22
Jun
14

Man Hunter San Fransisco for DOS

Sierra

Sierra

Man Hunter San Fransisco is a Sierra adventure game from 1989. The Man Hunter games are murder mystery inspired, but is set within a Orwellian world. The world has been successfully invaded by aliens called the Orbs. The Orbs have little ability to move among humans undetected and find keeping the human populance in check difficult. Hence the reason they recruit some humans known as Man Hunters to pursue criminals. The first game ended as you pursued one of the worst – Phil cook – to San Fransisco and had ended the orbs influence in New York. Your job here in San Fransisco is basically to try to catch Phil and hopefully defeat the Orbs here.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

It is unusual compared to the other Sierra adventure games in that there is very little text in-game, most information in the game is conveyed visually. The only time text is used in-game is when you die and the three creators give you a short clue or scolding. This was quite different as the other Sierra adventure games used text extensively and had a text parser to interpret the players actions. It was also the only early Sierra adventure game to feature more graphic death and a Orwellian tone.

He broke our fall

He broke our fall

The AGI engine this game uses supports Hercules, CGA, EGA, and PCjr which was common to most of the earlier Sierra games such as Kings Quest, Space Quest and Leisure Suite Larry. I obviously played in EGA mode as it is the best looking, although I found it strange that only half the horizontal resolution seems to be used. It is something peculiar to the AGI engine as other games using it had the same feature, perhaps it is something to do with support for other graphic cards.

Being a detective, investigating murders leads to some very detailed and sometimes gory scenes of the victims and their surroundings. Always look carefully around for clues around these areas!

Your new home

Your new home

Like the other early AGI games sound is either from the PC speaker or PCjr sound if you happen to have a PCjr or Tandy machine. The sound is quite basic and there is some simple music at the start in a short cinematic sequence. Fortunately the sound whilst simple is of a decent quality and won’t get annoying, but you can turn it off if you don’t like it.

City sky line

City sky line

Playing the game is relatively straight forward, you interact with the world in a point and click like manner, except you control the cursor with the keyboard instead of a mouse. You don’t have to select actions to perform as any hot-spot on-screen will automatically change your cursor into the appropriate action, which you perform by pressing enter. I found using items less intuitive as you basically just select the item out of your inventory to use it. This would normally just have you look at the item, so it wasn’t clear you could use items that way.

Using the tracker

Using the tracker

You need to use your special MAD (Manhunter Assistant Device) to track suspects using the tracking discs that the orbs implanted in everyone. Unfortunately you can’t get identification information as the tracking system does not transmit that due to a technical error on the Orbs part. So you must use clues found at the locations suspects visit to try and identify them. After all the Orbs want the names of the suspects. Using the MAD is fairly easy. When tracking the events at a location you can tag another suspect so that the tracker follows their movements. This can lead to other locations and more clues. If you happen to find a name or work one out from clues you can enter it into the information finder to get more details and an address.

Information search

Information search

The puzzles in-game are quite tricky, you need to pick up on visual clues and piece together the identity of the suspects you are chasing. This involves visiting the locations they have visited and in some cases catching up with them. You can end up running into situations that result in your death, which fortunately isn’t too punishing. I’d recommend having a pen and paper to write down any details or clues you find in an area.

The Square

The Square

Some areas of the game lead to short arcade sequences, which usually involve avoiding some kind of hazard whilst trying to reach a particular goal. Sometimes it’s not clear where the goal is or what path you should take. Strangely the default difficulty is set to hard for every arcade sequence, so if you find one hard you should adjust the difficulty in the game menu.

The death screen

The death screen

We originally got Man Hunter back in the early 90’s, the same way we got Kings Quest 4, from one of my brothers friends. Like Kings Quest 4 we were never able to solve the game, and were in fact basically stuck on the first day. This was partly because I was quite young and hadn’t realised where some of the clues were and we didn’t even really know what we were looking for. For my recent play-through I decided to use a guide when I got stuck, which unfortunately became kind of necessary as the clues became more cryptic.

Climbing on the sign

Climbing on the sign

Obviously when we first played it such guides were not available, which would have made some sections quite difficult and solvable mostly by trial and error. I’d suggest you give it a try without a guide at first, but be sure to write down as much detail as you can, and save often! This may require pausing the game in some sequences. Some clues are only on-screen for a short time and can easily be missed.

I found it was quite a compelling game, but also frustrating when faced with some puzzles especially where it wasn’t clear what I should be doing. If you enjoy trying to solve a good mystery you’ll probably like the Man Hunter games.

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4 Responses to “Man Hunter San Fransisco for DOS”


  1. June 23, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    I really like the style of these games. Used to play Manhunter New York on my friends Tandy but we could never get very far. I always wanted the Amiga version but I wonder if those versions have improved graphics or sound, I cant find any evidence if there do.

    • June 23, 2014 at 6:40 pm

      It would have been nice on the Tandy with the 3 voice sound, but alas I’ve never owned a Tandy. (although a cousin had one) I did enjoy playing it despite it being frustrating, I would have liked it more if there were some more mysteries/crimes to solve and an easier to use interface, perhaps with a notebook of things you’ve seen for convenience.

      I did a little looking at screen-shots and it seems the Amiga version is either identical or close to it, well graphically anyway. This is likely because the only difference between the platforms would be the AGI engine. This would mean that the developers would only need to do all the work once for all platforms supported by AGI.

      Cheers
      Sparcie

  2. July 2, 2014 at 5:23 am

    hmm, in that case it would appear playing on a Tandy would be the “definitive” version then. you get the best sound and I’m assuming there’s no difference between EGA and TGA in the case of this game.

    • July 3, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      It seems you’re right, I just did a quick test of the tandy mode and it is very close graphically, almost identical. The sound is significantly better, but there isn’t a whole lot of it in game. But the improvement is worth it for the sound that is there. I played the EGA version as that was the type of machine I used as a kid.

      Cheers
      Sparcie


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