Release Date: October 2004
Inspector Parker: BeTrapped! is the latest casual game from Oberon Media, and, like its predecessor Inspector Parker, it has an unusually classy pedigree for a casual game, in that it was designed by none other than Jane Jensen.
Jensen, the legendary game goddess behind (among other things) the Gabriel Knight series of games, is currently pepping up the casual game world with her own distinctive attention to detail and storytelling.
Whereas the first Inspector Parker game was an update of the venerable old DOS game Sherlock, BeTrapped! takes aim at re-inventing that old Windows chestnut, Minesweeper. Yep, you read right,Minesweeper.
Now, before you reach for another link, let me tell you that you’ve never playedMinesweeper like this. It’s actually really fun.
To be more specific, BeTrapped! is sort of a collision between that old bomb-search game and Clue. The intrepid inspector is dispatched to Ravencourt Castle, where the young lord of the manor has just died mysteriously. A group of family members, employees and friends have gathered in the mansion, and it’s up to the Inspector to sort out what’s really going on.
Clues and interviewable suspects are scattered throughout the several levels of the manor house, but complicating the proceedings is the fact that virtually every room has been booby-trapped. The player must help the Inspector clear each room of traps before that room can be explored. That’s the Minesweeper part of the game.
However, it’s superior to Minesweeper in several ways: It’s much more visually creative, full of amusing little animations depicting the various booby traps going off. Plus, unlike the original little Windows game, you’re actually allowed to make a mistake. I always thought that’s what kept Minesweeper from being as much fun as it should have been: One mistake and it’s game over. BeTrapped! is much more forgiving, giving you a few free chances to recover from.
Once a given room is cleared of these various traps, you are able to look for clues and interview suspects. The game even has an inventory system that allows you to solve additional puzzles.
The interface is simplicity itself (point and click), and navigation is also a breeze. Any room you’ve cleared can be jumped to immediately through a handy Map menu.
The story is satisfyingly convoluted and colorful, as are the characters. It would have been nice if the game had included speech, but I assume that’s one of the limitations of a budget title.
The game features two gameplay modes, Adventure Game, which I’ve just described, and Puzzle Game, which lets you simply enjoy solving individual trapped rooms.
It’s not fair to judge BeTrapped! by the same standards as a full-blown adventure or puzzle game. It’s a budget-title casual game, and it fills that role very well. It’s affordable, stylish, amusing and, most importantly, fun.
Of course I hope Ms. Jensen will serve up a new mega-adventure one of these days. But I’m perfectly happy to continue enjoying these little trifles from her team in the meantime. I think you will be, too.
Final Grade: B