DISCWORLD II: MISSING PRESUMED...?!
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on November 28, 2014
Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to yet another riveting episode of... The Big Red Timemachine. Since we said goodbye to our heroes in the last episode, nothing much has changed. Our brave time travelling team liked 1996 so much, they decided to stay a while longer. Or to put it in their own words: "Leave here? As if! This place is the bomb, aiight!!" (we think the temporal displacement is messing with their minds, nobody has talked like that since.... well, since 1996 I presume). Nevertheless, since they've decided to stay, they might as well look at another game. That's what they get paid for, after all.
So the year is still 1996. The game however, is quite the opposite from the last game we investigated. No screaming car tires, no missiles flying, no explosions... actually, that's not quite accurate. There is an explosion in it, but I assure you we had nothing to do... wait what's that? Can you hear it? It's a song of some kind. If we listen very closely, we can just make out the words:
There's a place you're always welcome
That's as nice as it can be
Everyone can get in
'Cause it's absolutely free
No need to take a break
Just lay around all day
With not a single bill to pay
As the more perceptive among you may have already guessed by now, this week's ramblings are about Discworld II: Missing Presumed...?! (or Discworld II: Mortality Bites! in North America) It is the second installment of the Discworld series, based upon the series of books by the incomparable Terry Pratchett. In Missing Presumed...?! we once again meet Rincewind the wizard, or as he spells it: 'Wizzard'. Rincewind isn't a very good wizard per se. He's more the eternal student, always ducking out of class, never learning, you know the type... Actually, when you think about it, none of the wizards of the Unseen University seem to be doing a lot of wizardry. They seem to be kind of preoccupied with food.
Back to the game at hand. Missing Presumed...?! was launched in 1996 by Perfect Entertainment and Psygnosis for the PC, and ported to the Sony Playstation and Sega Saturn a year later. It stood out because of its beautifully hand-drawn environments and animations, as well as a superb voice cast. It's loaded with characters from the Discworld universe: Rincewind (expertly voiced by Eric Idle), The Archancellor, the librarian (whatever you do, never call him a monkey), cut-me-own-throat dibbler, death, and many more! The characters and scenery are so good, they really help the player get into the story. And what a story it is! Death decided to go on a vacation, on account of him being a bit upset about all the negative criticism he receives while only doing his job. With the grim reaper on leave, there's something fishy going on with the newly deceased; they're not dying properly. This of course, causes somewhat of a disturbance in the city of Ankh-Morpork. Not because of the smell, mind you, because there's no smell in the world that can top the natural aroma of this booming metropolis. Nevertheless, it's up to our friend Rincewind to bring death back from his unexpected holiday and get him reaping again.
Missing presumed...?! is one of those point and click adventures that gets into your head, and never lets go. It has a pretty straightforward control scheme, yet it's filled with not so straightforward puzzles. A little imagination is required to solve the conundrum at hand. Did I say a little? I meant a lot! This is one of those games where reality is so far off, no one even seems to remember it ever existed. Rincewind for instance, is followed around throughout the game by the Luggage; a chest made out of sapient pearwood with dozens of tiny legs. This chest acts as your inventory and holds as many items as you need it to. Items in the Discworld can have their properties changed by combining them with other items, even though the two things you're trying to combine have nothing in common or no apparent connection. So get ready to think outside the box while playing this game. And when we say outside the box, we mean you should completely forget about the box, burn it, shred it, whatever you have to do to get rid of it. Once you get the hang of this form of lateral thinking, the game changes from a 'What the hell am I looking at'-game to a very enjoyable trip into the expansive universe of Discworld.
All in all, Missing Presumed...?! is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. Phenomenal graphics for its time, a great cast and witty humor make up this unforgettable journey into a world I would very much like to live in! To be fair, it helps a bit when you're a Terry Pratchett fan. If you're not, then the long conversations may get somewhat confusing and a lot of in-jokes and puns will be lost on you. On the other hand, if you feel the need to play this game, this may be the perfect time to first go to your local bookstore and fill that Discworld-shaped hole in your existence.
And always remember the motto of the greatest city on the disc: Quanti canicula ille in fenestra
DISCWORLD II: MISSING PRESUMED...?!