Review by JB Harold

Reviewed: 08/25/02 | Updated: 08/25/02

JB Harold and Maude Club

Bill Robbins was dead. That much was certain. He had been found stabbed to death in his car near the entrance to Houlington College. What was uncertain was who had delivered the fatal wounds.

JB Harold was a young detective and this was his first case. It was up to him to solve the mystery of the Robbins murder. It weighed heavily on his mind that first morning when he set out to the Hungry Fisherman, the last place Bill Robbins had been seen alive.

After many hours and many interviews with the denizens of Liberty, JB had more questions than answers. This was not going to be a simple case. With each new piece of information he was convinced there was more to this crime than meets the eye.

Bill Robbins had died young, only 34 years old, but in that short amount of time he had become CEO of the family business and made many enemies, both personally and professionally. His young wife, Janet, knew of his infidelities. Hell, everyone did. Bill was not shy; he flaunted the women he fooled around with. Janet's family, among others, hated Bill for what he had done. Had this been the motive in the crime?

Professionally things hadn't been much different. Bill was a shrewd, ruthless businessman. He would do anything in the book to use other's misfortunes for his own personal gain. All involved in his business dealings would have to be looked at closely. Could it be that one of them had sought revenge?

JB decided it was time to change some question marks to periods.

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JB Harold: Murder Club is an outstanding detective game. There are many characters to question, including a dozen suspects. There are many locations, including businesses, homes, and others. Its simple design may belie its true nature to some, but this is actually a complex murder mystery.

The story is its strongest point. At first it may be a little hard to believe how many people could actually want to kill one single person, but all motives are legitimate, each suspect believable. The plot is very well thought out and unpredictable. Just when you think you know who the killer is, think again.

The design is similar to point and click games, only simplified. There is no overuse of commands. There are locations on a map and inside the locations are the people to interview. Select a location; choose to speak to someone at that location. If you have a warrant, JB is allowed to search the premises. Select the room and he searches the room automatically, no fumbling with ''Go to bed, Look at bed, Search under bed''. This user-friendly design is another strong factor of the game.

Inside the police station JB can go into the record room to read up on other cases. He can visit the District Attorney, and with sufficient cause, request a search warrant or an arrest warrant be issued. Once a search warrant has been issued and evidence is collected it can be taken back to the lab at the police station for analysis. There is also an interrogation room where suspects can be questioned once they are arrested. These options are impressive and realistic; therefore the game becomes even more engrossing.

The characters are presented very well. They all have personalities and react differently to your questions. Some are a bit more open than others, some are downright hostile. Some are helpful, some are secretive, but eventually they all tell the whole truth. It will take a lot of effort - multiple interviews, multiple searches, multiple interrogations, but with patience and determination they all have a breaking point.

The only area of the game that is less than stellar is in the graphics and audio. There is an option for narration. However, the voice acting is not very good and it tends to slow down the game more than anything else. Frankly the music is annoying, save the moody music that plays in the interrogation room and the jazzy tune that plays over the opening. Graphically the game is pretty simple, with the exception of the amazing ending sequence, the only time voice acting isn't optional.

But this isn't a game that needs to stun with gorgeous graphics or elegant musical composition, it is a game that needs to stun with its plot and it succeeds.

In conclusion, JB Harold Murder Club may be a little obscure, but it only cost me around ten dollars. A great game at a reasonable price is not the type of thing that should be passed up.

Rating: 9

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