"No, I ... I didn't kill him. I had no reason to kill him. Sure, I was jealous of the other women, but I loved him. I couldn't have killed him," Janet sang out in the interrogation room.
"Oh yeah, well what about the insurance policy that was taken out just days ago? That sounds like a good motive to me!" he drilled back.
J.B. Harold Murder Club, by NEC, is an intriguing story of passion and murder. Bill Robbins is a well-known womanizer and overall bad guy who just happens to fall on a knife - a couple of times. Not to say he wasn't well-liked by some, because he was. It just seems there were more people complaining about the guy.
A horrible crime has taken place in the sleepy little town of Liberty. The game is laid out over a grid map that shows various locations like Bill Robbins' home, where you'll meet his brother, Fred. Fred loved Bill, although they didn't get along all the time - or so says Sara Shields, the piano player over at the Hungry Fisherman. Let's not forget the security guard, Morton Bradley, at Houlington College. After all, he did find poor Bill in the car. Then there's Simon Randle, the local doctor, who examined the body.
You job as J.B. Harold, master detective, is to figure out the who, what, where, and whys of the case. That's not going to be easy. There are about fifteen people in the game that you can question or talk to in order to get clues. Of those fifteen, ten are suspects in the murder.
During the course of the game, you will have to ask the right person the right questions at the right time to get the right response and be able to proceed in the game. This means you'll also need an endless amount of patience and time; a constant string of returning to people and rechecking scenes to see if a clue pops up. It can be frustrating at times, but you'll endure. After all, you are J.B. Harold, master detective.
Miss a person or clue or forget to ask that important question and you could be in for a long, sleepless night. Then again, you might ask your, just how important is that clue? Is it a red herring? Am I going in the right direction? Well, there's only one way to find out. Get that arrest warrant. If you've found enough evidence, the prosecutor might give it to you.
If you decide to take a break, you can select "Investigate Rest." In this mode you can also select the language (English or Japanese) you want to hear the voices or read the text in, or you can choose silence to avoid the narratives and speed the game up.
Once you have everyone in the interrogation room, you might want to select the voice to hear the great dialog. There are also charts that will show you the various places you'll have to go in order to gather enough evidence and conduct the interviews required to solve the mystery.
Besides the grid map, the game is presented in the form of still photos. If you meet someone, a portrait appears accompanied by that person's voice. There are well over 50 different still photos used in the game - all crisp and clean - that really set the mood for the murder case. Although the voices are done well, and some are funny, they do get a little old after the first 30 hours of play. (You will want them on during the interrogations.)
It goes without saying that J.B. Harold Murder Club is not for everybody; there are more than a few gamers that will look at this and wonder where the appeal is. But what sets this game apart from other similar games (such as the so-so Sherlock Holmes Sega CD games) is that it's done in a way that is actually compelling. This is the type of game that will no doubt appeal to the gamers who love a good murder mystery, and while it's not perfect there's no denying that it's the best game of its kind. This is the type of game you don't see much anymore, which is a real shame because for what it is J.B Harold is a lot of fun.