Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels
Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels is an interactive fiction computer game designed by Bob Bates and published by Infocom in 1988. Like most titles Infocom produced, the use of ZIL made it possible to release the game simultaneously for many popular computer platforms, including the Apple II, IBM PC, Atari ST, and Commodore 64. Sherlock is based on the legendary fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The year is 1888, and all of England is gearing up for the celebration of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, marking her 50th year as monarch. London, naturally, is especially frenzied. Reading the paper one morning, Sherlock Holmes seizes upon one seemingly unimportant notice: the Tower of London has been closed for "reasons of security." The great detective is unsurprised when, moments later, he is asked to investigate the theft of the Crown Jewels. The clues left behind, however, positively reek of a carefully-laid trap; Sherlock decides that he must step aside and allow Dr. Watson to pursue the thief instead. But if the Jewels are not replaced within 48 hours, the British government will be forced to admit that their most prized possessions were stolen and suffer worldwide humiliation.
The player fills the role of Watson, travelling around London in Hansom cabs while attempting to recover the Crown Jewels while encountering many characters from Doyle's stories such as Mrs. Hudson, Mycroft Holmes, and Wiggins of the Baker Street Irregulars. A series of riddles and clues lead Watson on a hunt for inscribed jewels hidden at several famous sites across the city, including Westminster Abbey, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and London Bridge. Eventually, the villain is revealed as Professor Moriarty, who captures both Watson and Holmes. With quick thinking and the help of some humble medical supplies, however, Watson manages to subdue Moriarty and return the Jewels to the Tower in time.
Infocom had a long-standing practice of including feelies in each game package: items that increased players' feelings of immersion in the story and usually provided some sort of copy prevention. The feelies included with Sherlock:
- A map of Victorian London from "Admiral Beaton's London Tours"
- An issue of the London Thames newspaper from June 17, 1887
- A key fob bearing images of Holmes and Watson in silhouette above the game's logo
Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels was the first game in Infocom's "Immortal Legends" genre. The only other game published in this line was Arthur: The Quest for Excalibur, also written by Bates.
Infocom had abandoned their custom of labelling games in terms of difficulty by the time of Sherlock's release. Fans generally consider it to be either "Standard" or "Advanced" difficulty.
Like several of Infocom's later releases, Sherlock featured a built-in hint system.
- Mobygames' entry for Sherlock
- Sherlock information and overview
- Scans of the Sherlock package, documentation and feelies
- Infocom-if.org's entry for Sherlock
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