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Today in Retro Gaming – Ripper (MS-DOS)

It’s the year 2040. Jack’s been gone a long time. But now he’s back, tramping around New York’s Greenwich Village instead of London, and he’s got an awful lot of time to kill in this massive, 6 CD-ROM  adventure game from Take Two Interactive.  Break out DosBox and let the slaughter begin!

Christopher Walken.  Karen Allen.  John Rhys-Davies.  Paul Giamatti.  Burgess Meredith.  Blue Oyster Cult.  References to cyberpunk culture.  Was it a movie, a computer game, or both?  On March 6th, 1996, US gamers found out for themselves as Ripper arrived on store shelves, ready to tear out your still-beating heart and eat it in front of your face…as soon as the big heavies involved in the production finished devouring the scenery.

Ripper 001

Mr. Cowbell himself is the homicide detective working the case.

Easily one of the most expensive computer adventure titles to date, Ripper tried to use star power and the ever-popular trope of history’s most well-known serial killer to propel itself to legendary heights.  Critical reaction was extremely divided: some people praised its use of digitized actors and FMV to convey the storyline, while others wondered why bother with a game at all if you were going all-out for Hollywood feature film territory.  Especially one including arcade-style shooting sequences.  Sorry, exactly when did adventure fans develop a taste for twitch-based gameplay?  Maybe in 2040, I dunno.

Ripper 002

One of several arcade action sequences. In an adventure game. Right…

By today’s standards, Ripper is little more than an expensive 11th Hour knock-off with little to recommend it beyond a laughably terrible performance by Walken and the chance to see what Marion Ravenwood and Sallah were doing in the aftermath of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Hardcore adventure hobbyists won’t find anything here they haven’t seen before, and genre newbies won’t be impressed by the visuals to stick around long enough to learn more.

In 2040, we're all going to have a major problem with fetish porn.

In 2040, we’re all going to have a major problem with fetish porn.

That said, Ripper does serve as a valuable lesson for all would-be developers today: make sure your story is air-tight and your puzzles logical before you commit millions of dollars to production and acting.  Failure to do so will doom you to obscurity at best, and outright ridicule at worst.

Michael Crisman

In 1979, Michael Crisman was mauled by a radioactive Gorgar pinball machine. After the wounds healed, doctors discovered his DNA had been re-coded. No longer fully human, Michael requires regular infusions of video games in order to continue living among you. If you see him, he can see you. Make no sudden moves, but instead bribe him with old issues of computer and video game magazines or a mint-in-box copy of Dragon Warrior IV. If he made you laugh, drop a tip in his jar at http://paypal.me/modernzorker (If he didn't make you laugh, donate to cure his compulsion to bang keyboards by sending an absurdly huge amount of money to his tip jar instead. That'll show him!)

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