"Goddamn storm! When I decided to make this trip I didn’t know what I was going to stand up against! A nice sea cruise with a dinky ship and cute women is something a successful detective couldn’t deny. But when cyclone ‘Harry’ was raging about us, I slowly began to regret my choice. The storm’s nice name wasn’t tricking our captain over the fact, that it would be better to take some cover at the nearest island. Oh well, I thought, a little stop on a picturesque isle would not be that bad. But things kept on getting worse! One of the other guests has disappeared. Marie is such a nice girl and now she’s gone! I can’t get rid of the feeling that she has not only lost her way around here. Who could be interested in kidnapping her? And why? As we have to wait until the storm has calmed down, anyway, I’m going to search around and try to find the lost maid. Why are such things always happening to me?"
These thoughts could have passed Jerome Lange’s mind, the detective you’re about to personify in this game. In the year 1952, the ship he was travelling on has to dock on Maupiti Island - after which this adventure was named - a small piece of land amidst the sea in French-Polynesia. This game was created in 1990 by Lankhor, a French developer crew who also made the criminal adventure “Mortville Manor”, which was done in a similar style as this one. Just like in the predecessor, you are Jeremy Lange (which is by the way the name of the game’s lead designer :) and your task is to solve a strange criminal case.
In doing so, you will be collecting clues and evidence by investigating different spots on the island and speaking with all people you’ll encounter. You can choose between several actions, which are listed in a dropdown-menu in the upper part of the screen. These are categorized into certain groups: movement, inventory, interaction and saving the game. The menu also indicates which object you are currently holding in your hands. Furthermore, there is a short description about the location you are visiting at present, under which you can find a list of all people who are nearby and whom you can speak with. There’s a mood indicator, a clock displaying the time of day and the date (which is quite relevant for you investigations) and, last but not least, a field showing the objects of your interest.
Movement over the island is fairly simple. The movement menu is displaying places you can directly reach from your current location, but there’s also an option to click on the screen itself in order to move to a specific room or such. If other people are present at your location, you can open a dialog screen where the portrait of your respective dialog. Other than that, there’s a bunch of different actions available to manipulate your surroundings or yourself. Search, look at, take, read, smell, turn or push are only a few of them. Time is playing an important role, like I’ve mentioned above. Sometimes it is only possible to do certain things or to speak to certain persons at specific points of time. Be sure to search anything you’ll find and to talk to anybody who’s present; only then you’ll be able to solve the case about Marie’s disappearance.
The graphics are very nicely done! They’re well coloured, diverse, detailed and always fitting the atmosphere. You have to be aware, though, that important objects are not highlighted in any way, so you must take your time to search every location for information and clues. The interface is literally melting with the game’s setting. All action buttons are painted like wood pieces and the interface is made of bamboo, so it easily suits the look of the game. It even changes its colours, depending on what you’re actually investigating or where you are.
Sound and music are also not to be complained about. The conversations are emphasized with digital speech, and although this technique might seem a little bit out of date now, I still find it to be a very pleasant feature! The music score is fitting the setting quite well and is nice to listen to, but unfortunately it’s not very diverse. Most of the time you’ll be playing in silence as there are no sound effects. In my opinion, the developers have done a very respectable job in creating an attractive appearance for this game!
Unfortunately, there are also a few minor points. The inventory is one of those. You can only carry a limited amount of objects, which basically is realistic, but in a game of this kind it can be quite annoying. Furthermore, the inventory handling is a bit uncomfortable from time to time. In addition to this, during conversations a lot of different details are gathered, so that you can easily loose overview on what you’re informed about after you’ve talked to several people. Make sure, you’re writing down all important details that you are told, or otherwise you will soon loose your track. Again, this is quite usual for games of this time, so you simply have to be patient. With the conversations I noticed that all people are talking with the same voice. I’m quite sure this is a technical issue, but nevertheless it tends to get a little boring. Other than that I’d wish to see some small animations within the sceneries, nothing spectacular, only a few moving things just for the sake of additional eye candy, instead of the offered static screens. Finally, there’s a serious bug about which I’ll come to speak in the end of this review.
In general, I like this game a lot! One reason might be, that it continues the spirit of its predecessor “Mortville Manor”, which was one of my favourite adventures back then when I was playing on my Amiga – and “Maupiti Island” is definitely an improvement! It contains an appealing criminal story - although it might not be extremely innovative – and it has really lovely graphics and neat sound. The controls are logically built and the game’s difficulty is not too hard, even if you’ve got to prove patient in some parts. In my view, Lankhor’s crew has done great work and brought us an outmost solid and entertaining adventure, which is guaranteeing many hours of pleasurable gameplay, if you’re willing to trade them for some minor problems. My rate for “Maupiti Island” is a 4 and my recommendation is: grab your magnifying glass and your gun, sharpen your wits and you’ll make a fine detective, surely capable of solving the case.
The game will ONLY work if you start it with MAUPITI.BAT
Unfortunately, there’s a bug in the game. When you find documents or writings, such as newspapers and letters, you’ve got to read them at the location where you’ve obtained them. Elsewhere you run the risk of freezing the game/Dosbox. Somehow there’s a mistake in the inventory coding. Furthermore, you’ve got to start the game directly from Dosbox itself. If you’re using D-Fend it might happen, that you can’t use the mouse!