It's only Rock and Raoul...

Cruise for a Corpse logo Amiga Computing Gamer Gold

US GOLD * £29.99 * 1/2 meg * Mouse * Out now

Hercule Poirot's a decidedly old chappie, isn't he? What with his spooky moustache and his alarming tendency to always crop up near a murder, it's surprising that he hasn't been locked up. And Miss Marple's no better. She may look like a doddery old spinster with a mind like a steel trap, but she probably lures stray cats into her house and turns them into beer-mats for the summer fete.

And what about Lord Peter Whimsey? Or Maigret? No, in my book, all these so-called "detectives" are as dodgy as something, er, very dodgy indeed. Thank the lord then, that our hero Raoul Dusentier is a bona fide detective. A fully employed, 100 per cent legit nosy old sod. A "rozzer" in other words.

Apparently way back in the roaring twenties, Raoul was hunting down some nasty French bloke who was hiding in a restaurant, and rather than let the whippersnapper get away with it, he arrested everyone in the restaurant. Naturally, the highbrow toffs in this up-market chunder palace were a smidgen annoyed by this James Anderton-like behaviour and caused something of a ruckus.

All except for one. A Greek fella called Niklos Karaboudjan stood up for Raoul's "putting the boot in" policy and applauded him for "just doing his job". Freemasonry ahoy, eh cumns?

Anyway, just to show that there were no hard feelings, Niklos invited Raoul on a luxury cruise. Cruise, eh?

The plot begins to fall into place. All we need now is a corpse. Lo and behold, look what we have here. Poor old Niklos Wotsisname has been murdered at sea. So now we have a cruise and a corpse, which sounds like a perfect place to start the game...

We join Raoul as he discovers the body, just in time to be clobbered over the head by a sinister shadowy figure. Flippin nora, what a way to start. Anyway, Raoul has a quick, if not entirely planned, nap, and then gets on with finding the fiend who perpetrated the perpetration.

Also on board the ship are a group of friends and colleagues of Niklos, all of whom have more skeleton in their closets than clothes. It's up to Raoul to corner these suspects and quiz them about the murder. He can also pick up clues from eavesdropping on the others, and by inspecting the objects he finds. Just like that girl in Scooby Doo.

Raoul is moved around the ship with the point and click interface that seems to have become a permanent feature in this graphic adventure genre. You interact with the scenery by clicking on whatever object interests you and, as if by magic, a menu appears containing all the actions relevant to that object. For instance, click on a book and you could EXAMINE, TAKE or READ it. This means that the number of options is greatly increased, as each object can have an action that relates to it, and it alone.

As you can see, Cruise is a bit of a stunner. The graphics are bigger and better than any of its rivals, and the animation is smooth and sexy, a bit like a Galaxy bar. True, it's not the speediest game in the world, but the speed isn't what this game is about. Oh no. It's about, er, murder.

Thankfully, the arcade sequences from Operation Stealth have been dropped. There was nothing more annoying than having to spend hours ploughing through the adventure, only to come a cropper because you couldn't handle the arcade bits. So, Cruise for a Corpse is a brain-teaser from top to toe.

As all the action takes place on Niklos' ship, the game lacks Stealth's sense of size, but instead concentrates on creating the atmosphere of those Agatha Christie films, where everyone is a suspect, and anyone could be the killer. This restricted game area also allows much more detail to be included in the scenery, as you can tell from the piccies, and this helps immensely with the mood.

Another great innovation is the conversation section. Moving on another step from Monkey Island's multiple choice parser, you can now build up a library of subjects to grill your suspects over. For instance, you can talk to Tom and find out a bit about him. Now talk to Suzanne and you have the chance to talk about Tom. She may tell you about Tom's hobbies, and you can then talk about those. This way you can carry out massive discussions and expand your catalogue of questions and clues, uncovering murky secrets along the way.

The whole game is so highly polished that you could stick it to your windscreen and use it as a rear-view mirror. Just try Blu-tacking five floppy disks on to your car and see what I mean. On the other hand, that's probably illegal, so don't try it.

At first, the game seems a little off-putting, as it only takes a short while to walk around the whole ship without getting any clues. Stick with it though, and you'll slowly but surely be drawn in to one of the most intriguing and involving games you're ever likely to play. Once you get the hang of the conversation bits, the game really open up and you go forward in leaps and bounds.

There are a few niggles though. Sometimes the actions provided don't seem to suit the object. I found some highly suspicious boxes, but could only EXAMINE them. However, when I clicked on the chairs in the bar I could EXAMINE, INSPECT, PUSH, PULL, RUB, SIT DOWN and TAKE them. Needless to say, most of those options resulted in a reply along the lines of "I can't do that" whereas EXAMINING the boxes told me that, surprise surprise, they were boxes. This can lead to some pretty frustrating investigating, as you really can't afford to pass any options by in case you miss a clue.

Another niggle is the way that almost all the doors seem to be locked, and most of the characters spend a lot of time hiding away in their cabins. You can spend a long time wandering around before you get lucky and meet a new character. Perhaps I'm just impatient.

To counteract these slightly bothersome aspects, there are plenty of options to make life easier. The map, for instance, that allows you to move from place to place without actually having to walk there, or the clock that moves round every time you glean some useful information. The further the clock moves, the more options become open to you.

Also on the "that's a clever idea" side is the well thought out disk system. To cut down on swapping, each area of the ship is confined to one disk. Therefore, you need only swap disks when moving from one deck to another. This helps to keep the continuity flowing and it's a wonder that other adventures haven't used this method in the past.

It's nice to see that the game has plenty of freedom. Despite the number of "off limits" rooms, how you go about your investigating is entirely up to you. This means that progress is made through brainpower rather than trial and error, and is a welcome change.

It really has to be said that Cruise for a Corpse is a stonker of a game. It's brilliantly written, and just like the Agatha Christie novels it was inspired by, it forces you to stick around to the finish to find out whodunnit. Entertaining, exciting and, er, ambidextrous.

Cruise for a Corpse logo

Now this long-awaited graphic adventure has arrived, does it actually transport you to the world of Hercule Poirot, or is it as dull as the local cop-shop's paperwork stack?

There's no doubt that period detective dramas are extremely popular. Just look at all the successful books, films and TV series that have been made based on Agatha Christie characters. Well now you have the chance to take part in one of these adventures for yourself thanks to the partnership of Delphine and US Gold.

Cruise for a Corpse places you as Twenties detective Raoul Dusentier, an Hercule Poirot type character, as he sets off on a well-deserved holiday. One spring morning, you receive a telegram from wealthy businessman Niklos Kraboudjan inviting you to join him and his guests for a cruise on his magnificent vessel the Karaboudjan III. Unfortunately, just as you arrive on the craft, Hector the host's butler rushes into your cabin carrying terrible news. It appears that Karaboudjan has been the victim of a vicious attack!

You follow Hector to find the body lying on the floor of his office with a knife protruding from his back. Before you can take any action however, a shadowy figure renders you both unconscious. When you finally regain consciousness the next day, the body has disappeared! Hector makes off to warn the guests leaving you to start your investigation.

You must now search the ship for clues to the identity of the murderer, hunting out various pieces of evidence and questioning the guests to find out further information.

New boots and interface
Originally Delphine were planning to construct the game around the 'Cinematique' system they used for Operation Stealth. However, it soon became apparent that this just wasn't going to be enough! This is one of the reasons that the game has taken so long to put together, since a new 'engine' had to be designed from scratch.

The whole system has been changed, with both a new graphics system and a different player interface. The graphics are a strange combination of bitmapped images, sprites, and polygons (yes, polygons). The main backgrounds are full-colour bitmapped images, with sprites being overlaid for foreground images and some of the characters. The main characters (such as Raoul Dusentier himself) are constructed from polygons, which allows them to be smoothly animated across the screen as well as giving them the ability to move in and out of the screen without appearing all blocky. The effects of this new system are pretty stunning!

The user interface has been improved as well. Moving the cursor around the screen allows you to select items of interest and the cursor changes shape to tell you when there is an object or character with which you can interact. Clicking on an object brings up a menu of commands, from which you select the required option. This will then carry out an action on the object or character.

A major part of the investigation is taken up with questioning the guests on the cruise. By clicking on a character and selecting SPEAK from the menu, you are then taken to yet another section. This displays both yourself and the person you are interviewing, along with a list of subjects you wisth to talk about.

The carefully observed period plot unfolds in much the same way as a detective-thriller film.

The first screen is a list of characters, and clicking on a name allows you to ask more about that person. There is one drawback, however, and that is that you can only ask about people you've actually met! Asking certian questions may reveal information about another character, so you must find out as much as possible from as many people as possible and cross-section all the characters to get the full story.

There is also a 'various' question heading, which allows you to ask about objects you've found and situations you come across. This in turn gives you more information about certain people in the game. This may all sound rather complex, but the menu systems are laid out in a simply way which is easy to understand. Even when you start getting floods of information, the questioning is still easy to carry out - even though there are a lot of options!

If you're wondering why I've assembled you here...
After months of waiting for Delphine to unveil their new adventure system, it would be quite a shame if it turned out to be a dead duck. Fortunately the system is ab absolute beauty.

The graphical capability of the new engine is immediately apparent. From the cinematic opening sequence to the detailed backgrounds and characters, the appearance is incredible. The polygon system for Raoul's movement works superbly, with the detective moving smoothly around the screen in three dimensions. One problem that other graphics adventures of this type have is when a character moves in or out of the screen. With bitmapped images they often cause horrendous pixelation or dodgy cuts where the character moves behind a piece of scenery while he changes size!

Cruise for a Corpse suffers no such ailment. Since the main character is constructed from polygons, he can move into the back of the screen or out past the viewer without becoming so blocky that it looks like a badly-made Lego model. The new control system works a treat too. Instead of having to scroll through loads of options to find out which ones are relevant to a certain situation, you are only given the commands you need at that particular point. This saves time and a whole lot of frustration!

This doesn't mean that the game is simplistic, though. Operating options often causes a chain of events more complex than it would first appear. This ties into the game extremely well, allowing you to get the old grey-cells working as the carefully observed period plot unfolds in much the same way as a detective thriller film. When a character lets slip a piece of juice information, you can't help yourself shooting out: "Aha! The plot thickens!" (well I can't help it, anyway)!

Delphine have spent a lot of time getting the atmosphere in Cruise for a Corpse spot on, and this care definitely shows. The whole feel of the game is very much in the style of Christie's Poirot stories. However, even if you're not a fan of these classic tales, the game will prove a challenging and engrossing adventure for any games fan.

Cruise for a Corpse logo Amiga Joker Hit

Der Mörder ist ja normalerweise immer der Gärtner - im Falle von Delphines drittem Cinematique-Adventure kann's aber nicht stimmen, denn was hätte wohl ein Gärtner im Frühjahr 1927 auf einer Vergnügungsjagd zu suchen?

Tatsächlich gibt's auch weit und breit keinen Gärtner an Bord des stolzen Dreimasters von Mr. Karaboudjan. Stattdessen befindet sich Inspektor Dusentier von der Pariser Polizei unter den illustren Passagieren. Und das ist auch gut so, denn was als gemütlicher Segelturn begann, entwickelt sich bald zum kriminalistischen Puzzle schließlich wurde der Gastgeber schnöde dahingemeuchelt!

Als Täter kommt somit nur einer der Mittreisenden in Frage, es empfiehlt sich daher, sämtliche Räumlichkeiten des Schiffes genauestens nach versteckten Hinweisen zu durchsuchen.

Auch mehrmalige Besuche derselben Kabine können helfen, denn die Uhr schreitet unerbittlich voran, und am Nachmittag mag sich etwas finden, das morgens noch nicht dagewesen ist.

Nicht minder wichtig sind natürlich die Verhöre - wer viel fragt, erfährt auch viel! Sobald dem Detektiv ein Passagier vor die Schnüffelnase läuft, kann man aus einem Menü ein Gesprächsthema auswählen und sie anhören, was der oder die Betreffende zu sagen hat (wie beim Vorgänger "Operation Stealth" wird der Text ins Bild eingeblendet).

Je mehr Spuren Dusentier verfolgt, desto umfangreicher ist auch die Themenauswahl, und Merkwürdigkeiten gibt es in der Tat genügend: Was hat es mit dem mysteriösen Treffen in der Bar auf sich? Und welche Rolle spielen Suzannes Alkoholismus oder die Rechnung vom Juwelier?

Das herauszufinden überlassen wir Euch, wenden wir uns derweil lieber der Technik zu...

Cruise for a Corpse: Inspector Dusentier Zuallererst begeistert die lang erwartete Krimi-Kreuzfahrt mit einem wunderschönen Intro, auch die teilweise sehr hübsch und sauber animierten Spielgrafiken sind ganz State of the Art.

Geradezu genial kommt die Steuerung angesegelt: Der Mauszeiger identifiziert interessante Gegenstände per Klick wird dann ein Menü mit allen Aktionen eingeblendet, die in diesem Augenblick mit diesem speziellen Objekt möglich sind - narrensicher!

Die rechte Taste beschwört neben dem Inventory einen Grundriss des Gesamten Kutters herauf, hier kann man auf direktem Weg das nächste Ziel festlegen und muß sich nicht langwierig Bild für Bild durchbeißen - bravo! Und auch der Sound ist gelungen: Unterschiedliche Musikstücke fügen sich hervorragend in die Atmosphäre ein, und die gelegentlichen Effekte wirken fast schon echter als echt.

Weil zudem die Rätsel schön knackig sind und auch der (manchmal etwas schwarze) Humor nicht zu kurz kommt, ist der Hit perfekt! Da kann selbst die entsetzlich ungenaue Codewheel-Abfrage nicht mehr kaputt machen - Cruise for a Corpse ist Spitze! (jn)

Cruise for a Corpse logo

Delphine's much-delayed pleasure cruise is finally about to set sail in the same waters as Lucasfilm's Monkey Island, but can playing at murder really be as much fun as simply playing for laughs?

So this is the big one, huh? The big hype. US Gold's post-Monkey Island blockbuster. Well, I must admit that I had my doubts. Sure, Cruise For A Corpse looked as slick as Monkey Island, but without such a strong plot and the humour, could Cruise ever really come close? In the end I decided to look at the game with fresh eyes, to play it with an open mind. And to forget about Monkey Island, for a short while at least.

In truth, despite all its finery and graphical trickery, Cruise For A Corpse is more comparable to games such as Infocom's Deadline (now re-released on budget), and the more recent Maupiti Island. You see, the task in the game isn't really to solve puzzles in order to gain access to new areas, as with most adventure games. Things are never quite that simple in Cruise. Many of the locations in the game can be visited as soon as the game commences, so that isn't the motivating foerce. What is, though, is the gleaning of clues and the consequent confrontation with the other characters regarding these clues. Cruise For A Corpse is a devious beggar, and no mistake.

I suppose a bit of plot is in order, because with Cruise the plot is all. The story defines the characters and shapes the events, and so progress is a lot quicker if the background to events is known. The player takes the role of Raoul Dusentier (hey, nobody's perfect), a police inspector (cue lots of Clouseau-inspired jokes about being an officer of the 'leugghhh') who just happens to get invited on a cruise, courtesy of the really very rich Niklos Karaboudjan (bless you). And what should happen, but (surprise, surprise) somebody is murdered. (Justification for the game title has to occur somewhere in there, after all). The unlucky recipient of this shortening in the life expectancy department is Mr Karaboudjan himself. And so the fun begins.

US Gold have gone to considerable lengths to make this game a 'quality' release. Even before loading there's the beefy box of goodies to wade through. In addition to five (count 'em) disks, there's a reference manual, a booklet containing character background information, and even a map of the ship (printed on suitably parchment-style paper). Head on into the game and the quality just rises and rises. If first impressions are everything, then Cruise For A Corpse has things sewn up quite neatly.

Head on into the game and the quality just rises and rises

The graphics really are quite exceptional - of a quality normally seen only in American PC games - though with that bizarre French selection of colours. The screens use 32 colours, and the moving characters are polygon rather than sprite-based. This doesn't mean that they look blocky, however - in fact the only game which compares in terms of simulating movement is Prince of Persia (which apparently inspired Delphine to be so ambitious with their graphics).

The beautiful graphics and game depth do tend to be offset by the frequency and length of disk access, however. Thankfully, the data has been arranged quite sensibly, to minimise actual swapping between five disks.

The in-game music is pretty sharp too, as are the sound effects. Walking along the deck with the ship swaying and the chatter of seagulls is mighty convincing. It now feels much more like taking part in a film, befitting of the title 'Cinematique', though true to Delphine form there are a couple of arcade sequences in there (but nothing to worry about too much). A fight scene, for example, can actually be avoided if the necessary steps in the adventure are taken. A neat touch.

Cruise also scores highly in the user friendly stakes, with its handy parser system. If you've played any of Delphine's Cinematique games before, forget them. The parser, like the graphics has been given a complete overhaul. Whereas previously it seemed like a fight to achieve anything, Cruise's parser actually feels like more of a help than a hindrance.

Everything is context-sensitive, so there's no need to wade through hundreds of unusable commands. For instance, examining a piece of paper would then add 'read' to the list of possible actions to perform on the paper. Then, once the piece of paper had been read, it would be possible to go and confront one of the other characters about the information just gained. This may seem like an obvious way to treat the player, but there's plenty of games which just don't cater for him this well.

Whereas Monkey Island(whoops, I'm making THAT comparison again) was actually very rigid in the plot structure, Cruise For A Corpse has a more non-linear gameplay style. There's more freedom of movement to suit the mystery-solving nature of the game, though I guess that the actual route to the solution isn't as loose as it might appear.

One cute touch is that whenever progress is made a clock appears, and the minute hand moves on ten minutes. This clock acts as a mark of progress in the game, rather than a true indication of time spent playing. It's eight in the morning at the beginning, and the solution has been reached when it reaches eight in the evening. A bizarre idea, but a helpful one. Seeing that clock advance is a great incentive on keep on going.

US Gold claim that there are about 8000 lines of text used, which for a game which doesn't even let you type anything in is pretty impressive. Much of this is used to create believable, fleshed-out characters. And while conversations are limited to simply picking a subject and pushing for a response, everything has been so carefully interwoven that there is a definite feeling of real-life interaction there. It's not perfect, but a better system would be hard to find (one that fits onto an Amiga anyway).

It's reckoned that if the solution is known then it still takes eight hours to complete the game. This may sound a touch long-winded and tedious, but the sheer joy of working step-by-step through the game really eliminates any such thoughts. It's another of those 'draws you in and doesn't let go' affairs, and this is its real strength.

Like The Secret Of Monkey Island, a few minutes playing is enough to let the brilliantly devised plot take hold. Without this, Cruise would have been an empty experience - a pretty one admittedly, but an empty one nonetheless. As it is though, Cruise For A Corpse gives you that warm feeling inside that only a round of burger, chips, donut, apple pie and triple shake can usually do. Most excellent.

This is, of course, a French game, and so before the game commences we get the traditional technicolour intro unfolding on screen, showing events leading up to the murder, and just how Raoul Dusentier gets involved in the whole affair. They say murder ain't pretty, but that's not the case here...
Cruise for a Corpse: Paris, April 1927. On a cold spring morning...
The city of Paris - home of Inspector Raoul Dusentier. The postman calls, leaving an intriguing letter.
Cruise for a Corpse: A harmles invitation...
An offer from Niklos Karaboudjan, to join him on his boat.
Cruise for a Corpse: ...on board the magnificent sailboat of the wealthy Niklos Karaboudjan
Raoul accepts the invitation to join the cruise, unaware of the events just around the corner.
Cruise for a Corpse: Karaboudjan was stretched out on the floor.
Uh-oh - it looks like murder. (But who's that lurking in the doorway?)
Cruise for a Corpse: Raoul comes around.
Raoul comes around, following a blow to the head. Things are still a bit out of focus at this point...
In addition to the usual method of simply walking from one location to another, Raoul owns a map of the ship. By simply clicking on one of the locations, all that strenuous walking and waiting can be avoided.
Cruise for a Corpse: Map
Cruise for a Corpse: Deck
1. The mysterious Suzanne Plum, taking in some fresh air on the deck. Perhaps she can help with the enquiries. (Just don't offer her a drink at the bar).
Cruise for a Corpse: Porthole
2. Is it peeping tom? Nope, it's just the inimitable Inspector Dusentier taking a (purely professional, you understand?) peek through one of the portholes.
Cruise for a Corpse: Cabin
3. A-ha! Father Fabiani and Désiré Grosjean's cabin. Mmmm. I wonder if any secrets are held within this suitcase. Let's make a closer inspection. (I mustn't get caught, though).
Cruise for a Corpse: Lowest Deck
4. Here we see the access to the lowest deck. Maybe that young washer boy can lead me to the killer (I doubt it though).
Cruise for a Corpse: Below deck
5. Taking a stroll below deck. Every single visible object can be examined. Could one of those wooden beams be concealing a vital clue, perhaps?
Cruise for a Corpse: Washroom
6. The washroom (the maid washing clothes gives the game away really). Try striking up a conversation with her and she's remarkably abrupt. I wonder if she's hiding something?

Cruise for a Corpse logo CU Amiga Screenstar

When the invitation to spend a weekend on board the Karaboudjan,a luxury yacht belonging to millionaire businessman Niklos Karaboudjan, arrived through Inspector Raoul Dussentier's letterbox, naturally he was curious. Accepting the offer, he packed his bags and set sail. However, it transpired that his host was murdered a day into the journey. Working out that the killer must still be on board, Raould prepared to question the suspects, search the yacht for clues, and try to work out why the weekend turned into a Cruise For A Corpse.

Following on from its international success with Future Wars and Operation Stealth, the Cinematique system returns (in a somewhat different form) with a good old fashioned murder mystery, French style. Right from the start it's obvious that this is a continental product - there's just something about the feel of a French game that makes it different to anything else.

The graphics are as stylish as ever, the music is trés magnifique, and the plot has more twists and turns than a Parisian backstreet. It's the graphics that impress the most. For the most part you are treated to some breathtaking backdrops which are very colourful and atmospheric. These are complemented by the sound effects of creaking timbers, the odd seagull, and all the usual clunks, clicks and thumps as doors open and people walk around.

The graphics mix polygons with hand-drawn backdrops, and the effect is stunning. Music has been used well, too. Jean Baudlot (Delphine's resident musician) has outdone himself with Cruise, combining the 1920s setting with the atmosphere of the sea perfectly. Every animation sequence has its own score and all are as good as each other. The spot effects sound exactly like you'd expect them to, and add to the atmosphere.

Of course, Cinematique isn't all fancy graphics and sound, there's a control system in there which has undergone as much of a change as everything else. Gone is the old command menu with 'Operate' and 'Use' to control the game. Now, each object and person have their own menu made up from a database of verbs.

A bottle, for example, would have 'Take, 'Examine', 'Open' and 'Drink', while a music box would have 'Take', 'Examine', 'Turn On' and 'Turn Off'. This allows for a lot more flexibility and realism in play as you can picture your actions more clearly than you could in the previous two titles. The only thing wrong with the system is its tendency to be a little finicky. To drink from a bottle you have to go through the whole rigmarole of opening it, examining it, and pouring from it. People have a slightly different interface.

As your investigation progresses, you uncover clues, witness events, hear snippets of information, and can subsequently ask people more and more questions related to your findings. All this adds up to a really challenging adventure. Piecing together the clues is no easy task and you can be assured that there'll be plenty of note-taking. Unfortunately that's where the problem lies.

The plot is real Agatha Christie stuff, right down to the final gathering of the suspect in one room. Everyone has their own personality and, more importantly, their own murky background. With the old man out of the way, affairs are flaring up all over the place, long-lost relatives are turning up on the doorstep and everyone is developing a motive, method, and opportunity to have committed the dastardly deed.

One really nice feature about uncovering clues are the flashback sequences. Instead of hearing about an event that took place, the Cinematique system lives up to its name and replays the event in moody black and white. That sums up Cruise For A Corpse perfectly. Plenty of really nice touches combined with an almost perfect control system and a really challenging plot. Gripping stuff.

Cruise for a Corpse logo Zero Hero

David Wilson couldn't believe it when received a mysterious invitation, but, after a complete set of Linguaphone records, 36 hours hitch-hiking, fleeing an amorous lorry driver and losing his sleeping bag, he dound himself in the French capital. His quest? To bring you the exclusive review of Cruise For A Corpse of course!

For such a small company, Delphine has carved itself quite a large reputation in the computer gaming world with its classic titles Future Wars and Operation Stealth. Now it's trying to follow up this success with its latest title Cruise For A Corpse. It's another 'Cinematique' graphic adventure title very much in the mould of its predecessors, but this time the game system has been completely rewritten. (But more of that later).

If you'll recall our Underwraps from February, the game is a detective story set in the 1920's. You get to play the French police inspector, Raoul Dusentier, who's received an invitation to a luxury cruise. No sooner has the luxury sailing ship set sail than the host - famous tycoon, Niklos Karaboudjan, is found face down with a knife in his back! Gad! Next thing, you and the crewman (who found the corpse) awake to find the intro sequence over and done with and the game proper about to start.

You're all at sea - and so is the yacht (which means that the killer is still on board). It's up to you to search high and low for clues, and interrogate your fellow passengers and the crew, to get to the bottom of this heinous crime.

Being a rather top-hole detective, you did a bit of research before coming on the cruise and made a scrap-book of press cuttings on the high society people going with you. You get a copy of this in the box, as well as a rather attractive parchment map of the ship. It comprises four levels (or decks) and a total of 24 locations. Well alright, there are actually more locations than this but you'll have to find them and figure out how to get into them! Er, good luck!

Fans of Delphine's previous titles may be excited to hear that the ' Cinematique' system has been rewritten from scratch. And... not only have the Delphine whizzkids come up with a complete rewrite (originally written on an ST and ported to the Amiga, it's now been written on the Amiga to take advantage of the hardware's superiority, 32 colour palette et cetera) but they've also developed a rather spanking 3D vector engine. This not only allows for brilliant animated polygons moving about in perspective, but is also sufficiently memory efficient to allow for enormous sprites and 30 per cent increase in the numbers of frames of animation without interfering with graphics or sound. Pretty impressive, I'm sure you'll agree.

The whole game is controlled by mouse, either pointing out directions to walkin, objects to get or (via the right button) clicking on command verbs and nouns. The programmers have done away with the system of having 20 or so fixed verbs available to you for every instance (as in Operation Stealth, when you had to ' Operate Girl' - titter - to release the chick tied to the stone). In Cruise, when you click on an object and call up the verbs you get a list of options specific to that object. That means you get fewer verbs per object but more in total - and no danger of incongruous combinations.

On the first screen you see a crumpled up piece of paper lying on the floor. Clicking on it will send Raoul over to pick it up. If you now access the verbs you'll be given option of 'Drop', ' Uncrumple', 'Make into Origami Frog' etc. Choose to 'Uncrumple' and you'll find you've been another option - the verb 'Read'. Hurrah!

Your main case is built upon the evidence gleaned from talking to the main characters. As one person mentions something, that thing will be added to your list of options to ask. Ask about an event in the past, and you could be treated to a flashback sequence rendered evocatively in black and white. Click on an object and you could get to see a close-up screen, or even an animated zoom sequence where you home in on said item. I never knew there was so much in it.

Amiga reviewDavid: Quite a few software publishers could learn a thing or two from Delphine. Where some companies seem to place greater emphasis upon meeting release deadlines rather than ensuring the game is finished to an acceptable standard, Delphine would prefer to delay a game's release for yonks rather than release a duffer. The quality of previous titles has more than made up for the delay in their scheduled released. Cruise For A Corpse is no exception.

From an animated intro sequence which wouldn't be too out of place in a Disney movie, to the animation, graphics and sound of the game itself, it's immediately evident that Delphine has come up trumps again. The central sprite is about twice the size of Stealth's hero - "Oh-Oh," the more prudent amongst you will cry, "we'll have to pay for that with less memory available for fx, graphics, etc." Well, you won't. Since the Underwraps we showed you where Raoul and his shipmates were sprites, Prince Of Persia hit the streets. Delphine was well impressed, and freely admits this title having influenced the coding of the embryonic Cruise.

The result of the new ' Cinematique' system has to be seen to be believed. Raoul moves about in a fashion that really does smack of Prince Of Persia. Added to this is the whole new perspective to the graphics (if you'll pardon the intentional pun). Remember the bit in Operation Stealth when John Glames walked from the back to the front of a screen? The screen was in perspective but the sprite remained the same size (i.e. he became a giant among men when standing in the background, and a Danny DeVito in the foreground). Well, with Cruise's new system Raoul moves about in perspective too.

Come with me now, as I venture out on deck to appreciate the beauty of the game's presentation. With brilliant digitised sounds of wind, sea and creaking rigging, and rather excellent graphics, it's enough to make even Captain Birdseye queasy. Not only do you see the sea and sky scrolling up and down, but there's also sideways movement in the clouds as well. In short, it's rather special.

Okay, so what about the game scenario itself? Well, it's a tad tricky to go into detail without spoiling it for you, but suffice to say the scenario is suitably complex in the best Agatha Christie tradition. Unlike Stealth and Future Wars - where your progression to new locations and the like was fairly linear, with Cruise you can visit most of the locations from the word go. ON the positive side this gives you much freedom. On the negative side, if you're the sort of person who lives for new graphics, you may find this a bit of a downer. (I like it a lot).

You'll also find that characters wander around the different locations at whim. All of them seem to have a rather nefarious past, so it seems to be a case of eliminating suspects who couldn't have done it rather than declining who had the motive. This is largely done by talking to the key characters on the ship and finding essential clues. If you're not keen on this style of gameplay, don't be put off - the game is so well honed you'll hardly even notice. The whole system is very user-friendly - there are red herrings, but when you actually do the right thing and start to make positive progress you'll see a clock advancing to signify that you're on the right track. There are numerous steps to solving the crime, but you can stumble across them in any order. The whole caboodle adds to a well impressive and very 'friendly' package, beautifully presented. Er... buy it. Stop

Cruise for a Corpse: Thomas Logan THOMAS LOGAN Hmm, look at that cockily raised eyebrow. I wouldn't trust this 'dashing attorney' as far as I could throw him. Not that throwing him has anything to do with my interrogation technique...
ROSE LOGAN Rose's wistful look could betray a deeply violent psychotic nature.
FATHER FABIANI GUISEPPE It's definitely not this geezer. He's a man of the cloth. (He's also a Mason. Ed.)
Cruise for a Corpse: Raoul Dusentier RAOUL DUSENTIER Hold it! This has got to be the villain! Look at that shifty expression, those eyebrows that meet in the middle, that five o'clock shadow. Hang on, it's me!
REBECCA VIVIAN JONES KARABOUDJAN Blimey. I don't think a corker like Rebecca would be capable of murder. Besides she's only a bird, and rather an attractive one at that (hur, hur).
SERGEANT MAJOR DESIRE GROSJEAN Erm, this fellow is kosher as well, gov'ner. (He's a Mason too. Ed.)
HECTOR THE BUTLER They always say 'the butler did it', but this one didn't because he's a Mason (well, an ex-stone mason). What? Er... arrest that man.
Cruise for a Corpse: Daphnee Karaboudjan DAPHNEE KARABOUDJAN With such outrageous dress sense, Daphnee could definitely be a suspect. Unless she's really a man undergoing the Mason's initiation test no. 146 (i.e. dressing in Nana Mouskouri wig and stetson and saying 'wibble' every half hour).
SUZANNE PLUM The professor's daughter. She's never seen without a glass of whisky so if you buy her a drink or two she might 'help you with your enquiries'.
JULIO ESPERANZA ALONSO Y SOCA LAMBADA With a name like that, I'd keep a close eye on this geezer. (They don't have Masons in Spain).
Cruise for a Corpse: Programming team

L-R: Philippe Chastel (programmer), Denis Mercier (graphic artist), Michael Sportouch (big cheese), Christian Robert (graphic artist), Benoit Aron (programmer) and Paul Cuisset (programmer).

(*) Er... except they're from Paris