Emerald City Confidential is a 2009 alternate Oz computer adventure game conceived by Dave Gilbert, developed by Wadjet Eye Games and published through PlayFirst. It follows the protagonist, Emerald City's only private eye Petra, as she is approached by a strange woman named Dee Gale. Dee's fiancé, Anzel, is missing,and she is willing to pay Petra above the going rate in order to find him. Lacking any other prospects, Petra agrees. What starts off as a simple missing person case soon takes Petra deep into the seedy underbelly of the Emerald City's criminal underground and beyond. She encounters many characters from the Oz canon, such as the Scarecrow, Tik-Tok, and Jack Pumpkinhead, and some new characters, learns several magic spells, and uncovers the answer to a dark secret that has haunted Petra all her life.
The game is set in the magical Land of Oz, as written by L. Frank Baum, but put through the gritty filter of 1940s film noir. Harsh city streets, grey rainy skies, femmes fatales, tough guys, trenchcoats, fedoras and plot twists. It's Oz, seen through the eyes of Raymond Chandler.
The game begins as Petra tries to break into a warehouse for possible evidence that would connect Lion to crimes. She sets off a poppy gas alarm and is knocked out only to wake up with her hand tied to a bridge as she is dangling from it. The Lion taunts her and reveals that he covered up the warehouse evidence against him. He leaves as she looses the rope and happens to fall onto one of the Gumps (working as a taxi). She goes to her office and is visited by Dee Gale (Dorothy) who needs help finding her fiancé Anzel who was last traced as being in Gillikin Country. Petra talks to Tik Tok who is stationed at the North Gate towards Gillikin and learn that Anzel came into the Emerald City using a false name. Since he went to Betsy Bobbin's house, but however when Petra goes there, Hank the horse tells her that he only lets Betsy's boyfriends and those bringing deliveries in. She goes to the store called Scraps which is owned by the Patchwork Girl to buy some flowers for Betsy but encounters Lion as he settles a mafia-style agreement before he leaves. Petra buys specfic flowers (red and blue) and goes into Betsy's house to talk to her. Betsy says that Anzel did come briefly to hide out from authorites, but she called the guard Jinjur as that made him run away.
Petra heads for the Royal University as Betsy tells her that Anzel works there. She speaks to the Wogglebug who tells her that Anzel works with his assistant named Cutter who plans field trips. She then talks to Tik Tok who tells her that Jinjur is investigating a case at the dock. When Petra arrives there, she finds Jinjur interrogating Captain Bill and Trot as their boat exploded possibly due to magic. Petra finds a ruby cufflink near the scene that can't possibly belong to Bill or Trot so Jinjur lets them go. When asked about Anzel, Jinjur notes that he is a smuggler so that leads Petra to go to Jack Pumpkinhead who has never been busted for such. He claims to know nothing about Anzel so Petra heads back to her office to find Trot who wants to hire her to investigate the boat explosion so that Captain Bill is not arrested. Petra goes to Ruggedo's bar to ask Captain Bill about the explosion but he can't tell her much. She speaks to Ruggedo who the alibi that Bill and Trot were both there during the explosion. Petra heads back to the Dock and uses an umbrella she found left at the bar to pick up a piece of a pumpkin floating in the water. She asks Trot about this and reveals that they ship pumpkins to Gillikin Country for Jack Pumpkinhead. Since the area is known for illegal magic, she gives the sample to Toto who sniffs it finding traces of magic only after Petra sneaks out a knowledge pill by tricking the Woggle-bug with candy. He gives her a dog whistle to call him later and she goes back to the bar to confront Bill. He reveals that he only ships pumpkins for Jack because he gave him an illegal magic amulet to cure Trot from sickness and when the contraband was found, Jack testified at his trial which resulted in Bill being found not guilty. Bill also states that he helped hide Anzel for Jack, and when Jack is asked about his whereabouts, he refers her to the Scarecrow. It turns out the Scarecrow has been standing in front of her office and telling riddles about his identity and he sent Anzel to Ruggedo. He admits to transforming Anzel into a crystal decanter, it being the only spell he knows. In order for her to speak to Anzel, Ruggedo turns Petra into a coat hanger but Jinjur witnesses the magic leak out and arrests Ruggedo. She briefly talks to Anzel who admits that he isn't really engaged to Dee. Since the mirror happens to also be a transformed person, she tilts to help Petra read the spell called Ornamentov and change back to human. As she leaves the bar, a Gump waits as Dee requests to see her at the royal palace. Petra tells her everything but Dee mostly knows all except for the explosion and that Anzel was turned into a decanter. She reveals that she sold the spell to Ruggedo as she tells Petra to transform Anzel back and retreive a magic amulet. Since the spell only works if the person is willing to be human again, Petra needs to use a special potion that she gets from Scraps after getting a tip from Jack. She gets the potion and turns Anzel back to human, but he tries to run away from her. Suddenly, Cutter appears and snatches him on a Gump Taxi, so Petra gets another Gump to chase them. Cutter reveals that he is actually a covert Phanfasm spy who was born with a human head as he explains that humans are a type of animal. Petra uses candy to make her Gump go faster to catch up with them and Anzel throws her the Spirit Rod but she falls out of the Gump towards the street down below. Thankfully, General Jinjur and Tik-Tok happen to be disccussing military matters as Jinjur uses magic to stop Petra's fall and arrests her for using magic. When brought to court before Ozma, Petra is deemed guility even through she requested a lawyer to defend her, but this turned out to be the Lion. Tik-Tok puts her into a cell and explains that she sentanced to about ten years for committing two felonies of using illegal magic that amount to five years imprisonment each.
Meanwhile, Cutter takes Anzel as a prisoner to the Phanfasm castle. In Petra's cell, she is visitied by the Scarecrow who uses psychology to understand Petra's behavior. He asserts that ever since her brother William went missing, she has been driven to help other people and simply collects that infomation as he discretely leaves an escape spell called Escapum. Using it, she falls into a portal hole that leads to outside of the cell, but Tik-Tok is guarding the enterance. After requesting slop called "one bowl of nournishment" from Tik-Tok, she throws it at the wall. In being able to retrieve her things from the evidence box and understanding prision guidelines about hazard conditions, she uses green potion that she got from Scraps to turn the slop green to trick Tik-Tok as she escapes. Upstairs finds that she can't walk out of the enterance because she might wake up a sleeping Jinjur, so she takes the risk of going to the throne room that she finds empty. She calls Toto who takes her to Dee in order to escape the palace. Since Petra got herself in trouble, Dee is upset with her and unwilling to help even with the suggestion that she could use the magic belt to get out. In a fit of anger, Dee wishes for Petra to be quiet and this makes her mute. This ironically also makes it so she doesn't make a sound at all, so she easily walks past the sleeping Jinjur. As she gets to the Hall, suddenly Ozma and Scarecrow appear, so she hides behind a curtain. They are discussing the covert spying operation by Cutter and Ozma confirms that the Spirit Rod was the same item used in the war. Therefore, the souls of the witches are trapped inside. Scarecrow mentions Petra as the woman who found it and Ozma decides to use the Magic Picture to check on her as he would appear to betray her. Ozma restores her voice and brings her into the throne room to explain how balance works in Oz. During the war, she tells that because Dorothy killed the Wicked Witches of the East and West, the Phanfasms were able to attack an unbalanced Oz. They were only able to win after the Good Witches Glinda and Locasta died in the war as balanced was restored. Ozma explains that she only banned magic so no other witch could come to power and threaten the balace that requires a Wicked Witch for every Good Witch. Scarecrow that Cutter has looking for ancient Keystones created by Lurline to protect Oz and thus is the source of all magic but instead he found the Spirit Rod. It is revealed that all four spirits of the dead witches are trapped inside and by using the Keystones, they can be released and thus rescurrected to protect Oz once again. Ozma tells her that they already have found two of these but they need Petra's help to find the other two.
At the Phanfasm Castle, the First and Foremost ruler criticizes Cutter for losing the Spirit Rod but he has a plan in place for getting it back.
At this point in the game, the player continues the story by choosing to go either to Winkie or Quading Country first as the other one will be visited after.
Petra goes to Woot's Arena and finds Mombi talking to the owner Woot as she dislikes the Wizard being a trainer. Petra talks to Woot as he explains that she is in his magical battle arena where magic is allowed to be used only because he has a special licence. Petra goes in the cafe to talk briefly to Mombi but she doesn't get much information. Just then, a magical rope being used by a rope charmer gets her attention as he can talk and explains that he is a prisoner to the charmer named Kiki Aru. She goes to the Barista and orders the two for one cake special as the first slice is heavy but the other is simply a light snack. Petra walks into the ring as the Wizard is trying to train Ugu. She talks briefly to the Wizard who though he doesn't believe she is working for Ozma slips up the location of the secret Keystone as being locked away in Glinda's tower. She asks Woot about the Tower and he reveals that he gave Mombi the key to it but she will only give it to her if defeated in the ring. Woot says he will only allow Petra to fight if she gets a coach, so she enlists the Wizard to train her. He has her practice fighting Ugu and his first spell locks her into a box but she uses the escape spell. That alone proves herself to the Wizard so he teaches her the spell of Sap that can absorb magical energy. After this, Petra has Woot set up the fight between her and Mombi. The battle begins with Mombi using a shield, so Petra uses Sap, Mombi then casts a wind spell but Petra easily regains her footing by eating the heavy cake and weakens the shield again with Sap.
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Emerald City Confidential is a point-and-click adventure game in which the player must solve various puzzles and follow certain procedures in order for the linear storyline to proceed. As a pure graphical adventure game, Emerald City Confidential follows certain guidelines: it is impossible to die or to get stuck at any moment in the game, which allows the user to fully immerse him/herself in the universe without the fear of making a mistake or the constant need of saving the game. With this in mind, there are no save game functions, but the player's position is automatically bookmarked and restored when the game is restarted.
The game has 12 unlockable achivements or medals to collect as the player progresses:
- Chapter One: Reach the end of chapter one
- Chapter Two: Reach the end of chapter two
- Chapter Three: Reach the end of chapter three
- Chapter Four: Reach the end of chapter four
- Emerald Button Collector: Collect all the emerald buttons
- Ruby Button Collector: Collect all the ruby buttons
- Topaz Button Collector: Collect all the topaz buttons
- Master Collector: Collect all buttons
- Frequent Flyer: Become a regular Gump flyer.
- Big Winner: Beat Mombi on the first try
- Ambassadorship: Become ambassador of Oz
- Finish: Finish the game
- Petra's Office - Scrap's Store
- Pumpkin Patch
- Ruggedo's bar
- Grinetta Lane
- North Gate
- Palace - Cell, Throne Room, Enterance Hall, Dee's Room (only cutscenes)
- Woot's Wild Arena of the Arcane - Cafe
- Glinda's Tower
Most reviews of the game have been positive, with particular praise for the story, even where the rest of the review has been less glowing. It has also topped PlayFirst's own chart for weeks after its release.
- Petra lives on Plumly Street, this might be a reference to Ruth Plumly Thompson
- Magzines for sale in the Scraps store include: Witches Weekly, The Gillikin Gazette, and The Munchkin Mirror
- Ruggedo still has most of his memory except for his magic as he was granted political asylum for surrendering. He mentions the Nome Kingdom has a new Nome King (Kaliko), but he does not appear in the game.
- Inside the University there are two head busts, one is L. Frank Baum as Petra replies: "I'm not sure who that is, but I feel that I owe him a lot" and the other is of the game creator D. Lewis Gilbert as she replies: "Never heard of him. He can't be that important".
- The University also has a selective animal student policy as Lion was able to become a lawyer while they would not admit Toto.
- Ozma is referred to as a Queen instead of Princess, another game that does this is Oz: Broken Kingdom
- Ozma's portrait must be displayed in each business and home which is slightly authoritarian.
- She has more than one magic picture as it cannot be used to spy on herself and someone else using it unauthorized is considered illegal.
- Tik Tok has been in the royal guard for sixteen years.
- Captain Bill says that he recently went to the Fountain of Truth but he was referring to the Truth Pond
- There are timeline notes that would indicate that the story might take place in the 1940s as
- Dorothy Gale came to Oz over forty years ago via a magical storm.
- The story takes place twenty years after the "Phanfasm war" and it was claimed that Glinda died in it.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Emerald City Confidential: Story, Wadjet Eye Games, Retrieved on March 4, 2009.
- ↑ Review: Emerald City Confidential, Adventure Gamers, Retrieved on March 4, 2009.
- ↑ The Dame Wore Ruby Slippers, Yesterday's Salad, Retrieved on March 4, 2009.
- ↑ Emerald City Confidential: Dames, Double Crosses & Clark Gable Disrespecting Women, Immoral Gamers, Retrieved on March 4, 2009.
- ↑ Destructoid Review: Emerald City Confidential, Destructoid, Retrieved on March 4, 2009.
- ↑ PlayFirst Top 100 Games, Playfirst, Retrieved on March 4, 2009.