Forgotten Gems of Gaming: The Gene Machine

The title followed the gentlemanly adventures of Piers Featherstonehaugh, and his ever tolerant and trusty servant and side kick Mossop.

This might be a little on the obscure side of the gaming fence, but lets give it a go, these are forgotten gems after all. This one is from the days when people used their PC for gaming, before the console market crushed this idea, then the internet came along and the PC became a Facebook machine. But anyways, this title was released in 1996 for that DOS, everybody's favourite operating system. Although it was developed in the colonies, now know as the United States of America, The Gene Machine was a very British adventure.

Set in the olden days, Victorian London, the 19th century to be exact. The title followed the gentlemanly adventures of Piers Featherstonehaugh, and his ever tolerant and trusty servant and side kick Mossop. Our man has just returned from the Americas €œhaving completed a secret mission of the upmost importance to the British empire€, we learn this from a talking cat opening cut scene, yep, it wasn€™t really set in reality. Featherstonehaugh was a brilliant main character, brilliantly stupid and snobbish with lots of hindsight based humour too. Some evil doctor created the machine from The Fly which combines two creatures, morphing them into one. He€™s going to make an army of mutant or something, unless Featherstonehaugh and Mossop can stop him. How would our fearless hero undertake such as task? By clicking on stuff, that€™s right this one was a point-and-click adventure, a genre that has fallen from favour in the modern era of the first person shooter.
The adventure wasn€™t the hardest of the point-and-click€™s, you could take your time and what was clickable was pretty obvious. Although the gameplay wasn€™t challenging the game is great fun, with humour throughout, during the first few moments you break the worlds first computer, commenting that they will never catch on. You talk to Jack The Ripper and agree that something needs to be done about sinners in London. The game is pact with this sort of humour, other references include; H.G.Wells€™ The Time Machine, Jekyll and Hyde, Treasure Island and Sherlock Holmes to name but a few.
Most probably due to the limited graphical power at the time the game went for a cartoon look. The painterly backgrounds looked great and the cartoony characters interacted well with the world. The vehicles were rendered in some sort of computer animation, more like the Dire Straits video Money For Nothing, than todays standards, but it all came together well. It wasn€™t perfect by any stretch, I found there were a few factors that detracted it from booking its place in the gaming hall of fame. The music, although fitting for the period is dull and repetitive, not really adding to the excitement. The game is short and simple, anyone that has played and point-and-click would be able to power through in a few hours. Also, my copy kept crashing, probably my computer but i€™d rather blame the game.
Despite it€™s flaws the game was charming and funny enough to make it worth a play. As the story unfolded it took you to strange and far away places, a true adventure. The characters are likeable and feel human, they you warm to them throughout the game. This game has definitely been forgotten and is a gem, well worth a retro play if you can find it.
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