Murder on the Zinderneuf
|Murder on the Zinderneuf|
|Developer||Mission Accomplished Inc.|
|Company||Free Fall Associates|
|Publisher||Electronic Arts, Ariolasoft|
|Platform||C64, Apple II, Atari, PC-DOS|
|Genre||Adventure, Multiple Choice|
|Gamemode||Single player |
|Information||was also published by Ariolasoft|
|Voting of the C64-Wiki users (10=the best vote):|
|6.83 points at 12 votes (rank 359).|
You need to be logged in to cast a vote.
|C64Games||6||4th February 2011 - "good" - 1559 downs|
|Lemon64||7||4th February 2011 - 9 votes|
Murder on the Zinderneuf is a crime story adventure in multiple-choice style with joystick controls by Electronic Arts which was ported to the C64 in 1984. The aim of the game is to solve a murder case on board of an airship. To do this, the player takes over the role of one of eight possible detectives, to question the remaining passengers and search their cabins for hints and evidence. A random generator allocates the roles of the victims, murderer and possible motives and hints anew with every restart. A party can last up to 36 minutes.
 The story
It is 1936: At a height of about 1523m above the North Atlantic flies the luxury zeppelin "Zinderneuf" from London to New York. There are twelve hourse left until the arrival, so enough time to kill. But there is someone on board who takes this too literal, as all of a sudden one of the 16 passengers falls victim to a murder and once again no one admits to having "dunnit". Therefore it seems like an unbelievable coincidence, that just one of the most well-known and most brilliant detectives of all times is on board and immediately starts to investigate the case.
 Course of the game
The player decides for one of eight possible characters, which all seem clearly to be inspired by models from the movies and criminal literature. There are 12 hours game time left to catch the murderer before he runs off in New York unpunished, whereby each hour corresponds to about 3 minutes real time. An acoustic signal announces the passing of one hour game time.
As a choice you have such dazzling figures as the slightly scatty inspector Emile Klutzeau from the French Sûreté, the brutal detective Harry Hacksaw - dreaded for his "pragmatic" methods - or the hoary criminal quirk Miss Agatha Marbles, and many more. Depending on what character you choose, some aspects of the game are aggravated or facilitated, e.g. the super brain Humboldt Hause is excellent in finding traces, while the female charmes of Charity Flair are often enough to get the male counterpart to give unmasking information. Furthermore, each detective has a certain repertoire of questioning methods. Depending on the chosen character, they can range from intimidating over matey to "confused" and produce different result with every person questioned.
The passengers also pose a mixed group on the Zinderneuf: a mingle-mangle of odd fishes with obscure pasts and dark secrets - one even more suspect than the other. It is recommended to study the background of the passengers to see which relation they have to each other and to be better able to put the testimonies into the right context.
If you succeed to collect enough information by questioning the passengers and to find enough clues while searching the cabins, you can accuse the main suspect to be the murder. However, he will only admit it, if really enough evidence has been found - you should be really really confident or you risk that the person will not speak to you again and you get also points subtracted from your score.
No matter if the murderer was found or not, after the twelve hours have passed it will be revealed who the murderer was and what his motive was.
 Questioning passengers
To question a passenger you just bump into it with your character and a dialogue appears at the upper rim of the screen. Here you can decide to either question the person ("question"), ignore him/her ("ignore") or accuse him/her as a suspect ("accuse suspect"). If you decide for questioning you have to choose in what inflection/ mood the questioning should take place. Depending on how good the questioned responds to the chosen mood you can ask him up to three questions about his opinion/knowledge about the fellow passengers. For this you choose a person's name about which you want to get information, from the list. If the questioned person is not at all happy with your inflection of the questioning, you will only get a more or less clear request to to leave him/her alone (e.g. "Get lost!" or "Take a swim!"). It can also be that the questioned person simply has no information about the corresponding person ("You got me!" or "We are not acquainted."). It is equally fruitless to ask the suspect questions about his/her own person, this will be answered with a cynical "Read my biography" or something similar.
After you have asked your three questions, the conversation is aborted. You can then only ask the person new questions after having questioned another person.
By "ignore" a person is ignored until you have found a new clue (s. below). Until then you cannot speak to him/her.
As already mentioned, you should only use the last point "accuse suspect", if you are absolutely sure that you are facing the murderer and you can show enough evidence.
Else this will lead to the situation that the person will not talk to you for the rest of the game (and maybe conceal valuable information).
 Finding clues
Equally important as the questioning of passengers is the searching of cabins, especially the victim's cabin should be searched first. Cabins are automatically searched by walking around in them for a certain time (about 20-30 seconds, depending on the chosen detective) until either the message "nothing found" appears or a clue was found. These clues indicate more or less distinctly into the direction of a certain passenger. E.g. if you find a red fluff of a rug in the victim's room, so it can mean, that a person with a red carpet in his/her cabin is involved in the case. A cigarette end can point to a smoker being involved. Other evidence is more distinct, as e.g. monogram rings, flying goggles, Winchester Rifle or crucifixes of pure gold...
It is recommended to now question persons to which you can make a connection due to the found clue. While you search a room for clues, you must not touch a passenger or else the search will start anew.
In each game there is an additional especially grave clue, the so-called motif clue, a clue, with which you can rather distinctly suggest the motiv of the murderer and maybe even the murderer himself.
This special clue can only be found if you
- have questioned enough passengers and
- already found enough "normal" clues and
- you will only find the "motif clue" in a room in which you have already found a "normal" clue, while there is no passenger in the room.
These three preconditions aggravate the search for the "motif clue" heavily and it takes sometimes a lot of patience to find it.
 End of the game
The game ends at the latest after the 12 hours game time (about 36 minutes real time) have passed. Until then you have to have enough evidence by questioning the passengers and finding clues, especially the "motif clue" to expose one of the fellow travellers as murderer with a reasonably safe feeling and background. This happens by choosing "accuse suspect"' when talking to the potential murderer. If you are correct and have enough evidence he will confess his deeds and name his motive. If you are wrong, you get a harsh rejection and the person will not talk to you again. Furthermore, the rank at the end will be lowered. Of course nothing keeps you from accusing further passengers, with the just mentioned consequences in case of another failure. If you do not know how to go on, you can also without further ado abort the game with the key. In this case or after the time has run out, the game will reveal the murderer and his/her motive. In both cases you can bring in a last action ("final verdict") before, to sort of find the murder "hit or miss". If this succeeds against everyone's expectations, you will receive at least a reasonably good ranking. Otherwise at the best a sneering comment.
Graphically and sound-technically the game moves about at the same level as the two other known programs by "Freefall Associates" which are Archon and Archon II - Adept, that means: most sparingly block graphics and bereft of every detail. As already mentioned accurately in the comments to the game on "Kultboy", the top view seems more like a manic Tetris clone, so simple is the design of the rooms and the furnishing. "Tender rectangles" dominate to such an extent, that the eye has not much to meet. Also the way the zeppeling comes shakingly flying into the title screen flickeringly, appears for Electronic Arts relations almost ridiculously amateurish. You have to take a look at the version for Atari, where everything was realised much better. However, the versions for Apple and PC look even WORSE than on the C64. Well, that does not count...
Sound? Which sound? Not the short tootling in the title screen or the extremely inept walking noises during the game, that sound like a catatonic xylophone player? No, there is nothing to get here. They even abstained from building in the motor sounds, which increases and decreases in volume in the Atari version, depending on how far away you are from the rear of the zeppelin...what a pity!
- : move into alldirections; during the interrogation of a suspect choose the person about which you want to get information (up/down to show names of other passengers)
 Keyboard functions
- : abort game
 Final evaluation
The given rank at the end of the game is oriented on the time needed and the number of found clues. Wrong incriminations reduce the rank significantly. Also there is a big minus when the time has run out, although you still have found the murderer through the "final verdict".
Ranking (in descending order):
 The detectives
 The usual suspects
Vincent van Wente
Reverend Jeremiah Folmuth
Map of the Zinderneuf
- At first, the victim's room should be searched for clues. From them you can mostly draw conclusions about which passenger could be a closer suspect.
- But not all clues have something to do with the murder. The number of wrong traces is sometimes considerable.
- A room that has once given the result "nothing found" after the last search, will provide the same result in the future.
- The tone of a interrogation should be "in character" with the chosen detective. You should also take care to adapt the tone to the person questioned. Many characters react strongly to impolite manner, others actually need some callousness to be able to express themselves.
- Normally the passengers only stay in their own cabins, on the corridor or in the dining-hall in the front deck as well as the lounge on the afterdeck of the Zinderneuf. Passengers, which are in the rooms of other passengers are potentially suspect (unless they have a certain relation to them according to their background story).
- If a questioned person uses the first name of a person, if you ask for him/her, this suggests a certain closeness. This can also be suspicious.
Robotron2084: "A diverting and partially suprisingly funny mini criminal action adventure for in between, that - although not by graphics and sound - knows how to convince with much style and wit. It somehow reminds me of a full automatic computer game version of the board game classic "Cluedo", including certaing lengths in the course of the game. Unfortunately, some cases are at first very inscrutable, there you have lots of pain to find out the right clues between all the red herrings and wrong information. But many of them compensate at the end by an equally unexpected and logical explanation which you just did not see, as you have just overseen one "small" detail. Furthermore, the game teems with ingenious ideas and allusions to the great criminal heroes from the movies and literature - one single persiflage on the culture of the 30s and 40s and their stereotypes. Here every cliché is confirmed, from the fit of jealousy to the Nazi spy! Easily reached 7 out of 10 points."
Blubarju: "If you disregard the weak graphics and the practically absence of sound FX, there is a diversified game left for in between. But not more than that. Therefore "only" 6 points from me.
Colt Seavers: "Recommendable fiddling with 30s cliché character and full of allusions to bizarre personalities of that time, from the wrong Anastasia over Hedda Hopper and Sally Rand to H.P. Lovecraft everything is on board, which can be offered as material for dozens of more or less dodgy and sometimes insanely funny murderer-victim-motive combinations. You can replay the game anew correspindingly often whithout getting the same case twice - very well. The appearance and soundscape are even for skill games a but too much. Therefore only 7 points from me."
 Screenshot comparison of different conversions
From left to right: Atari, Apple, PC
- Robotron2084 - Ace Detective (11.12.2010)
- Blubarju - Expert Criminologist (14.12.2010)
- Nobody - 0 (dd.mm.yyyy)