"Oh boy oh boy oh boy my very own bunny rabbit. I will love him and pet him and take care of him and call him George"
My last session saw me travelling by boat to Alcatraz, where I discovered a plethora of imprisoned green mutants. While I was able to make friends with one of them (Ming) by offering her the statue her father had previously given to me, I soon realised that I wasn’t going to be able to free them without the card that was mentioned in Noah Goring’s letter to the doctor. I did however have a pretty good idea where it might be, so this session began with me restoring back to the mainland and heading straight for the Wax Museum. I’d noticed the white thread sewn into Noah’s tie when I first discovered his corpse, but at the time I’d thought it was probably there with the purpose of helping me identify the body. Now I figured the card I needed could very well be hidden inside, but how would I get it out? I looked at my inventory, and the one thing that stood out as a possibility was the fang. I tried...it worked!!!
This was actually a very good puzzle!
So now I had the card to free the mutants from Alcatraz! The question was, should I head straight back there, or is there something else I needed to do prior? I looked through my list of locations and items, to see if there was somewhere I didn’t feel I’d completed or something I hadn’t yet made use of. There were only three locations that I felt were incomplete, being the Ferry Building, Hyde Street Pier and Ghirardelli Square. The only items that I’d not found a use for were the camera, the matchbook, and the empty gun. I suddenly realised that I’d now used the flask of urine to get the hatchet off the rat mutants, and every time I’d entered the tower at Ghirardelli Square that item would smash and dead end me. Did I now have something else that might allow me to defeat Phil? No, I didn’t think so! Still, I decided to go back to the tower to see if the game would throw some other dead end message at me now that the flask was gone. What did I have to lose?
The Orb language seems way too simple for such an advanced race
I climbed into the tower and just as before, tumbled all the way down the stairs to the gate below. I opened the gate using the ring I’d got from the man electrocuted on the sign, watched the odd cut-scene with Phil using the viewer, then fell through the collapsing floor in the passageway onto Phil. There was no message about dead-ending myself on the way, so I quickly saved my game and put on my thinking cap. As before, I picked up the Orb on a Stick that had broken off the chair, and then tried using it (and the other remaining items in my inventory) to no effect. Despite failing to stop Phil from spinning me around with his one remaining robotic arm and throwing me to the rats, trying all these items did give me an idea! Whenever I’d used the camera in the game so far, it had used up the one and only available flash. I’d noticed that if I ever used it in the most likely scenarios (i.e. when confronted by a mutant at the square, in Zac’s Howse, or in the pipe at Hyde Street Pier), that it would allow me to escape the situation. I’d had to restore on each of those occasions anyway since I didn’t want to use up the one and only flash, but I now wondered whether this was the time to use it.
Orb on a Stick!
As Phil threw me down into the pit filled with mutants, I used the camera flash, hoping that it would allow me to escape. As much as it had made sense that it would, I was still utterly surprised that I was suddenly shown a screen filled with all the mutants covering their eyes! Control of my manhunter was temporarily taken away from me as he ran from the room, pushed another mutant in the back that was guarding an exit, and then jumped through a pipe to safety. Not just any pipe mind you, I came out of the pipe at the Hyde Street Pier, meaning I could now cross that location off the list as well. I felt like I was nearing the end of the game now and getting pretty damn excited! Could I really make it without assistance?! Before I travelled back to Alcatraz, I spent some time at the Ferry Building, since this was the only location on the map now where I’d achieved nothing of note. Since I still couldn’t find anything to interact with or do at the site, I decided it was time to go free some mutants!
I used the hatchet to get into the container at the Hyde Street Pier, watched as the containers were loaded onto the boat and then as the boat travelled out to the island. Once my container was stored in the warehouse, I hacked my way out (losing the hatchet on the way), gave the rabbit statue to Ming, and positioned myself in front of the card reader. I chose the “Orb Card” from my inventory, and watched as it was inserted into the card reader. Shortly afterwards, the camera attached to the wall above kicked into action. I was given a view of what the camera could see, which was of course...me! The camera started scanning me, and I quickly realised that this probably wasn’t going to end well. Just as the solution came to me, an ACCESS DENIED...ELIMINATE message popped up on the screen, after which I was disintegrated by some sort of laser.
I'm an Orb! No really...I am!
I was confident that I knew what to do though, as I’d suddenly recalled one of the lines in Noah’s letter. “My creations can help but must be freed by an Orb.” I inserted the card again, and this time as the camera focussed on me I used the Orb on a Stick. This replaced my image with that of the Orb on the scanner and access was approved. The doors to the prison all opened at once, and the mutants began running all over the place! As expected, Ming quickly scooped me up and protected me from the mass exodus. She took me outside the prison and I watched as half the mutants ran into the water, presumably to swim across to the mainland, and the others went the other direction back towards the centre of the island. Ming took me to a hot air balloon and placed me gently inside, then waved to me before running back into the throng. After a while I realised the cut scene was over, and I was supposed to do something!
Every high level prison needs to have an unguarded vehicle for escapees!
Moving my cursor around the balloon, I discovered I could take a closer look at the inner workings. There was a handle I could turn, and doing so caused gas to blow out of a valve. I used my matchbook to light it, causing the hot air balloon to fill up and begin its ascent. Was this the end? Surely not! Phil Cook was still out there causing trouble and the Orbs still hadn’t been defeated. The balloon drifted away from the island, going higher and higher into the San Francisco skyline. Suddenly I found myself controlling the balloon lift in yet another arcade mini-game. It was easy enough to press the ENTER key as many times as required to keep the balloon from crashing into the city below, but there was no explanation as to where I was actually supposed to land. My first attempt ended with my balloon crashing into the power station at the very end of the second screen. It seemed that I was supposed to land the balloon somewhere between the island and the power station, but where? The castle?
The latest bra design had a neat new feature!
The hint I’d received from the statues on the stairway in the temple had said: “The Castle is the Gateway to Hell”, and I’d even seen a location called Julius Castle through the window of Noah Goring’s apartment, so when I saw the castle-looking building beneath me, I let the balloon descend. The balloon landed directly on top of the fort, causing the “basket” to tilt and throw me out. I crashed through skylight (doesn't every castle have one of those?) and into a tunnel that led deep beneath the city surface. Once again I very coincidentally landed on top of my foe, and this time it was an Orb that was levitating in front of a monitor and control panel. He literally exploded like an egg, leaving me covered in yellowy goo. Before I could consider looking at what was displayed on the monitor, another cut-scene appeared. It showed the mutants I’d freed exiting the water beneath the Hyde Street Pier, with one of them climbing onto the pier and ripping a couple of Orbs to pieces. I then witnessed the same thing happening all through the city, with the mutants running rampant and killing Orbs everywhere!
How did we let our planet be invaded by aliens as vulnerable as this?!
The mutants literally ripped the Orbs apart throughout the city
So much so that eventually I stopped cheering and started to feel sorry for them!
As soon as I regained control, I took a closer look at the monitor. At first I wasn’t sure what I was looking at, but I soon realised it was a map of numerous locations and gates beneath the city. There were three separate views that I could use, with the first one showing all the rooms that currently have lava (yellow) in them. The second one showed all the rooms that currently contain slaves (blue), while the third view showed where the robots were (red). Through experimentation I figured out that I could move slaves and robots into other rooms on the map, although I’m not entirely sure how that was actually occurring. I assume I was able to command them and they would very rapidly go where I told them to. I also figured out that I could open and close the gates, which would allow the robots to move between the rooms and could also allow the flow of lava that was pushing up from the large pool in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
The red boxes mark where the robots are. The little crosses are closed gates. I have to click on Lava or Slaves to view which rooms they're in.
I won’t lie. I “died” many, many times at this section of the game! It took me a long time to figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing, and even once I thought I had, I’d continually run into disaster. If I opened a gate to allow lava to flow through, yet didn’t move all the slaves out of rooms that it could flow to (i.e. that weren’t behind closed gates), then it was time to restore. If I moved a slave (or a robot for that matter) into the same section that I was in, then it was time to restore. I set about moving all of the slaves into rooms in the right side of the map and all the robots into the left side, then starting closing off the gates so that neither the lava nor the robots could get to me or the slaves, but kept failing. However, whenever lava was allowed to flow up into the landmarks on the surface, I would witness cut-scenes of it pouring out of the buildings. Once the lava poured out of the Coit Tower, a cut-scene appeared that showed all of the mutants around the city turning back into humans!
Apparently this rather phallic looking tower was being used to create the mutation. Why wasn't everyone affected by it?
At least low quality graphics make nudity acceptable...
...except when it's a character the player knows apparently (Ming transformed into human form fully clothed)
It seemed that whatever had caused the mutants to change in the first place was somehow controlled by the tower, and the lava destroying it had reversed the effect. As great as witnessing this scene was, it was also the cause of much frustration. Every time I tried letting the lava in with slightly different setups of gates, slaves and robots, I had to go all the way through the lengthy cut-scene before finally being shown slaves dying or the robots coming to get me. However, after a while I noticed something important! The three larger rooms were called Slavery, Hell and Freedom! The note given to the dragon member by the slaves before he died had said “Bring us to Hell and we will show you Freedom.” I was in the room called Hell, so I guessed that the idea was to bring all the slaves to Hell, and that they would then show me how to get to Freedom. I then tried numerous other arrangements in an attempt to kill all the robots without harming the slaves, but continued to be unsuccessful.
The robots kept blowing my brains out, over and over again
Just when I was beginning to wonder whether I was going to get stuck at the very last hurdle, I tried something I hadn’t before. I moved lots of the slaves into the same room! I have no idea why I hadn’t tried this before, but can only say that I’d assumed the mechanics of the puzzle were stricter than they really were. No wonder I hadn’t been able to move every slave into a separate protected room and have every robot into a separate unprotected room! It just wasn’t possible, nor was it required! As soon as I figured this out, I was easily able to set things up so that the only survivors were the slaves, who I then moved into Hell where I was located. They picked me up on their shoulders and carried me through the passages to Freedom, where I discovered some sort of drilling vehicle. I think this was what Phil was looking at through the viewer, since there had been a green object at the bottom that had been bouncing up and down.
Only when I saw the word FREEDOM written on the wall here did I look back and see HELL written in the control room
The slaves placed me gently in the cockpit of the device, and I then found myself staring at the controls. I immediately noticed the symbols I’d seen on the slave’s hand (as part of the severed arm the mutant rats were gambling over) and knew exactly how to proceed. I pressed the buttons in the correct order (UNNC), and then pressed the brown button above them (it was the only button I was able to interact with). This caused the monitor to light up, so I clicked on it to take a closer look. It was no surprise that I was going to have to complete yet another arcade game, but I have to say that this one was probably the most painful of them all! Steering the ship between all the rocks to reach the surface was easy in theory, but the collision detection, the drift, and the over-acceleration of the craft made it close to impossible. I found myself saving and restoring regularly, and probably did so over twenty times before I finally reached Alcatraz.
I can't tell you how happy I was to reach the surface. This arcade game stalled my push towards the ending!
As soon as I did, an image of a very angry Phil appeared, and I watched him run and hop into his Orb spaceship, preparing to take off. My manhunter ran and jumped, just in time to grab one of the landing feet, and I hung on while the ship flew high above San Francisco. I was shown an image of me hanging on desperately to the craft while it sped along, and suddenly the words “THE END?” were on the screen. Huh!? That’s it!? I guess that’s exactly how the first game ended, with Phil and I leaving New York for San Francisco in that scenario, and I realise the Murry’s had plans for a third game in the series set in London, but I still had lots of questions that remained unanswered. After weeks of solid adventuring, I had mixed feelings at the game’s completion. On the one hand, I couldn’t help feeling a little let down at the lack of closure, but on the other hand, I felt on top of the world for conquering this tough game unassisted. I’ll expand on all of this and more in the Final Rating post. Thanks for sticking with me on this one. It was epic!
I'm really not sure why Phil would be at Alcatraz, but there he is (he's the little brown blob in the distance)!
If I press ENTER, will I find out what happens next???
Session Time: 3hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours 30 minutes