My first complaint about this game is that the title clearly needs more words in it.
James Patterson Women’s Murder Club Games of Passion (or as the cool people call it, JPWMCGOP) surprised and disgusted a lot of people when it received its own segment in the Nintendo press conference at this year’s E3. Most people mocked Nintendo for even mentioning it, let alone talking it up as much as they did. It looked like the game would receive a great deal of hype and support but it was released last week and I don’t think anybody even noticed. As of this writing there is only one other review for the game online. THQ must have paid top dollar for that E3 appearance because this is a game that is barely worth talking about at all.
I feel it’s important to clarify that I put no money towards this game, but I did still invest my time, and there’s no excuse for that. I love a good mystery game so I assumed this was at least worth a quick look. I like games where you collect evidence, interrogate people and then put all the pieces together to solve the mystery. I’ve even played through each and every CSI game out there, and for the most part enjoyed each one of them. I’m a sucker for this stuff. Unfortunately this isn’t so much a mystery game as it is the James Patterson take on Where’s Waldo.
Instead of talking to suspects, analyzing evidence and well, being a detective, you instead spend the majority of the game “cleaning up crime scenes”. That’s how the task is explained in the game and what this means is that you get a list of objects that you have to search for and collect within the scene. Most of the time they have nothing to do with the actual case, like when you’re looking for pi symbols or stars. It’s basically that Millionheir game, only somehow less fun.
The whole concept of cleaning up the crime scene is frankly baffling to me. The game says you can’t start the investigation until you do it, but I don’t get that reasoning. Why can’t you investigate the body until you pick up a series of random objects? It’s not like they’re in the way. Hell some of them are up in tree branches or sitting in a garden 30 feet from the crime scene. Maybe this is a part of police procedure that all the TV shows and movies choose to gloss over. I have to say though; I would love an episode of CSI Miami where Horatio proclaims “Alright! We need to take a closer look at the scene. But first, find me a train, a wrench, a DNA symbol, a fish, two ticket stubs, a boot, and some Mickey Mouse ears!” YEEEEEAAAAAAAAAH!
One thing that did make me laugh is when you have to select a specific number of objects that could have been the murder weapon. Sure enough when the search starts there are swords, daggers and guns lying all over the place. Well played murderer, well played.
There are some mini-games throughout the experience but they are brief and few and far between. When the game does give you some actual crime solving to do, it’s still not fun because it just holds your hand the entire time. The game will ask you a question such as “What piece of evidence proves the suspect was at the crime scene?” Your choices will be a hammer, a bottle of perfume, a file folder, a picture of that person standing at the crime scene, and a steak. Man….head scratcher.
So we’ve established the game isn’t very fun and to make it all even worse, it’s ridiculously short. My fiancée was there when I started playing it and then later when I set the DS down she asked “taking a break already?” and was shocked when I told her “No I just beat the whole thing”. It’s barely 90 minutes from start to finish, no lie.
Having said all that, there actually is one fun feature that I need to talk about. It's called “Photo Mysteries” and it’s actually kind of cool, if you’re a DSi owner at least. You select a story and the game asks you to use the DSi camera to take photos of general things such as an item of clothing, an object, etc. The game then uses these images to tell a 3-5 minute story. It’s actually pretty entertaining but the novelty does wear off after a couple of rounds with it. At least someone is trying to get some use out of the DSi camera though, so they definitely deserve some credit for that.
Actually playing through JPWMCGOP makes its E3 focus all the more bizarre because it quite frankly is a bad game. The gameplay is not engaging and neither are the stories themselves (something I didn’t go into but that’s all you need to know), plus the whole thing is over in less than two hours. This should have been a DSiware title and even then I would be hesitant to recommend it. As a full priced game however, I can say with confidence that you should stay far, far away from this.
By the way sorry these photos are so gigantic but it was the only way to accurately show all of the excitement.