Sherlock Holmes never had it this good.

Had it up to your ears with chatting online? Can't think of anymore people to send mail to or receive mails from? Irritated that Napster is closing down?

Well, don't throw that modem out just yet - the Web is packed with interactive games that can keep you hooked for days at a time. Whether you're into car racing, cracking clues, cartoons, treasure-hunting or creative writing, there's something out there for everyone. Take a look!

http://www.mysterynet.com

This one's got a wide range of free online games, relating to mystery and suspense, for you to solve. It's an excellent choice for those of you who try to crack every case you read about yourself, instead of turning to the last page to find out whodunit.

The games on the site include Solve-It (read the mystery, pick whodunit, solve the crime), Twist (a mystery with a surprise ending), See-N-Solve (see the scene of a crime and solve the mystery), Flash (mysteries inspired by a strange photograph) and Get A Clue (how many clues do you need till you can figure out the solution?). The ones we liked best were Solve-It and See-N-Solve; the Flash and Twist sections were strictly so-so, but the Get A Clue section is fairly interesting too, and is updated daily.

Other features include daily teasers posted by fellow mystery addicts, and a section called Parties By Members, where you get to enact a mystery with others, online. So here's a chance for you to put on your thinking cap and morph into a Poirot or a Holmes for a while. Enjoy!

http://www.crimescene.com

Type in the letters "crimescene.com", and moments later, you're informed that you've entered a crime scene, where you get to view evidence files and solve crimes. This site is the world's longest running episodic Web site, and membership is free.

At any given point in time, there is an unsolved case online, which receives weekly evidence postings via detectives. You participate by asking questions, offering observations and providing leads until the case is solved. Then you can dig your teeth into the next case that the detectives have lined up for you. This site is brilliant, as far as details and intricacy is concerned. The cases have investigation tools to help you in your search for the culprit in addition to witness reviews, evidence items, press items and biological briefs. Any input provided by you is scanned and furthers the investigation in some way, all of which lends a touch of reality to the cases, which incidentally are fictional.

A couple of interesting previously solved crimes we went through were about an abduction case, and the murder of an Olympic skating duo. A fairly absorbing site, overall.

http://www.lostsecrets.com

This one was definitely one of the most interesting sites we visited. The current lost secret under investigation is titled "Clicking Anastasia", and it's about the lost fortune of the Romanovs, former rulers of the Russian empire. When the Tsar and his family were ruthlessly killed, did their secrets die along with them? Where did their lost fortune go? That's what you have to find out… so it's up to you to rise to the challenge and embark on a cyber adventure to recover the lost millions of aristocrats long gone.

The game is fairly involving, and requires you to submit an email address before you begin, as characters will send you messages as the plot develops. Through these messages, and the clues that you gather as you go along, you will have to piece together a solution. Can you find the treasure first? Others are already trying...

http://www.ifiction.org

Once you're at this site, you find yourself reading a message which transports you to a different world...and then you're told that you can play as many as 263 games in 44 categories.

If you choose to play, an elevator (?!) takes you to the main lobby, after which you can go berserk choosing between mysterious adventures, classic adventures, mini-competitions, annual competitions, historical classics, and a dozen other options. Visit this one when you have time to spare, because you'll need a lot of it to even decide which game you want to play!

http://www.rpgstory.com

For all you budding authors with scores of ideas that keep brimming over because you have nowhere to put them, this is the perfect site for you! This is an interactive fiction site, which allows you to submit story ideas online for other viewers to read. Popular genres are fantasy, science fiction, horror, and tales involving super-heroes, though you can create your own category.

If you don't want to write a new story of your own, you can browse through stories written by others who've visited the site, and add a new chapter or a few paragraphs to their works. Most of the stories we read were fairly engrossing, so check this one out, and let your creativity do the talking.

http://www.suspicion-of-murder.com

Yet another interactive game site, which offers a host of cases and appoints you as the detective. In this one, you get to choose the difficulty level as well as the duration

The whole game is based on a point system - the more light you can shed on the matter, the higher your score gets, until you finally snare the culprit and win the game. The graphics are arresting (no pun intended), and the plot fairly challenging. Let's just say that it's a far, far more polished version of Carmen Sandiego...and we loved it!

http://play.yahoo.com

The Yahoo gaming site, with a wide choice ranging from board games, card games, tile games, word games, arcade games, prize games, single player games, sports like auto racing, baseball, football, golf, hockey, basketball, soccer as well as games from around the world, some specific to countries like Mexico and Spain… whew!

http://www.douglasadams.com/creations/infocomjava.html

For those of you familiar with Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", this site really needs no introduction. It starts off in much the same way as the book, and like the book, goes on to confuse you thoroughly. But therein lies its brilliance...

In the game you play the part of Arthur Dent, who must deal with all manner of trials and tribulations in space, hyperspace and beyond.

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/funny

Dilbert, too, needs no introduction to any cartoon or comic lover worth his or her salt. Check out some really crazy games on this site, with absurd names like "Guess Who's Phone Is Ringing" and "Dilbert's Daily Mental Workout" as well as "Statement Generator - The Latest Corporate Gibberish" for some guaranteed good times.

Until next time - go practice!

This article was first published on 15 Mar 2001.