Contact Sam Cruise was released for the ZX Spectrum by Microsphere right at the tail end of 1986; just in time for the Christmas rush.
Contact Sam Cruise was something a bit different to most other titles, film-noir type detective games were not your run of the mill type of game on the ZX Spectrum!
The developers David S Reidy and Keith Warrington had collaborated on the excellent Skool Daze and the equally good Back to Skool previously for Microsphere, and used a similar graphical style to represent the city locations.
|Contact Sam Cruise loads up on the ZX Spectrum|
Just another quiet day in the Sam Cruise detective agency... My secretary Daisy rattles away at the typewriter and the clackity clack rythm sends me into a distant day dream. It's hot today, too hot, the hazy sunlight is streaming through the venetians and the fan in here just pushes warm air around. We need rain, the hard rain, to wash away this stifling heat and....
The ringing of the phone snaps me out of my stupor, dabbing the sweat from my brow I reach over and pick up the receiver.
Some broad named Dana wants to meet me on the roof of the Hotel Royal - and that's all I got - with no other cases I got no choice. I leave the office and begin the case of 'The bali budgie'....
And so the adventure for you (Sam Cruise) began.
Already the case you were working on had a humorous title - 'The bali budgie' which was obviously a take on 'The maltese falcon'.
Sam Cruise was suitably adorned in trench-coat and trilby hat and could walk along the streets, enter buildings and interact with the environment.
|Contact Sam Cruise on the ZX Spectrum|
Sam was kitted out at the beginning with ten first aid kits (lives), a number of disguises and $50.00 cash.
The cash meter slowly and continuously falls and must be kept above $0.00 or the game is over.
Being shot by a sniper requires the use of a first aid kit, and if you used them all up then once again the game was up.
Entering buildings was really well done. You could go 'inside' the building and walk around, viewing our Sam through the windows. An icon would flash whenever you were next to an important item such as a telephone, which you could then use (you only began the game with the number to your office but gathered more numbers as clues were solved).
In some cases the police would not take kindly to you entering a building (except for number 19 which was a gangster house - they never showed up there!) and would appear on the scene to arrest you. Sabotaging the fuse box (and plunging the building into darkness) could allow you to escape.
Changing into a disguise could also fool the police, although they were wise to a lot of them and proceeded to recognise more of your disguises as the game wore on.
Being a private dick meant that you had to earn cold hard cash. Client fees was one way to earn money, and as certain pieces of the case were solved you would be given a cash advance from your mysterious client.
Luckily for you plenty of paper money was floating around the streets due to a recent bank robbery. Sam could be made to somersault onto any of these rogue bills and if you timed it right you got to keep the bill which could be a dollar or even a whopping five dollars!
It was a good way to keep the cash meter topped up anyway.
The game was over if Sam was shot more than ten times or if he was picked up by the mafia and unceremoniously hurled from the roof of a very tall building. Splat.
The city was nicely represented with a variety of buildings to wander around in. Microshpere managed to use a lot of colour in the locations whilst keeping the game easy on the eyes. Other citizens would go about the city on their daily routines, and of course some of them you would have to talk to.
Solving the case meant fame and fortune for the Sam Cruise detective agency, but 'The Bali Budgie' was never going to be easy...
Contact Sam Cruise really was something new on the ZX Spectrum. Microsphere did make games that were a bit 'different', such as Wheelie and Skool Daze. Once again they came up with a winner with this noiresque detective adventure. Gamers enjoyed the interaction with the environment, the range of disguises you could use and simply exploring the well drawn city. The case you were on was tricky enough to keep you hooked in and the game also had plenty of atmosphere. It ended up being a big hit at the time and I always yearned for a sequel, but no further Sam Cruise adventures were ever released.
The test of time:
Here in the land of Spectrum games we reckon that you should look Contact Sam Cruise out. Of course it is dated and those once impressive graphics are very ordinary, but it was ahead of it's time regarding the gameplay. Entering buildings and being able to turn the lights on and off, use telephones, open doors and sometimes even make it onto the roof was really quite something. A classic arcade adventure game.
Grab a trilby and trenchcoat and give it a go. If you perservere with it and get the hang of somersaulting onto the stray money you'll be sucked into 'The Bali Budgie'.
We recommend getting hold of the real hardware but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Contact Sam Cruise for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
GENRE: Detective arcade adventure
RELEASE DATE: End of 1986
RELEASED BY: Microshpere
DEVELOPER(S): David S Reidy and Keith Warrington
PRICE: £7.95- UK
Sam goes for a wander in Contact Sam Cruise on Spectrum Games:
Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games