And Then There Were None for Nintendo Wii, by Agatha Christie

by Derwood Hunsdale-Talbot on August 15, 2008

A Non-Gaming Bookworm Reviews “Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None” for Nintendo Wii

A Bookworm’s Journey from the Novel to The Nunchuck

Hi, I’m a tech illiterate book worm, and this is my review of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None for the Nintendo Wii.

Basically, I am a mystery buff book worm who is gaming-agnostic, despite my geek boyfriend’s best attempts. But when the Agatha ChristieAgatha-Christie-Bookworm-Reviews And Then There Were None for the Wii was released, I couldn’t resist rekindling my love affair with one of the most exciting mysteries I’ve ever read, especially in the newly immersive Wii format. Here’s how it went:

And then there was spooky-creepiness.

It was a dark and stormy night.

I know, because I purposely waited to start playing until the weather worsened-I live in Seattle so this was not difficult. I lit the candles, put the game in right on my third try, and grimly grabbed the remote. Game on.

From the opening sequence, my excitement mounted. I have read other reviews that complained about the poor art quality of Agatha Christie, but if you, like me, haven’t picked up a controller since the Mario days, you will feel like you’ve stepped right into LOST. The characters look like real potential murder victims, Shipwreck Island is howling and spooky, and the music is furtive and intriguing.

Indeed, the ambiance is awesome, and from the opening chapter things look promising. The first few revelations are riveting, from the scratchy recording delivering ominous news, to the bombshell (spoiler ahead) that the island host’s moniker U.N. Owen stands for UNKNOWN. Yikes, hold me!

After that, the story carries on at a reasonable pace as I discover that pointing and clicking in gamerland is basically the equivalent of page turning to a bookworm. The Wii control did add an exciting new dimension to the mystery experience, and for several dizzy days my boyfriend could find his former bookaholic cloaked in darkness, crouched down while desperately “digging” with an imaginary shovel or feverishly mimicking the combination to a safe.

Was this bookworm converted to a true gaming fool? Read on…..

And then there was boredom, sore wrists, and mental berating.

In the manner of all good Agatha Christie books, the game’s initial explosive action proved to be a red herring. After the first few sleuth interviews and some found objects, the mystery moved along at a much more tedious pace than the original Christie page turner. In other words, it moved as fast as if you were actually forced to figure out the clues in the Christie novel, rather than being carried along by a gripping narrative.

This turned out to be my main squabble with this novel-come-nerd game. Although the Wii format did make the game more interactive, this ultimately proved to be a fault. In the Christie books, you have some droll detective or darling old lady who is an expert on “human nature” nursing you through all Christie’s infamous twists, so the end result is you feeling really smart. In the Wii version, you are supposed to be the brilliant one, so if figuring out that a turkey baster and flour combine to make a fingerprint duster does not come naturally to you, you will find this game a bit daunting and wish you had old Hercule there to whisper the answers from behind his ridiculous mustache. In fact, I suggest reviving him and Ms. Marple as literary lifelines would greatly improve the Wii experience.

Also, as far as the book-to-game experience goes, it is a lot easier deciphering a few cryptic lines on a page versus a few blurred pixels on a cabinet. You had to move the control with almost archeological precision to find all the clues, at which point the game become much less cerebral than the book and much more manual and tedious (probably more like real detective work, but hey, this is escapism).

So basically, after a few stunned days of milling on the island with minimal progress, I did what any self respecting bookworm would do….read ahead.

And then there were Cliff Notes.

Or as they call them in gamer language “walk throughs.” Although in the first week I had stoutly resolved we would use no outside assistance, by the second week I was a ruined gamer: walk through pages covered every surface, Googling had reached the point of lunacy, and I was scouring every page while screaming at my boyfriend, “Row! ROW!”

Like all cheating, this was initially intriguing because we were finally able to advance, but eventually we were just following a series of instructions and there was none of the delightful discovering that makes the Christie classic so jaw-dropping.

While this Wii game did transcend my past experiences of mindless entertainment and draw me in with the first glimpses of intriguing mythology that engenders true gaming addiction, the initial glee was not sustained enough to make my novelmonger-to-nerd conversion complete.

Even with a true-to-storyline concept and a booklover’s greatest delight-a bookshelf secret passage-ludicrous plot twists, dull repetition, and typecast characters make this Wii game a dud. The mysterious nature of the story requires the deft authorative control of the author narrative, without which it becomes a baggy sort of choose-your-own-adventure story ( and we all know what happened to those.) If Christie were alive today (which she probably is, in true red herring fashion) I’m pretty sure she’d be anti-console too.

I did however, get a free copy of the book with my Wii game purchase. If you received the same and are a gamer slash non-novel reader, why don’t you give the book a try and guest review it here?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth August 15, 2008 at 10:22 am

Wow. I want to play this, but not new. I think I’ll see if I can find it used. Do you recommend reading the book first?

Bohemian Bookworm August 15, 2008 at 11:09 am

I think I would recommend reading the book first because then you at least have a little sense of what’s going on, even if you find the wii format disorienting. Good luck!

booknerd August 15, 2008 at 11:23 am

As a kid I preferred Sweet Valley High to Nancy Drew, so mysteries have never been my thing. I always felt like a dullard when I couldn’t solve the mystery. But maybe I never gave them a fair shot. This game sounds intriguing enough, I’ll give it a try.

sollipsist August 16, 2008 at 11:52 am

There are three mysteries here:

1. The mystery of who still doesn’t know that console games based on books (or films, or TV shows) are nearly guaranteed to suck.

2. The mystery of who doesn’t know that mystery/ detective games for consoles are probably going to suck.

3. The mystery of why non-gamers typically choose one specific game (often an obscure or budget title) to be the single thing on which they base their view of an entire pastime.

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