Deja Vu
Box Shot
Deja Vu
Platform: NES
Publisher: Kemco-Seika
Designer: ICOM
Genre: Graphic Adventure
Players: 1
Published Date 1990
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

Apparently, enough people liked Kemco's translation of Shadowgate for the NES, so they must've decided to work on Deju Vu, a detective mystery by Icom Simulations. Quite simply, anyone who's played Shadowgate will immediately find themselves familiar with the interface, as well as the well conceived puzzles.

The game starts off like a motion picture...without any introduction whatsoever, you start the game inside of a bathroom stall, with absolutely no memory whatsoever. No, not even your name. You rifle through your belongings, and find, among other things, a gun. Things just aren't looking up when you find a guy shot to death somewhere in the same building. So, in addition to finding out who the hell you are, it's your job to investigate this murder. The whole plot line gets pretty intricate, involving kidnapping, greed, forbidden lust and framing (for its you who have been framed!) It's got all of the great elements of a 30's detective story.

As mentioned before, the interface is exactly like the one used in Shadowgate. The upper-left window is the picture window...it shows your location. The upper-right window details all your items, while everything below there is where your commands are located. There's also a little map that points out available exits, in case you can't find them on the screen. This is very useful, as there are some screens in Deja Vu that are cluttered with places to go.

There are several locations in Deja Vu, and you must go travel to each via a taxi (there are two in town, but I'm not sure of the difference. One seems to be nicer than the other.) Obviously, you've got to pay them, so you can earn money from a variety of places, the easiest would be the hidden gambling casino under the bar. In case you run out of money and a stranded at a location, one of the taxi cabs will be nice and let you run on credit, but with the other one you're screwed if you're broke.

There's only very minor character interaction in this game, and most of it involves dealing with muggers and criminals. Randomly, one of these shady characters will pop up and ask not-so-nicely for your cash. You can fork it over if you want, or punch them. Unfortunately, there is one mugger that cannont be hurt...therefore, you must give over your money. This part is kind of stupid, so try to stay away from where he hangs out (in the alley next to the bar where you start the game.) And no, you can't shoot them...you'll get arrested (and you can't plead self-defense either.)

As with Shadowgate, chances are you'll lose plenty of times, sometimes with little reasoning (like if you walk into a certain room before you regain your memory, you'll collapse.) However, most of the time, you can see your deaths coming, so you can do something about it. There is one really stupid part at the end of the game; you must get rid of all evidence that incriminates you, but there's one item that you cannot drop, even if it does logically point to you as the conspirator. Yet you can still have this item and win the game (game bug, most likely.) However, the worst thing happens if you die three times by the same death...your save game gets erased and you must start from the beginning. ARGHH!!! Then again, the game isn't too long in the first place, so if you know everything you need to do, it should only take about an hour to retrace your steps.

The graphics are decent, putting the NES's 16-color palette to its best use by creating fairly good pictures. The only downfall seems to be whenever there's a human on the screen...for some reasons, their flesh is colored white. The music isn't as good as Shadowgate, but the main themes are pretty memorable. There is one "suspense" tune (played when you discover the dead body) that gets pretty annoying though. As usual, the only problem with emulation is lack of the drums...not too major.

As with most adventure games, the main problem is that once you've beaten it, there's no point in going back. The game isn't too hard either, and I beat it in a few days without any help whatsoever. The puzzles make sense though, so you won't be wracking your brain trying to discover some oddball solution (for instance, there's a paper with writing indentations on it. You can't read it, but if you use a pencil to shade over the paper, then you can understand it.) Most everything else gives reasonable information to solve everything.

Since Nintendo games are so cheap these days, I'd say to pick up Deja Vu, even if it'll only occupy a few days before you put it back on your shelf. It involves you unlike many other adventure games, and you'll have one fun time solving the mystery presented.