Monday, 27 August 2012

Game 23: Zak McKracken - A Message from Beyond

Zak McKracken Journal Entry 6: “Today I had a deserved rest after all of my travels. I now understand what that National Inquisitor was on about when discussing the negative effects of jetlag. Despite my day off, it has still been a very successful day when it comes to solving the mystery of the alien invasion. Firstly, I was pondering over what the Guru had told me earlier and suddenly, out of nowhere, realised what the real purpose of the blue crystal is. It’s supposed to be used to take control of animals, which should allow me to make use of the bird I befriended in Peru. Secondly, as Annie suggested earlier, Melissa and Leslie have been communicating to me through my dreams. They’ve found the symbols I need to progress in Mexico City and Egypt, and have telepathically transmitted what they look like. It seems I need to pack my bags again. The adventure continues!”


Where we left off: It's always important to be Karmically clean

At the end of last post, I was just about to switch back to Melissa and Leslie on Mars, confident that I now knew how to open one of the doors that had previously barred my way. I did exactly that, and it wasn’t long before I had Melissa and Leslie pressing the 3 – 1 – 2 combination on the door with the buttons on it. The door opened, leaving me with a real sense of satisfaction! The chamber inside was massive! I walked the length of it to see what there was to look at before trying anything in particular, and found three “massive doors” and two “huge statues”. It struck me immediately that the two statues were of the same being as the statue I’d found previously in Mexico City.


"Should we be doing this? I think someone's watching us!"

I had a strong feeling I was about to solve the mystery of the unknown symbol, and that feeling was vindicated when I found yellow markings at the base of one of the statues. The symbol was there, and it was nothing like any of the ones I’d attempted. I was so thrilled in having discovered it that I was tempted to switch back to Zak right there and then so I could go and get that damn crystal piece, but decided the more efficient thing to do was to see what else the chamber on Mars had to offer. Who knows, I might come across another piece of useful info or a puzzle that needs solving back on Earth.


Hmmmm...I've seen that statue before!

With that done, it was time to focus on the doors. Each of them had a face on it, and they also had a pedestal just to the left of them. Further investigations made me aware that two out of the three pedestals had blue crystal spheres at their peak, whereas the other one didn’t. That had to mean something! I positioned myself in front of the first door and tried to get the blue crystal, only to be told I couldn’t reach it. I placed the ladder in front of it and tried again. Touching it caused a wacky electronic tune to play, which in turn caused the door to open. Another small but significant victory! I walked inside to find myself in complete darkness.


Herenow noizbop! It's waycool earstuff!

I remembered that Melissa had a flashlight in her inventory, which I’d found in the hostel locker, so I moved her into the dark room and switched it on. It allowed me to see, but I had to move the light around the room to get a full picture of my surroundings. It soon became very apparent that I was in yet another maze, and I can’t say I was very happy about it. Given the darkness, and that there was no real sense of space apart from estimations, I once again struggled to form a map. As soon as I was able to map out the square perimeter, I was much more confident. I’m very glad I managed to do it this time, as unlike every other maze I’ve made it through in Zak McKracken so far, this one had two rooms of interest!


Maybe if I close my eyes, the maze won't be there anymore!

At least I assume they’re both of interest. The first one I came across had a large machine in it (which scaredy-cat Melissa wouldn’t go near, so I had to get Leslie), with levers that control temperature and air pressure. If I switched both levers to the up position, the machine whirred into action, and I was informed that “the temperature is quite nice, and the air pressure is comfortable.” I had no idea why I might have done this, or whether or not there was any reason I might want to make things cold or uncomfortable, so I decided to leave it with both switched on. Actually, while I’m writing this post, I’ve suddenly realised that the whole purpose of the machine is to make the great chamber have breathable air! I can’t believe that didn’t cross my mind earlier!


Only martian technology could create an air conditioner that was just the right temperature

The second room of interest was a room with a large map. The map had five yellow markers on it, but I didn’t seem to be able to interact with it in any way. I didn’t recognise the landmass either, but that’s likely to be my geographical retardation coming to the fore once again. The carving just to the right of the map sure looked familiar though! It was the sphinx, and just below it was the symbol I needed to progress in Egypt. Happy days! Figuring out how to get into the chamber on Mars had resulted in me discovering both symbols, which was exactly what I was hoping would come to pass. I couldn’t make my map make exact structural sense, but I was fairly happy that I’d found what I needed to find. I moved onto door number two!


Oh God! Please don't make this a geography test!

This was the door where the pedestal didn’t have a blue crystal atop it, which meant I wasn’t going to be able to open the door the way I had with the first one. When I’d used the crystal to open the first door, the game had made a real point of describing the “music” that had been emitted at the time, making me think this could finally be the puzzle that required recording with the boom box. I took both Leslie and Melissa to the first pedestal, and then set the boom box to record in Melissa’s possession while Leslie used the crystal. I then took the boom box to the empty pedestal, played back the recording, and watched the door open with a smug grin on my face. Puzzle solved, but I really hoped there wasn’t another maze awaiting me inside!


Yeah you love this shit don't ya!

While it initially looked like there would be another maze, I was delighted to find that the second door led to a single pitch black hall which in turn led onto a chamber. In the chamber was another statue, with this one having a small ankh sitting above its right hand. Unlike the crystals, I simply walked up to the statue and picked up the ankh, which came as a bit of a surprise. There was nothing else in the chamber, so I walked out the way I entered and moved onto door number three. I played the recorded tune again to open this door as well, but looking at my screenshots, there’s every chance I would have just been able to use the ladder and the crystal. Either way, I soon found myself in yet another dark hallway followed by yet another chamber. This one was far more interesting though!


You're just going to let me walk up and take it? What's the catch here?!

Within it was some sort of machine that kind of looked like the chair containing the dead alien in the original Alien movie! In front of it was a glass tube that looked capable of holding a man, and on the wall were two keys of differing sizes. Between me and all of the above was a dividing wall, but just next to the wall was a panel with the shape of an ankh on it. Well, I just so happened to have an ankh, so I used it on the panel and the wall moved aside. A little bit of pixel hunting revealed a small button on the back of the machine and after pressing it, I realised it wasn’t a chair at all. It was a projector! An image of an alien (the same alien from my dream) appeared in the tube, and this is what he had to say:


What this room needs is a really oversized key...oh look!

“Greetings! Our race departed this dimension fifty millennia ago. We, the Skolarians, were your guardians. We knew of the corrupt Caponians and took steps to protect you. They will subvert the Earth with their deadly machines. We sent you dreams to lead you here. You must construct our device to neutralize the Caponian menace. Use these keys to obtain the Power Crystal. Hurry, before they stop you.” Right, so the device that Annie and I are trying to piece together will somehow stop the Caponians from making all of humanity stupider. I take it the power crystal is the third crystal I need, and I also assume that it will be found somewhere in the pyramid on Mars. I grabbed the two keys, hoping that one of them would open the pyramid door, but the larger one crumbled at my touch!


So...you left fifty millenia ago...but before you did, you built a machine that would communicate with beings that hadn't even been created yet...on another planet altogether. I see!

Damn it! I knew instinctually that the big key was going to be the one I needed to open the pyramid door, and a quick visit to the pyramid confirmed that to be the case. I had no choice but to take the small key and move Melissa and Leslie back to the hostel while I used Zak and Annie to collect the second piece of the yellow crystal from Mexico City, and then draw the second symbol in Egypt to enter the Sphinx. At least, that’s what I was going to do before I checked the comments on my last post. A reader, who will go unnamed as they’ve already received suitable punishment for their indiscretion, had left me a little message that I’m certain hadn’t intended to be a spoiler...but it was!


Great...an oversized keyhole!

I won’t repeat exactly what was said, but it was basically along the lines of “So the Guru taught you that you need to be in contact with the Earth for the blue crystal to work. Are you sure he didn’t teach you anything else?” Well, I just had to know what that comment meant, so I restored back to Nepal and went through the whole scene over again. After informing me that he would teach me about the crystal’s use, he casually said “It will put you into a state of deep rapport with any animal. Simply focus...” I’d initially thought this was just the Guru talking spiritual enlightenment nonsense before getting down to the real teaching, but now I realised this was the actual purpose of the crystal!


It appears I wasn't very good at the focussing bit

I have no idea whether I would have figured this out for myself. I’d like to think that I might have paid the Guru another visit later on while trying to take the most monetarily efficient path around the world landmarks, but I guess we’ll never know. Either way, after trying the blue crystal on the yak outside the Guru’s temple, I found I was able to take control of him for a short period. I expect I might have had control for longer, but using the crystal still invited the attention of the Caponians, and one of them would come for me not long after its use. The only action I had available to me while controlling the yak was to “chew”, but I knew of another animal elsewhere that would be the most likely target for such an ability. The bird in Peru!


"Chew........chew chew......chew.......chew...."

So it was that my sixth Zak McKracken session came to an end. This game has some serious volume! I may have only been playing it for eight hours, but I’ve hardly been stuck at all. It’s been eight hours of solid adventure gaming, and I’ve still got numerous ideas about what I can try next. I can go to Peru and take control of the bird, I can go to Mexico City to get the second piece of the yellow crystal and then try to find out how to join them together, or I can go straight to Egypt to enter the Sphinx and beyond. Hmmm...I just now had a thought that maybe the pyramid in Egypt that appears empty is where I come out from my trip into the Sphinx. At least that would explain why it appears entirely useless at this point. Even if I do get really stuck, I can always re-read the National Inquisitor articles to see if there are any clues. Exciting times!


Time to go back to Earth, at least for a while

Session Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 00 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've recently written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!

38 comments:

  1. I am enjoying these Zak posts a ton. I played the game in 1990. Apparently I remember it very poorly :-) But the write-ups are excellent and captivating!

    A question regarding the guru:

    The bit about being Karmically clean made me wonder, if you kill animals in the game, does the guru react to it?

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    1. Nssvezngvir. Mnx unf gb jnvg n juvyr sbe uvf xnezn gb chetr.

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    2. Thanks for the kind words unimural. I appreciate it! :)

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  2. I'm amazed at how little I remember of Zak. I knew it was a fairly sprawling adventure, especially compared to Maniac Mansion, but I don't even recognize many of the screenshots!

    There was something that jumped out at me in your post. In light of the recent wrist-slapping, I will ROT13 my following hint about something that may not mean much, but that still you may want to figure out by yourself:
    Jrer lbh wbxvat jura lbh fnvq lbh qvqa'g erpbtavmr gur ynaqznff ba gur znc? Vs fb, V'z jrrcvat vafvqr sbe Trbtencul, bgurejvfr sbe zl uhzbhe qrgrpgbe ;-)

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    1. I have about 50 ROT13 messages to read when I finish. That will be an adventure all on its own!

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  3. This is the same point as Charles's above, but: It looks to me as if that map is meant to be napvrag Rnegu, vapyhqvat Ngynagvf. Crefbanyyl V qba'g ernyyl oynzr lbh sbe zvffvat guvf. Gur zbfg erpbtavmnoyr nernf ner Nynfxn, Prageny Nzrevpn naq gur abegurea pbnfg bs Rhenfvn, gubhtu Fbhgu Nzrevpn vf cebonoyl pybfr rabhtu gb thrff. Nsevpn vf cnegvphyneyl qvfgbegrq, n ynaq oevqtr wbvaf Nhfgenyvn gb Nfvn, naq abegurnfg Abegu Nzrevpn rkgraqf vagb n cbyne ynaqznff (Ulcreobern?).

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    1. You're right, but maybe you'll want to start ROT13'ing earlier -- you're bringing attention to the actual object and Trick may want to find that himself (similar to what happened with Cedric's hint).

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    2. Ancient Earth?? Well, now I don't feel so bad. I have enough trouble recognizing countries on a modern globe, let alone frm millions of years ago.

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  4. Spoiler: V nterr jvgu gur nobir gjb. Gur lryybj qbgf ner cbvagf bs vagrerfg, Rtlcg, Yvzn, Frnggyr, naq Fna Senapvfpb, cyhf fbzrjurer ba Ngynagvf. V'ir arire cynlrq gur tnzr, fb gung'f zbfgyl n thrff.

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    1. Zenic, univat cynlrq gur tnzr, cerggl fher lbh'er evtug rkprcg vg'f Zrkvpb vafgrnq bs Fna Senapvfpb

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    2. Lbhe thrff vf pbeerpg! Rira vs Gevpxfgre qbrfa'g ernyvfr ng guvf cbvag, vg jvyy orpbzr nccnerag jura ur fgnegf gb hfr gur lryybj pelfgny gb gryrcbeg nobhg.

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    3. Guvf znl or jurer Gevpxfgre trgf fghpx, ybbx ng gung ynfg fperra fubg ur'f fgvyy pneelvat nebhaq Gbea Jnyycncre vafgrnq bs fbzrguvat zber hfrshy. Yvxr jvgu gur Theh gryyvat uvz ubj gb hfr gur oyhr pelfgny, ur znl unir bireybbxrq Mnx irel vzcbegnag yvarf nsgre jnxvat hc sebz gur vageb qernz.

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    4. Lrnu. V abgvprq gung gbb. Zl thrff vf, orsber nfxvat sbe nffvfgnapr ur'yy fbyir vg ol enaqbzyl pbzovavat rirelguvat va uvf vairagbel jvgu rirelguvat ryfr naq jbaqre jul gur uryy gung jbexrq :)

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    5. Bapr ur ercnvef gur lryybj pelfgny naq oevatf vg onpx gb gur funzna, ur jvyy trg n zrffntr nobhg arrqvat n znc qenja ol uvzfrys gb hfr vg. V'z fher ur'yy svther vg bhg sebz gung.

      Ohg ur znl raq hc tbvat vagb gur Fculak svefg. Jura lbh ybbx ng gur jnyy znc bs znef gurer ur fnlf "V fubhyq cebonoyl nqq gung gb zl znc". V jbaqre jung vg jvyy fnl vs lbh unira'g znqr gur znc lrg.

      Vg'f shaal ubj znal fperrafubgf unir gur gbea jnyycncre vgrz va vg. V'ir orra ovgvat zl gbathr rirel gvzr V frr vg.

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    6. V pbzcyrgryl zvffrq gur gbea jnyycncre va zl cynl ynfg jrrx naq V jnf tbvat penml gelvat gb svther bhg ubj gb hfr gur lryybj pelfgny. Gur obggbz yvar vf gung rira gubhtu V raqrq hc cvpxvat gur jnyy cncre hc irel yngr va gur tnzr, V jnf fgvyy noyr gb qenj gur znc naq gryrcbeg nobhg.

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    7. It's hilarious reading all of these comments after I've finished the game. It must actually be frustrating for you guys to watch me miss things!

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    8. Nah, more funny than frustrating actually, we've all been stuck ourselves on some point or another on the games we've played. At least I have. But I'm really glad you put in the don't-help-me-until-I-ask-for-it rule. :p

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  5. This is a completely useless Easter egg, but I'll ROT13 it anyway. Nf n lnx, gel purjvat unl nf zhpu nf lbh pna. Lbh'yy raq hc jvgu n arj ireo...

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    1. haha. I think that was mentioned before.

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    2. "Chew........chew chew......chew.......chew...." -That's not enough!

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    3. Canageek: Yes, it was, but it might have escaped Trickster's notice, and it's SO good, he has to know it ;)

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  6. Funny, I don't remember the Mars labyrinth to be dark, and I don't think I did anything to light it on... I wonder if I had accidentally done something to change that by the time I entered it, or if (considering I was playing the FM Towns version) the developers responsible for the port just thought this maze was a pain in the dark and light it up in this version!

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    1. That is in fact one of the differences with the FM Towns version from the prior disk versions. That Mars Maze is fully lit up instead of dark, and the Mexico City Maze is partial lit as well.

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  7. By the way, congrats on the boom box puzzle, this one stumped me for a while!

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    1. Thanks. I think having used the same trick in Maniac Mansion really helped me figure it out.

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  8. I suspect it is a sign that you are really enjoying the game that you are detailing each play session in such detail (excessive?). You are up to 7 posts on this game so far when you typically only have 4-5 total per game (a quick perusal of past posts has LSL2 with 8 posts). The minimum number of posts for Zak will be 9 with a win! and final rating posts next.

    It almost feels like you are writing a walk-through on this game!

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  9. oh ... and something needs to be done about the rampant ROT13 useage in the comments. At least 4 of 5 comments is nothing but ROT13. Makes reading the comment threads kinda annoying (especially since I can't decode anything at work where I read this blog).

    I admit that ROT13 is probably the best way to handle things, but it is still annoying.

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    1. If you can read this at work, surely you can go to www.rot13.com as well? That's what I used to do before I got a firefox plugin instead.

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  10. GoG Sale: Myst 5: End of Ages--the final Myst game--is our GOG Gem this week. Decide the fate of D'ni for only 3.99$ http://j.mp/GemMyst5

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  11. Adventure game post: http://www.metafilter.com/119405/WASTE-AFTERNOON

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    1. Bleh. To expand; it seems there is an adventure game museum in Toronto. Let me know if any of you come visit it, you can talk about each game to me.

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    2. Fantastic! Too bad it's online-only, and that the collections themselves aren't open to the public to see in person. :(

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    3. Awww, I didn't read it closely and was hoping to go visit.

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  12. Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures, Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse and Back to the Future: The Game have all been released on GOG and are on sale for a short time. You can get all three seasons for around $24!

    I haven't played any of these episodic releases, but I look forward to doing so in a few years time. :)

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    1. Damn, I knew I should have checked my email earlier in the day.

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  13. HAH! New adventure game, doesn't LOOK like an action-adventure AND is on sale! Home: http://store.steampowered.com/app/215670/

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