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Microsphere
1986
Adventure: Graphic
£6.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

47
Luke C
Chris Bourne

This ain't a nice neighbourhood. Even the 'roaches go around in pairs. Sure, there's the 87th Street precinct headquarters down the street. But the cops don't like my kind any better than the two-bit gangsters living on this block. My kind is a detective, Sam Cruise is the name. You can read it any day of the week on the door of my third-floor office.

I'm working on a case right now. The case of the Bali Budgie. It all began with a phone call... the best ones always do. A classy dame, Lana, asked me to meet her at the fifth floor of the Hotel Royale on the next block. She sounded sweet, like syrup.

When I got there, the bird had flown, but I wasn't alone. The body on the floor was crumpled in a way that only means one thing. The envelope in the corner contained the $100 Lana had promised me, but even the phone ringing on the desk didn't drown out the noise of the cops in the lobby of the hotel. It was a set-up, and I was the bait.

The voice growled its message and then hung up. It was probably meant for the poor sap on the floor, but to me it was the only clue I had in this case, and the only piece of hard evidence I had to work on if I was to prove my innocence. A private investigator's licence ain't easy to get in this town. The only way out of a jam like this is to put on a disguise, fuse the lights and get back to the office...

Such is the daily routine of a private investigator, Sam Cruise... the athletic hero from Microsphere's Contact Sam Cruise. I say athletic, because despite the sort of 'cool' we've come to expect from these 'Bogey-type' investigators, Cruise spends most of his time on the mean and moody streets performing aerial somersaults and forward rolls. Dodging sniper's bullets is one reason for these acts of physical fitness, but he's also trying to trap the passing banknotes from a recent bank job to supplement his income.

But it's not only the gangsters you have to watch, it's the cops too. Entering the buildings illegally - that is, without a key - is quickly picked up by the police and the only way out is to don a quick disguise. Of the eight disguises Sam can choose from, only those in blue can fool the police - but you have to watch out as his disguise can slip anytime, especially when there are cops around.

Sam can pick up various clues to help his investigation. Phoning up his office gets Daisy, his secretary, keeping him up to date with his messages. Clues are liberally spread all over the neighbourhood, and Sam picks these up simply by walking over them. There's also a whole lot of cash up for grabs - it's just a case of finding it...

Cruise has ten lives -displayed as the ten first aid kits required to patch him up when he gets shot up by a passing mobster.

Icons, so trendy these days, are an essential part of the game. Doors, fuses, light switches and phones all flash up on-screen when Cruise passes them, and then it's just a matter of finding the appropriate key to use them.

Contact Sam Cruise is a strange game... unless, of course, you've experience of the Skool series of games. When you start off, keeping Cruise alive is the biggest problem but that soon passes once you've got enough dollars in your pocket to get yourself out of jail on bail and pay off the petty thieves that hang out on your block. All you've got to do then is try and make some sense out the weird and wonderful clues that come your way... it may not be the Maltese Falcon you're looking for, but the Bali Budgie's just as difficult to find.

The graphics do get a bit difficult to sort out sometimes - especially when you've got dollar bills, passers-by and cops all vying for the same spot on-screen - but if you're looking for a bit of private eyeing, take my advice kid, and contact Sam Cruise.

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There are four keys to find, and I got two of 'em already. I'm pretty well stacked in the wallet department too - and I'm gonna need all of that $317 if I'm gonna survive those mean streets.

The cops say that they'll throw the book at me if I enter a house without a key. But they don't say nothing about jumping from one roof to another and getting in that way.

Getting picked up by the cops ain't no big deal. Sure they'll shout at me, but the bail shouldn't be more than $100/ Could be as low as $20 if they're feeling sweet.

A red disguise is one that won't get you past even the greenest cop. So you gotta be ready to change disguise at a second's notice if you've got cops all around you.

You can tell the phone's ringing, 'cause this little icon starts to animate. This is also where you look for hidden objects, doors that need opening, and lights that need turning on or off.

It may look stupid, but somersaulting is the recommended way of picking up some extra cash. Each one of those scraps of paper is good ol' American currency from a recent bank job.

As well as the somersault, you gotta perfect the 'roll'... well, that's what we call it in the trade. The aerial somersault's okay for dodging those low shots, but when those mobsters are shooting high, you gotta roll.

Yeah, that's me, dressed as a dame. It ain't often I wear a frock, but there are circumstances - you hear what I'm saying? Trouble is that disguises fool the cops, but the gangsters ain't that dumb.

And here's where I look for my messages. Telephone calls and the reasons for my occasional lapses into unconsciousness are printed up, and quick - so make sure you got a notepad and pencil so you can joy those clues down fast.

See that guy in the basement of number twenty-seven. Well, he's a mobster with a gun, but worse that that he's seen me. Believe me, these guys, don't care about innocent passers-by.