Everybody's favourite detective is back in Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House, a fabulous new ‘whodunnit’ for Nintendo DS. As obnoxious as ever, Holmes and his dearest chum Dr Watson are back on the case. After all, Queen Vic’s genealogical records have been stolen, and who better to put their noses to the ground and sniff out the offender than the dashing 19th-century duo? The game begins by the crackling fire at 221B Baker Street, and after a slightly tiresome introduction to gameplay and establishing the royal predicament, you’re away.
Puzzles and brain teasers abound. There’s a huge assortment, ranging from face matching and shelving misplaced books to fixing the plumbing. These mini games start easily, but don’t be fooled. Each has its own difficulty level, with some a total doddle and others driving you past boiling point. When first presented with a puzzle you’re given no information at all. Fortunately there’s a help system on board that provides hints with ‘partial’ or ‘full’ aid; the more assistance you take the more points you lose however – so nut it out on your own where possible so you can achieve the maximum points and unlock secret puzzles.
Gameplay is standard for the DS, and revolves around using the stylus to move Holmes, solve puzzles and perform actions like shifting objects around the room. Loading time is fairly slow and the game is very text-heavy, so young players will need a good reading level.
As for the graphics, the charmingly handdrawn scenes (a point of difference) make exploring historic London a pleasure. The classical soundtrack really fi ts the ‘mystery’ mood, although it’s so repetitive that you’ll have the DS on silent after an hour. All in all, it’s a game worth your dollar. Puzzle solvers will be in their element.