Frogwares has created several Sherlock Holmes adventure games on the PC, and its fifth installment is on the way. The first game of the series, Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Mummy, is currently being remade specifically for the Nintendo DS in hopes of drawing in a new audience, the same audience that might prefer such games as Brain Age or Big Brain Academy. Focus Home Interactive came by to let us play a bit of The Mystery of the Mummy so we could get a feel for how it will work on a handheld.
In The Mystery of the Mummy, Sherlock Holmes is requested by Elisabeth Montcalfe to find out the truth about her father and explore her father's manor to unravel its secrets. Lord Montcalfe, a British archaeologist, has disappeared, and Scotland Yard believes that he killed himself by self-immolation. However, Elisabeth believes that her father may still be alive, which is why she has sent for the famous detective.
We had a chance to explore only a few rooms before getting stumped on a puzzle that would require some time and backtracking to solve, so we mostly focused on the changes that were made from the PC to the DS. We were able to drag the stylus around the screen to look at our surroundings. Like the PC games, The Mystery of the Mummy is in first-person view. If you keep the stylus on the pad, an icon will appear if there is something with which you can interact. It's also incredibly important to look on the floor and ceilings because you are in a 3D environment. The game wasn't finished yet, so we were told that there would be an indicator to let us know if we could travel to the next area, but icons such as the hand and the magnifying glass did appear when we approached specific objects. The hand let us pick up items used in puzzles, and the magnifying glass gave us a closer look at objects by zooming in to a new screen.
The inventory takes up the top screen, and the L button will bring it down to the touch screen for you to select the item that you want to use. It is quick and easy to switch back and forth, and to make things even more convenient, a notepad has been added. When you bring down the inventory window, a notepad icon is available with which you can pull up a blank screen to jot down your findings. All of the documents that you come across are also stored, and you can view them from the inventory panel. The letter that we had on us spanned the two DS screens, and you can use the stylus to move it around.
We didn't come across too many puzzles that involved more than a simple point-and-click solution. There was a puzzle that involved doing a bit of math with dates; this type of puzzle seems to come up often in this type of game. We were told of a clever way of solving a puzzle later in the game using the DS that includes using the top screen as a mirror. In this particular puzzle, you need to find a combination of numbers, and you have a piece of paper with symbols that you can't read. If you start to close the DS, the reflection of the symbols will appear on the top screen to show you the answer. We are also told that the game will have a hint system to provide you with tips. It won't offer any solutions, but it will ask whether or not you've done certain things. This will be perfect for you to turn to when you get stuck.
Visually the game looks about as good as it can get on the DS. Everything else, in terms of music, dialogue, and voice acting, is supposed to be the same as in the PC version. The only change is that it's on a much smaller screen with a not-so-impressive sound system. Hopefully the experience on the DS will be similar in terms of creating the right mood and ambiance so that players can feel immersed.
Frogwares has been working hard to keep adventure games alive with its Sherlock Holmes series and other games on the PC, and now that the company has moved toward the DS, it can provide to a different audience the same experience on a handheld. Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Mummy is scheduled for an October release.