The Scoop (1989 Computer Game)

Not a review, I’m afraid, but instead a plea for information.

[No Spoilers Here]

I’ve been playing a lot of older mystery games recently to see if anyone has ever managed to get the format right. My research (it is research! It’s not procrastination if you take notes!) turned up a lot of games I’d played as a kid but forgotten about, a lot that I’d heard of but never played, and still more that passed me by entirely. A lot of them are still available, and there are some awesome sites where you can get them (legally!) for free, but unfortunately a lot of games seem to be lost, or unplayable on modern hardware, or only available on eBay for insane amounts of money.

That’s not necessarily a disaster. It’s hard to get too excited about many of the really old games. Look at this screenshot for 1985’s The Alpine Encounter:

What do you mean you’re not going to run off and play it? Don’t you want to know what happened to that missing vase?

Or the ground-breaking Mystery House, venerable Sierra Studio’s very first release. It’s notable for being one of the first graphical adventure games. It’s notable for having sold over 10,000 copies (at 25 bucks a pop!!).  It’s notable for looking like complete arse:

But you can get all that from the Wikipedia page. There’s absolutely nothing to be gained by playing it. (Although I do remember a fun competition from a few years back where people rewrote it in different styles.)

But what mystery lover wouldn’t be intrigued by an adaptation of The Scoop, the 1930’s round-robin mystery written by six of the Detection Club’s most famous members (Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Anthony Berkeley, Freeman Wills Crofts, E.C. Bentley, Clemence Dane)!?

Doesn’t that look awesome? I contend that that doesn’t look like arse. Dated, sure, but it doesn’t look like someone threw an Etch-a-Sketch out the window. And I can hear a jaunty chip-tune intro just looking at it!

But it seems to be lost. No-one seems to be selling a copy, and there’s barely any information on the internet apart from a few database listings and the Wikipedia page. I found another screenshot, but it’s not really very informative:

It looks like the game was a point-and-clicker with a verb-system like Monkey Island. And possibly a time system like the Laura Bow games, because why else would you want “Wait” as a verb? And there’s also a “phone booth”, so maybe the setting got moved to the US (although the location bar says “The Phone Box” so maybe it’s just typical computer writing clumsiness)? I also predict a lot of frustrating puzzles trying to work out the difference between “Look”, “Observe” and “Search”.

But I need more! Has anyone played it? Does anyone know anything about it? Even if I couldn’t play it, I’d just be interested to know how it came about. Of all the mystery novels to adapt, whose first inclination is going to be The Scoop?!

5 thoughts on “The Scoop (1989 Computer Game)

  1. I had this game! I bought it at my local target, probably right around the time it came out. I never finished it, I vaguely remember getting stuck trying to figure out how to catch someone doing something at a certain time. Who knows what happened to it and all the other diskette based games I collected back then…I wish there was a remake to play now.

    • Thanks for the comment! Sorry my blog has been down for so long. I’m definitely going to revive it in the New Year.

      It’s a shame that this one hasn’t been saved. A lot of old games from minor publishers are abandonware and free to play. Maybe everyone has lost their disks!

      I expect it was extremely difficult. I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing, but people definitely had a lot more patience for difficult adventures back in the 80s and 90s.

  2. Wow, good memories. I had a version on 5 1/4″ floppy disk(s.) I put many hours into it and used pencil and notebook and did, indeed, solve and win the game. I was only ten years old though, so can’t remember anything except the fast yellow cab and one of the locations being Picadilly Place or Square. I can remember it being frustrating as seven hells, but most things were on a Tandy 1000. Great memories though; I would definitely like to play it again if I could find a (much) slowed-down version on an emu., etc.

  3. First download a dosbox converter. Then google “the scoop 1989 game” and a site called abandon ware will show up. You can go there to download it. When its download, open up the file and drag the application part to the dosbox which will open up the game. Have fun and play it!

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