook one clue, so be careful with who you cross off your list.
The clues may contain telegrams, newspapers, diaries and letters. The owner of that clue will read a diary segment (there are multiple) or whatever you find, and this cannot be skipped. They are usually quite funny and may set up your suspects with a motive. Other than that, they have no use.
One important note: the string "Cough drops" is missing. If you happen to find Dr Quandry's cough drops, you'd best cross your fingers. If you don't get chucked out, the game will continue, but the cough drop image will hang disturbingly in the centre of your screen until you find another object.
SECRET PASSAGES The secret passages are placed at random. Many rooms have at least 1 possible passage, but whether or not it's active, or where it leads, is different with every game.
This game has more issues than simple potential copyright violation. For instance, it may be playable with up to 6 competitors, but that's a bit silly: the clues given by the weapons, traces and suspect interrogations are concealed: a screen pops up with 9 boxes. The player types a number from 1 to 9, and is then shown a number of possible answers, the right one appears in the box of which the number corresponds with the number the player chose. This may seem handy, but it's easy for another player to find the same clue and receive the same hint. It only comes in handy if a single player wants to dodge the "blow dart bug", this system has no need for that string.
Even so, the game has a high replay value, although it might get annoying once you've read all the letters and telegrams several times. The acting is nearly always bearable, often funny, and especially the Dutch butler voice is well done. The concept may be frustrating, but is still entertaining nonetheless. There might even be some deduction involved.
Every player can choose the length of a turn at the unusual lengths of 1½, 2½ or 3½ minutes. Even when you play alone, the game will occasionally end turns: this can be annoying. Though it does kinda help at keeping track how long you've been playing.
In the game it's possible (and it's happened to me twice) to find the full solution on your first click: if you find the watch, it says 7:55, and you check your notes and find your character was in the room where you are, you will know all 4 parts of the solution, as it's always the first of the two possible weapons.
Although the game mentions the location and sets are at HOLKER HALL, the cast, voice overs and crew is left nameless.
Games can last from under a minute, to near an hour. The game looks fantastic, the sets are amazing and there is much to discover.
A Cluedo adept might be a little disappointed, especially considering the 8+ warning, as the only main challenge is a hunt: find 3 objects at over 1000 possible spaces. But children and even adults may have at least a little fun with this game, which has an unusual black humour, with the many joke names, bizarre events and fantastic music.