Mystery Science Theater 3000 Presents "Detective"

by C. E. Forman, Matt Barringer, Graeme Cree, and Stuart Moore

Mystery/Satire
1995

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Number of Reviews: 7
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1-7 of 7


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
The flimsiest of detective adventures (now with a comment track), September 12, 2020
by AKheon (Finland)
Related reviews: parser-based, comedy, IF Comp 1995, Inform

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Presents "Detective" is a parser-based game from 1995 by C. E. Forman, Graeme Cree and Stuart Moore. Its sole purpose is to be an interactive satirical commentary of Detective, an infamous low quality IF title from 1993. The game uses the characters from Mystery Science Theater 3000, a TV show that was all about riffing on bad films, for this purpose. (Isn't this a bit iffy copyright-wise, though?)

After an optional intro and explanation, you are left playing Detective as normal, although the game will print some additional lines as you move from room to room and try doing various things. The presentation ends up looking slightly cluttered as the text of the original game is frequently disturbed by out-of-world dialogue, but I guess it can't really be helped in a strictly text-based format like this.

Detective is not necessarily a bad game choice for this sort of meta-commentary. After all, it's short and easy, plus you have a flimsy storyline and implementation to make jokes about. However, a lot of the humor here is riding on the idea that Detective is not only bad, but it's spectacularly, heinously, criminally bad... which I don't fully agree with. I think Detective is fairly painless as far as bad games go, and the constant exaggeration of its badness just seems uncharitable, even insecure, as if MST3000 Presents "Detective" was trying a bit too hard to justify its own existence.

This game also doesn't elevate the source material by all that much. The jokes mostly consist of someone pointing out the obvious, for instance how some bits in the writing are redundant or how the room connections are bizarre. It doesn't help that Detective is a very simple game where the same type of mistakes crop up again and again, which means the riffing also ends up being pretty repetitive. So, while I would say the commentary has its fun moments, it's overall a bit one-note and limited in its effect.

If nothing else, MST3000 Presents "Detective" is a success on its own terms. The writing does justice to the style of the TV show, and while personally I would've preferred a more informative commentary over unceasing sarcastic complaining and snide one-liners, the game essentially does exactly as advertised. It's pretty unique too, as there aren't many games out there that have this angle. Could be worth exploring if you have half an hour.


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Richard Basehart, Yay!, April 28, 2019
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

One of the few games that has made me legit laugh out loud, Detective was the perfect game to get the MSTK3 treatment. It was a seriously earnest mystery written by a 12-year old Matt Barringer and he made nearly every possible mistake one could make--instant death rooms, unimplemented objects, doors that only go one-way, etc.--but since there are really no puzzles, the game can be won in a short time.

Normally Iím not a fan of punching down. But for the most part the mocking done by Servo, Crow, and the gang is light-hearted and it helped me play a game I never would have touched otherwise. That Barringer retroactively gave his blessing for this also helps. I have never seen a full episode of MSTK3, but I still very much enjoyed myself. And Iíve come back to this a few times whenever I need a laugh.


6 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Even worse than Detective, March 10, 2017
by Audiart (Davis, CA)

Not only is Detective virtually unplayable on its own, but the commentary so annoying that it actually detracted from the original game, making it even more unplayable than it already is. The intro is so tedious and unfunny as to be truly unbearable. The in-game jokes and asides are so obvious that they do not need to be said, and like much humour, it is much funnier to leave the obvious unsaid.

The original game is worth playing just for its infuriating unplayability, and at least has the excuse that it was made by a kid who put a minimal amount of work into this under-implemented and poorly constructed game. MST3k:Detective, on the other hand, is made by competent adults with obvious coding experience, so there is no excuse for it being as awful as it is.

If you feel like getting a kick out of playing Detective, just play the original and shake your head in wonder at its badness while inserting your own frustrated exclamations in the necessary places. You will have a much better laugh if you experience Detective firsthand and run the commentary in your own mind.


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A parody of a 12-year old's detective game written with his blessing, February 3, 2016

"Detective" was an early game (written before the first IFComp) written by a 12-year old, who actually did a pretty good job for their age. However, many people judged it in reference to games by older, more experienced authors, and the game pales in comparison.

The authors of the MST3K version decided to make a parody where they play through with their commentary during the game. Usually, I would feel that it is pretty mean-spirited, but the game includes an interview with the author where he says that he's fine with this version of the game, and that he's a fan of Mystery Science Theatre.

The game is mostly fun because of its unusual format. It only really needs one playthrough; after that, you just hear the same comments over and over again, so there's not much replay value.


3 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
Great!, April 19, 2010
by Andreas Teufel (Poland)

-) very funny
-) captures the spirit of the tv show excellently
-) the game riffed is really bad

the only criticism I have for this game is that it's too short, other than that it's pure gold!


4/5


13 of 16 people found the following review helpful:
One of the ones I always come back to, January 6, 2008
by Matt Poush (Des Moines, Iowa)

Every time I rediscover IF, the MST3K version of 'Detective' is one of the first things I seek out to re-play. Most works of IF would be relatively difficult to wrap in MST3K form, but Matt Barringer's Detective is so linear that it's incredibly effective. Strangers to the show may feel a little lost if they dive directly into the story, but the authors have thoughtfully created a quick primer to bring them up to speed. The character's comments/tones ring eerily true to the show and no gaffe is overlooked, from actions that happen in room descriptions, objects with bizarre adjectives, and doors that just plain weren't hooked up correctly.

Anyone who has ever been so excited to create an IF work that they dove head-first and made the game up as they went along will cringe deliciously - not only at how terrible the original game is, but how representative it is of those initial creations. Certainly, part of the amusement is at Barringer's expense (although he readily cops to how poorly written it was, and seems to take it with a grain of salt), but at least for this reviewer, an equal part of the amusement is the realization that it's no worse than what I've done; there but for the grace of God go I.


7 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
I know I'm supposed to like this, but I don't, December 16, 2007
by Kake (London, England)
Related reviews: **, C. E. Forman, Graeme Cree, Stuart Moore

This is a parody of Matt Barringer's Detective, a game famous for being really, really bad.

It might be because I'm not American, and have never watched Mystery Science Theatre 3000, but I just found this kind of boring. I didn't think anything the commentators said was particularly witty or amusing, and I had to force myself to persist to the end ó a problem I didn't have with the original game they're making fun of!



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