#171 – Deja Vu



                                                                                         Ain’t nothin’ but a gangsta party.




                                                       Perhaps if he puts on his sunglass, he’ll remember who he is.





GENRE: Adventure

RELEASE DATE: December 1990


The Commodore 64 was my jambox when I was a kid. I used to play almost every Carmen Sandiego game ever made with my grandpa on that thing, along with a couple other random games like Pac-Man. Long after the console had been dead – around about 1994 or so – I purchased some crappy one dollar C64 games at this store called Toy Liquidators. Included in that purchase was a point-and-click noir adventure called Time to Die. I loved Time to Die despite the game being so broken, you couldn’t get past the first few screens without being mugged and shot. It had a mysterious atmosphere combined with creepy music and visuals that (for the first few screens, anyway) entranced me over and over again. Fast forward a few years later and I “acquired” a game for my “Nintendo” entitled Deja Vu. I booted it up, began to play and I realized that Time to Die was trying its best to create – or perhaps blatantly rip off – the Deja Vu vibe. I instantly fell in love with Deja Vu at that moment of clarity, we got married two days later, and we’ve been joined at the hip ever since.


Part #171 of My Confessions: I love point-and-click adventure games and I love the noir genre, thus my love for Deja Vu. If neither of these things appeal to you, especially the former, you can substitute my eventual grade of “A” for a big fat “F” (well… “F” is a little harsh, perhaps just a “D” for “Dang, this is a good game, but I’m just not mature enough to appreciate it). I write this with confidence because very few people feel neutral about point-and-click games or noir.


But what is Deja Vu about, you ask? Point-and-click games are only as good as their story. I don’t want to give too much away because, in my opinion, Deja Vu has some of the best, and most deliberate, pacing of any game on the NES. Here’s what I can say: you start off the game not knowing who you are. Obviously, your main goal is to discover your identity, so you’re off to hunt for clues. Each clue you find gives you a little bit more information about either who you are or where you should go next. Clues are found by carefully searching through every nook and cranny. See a desk? “Open” it and chances are you’ll find something you need. As the mystery of who you are unravels, the story becomes more and more tense, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself swept up in the mystery.


The problem with point-and-click games that aren’t played on the computer is how slow the cursor can be. Navigating through all of your options on the bottom half of the screen can be a pain with the D-pad, especially if the game doesn’t entrance you like it does me. I personally get around this by remembering that, unlike the majority of games I play, Deja Vu requires patience in all ways. If I keep this at the forefront of my mind, I can push past the slight inconvenience of slow controls.


Despite my love for Deja Vu, I still can’t help but wonder about Time to Die. I have searched for that game far and wide on the Internet, and have yet to find a single ROM or even – fancy that – an actual copy of the game. If anyone knows where I could procure a copy, please leave a comment in the comments section; I would love to embrace some memories on a nostalgic afternoon. Even if I never play Time to Die again, both it and Deja Vu complement each other in my gaming history. Time to Die introduced me to noir and point-and-click at an impressionable age, but Deja Vu blew my teenage mind by enhancing the formula to perfection. Deja Vu is the standard for a classic noir adventure. Some might call it Deja Voodoo, but I just call it timeless.


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