The story you're about to hear is a fib, but it's short. The names are made up, but the problems are real. Stickville is like many other towns. It has churches, two car washes, three movie theaters, bike paths, sparkling beaches, a synagogue, fishing spots, and the best darn doughnut shop in the tri-state area. However, scratch off a little of the MS Paint, and you'll discover its seedy underbelly: murders, drownings, corpses, arson, manslaughter. When a crime happens, the town's innocents may rest assured that the Stickville Police Department will stop at nothing to bring the perpetrators to justice. You're a homicide detective, working the day watch at the SPD. Right now, the inbox has five open cases to solve in Stickman Murder Mysteries, a series of point-and-click mystery adventures by Norm and Company.
Apart from the first chapter, which has been remade into flash, the Stickman Murder Mysteries are done entirely in HTML, though they run fine on modern machines. Use the mouse to click on objects to examine them, doors to travel to them and, when on the map screen, buildings to travel to that location. There will be times where you will be prompted to enter addresses or other information to continue your investigation, so be sure to take notes. If you're stuck, taking a nap or checking around the precinct might help you head in the right direction. Once you have collected all the evidence, go to Da Chief's office, and he'll ask you a series of question to make certain that you have the correct culprit. Good luck, detective!
Analysis: By the standards of the internet, the five Stickman Murder Mysteries are old. Like, more than ten years old, and from a time when people thought the ability to display a .gif of a dancing rodent was the height of web design. It's certain that its relative primitiveness will turn some away. Those who stick with it, however, will be glad they did, because this is a fun little collection that every lover of mystery games (and Scene of the Crime in particular) should appreciate.
The graphics may be crude, and the programming kludgey by modern standards, but where Stickman Murder Mysteries shine is in its plotting. Chapter 1 starts with a relatively straightforward case of murder, but as the series goes on, the crimes get ever more devious, and the investigations ever more complex. Don't let those smiley stick-people fool you! These are some serious crimes being investigated, with criminals that mean business. The content may not be to the level of Law and Order: SVU, but it definitely reaches Law and Order classic (CHUNG CHUNG). That said, a sense of old-school internet wackiness is present throughout, which keeps the tone light. There are a ton of little touches, easter eggs, and red herrings to find, for no other reason than to be goofy, and will keep a pleasant half-smile on your face as you play.
Besides the overall MS Paint-iness, some downsides are worth mentioning. The few times that you must type an answer in are generally forgiving, but there are quite a few things to keep track of. Clever investigators might want to open up Notepad before heading on in. Likewise, the medical examiner sections where you use the CDX machine is a little unintuitive to work with, which is a shame since it is often necessary to discover a vital clue. Finally, it's worth noting the site from which we have hosted the games had some ads and links to questionable content, so, in the words of Sergeant Esterhaus, let's be careful out there.
The five chapters of Stickman Murder Mysteries will keep you puzzled and entertained for quite a bit, and saddened that the promised sixth chapter never quite materialized. Still, while they are oldies, they are definite goodies. So play through them, and earn your place in the Stickville PD hall of fame!