Dinosaur Detective Agency logo

Programmers: In-house * Publisher: Alternative 0977 797777 Price £16.99 * Release: out now * AF Rating: 38%

A timely release or a cynical cash-in on the fashion for all things Jurassic? It does not matter, really, because this game is complete and utter tosh.

Dinosaur Detective Agency is a cutesy platform game starring Sherlock Ness - the dino detective of the title. You have to help him traverse four different worlds in search of the clues which can help him solve the different cases his pals have reported to him.

Naturally, there are plenty of bonuses and nasties hanging around each level to help or hinder your progress.

At the end of each level you also have to use your trusty camera to take a picture - in a Golden Shot kind of way - of the baddie who caused your pals such grief.

Sadly, the only crime committed here is of extremely dodgy graphics and flaky gameplay - Sherlock's leaping ability is especially suspect and you waste a lot of time, lives and hair trying to get him from one platform to another.

At £16.99, it is not cheap either, so give DDA a miss and flick elastic bands at your kid brother instead.

Dinosaur Detective Agency logo

Die Saurierwelle treibt schon die seltsamsten Blüten: Ganz besonders merkwürdig ist dieses Plattformgame von Alternative Software, bei dem ein solches Urzeitviech hüpfenderweise Detektiv spielt...

Der sprungstarke Sherloch Ness ist Privatschnüffler und muß sein Talent hier anhand von vier verschiedenen Fällen unter Beweis stellen. Nach einer kurzen Einführung in die jeweilige Aufgabe läuft und hüpft er von links nach rechts durch eine Landschaft voller hinderlicher Hügel, Felsen und Fässer, während ihm das knapp bemessene Zeitlimit im Genick sitzt.

Manchmal tauchen verschüttete Tunnel auf, wo sich Sherloch dann auch als Ausgräber betätigen darf.

Dazu gibt es natürlich jede Menge Gegner wie z.B. die noch vergleichsweise harmlosen Affen und Fledermäuse - mit seinem Fotoapparat kann sie unser Detektiv vorübergehend ruhigstellen. Außerdem findet er gelegentlich nützliche Extras, Zusatzleben und vor allem Beweisstücke, die ihm erst den Zutritt zum Unterschlupf des jeweiligen Übelälters ermöchlichen.

Sobald er diesen aufgestöbert hat, folgt eine Schlußsequenz, bei der Spitzbube ebenfalls fotografiert werden muß.

Grafik und Sound gehen dabei durchaus in Ordnung, auch die Steuerung ist ganz passabel. Und eine Zeitlang macht es sogar Spaß, für die Dinosaur Detective Agency zu arbeiten, doch spätestens nach dem Abschluß des zweiten Falls wird es langweilig. Dann kennt man nämlich alle vorkommenden Specials (Sprungfedern, Geheimtüren, Schalter, etc.), so daß es mit der Abwechsung vorbei ist.

Schade, ein bißchen mehr Mühe in puncto Leveldesign hätte hier wahre Wunder gewirkt, aber so ist das detektivische Saurierspektakel zum halben Preis halt auch nur ein halbes Vergnügen. (mic)

Dinosaur Detective Agency logo

Deftly combining my two current passions, Dinosaur Detective Agency places you in command of a prehistoric Holmesian crimebuster called - side-splittingly - Sherlock Ness. With deerstalker, pipe and herbivorous grin, he must patrol the primeval mire rounding up rascally reptilian ruffians. Alternatively: it is a platform game. There are platforms to walk about on, things to collect and baddies to jump over. And, er, that is it.

But let us stick with the first interpretation, as I will never fill this box otherwise. And Sherlock ness, as it turns out, is no ordinary dinosaur detective. He is actually 'the cleverest dinosaur this side of Jurassic Park' (apparently). He has got this great camera that can be pointed at baddies to temporarily blind them.

And he can also dig tunnels underground where there are bits of soft earth. He will find railway trucks to ride on, drippy things falling from the ceiling to dodge under, and coins to collect for bonus points.

An appraisal of the graphics is always important in this sort of thing. So, er, the graphics, then. They are sort of all right, I suppose. Not terrible, but not great. The sprites are all a bit small, and the choice of colours is drab, but Sherlock looks quite cute.

And the sound, of course. The sound effects are rather quiet and crap, and there is a completely-out-of-time-with-his-feet footstep noise when Sherlock moves his walks about (his feet, in turn, being completely-out-of-time-with-the-speed-the-ground-is-moving-at). The music is quite sweet, though - a sort of jolly, whistling tune - but I was compelled to turn it off after just 23 seconds (A new record for Jonathan nonetheless. - Ed).

But the success or failure of Dinosaur Detective Agency rests or falls, of course, on whether it is any good to play, and how long it will last you. And, although Dinosaur Detective Agency is aimed squarely at our old chum 'the younger player', I actually found it pretty tricky. There are a number of possible reasons for this, the most likely being that when it comes to playing games I am probably the least clever dinosaur this side of One Million Years BC.

In my defence, though, I could point out that the game features a really nasty bit where you have got to climb up the screen on a load of moving railway trucks, and if you fall off you drop all the way back down to the bottom and have to start again in a much worse mood. I hate bits like that.

And some of the puzzles border on the obscure, like having to drop a block into a railway truck to start it moving, when all the other railway trucks seem to manage just fine without. And I have also been brought up (albeit unwillingly) on a diet of platform games where you can kill baddies by jumping on their heads, so it took me a while to work out my early attempts at primordial puzzle-cracking seemed to end so prematurely. And - oh dear - you only get one life.

Dinosaur Detective Agency logo


Dino Detective Agency is a very poor attempt to cash in on the still rolling Jurassic Park bandwagon. You get to guide Sherlock Ness, the 'famous' dino detective, through four cases (or levels) that he's got to solve with the aid of his trusty camera.

Missing the chance to introduce some sex into the storyline - you know, man in raincoat taking furtive pictures - the four cases are boring in the extreme focusing on missing budgies, bank robberies, etc (yawn).

The main sections of the game are platform based with various bad dinosaurs out to stop Ness. Every time they hit him, he loses one life. The only way to stop this is to jump over or stun them shortly with the camera's flash.

Of course, you've only got a limited amount of flashes, but they can be topped up by collecting the bulbs scattered around the level.

At the end of each level, there's a shooting gallery scene where you guide a wobbly crosshair around the screen in attempt to get a full facial shot of the crook. Do it in the time limit and you're okay, fail and it's game over.

This game is a waste of a floppy disk. Crap animation, crap sounds and non-existent gameplay. If you can endure playing it more than five minutes, you deserve a prize. As an alternative to a slow, painful death, buy it. On the second thoughts take the slow, painful death.