From 2010 to 2014 Richard Cobbett wrote Crapshoot, a column about rolling the dice to bring random games back to light.
You have the right to watch the video above. You don’t have to laugh, but any giggle or guilty smile can be used against you. If you don’t have a sense of humor, one can be provided. Everything else will assume that the TV show “Castle” is an accurate representation of police procedure.
Unnecessarily long “Show” notes!
So here we go. I recently got some requests for Police Quest and thought it would be fun to try one of these again. Yes, I did police mission 1 before, but it didn’t seem to make sense to leave him out just because of that. Also, there are new jokes, I promise.
Therefore, more detailed notes, excerpts and other information that was not included in the video or could have extra details. I should start with, no, of course I don’t hate the series. I really like Police Quest 1 VGA a lot. I think it’s a fantastic remake that adds a lot of character to a game that it often didn’t have (just compare the writing in Sweet Cheeks and Dooley in the clips). It’s very, very silly, in the police fever dreaming way I talked about earlier, but in really nice ways.
It’s full of frustrations, complaints of low pay, never getting any respect from people… just chasing cars and booking bums. Despite all the procedure, it never seems particularly realistbut it still feels like an ‘inside’ game in terms of attitude, focus and direction.
It’s a shame the series didn’t release a year or two later, when there would have been more likely a recurring cast instead of wiping out nearly everyone every game. Police Quest could easily have a police station feel, where you jump between different people on each case and see different sides of the characters. Oh well. C’est la vie, I suppose.
As for Police Quest 2, there’s a difference between ‘bad game’ and ‘game I don’t really like’, and I view PQ2 as firmly as the latter. He’s caught between two worlds, and the hustle has bothered me more as a result. There’s one particularly bad scene, which I mentioned in a deleted snippet in the video, that is only there to unbalance your weapon’s alignment and make you do a whole puzzle all over again.
The actual story isn’t that interesting either, due to not really having control over the drama. Bains is out for revenge, and while you can certainly argue that he’ll be back for Sonny, taking a flight to another city really counteracts that. And speaking of disarming things, why the hell do terrorists have a time bomb hijack a flight?
Police Quest 3 though mostly stinks. The premise of a murder cult isn’t horrible, but linking it to Clan Bains was a mistake (a non-canon book goes one step further, making it Morales Bains’ half-sister), and they actually come to surprisingly little of note. as well as burning his own stuff, killing himself, and finally surrendering. Morales, however, shouldn’t even be remotely involved, and he needed much, much better writing.
to make it work however, Lytton’s real PD needed to be further developed – a place where that personality type could fester, as opposed to one where everyone reads reports saying things like “Borderline Sociopath” and just says “Yes. That’s our Pat! ” And even that is giving a lot of credence to this nearly empty building with a few apathetic police officers.
So for some cool stuff that got deleted for various reasons, usually bad line reads that I couldn’t save. First, there was a Japanese version of Police Quest 2, and it’s… great. Not much has changed overall, but it’s worth checking out to compare and contrast. Hit HG101 to do just that. Try not to scream when you see the new boss. He is… quite a thing. Yes.
Second, something I had never noticed before. Gordon Brown is a fictional journalist.
Third, I had a little more about the authorship of the games, although this is more interesting for the number of hands that passed. Al Lowe did an uncredited redesign/polishing that I mentioned in passing (and he goes into more detail in this book). Essentially, Walls’ first project had a problem – it was written from the point of view of someone for whom police training was deeply ingrained, which wouldn’t work as well in the broader market. Lowe’s job was to get him in shape, and while I don’t know where Walls ended, Lowe started, or indeed anyone else on the team had their own opinion, it’s hard not to look back at the game we have and see more of it. that some fingerprints there. The nudity thing is something I never remember seeing in a non-porn game before, but it might have cheered some up.
As an excerpt: “Jim wrote this whole story, the programmer implemented it, but without any of the things that Jim didn’t think of, so it was impossible to play! You’d go into a situation and say ‘what would I do?’. And Jim has this great wealth of knowledge of police work, and he would say ‘It’s obvious!’ Well, it’s obvious to you because you were trained as a police officer! So the big project that summer was to make any kind of hints, any kind of dialogue and radio commands that would let you figure out what the hell you’re supposed to be doing!”
In retrospect, perhaps the programmer figured, “I’ll do what Jim says… and add a little nudity for fun.”
(When I recorded it, I said you could have Sonny snapping ‘anywhere’. That’s not quite true – you can’t around characters like Helen. But still. The woman who catches him if he steps out of the shower with a towel accidentally turns out to be Laura, a Homicide detective and the prankster at the precinct. This makes Sonny’s death a little awkward, as she’s probably the least likely person in the entire building to cause trouble, but probably outclasses him becoming a cop. towel. option, it really would have been Towel Cop. Laura is the one who put the chicken in the office, and as of Police Quest 2 was ‘retired’ after getting caught. Too bad. Like some of the characters, she had potential, even if the general level of writing before PQ3 was terrible, and it didn’t improve much after.)
The terrible Man Enough appeared in Crapshoot form before. Walls didn’t design it, it’s just the company he left Sierra to work with. Tsunami Games/Media is not a real loss to the industry, honestly. At some point, we might look at Blue Force or Police Quest: Open Season here, but it won’t be for a while. Need a break from cops and robbers right now.
Music from the games, including the full version of Cell Block Love from Leisure Suit Larry 6, can be found on Quest Studios Archive. Plenty of Let’s Plays are available throughout the series. If you’d rather play the games, Police Quest 3 is really weird these days, but 4 remains a very solid – albeit ultra-demanding tactical shooter. Who made this? Small company called Irrational. You’ve probably never heard of them.
And that will do for now. Back to the text next week. I’m not sure when there will be another video, but if people like it, there will probably be another one soon. If you missed the last couple, they were American Laser Games (Space Pirates, Mad Dog McCree, Who Shot Johnny Rock) and Riana Rouge. As always, I apologize for my many, many mistakes. Learning as I go, and there’s a much learn.