Blue Toad Murder Files

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Buzz! maker Relentless' three-and-a-half new games

Plus: Microsoft needs to get gamers on board with Kinect.

Buzz! inventor Relentless Software is making three-and-a-half new games, co-founder Andrew Eades told me this afternoon - including a new game in the successful Blue Toad murder mystery series.

Blue Toad developer launches digital division

Blue Toad developer launches digital division

Relentless shifts over 250,000 copies of quiz game.

Blue Toad developer Relentless Software has launched a digital division.

The Brighton-based, former Buzz! developer intends to expand its self-published digital distribution business with a focus on social and casual gaming.

Making the announcement, Relentless said detective quiz game Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle, which launched first on PlayStation Network, has sold over 250,000 copies.

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Blue Toad Murder Files gets Move support

Plus, price cut for Episodes 1-6.

PlayStation Network puzzler Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle now has support for Sony's Move controller, developer Relentless Software has announced.

Blue Toad Murder Files: Season One

Even better than Relentless' idea of what a family game should be is its idea of what a family itself should be. Mum, dad, perhaps a granny or a weird uncle: all gathered in the living room on a Sunday afternoon, wanting nothing more than to play on the PS3 together. They're not intimidated by PSN, they're not fazed by online stores and virtual wallet purchases, and when they reach for the DualShock, ready to pass it back and forth for an hour or so, they're after a game that will give them puzzles, a rambling cast of eccentrics, sprightly cliff-hangers, and a gentle, twisting narrative - all handled with a modest gift for ghoulishness.

And so the house of Buzz! built the Blue Toad Murder Files, a series of episodic whodunits as sugary and consequential as a few slices of cake. It's a nice idea, to see the fusty world of Marple and Morse delivered, with button prompts, on a semi-regular schedule. It's a nice world that's been created, too: a comical sprawl of Englishness, where vital clues may lurk in broken pieces of shortbread, and unsuspecting villagers are mown down in a flurry of champagne-cork gunshots. Each new instalment promises an hour of self-contained family fun, and there's a central narrative, albeit one that forms a tangle rather than a smooth-soaring arc, to keep you coming back for more.

Granted, the execution has perhaps been a little bumpy. Both developer and audience have struggled to work out exactly how much you should charge for an hour of fun - and, given the basic tenets of the murder mystery, there isn't a great deal of replayability on offer either, unless you're the kind of person who drives to work in your pyjamas and has trouble remembering what you named your children. Neither problem has proved terminal, however: on the first issue, Relentless has been very willing to experiment with pricing, even offering the odd episode for free. As for the second point, well, a few slices of cake are hardly replayable either, and nobody seems to mind too much about that.

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Blue Toad price drops on PSN

Full Store update details within.

Those of you who still haven't tried Blue Toad Murder Files can do so on the cheap this week thanks to a bundle that sees the first three episodes going for 9.99.

Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle

Poke around Relentless Software's website and you can make a strong argument that the developer has spent the last few years playing it safe. But it has played it so well in the process. The Buzz! series is always at its strongest when it's in the gentle, assured hands of its real parents, and it's as much for that reason as any that Blue Toad Murder Files arrives propelled by waves of critical interest apparently disproportionate to its status as a family mystery series.

That series begins with a pair of downloadable episodes released on PS3 today, which cost 6.29 individually or 9.99 for the pair. You and up to three friends select a suitable member of the Blue Toad Detective Agency to represent yourselves and then arrive by train in the quaint English country town of Little Riddle, where almost immediately you find yourself on the trail of a naughty murderer.

You certainly know it's a quaint country town, too, because the station master has mutton chops and immediately complains about a disagreement over the tea room, and because every sound effect is a duck quacking or the butcher's preferred refrain ("scum!"), and because the narrator's ponderous delivery is continually enlivened by a "puffing conveyance", "vittles" or a "muuuurdeeeer".

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Blue Toad Murder Files

Smart casual.

Relentless seems to be tapping into a curious cultural phenomenon. No matter how much the British are pilloried and stereotyped as braying aristocrats or straw-munching yokels by other cultures, we'll always be better at it ourselves. Never a nation to shy away from a hearty laugh in the mirror, we're our harshest and most accurate critics, self-deprecating with a quietly scathing gentleness which endears us to ourselves. Blue Toad Murder Files is very much in this vein, an excellently observed take on rural Britain - heavy on stereotype without the inherent laziness which this so often implies - wrapped around a murder mystery board-game concept.

Relentless: Blue Toad will be unique on PSN

Murder mystery series kicks off in December.

Relentless Software reckons that Blue Toad Murder Files will stand apart from its fellows on the PlayStation Store when the six-episode murder mystery series kicks off on PS3 this December.

Blue Toad Murder Files

From pop quiz to interrogation in one Relentless step.

They might not make games about shooting monsters in the face in post-apocalyptic American cities, but Brighton-based Relentless Software has made a name and a small fortune for itself nonetheless with its hugely popular range of Buzz! quiz games for PlayStation formats. Despite the series' ongoing success, however, the studio's keen to branch out, and the result is the Blue Toad Murder Files, an episodic murder mystery for PlayStation 3 set to start, and be published by Relentless itself, on PlayStation Network this December.