Fear & Trembling

Mirrormask: The Discworld Noir Reunion

Watching Mirrormask last night was an odd experience for me, as the film features nearly the entire voice cast for Discworld Noir. Rob Brydon (the voice of the protagonist, Lewton, in Discworld Noir), Robert Llewellyn  (voice of several characters in Noir, including my personal favourite - the Butler ) and Kate Robbins (the inestimable voice of Carlotta, and the troll diva Sapphire, whose song was one of Terry Pratchett's highlights of the game). That's three quarters of the voice cast of Noir! I loved working with these people - it was a complete joy throughout.

It made me long for another opportunity to work with such a fine cast of voice actors on future projects, and also wish that Noir was available in some currently working form (it only runs on Windows 98). In Europe, this is considered one of the last great point-and-click adventures. In the US, it is almost completely unknown, since publisher GT Interactive went bankrupt shortly after its release.

As for Mirrormask, a delightful kids film with stunning art design by Dave McKean. If it falls short, it is only because the CGI is in places not as beautiful as McKean's ideas.


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We recently re-watched Mirrormask. I quite enjoyed it. How much more fun that it had such a personal connection for you!

There are several people reporting getting Noir to run on XP. Maybe just try?

Some say that loading a saved game is an issue, but you just start a new game then load your previous save from there.

Others say that it is fine but does not put a shortcut on the desktop. I reckon you could solve that yourself ;-)

There are other reported issues, but it sounds worth a try. Maybe a Win98 emu, or a virtual machine running Win98 would solve the problem too... Then it starts depending on how much effort it's worth to you.

I thought the imagery in Mirrormask was more than up to snuff; but McKean's visual virtuosity tends to outstrip his narrative skill, particularly with pacing. Also, nothing much is done with the rather delicious premise of the girl who wanted to run away from the circus and join a normal family :)

Neat story, though! American gamers had all the LucasArts and Sierra adventure games, but can't say I've ever really even heard of Discworld Noir. Luckily there's a sizable number of gamers devoted to getting old games working right on current systems, I'm sure there's a way for this game, as Neil mentions.

The CG in Mirrormask is both haunting and beautiful. It becomes amazing when you learn that McKean basically did all the textures himself, hired a handful of graduates to work on the CG then gave them responsibility and control over whole scenes, allowing him to direct the art and flow, and then wound up finishing the movie with just himself and one other artist. Mirrormask is a testament to low budget fantasy film making. Also, Neil Gaiman wrote the script, which adds a special whimsy to McKean's imagery.

I played Noir on PS recently, but sadly it had some rather annoying issues that made me put it down after a while.

In addition to the most obvious problem that a mouse-driven game on PC doesn't translate well on PS, the tv-resolution completely wracked the subtitles. All the red (and some other) subtitles were almost totally unreadable. And since I'm not a native English speaker (and the game relies much on dialogue) it was not a very pleasant experience. Should a version that works well on PC emerge, I'd be happy to try again :)

Thanks for the comments everyone!

Jack: few people in the States have heard of Discworld Noir but as I say above, in Europe it is considered to be one of the last great point-and-clicks. It lost out to Grim Fandango in most of the game-of-the-year polls that year, but many people said it was a close decision for them! That we could make a game on the fraction of the budget of a LucasArts project and still be considered worthy of comparison is high praise to the many talented artists, programmers and musicians who worked on Noir.

Duncan: I do wonder what the budget of Mirrormask was. I suspect they worked miracles on peanuts! ;)

Arto: I imagine the PlayStation version is a pain to run. It so clearly demands a mouse to be played! :)

Best wishes!

From Discworld Noir to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. Obviously, these actors are the perfect choice for the never-going-to-happen Good Omens movie!

Who was in Neverwhere that was in the Noir voice cast... I can't think of anyone off hand.

As for a Good Omens movie, if we're wishing for never-going-to-happen films, I think I'd go with a Sandman movie. ;)

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