Hooked on puzzles? Try ghostly games, challenging chess on CD-ROM

August 02, 1993|By Jack Warner | Jack Warner,Cox News Service

The 7th Guest, a huge, two-disk game from Virgin Games, is a made-for-CD-ROM effort with a haunted house theme and motion picture-quality graphics.

Ghostly actors appear to do appropriately ghastly things as the player moves from room to room in the mansion.

The orientation in 7th Guest (about $56 at discount) is not toward violence or monster-bashing; it's puzzle-solving. Many doors in the mansion will not open until the player has solved a particular puzzle.

The puzzles include geometric teasers, chess-board problems, mazes and word games. Each is a puzzle within a puzzle; the player must first find out what's expected. Help is available, in a cumbersome manner.

ICOM has a made-for-CD series called Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective, available in the original and a sequel (about $45 each). It's a standard computer detective game enhanced by live actors in set-piece interviews.

You guide Sherlock and Dr. Watson to various points of interest, interviewing the characters in each scenario until you are ready to make an accusation and see if you're right.

It's well done, but I'm rather persnickety when it comes to Mr. Doyle's creation. The minute one of these impostors utters the phrase, "Elementary, my dear Watson," I'm gone. The "real" Holmes, you see, never, ever said that, and anyone trying to re-create him ought to know it.

Most games available on CD-ROM aren't original; some are transferred directly to the medium without change while some are enhanced -- usually with sound -- in the transfer.


Loom, from LucasArts, is greatly enhanced in its CD-ROM version (about $60). This gentle adventure, suitable for children, was based on music even in its original incarnation: Magic spells consist of musical notes.

The CD presents lovely graphics and, if you have a sound board, astonishing aural effects: music by Tchaikovsky and dialog spoken by excellent actors.

The only drawback is that the puzzles seem rather challenging for a young audience.

Battle Chess

Battle Chess Enhanced from Interplay (about $45) is the CD version of a game whose popularity escapes me. This is a chess game with figures that, when moved, come alive. In this version, they march to battle with rousing military music. The outcome, of course, is pre-ordained.

The animation is slick, the music is fine, and there's a bit of humor. But once you've seen a pawn trounce a knight and a queen destroy a king -- after changing him to a donkey and then to a frog -- repetition grows annoying. The three-dimensional board on which all this occurs is useless for serious play.

Chessmaster 3000

Serious players will find more to like in Chessmaster 3000 from Software Toolworks, on CD-ROM (about $45). The game has been enhanced, largely with audio, for the CD-ROM version. The computer will speak the moves if you wish or you can have music played at each move, which is even worse.

However, no other computer chess game has as many useful features as Chessmaster 3000; it includes tutelage and a library of 150 classic games.

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