Déjà Vu (video game)

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Déjà Vu
A large brown Fedora hat and a glass of liquor on a table with the title of the game "Deja Vu" in large letters.
Box art for the computer and Famicom versions
Developer(s) ICOM Simulations, Inc.
Publisher(s) Mindscape
Kemco (NES, GBC)
Composer(s) Hiroyuki Masuno (NES, GBC)
Engine MacVenture
Platform(s) Apple IIGS, Macintosh; Atari ST; Commodore 64, Amiga; DOS; Game Boy Color; Microsoft Windows (Pocket PC); NES
Release date(s) 1985 (Mac)
1987 (DOS)
1988 (Famicom)
1990 (NA NES)
1992 (PAL NES)
Genre(s) Adventure
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution Two 3.5" 400k floppies (Mac)
Cartridge (NES)

Déjà Vu[1] is a point-and-click adventure game set in the world of 1940s hard-boiled detective novels and movies. It was released in 1985 for Macintosh – the first in the MacVenture series – and later ported to several other systems, including the Commodore Amiga. Subsequent releases featured improved graphical features, including color.

Plot and gameplay[edit]

Macintosh version of Déjà Vu.

The game takes place in Chicago during December 1941, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The game character is Theodore "Ace" Harding, a retired boxer working as a private eye.

The player awakes one morning in a bathroom stall, unable to remember who he is. The bathroom stall turns out to be in Joe's Bar. A dead man is found in an upstairs office, and Ace is about to be framed for the murder. There are some clues as to the identity of the murdered man and to the player himself. A strap-down chair, mysterious vials, and a syringe are found, suggesting (together with a needle mark on the player's arm) that some kind of elaborate torture has taken place.

Adversaries that the player meets outside the bar is a mugger, an old acquaintance with a grudge, and the police. The player has a boxing background which proves a valuable asset. The player must find addresses around Joe's bar, and then make taxi rides to a few locations, including his office to gather more elements and unravel the story. It involves a kidnapping in which Ace has played some part, but his memory lacks important details.

Ace's memory and mental condition get progressively worse, so the player is required to obtain an antidote to the drug that caused the memory loss. After that, Ace has recurring flashbacks filled with information that help the player to evaluate the evidence and take action accordingly.

This game and its sequel, Deja Vu II: Lost in Las Vegas, require significant lateral thinking. Some situations are based in common detective techniques, while others require simple violence. Overall, they are more realistic than the two other MacVentures titles (Uninvited and Shadowgate), because there are no supernatural events involved.

Technology[edit]

NES version

Déjà Vu was the first game to use ICOM's trademark MacVenture interface and engine.

Numerous ports were made, including versions for several home computer systems in 1987 and one for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990. Versions of the game and its sequel containing new graphics and sound were released for Microsoft Windows in the early 1990s, and later as a combined single-cartridge release for the Game Boy Color in 1999 (under the title Déjà Vu I & II: The Casebooks of Ace Harding, which was also released for DOS, Windows 3.x (1992), and Windows Mobile (2002)).

Reception[edit]

Historian Jimmy Maher wrote in 2014 that Déjà Vu was "an absolute stunner" in 1985, "the sort of thing that could stop people in their tracks when they stumbled across it running on an in-store computer". He stated that, in contrast to many other technically advanced games, the game had a "compelling premise ... The mystery of who you are and how you got to that bathroom stall is intriguing", and concluded that "it stands amongst the top tier of 1980s adventure games".[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The original game boxes and the in-game logo write the title as Deja Vu (without accent marks). However, the text on the back of the box spells the title in the correct manner, as do the logos for the NES and Game Boy Color ports. Some sources also add an additional subtitle of "A Nightmare Comes True!!", a tagline that is absent from the in-game logo and NES game box.
  2. ^ Maher, Jimmy (2014-02-28). "Macware". The Digital Antiquarian. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 

External links[edit]