Martin Mystere - Interview with Artematica Entertainment

Interview by Rosemary Young (March, 2005)
Martin Mystere from Artematica Entertainment has been in on the horizon for a good while now and at Quandary we've been watching it closely. The screenshots look especially inviting so who could resist?

It's a detective/mystery game with a supernatural flavour, based on a popular Italian comic book, and has more recently spawned a TV cartoon series. As the English version will be hitting the shelves in April, Riccardo Cangini from Artematica Entertainment, has kindly volunteered to tell us a bit more about what to expect.

Rosemary: Hello Riccardo :) To start with can you first tell us a bit about Artematica Entertainment? When did the team get together and what other games have you developed?

Riccardo: Hi Quandaryland. Well, I founded Artematica in 1996 and immediately I had the fortune to bring into our company the best (and unfortunately few) talents present in Italy. At present working at Artematica are designers, coders and graphic artists with more than 16 years of full time experience. With Simulmondo (before Artemitica was formed) our staff developed the game I Play 3D Soccer for the Amiga. This was the first 3D Real Time soccer game in the world. Now with the same team we make adventures and sporting games.

From 1996 to today Artematica is been growing and consolidating. We have produced the graphic adventures: Druuna: Morbus Gravis and Martin Mystere. Also for the kids line: Pinocchio, Robin Hood, 20.000 Leagues Under the Sea, Alice, and Combat Blade. In the sporting line that we inaugurated this year, I Play 3D Billiards will be released in our country very soon.

Rosemary: So when did you start making Martin Mystere?

Riccardo: We began the game 3 years ago, more or less. It has taken so much time because we have restructured the story trying to improve the narrative. In fact the story is drawn from the original comic strip, and has been strongly modified by our staff to make it more interesting (from a gameplay point of view) because the original comic strips didn't perfectly represent the character of the protagonist.

Adventure players can expect a new pure adventure, like the old-style adventures. Before beginning the design of MM we asked many players what kind of adventure they would appreciate, the almost unanimous answer was an old style adventure; so we have done it! Of course considering the possibilities offered by the new technologies: high resolution (1024x768), characters with a good number of polygons, dynamic shades.

Rosemary: Well that makes good sense to me :) For those of us who haven't met him, can you tell us a bit more about Martin Mystere?

Riccardo: MM is the brain child of a well known comic strip created more than 20 years ago from the fervent imagination of Alfred Castelli (a famous author of comic strips). Recently the character has also become the protagonist of a TV cartoon series broadcast around the world.

Martin Mystere is an eclectic character similar to Indiana Jones. An anomalous and omniscient researcher who investigates the most absurd mysteries that we can imagine, from UFOs to Atlantis, from the Templars to the Aztecs... to the Picture of Dorian Grey.

Rosemary: From what I've read the TV cartoon seems to be more for children... 'a dripping goo-fest of slime, thrills and comedy'. This doesn't sound like the game I've been reading about. Who do you expect to be playing Martin Mystere the adventure game?

Riccardo: The game takes its license from the original version of the comic strip and not from the cartoon license that is especially for children (as are most mass-market cartoons).

The game is therefore addressed to the players of graphic adventures and in general to all those people who want to spend some happy times. ;)

Rosemary: Being influenced by Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Grey, we have to expect a bit of creepiness and a few frights. Are we simply talking about strange happenings, or is it also about dead bodies and bloody murder scenes? I'm trying to gauge the fright-level and the blood-level here?

Riccardo: Definitely it is not a horror-survivor game even if the fashions of the moment could make you to believe it...

There is little blood while the enigmas are many and mysterious. I can't say much here. All I can tell you is that the theme is based on the same insane dream of Oscar Wilde of eternal youth.

Rosemary: OK I like surprises :) What about Diana, who accompanies Martin in the TV show, and the comics I assume. Will she make an appearance in the game? Will other characters from the comics also be there?

Riccardo: Yes all the most important characters are present in the game with their own characteristics, especially Angie.

Rosemary: The screenshots look tempting. It seems there are plenty of things to do. Can you tell us a bit about the game play? Are there many characters to talk to and things to find or read?

Riccardo: Absolutely. As a perfect adventurer our hero should examine, take, exchange, read, use and combine objects. He should also use his brain to solve the strange questions that he will meet during the game.

Rosemary: Martin Mystere definitely looks point and click to me. What sort of interface does it have?

Riccardo: Yes, it has a point 'n' click interface where, with a few clicks, you can decide what kind of action to take: walk, speak, examine, use and take objects, and use the map.

Rosemary: Is there any action? I'm wondering if there will be any sequences to test the reflexes?

Riccardo: No, many players don't like action sequences, we've learned a lot listening to press and player suggestions (above all from Druuna critiques) and we've chosen not to insert Real Time action sequences.

Rosemary: Also, for keeping track of the story, is there an in-game diary, or do we take our own notes?

Riccardo: There is a diary that can help players to understand what has already been solved and give an idea about what to do next.

Rosemary: I guess with the detective theme and the supernatural flavour Martin Mystere sounds a bit like Gabriel Knight as well as Indiana Jones. Did any adventure games have an influence on this game?

Riccardo: Yes, Gabriel Knight could be considered similar, but probably in Martin Mystere there are more humorous situations.

As for influences, in our office we have a lot of good recollections about Lucas Arts adventures. Even if MM is not a comical game it does have its funny moments and serious situations.

Rosemary: And where is the story set? Sorry, I haven't read the Comics, so I'm assuming it will be Italy, which, of course, is just fine by me.

Riccardo: MM lives in New York but in the story he will have to fly out of the USA.

Rosemary: Ok more mystery :) So on to my last question. I'm wondering what it's like adapting a comic book series for a game. Did you have a lot of contact with the writer, Alfredo Castelli?

Riccardo: Adapting a comic strip for a game has advantages and disadvantages because you already have good characters, sets, and subjects, but you must respect a lot of limits and you haven't the freedom that sometimes would be nice.

Anyway I'm a Martin Mystere fan and I've appreciated a lot of the possibilities of bringing this "Impossible Investigator" from comic-strip to computer screen, and of course working together with Alfredo Castelli whom I want to thank again and again ;)

Rosemary: Well thank you, Riccardo, for talking to us. We're keeping our eye on Martin Mystere!

Riccardo: Thanks Rosemary for this interview, I hope you'll have fun with Martin ;)

You can buy Martin Mystere from GMX Media.

Copyright © Rosemary Young 2005. All rights reserved.