Monday, 24 February 2014

Game 41: Les Manley 1 - Ball Reading and Palm Jobs

Les Manley Journal Entry 2: "My search for The King led me to Bob's Travelling Circus, where I've spent the better part of the day. After earning a ticket from Bob himself by cleaning up some truly horrendous elephant dung, I visiting a bunch of circus folk to see if I could get any information out of any of them. They haven't exactly been forthcoming, seemingly unable to get past their own personal issues to offer up anything useful. Most disappointing of all was Madame Zarmooska, who promised a LOT, yet delivered very little. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. These people are all about the show after all!"


This really isn't how I pictured "The Big Apple" to be!

Well, I haven’t needed assistance yet, but I fear it won’t be long. I’ve uncovered a few “puzzles” that require solutions, but I can’t say I have much clue how I’m actually going to start making real progress. My first gameplay post finished with me leaving Station WILL, wandering onto the streets of the Big Apple for the first time. Directly across the road was a bus station, and there was a mailbox on the path outside. I decided to see if there was anything of interest within the box, and was happy to receive a message saying “Inside the mailbox is a letter”. I was quite sure that I’d be able to pick this letter up, but trying to do so was met with “Tampering with the mail is a federal offense”. I tried reading it: “None of your business.” I tried opening it: “I don’t know how to open the letter.” I was distracted from my disillusionment by a man walking onscreen and stopping to post a letter. “It’s Justin...one of the artists who worked on this game.” I immediately typed “Hey Justin, how do you sleep at night knowing that you contributed to such a derivative yet utterly craptastic  adventure game?”, and other such insults. Unsurprisingly, the parser wouldn’t accept this perfectly legitimate question, so I reverted to simply trying to talk to him. “He’s too busy to talk. He’s on his way to finish drawing the next scene before you get there.” This game seemed to be relishing wasting my time!


Well it is!

I entered the bus station, determined to make some progress. Inside I found a woman with a pram, a vending machine, and a bum asleep across a few seats. I looked at the woman and was given some very strange information! “This woman looks vaguely familiar...kind of like your mother when she was young. But wait! The baby also looks familiar. Kind of like you when you were young! Maybe you’ve entered a time warp...Maybe you’ve entered the Twilight Zone...Maybe you’ve entered a great scenario for another game...naaaaw...too cliché.” For a game clearly trying to rip off the style and humor of Al Lowe, Les Manley was so far incredibly unfunny! It’s fine to put random events and setups into adventure games to liven things up and make the player smile, but only if they bookend decent puzzles and story progression. I wasn’t at all surprised when I checked out the vending machine and was merely told that it was “out of your microwave popcorn” as I was getting completely used to not just achieving nothing, but also having nothing to achieve. A man in a suit stopped just outside the entrance at this point. It’s possible it was supposed to be Alfred Hitchcock, taking part in one of his infamous cameos, but I can’t be certain. When I tried to talk to him I was told to try “wake man” instead, which was clearly referring to the man asleep on the chairs. Assuming doing so would have some benefit, I walked over to the sleeping man and typed “wake man”. The response? “He isn’t sleeping. Just meditating.” Thanks for nothing again game!


...because there aren't any to be found in this one!


Nipplesaki! Tossifukfuk! Terpypoobum!

Since I now knew that the man wasn’t sleeping, despite being told to try waking him, I changed to simply attempting to communicate with him. His response was “Gribfrosh! Snormth! Fiddlebaum!” What?! Let me get this straight. The bus station contains nothing more than a vending machine with nothing in it that I want, a woman whose purpose appears to be nothing more than a poor attempt at a joke, and a man that appears asleep but instead is merely meditating and whom spouts nothing but drunken gibberish. Awesome! Putting my frustration away, I decided to ignore all these timewasters and instead concentrate on getting myself a ticket. Perhaps I could purchase a ticket to Las Vegas to pay Lyla Libido a visit? I set about manoeuvring Les through the maze of metal railings that we're all so used to navigating in the real world, only to find that there appeared no way to reach the end. Once I got to a certain point the railings starting overlapping with each other, allowing no further movement towards the ticket booth (which was unmanned anyway). OK game, you win! I left the bus stop without further ado, wondering what purpose it served at all apart from annoyance. Once back on the street, I made my way past the mail box and off the screen to the left, reappearing in front of a large fence with a Circus poster on it. “The strains of organ music and the scents of popcorn and wild animals drift from over the fence. Either the circus is in town or next year’s election campaigns have begun early.”


Games are supposed to be fun right? This is like a nightmare that won't end!


I guess a few clowns around here will fit in nicely!

The poster on the fence confirmed that the circus was Col. Bob’s Traveling Circus, which I’d seen an advertisement for on the TV in the boss’ office. I noticed I could walk behind the fence or in front of it, so I decided to take the former option. Apart from being able to see myself through a particular part of the fence, going behind didn’t appear to achieve much, so I walked back in front and continued west. I was now at the circus, and could see various circus folk, rides and exhibits all about. I soon discovered that trying to talk to anyone was met with “The circus folk don’t like to waste time talking to the crowd” and looking at anything with “You might be able to see more with a ticket. And since you don’t have any money, getting one may take hard work.” That comment seemed to be a direct suggestion to me, so I continued to the west to see if I could find this “work” it mentioned. I came upon a trailer, and examining it revealed that it was the travelling home of Col. Bob. If anyone would have a job for me, Bob was the one, so I tried to open his door. “You might interrupt something going on inside.” I figured I knew what that “something” was, so I tried knocking instead. After the sound of a zipper was heard, Bob called out “Ah’m a comin’, Les...just a cotton pickin’ minute.” Thankfully, Les seemed just as flummoxed as me as to how Bob knew my name, but then the game had the gall to suggest the guy must have a hint book!


Was there a point to letting me walk behind the fence...


...apart from making me appear above it on this screen as opposed to below it?


I think I might know what that aroma is!

Finally Bob came to the door in his white suit, looking just as you might expect our real favourite sex hungry loser might do in his old age. “Boy...Ah say...boy, Ah’m a busy man. Yessiree, Bob. No time to sit here jawin’ wit-chya, boy.” I asked him about The King, and his response was strangely “Ah ain’t seen the boy lately.” Boy?! I’d still not seen anything in the game to confirm that “The King” is actually Elvis Presley, and some of the answers I was getting when asking about him weren’t doing anything to clear things up. I typed “ask about ticket”, and finally got somewhere! “Y’all have to do some work to earn it, boy.” He didn’t go any further than that unfortunately, so I was forced to ask more questions. Thankfully “ask about work” was met with “Ah suppose Ah could use some hep around cheer.” Once again though, Bob didn’t extrapolate as to what work he wanted me to do! I tried asking about everything else I could think of, but I continued to get variations of the same answer with no direction. Ready to pull my hair out, I looked at the manual to see whether there was a verb in the “Some Verbs” section that I might be able to make use of. The second one on the list was “ask for”, so I tried typing “ask for work” instead of “ask about work”. Doing so caused Les to say “Gee, sir...uh Colonel? I’d really like to see more of your circus”, to which he responded with “Boy...Ah say...boy, Ah sure could use some hep cleanin’ up around them thar critters.” (10 points)


Sure thing Foghorn!

Lesson learnt. The parser in Les Manley simply cannot be trusted! If I think I’m on to something, I’m going to have to keep at it until the solution comes out of the wash. Bob told me that if I did a good job cleaning up around whatever these “critters” were, he’d give me a ticket for the circus, which was just what I needed. I could see an elephant’s butt in the lower left portion of the screen, so I wondered whether I might be able to access another screen either to the west or south. The latter was correct, and I found myself looking at a couple of large elephants. Clearly it was them that Bob wanted me to clean up after and there was a shovel at the bottom of the screen to do the job. I typed “get shovel” and immediately Les set to work cleaning up the dung. (10 points) Oddly, rather than putting it into the large box in the corner, he simply transferred the dung from one pile to the other! He kept at it for a while and I began to wonder how long he would have to clean before the task would be considered complete. I sped the game up to the highest speed and watched for another thirty seconds or so before being satisfied that I’d either done it enough or had to do something else to be finished. I told Les to stop working and made my way back to Bob, not sure what was going to happen. “Boy...Ah say...boy, y’all did a mighty fine job.” I was forced to ask him for the ticket though before he gave it to me. (10 points)


Les seemed quite content to go on shovelling shit from one pile to another for hours!


Despite me having taken the ticket from Bob, his hand appears sticking out of the door holding it forever more.

With ticket in hand, I set out to walk around the circus, stopping to look at everything on the way. The vast majority of places produced the message “This spot doesn’t look to be interesting”, but a few of them brought a result. The first place of interest I found was Madame Zarmooska’s. I’d seen her in the newspaper that came with the game, being quoted as saying “According to my sources, The King is near.” On entering her caravan, I found her seated in front of a crystal ball, surrounded by occult-ish looking items. When I talked to her, Zarmooska told me that she’d been expecting me, so I began questioning her about all sorts of things. When I asked about “The King”, she simply stated “I see him all the time.” I tried to get more out of her but couldn’t. When I asked about my future, she told me I would be going on a long journey, that there would be a search, and that I would see a King. The King that appeared in her crystal ball was definitely not Elvis Presley, giving me the impression that I’d been correct to doubt it was ever meant to be. However, for the first time in the game, I found myself chuckling as Madame Zarmooska apologised: “Sorry...wrong King!” I continued to ask her about my future, but all I could get out of her was that there would be a “violent ending”, then “peace and tranquiliity”, and that “it ain’t over till it’s over”. From then on all she would say is “The rest is up to you, Les.”


I'm not sure I want some crazy psycho woman to read my balls and give me a palm job!!!


Actually...um...about that palm job!


OK, that was actually funny!

So Madame Zarmooska was about as useful as any psychic or fortune teller, unless of course I’d failed to ask her a precise question I was supposed to. I moved on, and soon arrived at a second place of interest: Luigi the World’s Strongest Man! A close look at Luigi revealed he may not be as tough as advertised. “It seems that beneath that impressive exterior lies a troubled mind. He sits…clutching his rosin and staring solemnly at the ground.” I wasn’t sure what a rosin was, so I examined it. I was shown a picture of a little cloth with the words “Good for sweaty palms.” Needless to say, Luigi wouldn’t let me take it, so I talked to him to see if I could find out what was troubling the big guy. “I don’t-a feel so strong today.” I couldn’t get anything else out of him, nor did I have anything in my possession that might be of assistance, so I began asking him random questions instead. When I asked about Madame Zarmooska, I got an interesting reply. “Ah…My-a daughter Angelina. You keep-a your hands-a off.” Was this a lead?! I made my way straight back to Zarmooska and asked her about Luigi. All I got was “He’s so vain about his appearance.” Was I supposed to think that Luigi wasn’t feeling so good today because he wasn’t feeling very attractive? What could I do about that? Perhaps I would come across a particular item that would help him to look better?


Dude, this really isn't the job for insecurity!


I had to show you this, just so you all understand why my rating for this game will be on the low side.


What am I supposed to do? Give the guy a compliment?

I continued exploring the circus, coming across another location of interest soon enough. Towards the northern border I found a large tent, with a popcorn booth and a guy trying to prove himself on the Test-O-Strength outside. I focussed on the popcorn booth to begin with, finding I was able to pick up a box of artificially flavoured goodness (10 points). This meant I now had a jar of peanut butter, a thermos, a circus ticket and a box of popcorn. I then spoke to the man that was constantly hitting the plate with a large hammer. “I’m getting a little frustrated. I keep hitting this thing but nothing seems to happen.” I wondered if this failure was related to the man’s lack of strength or perhaps the Test-O-Strength was in need of repair. Either way, he wouldn’t tell me anything else, and I didn’t seem to be able to get the hammer off him either. With the tent exterior investigated, I made my way inside. There I was confronted by a lion! There were two lions sitting on pedestals at the back, but they weren’t of much concern to me. It was the one standing in front of me, with a thought bubble intimating that it was extremely hungry (the bubble contained a raw piece of meat), that had me worried. Did I have any food I could offer it? Well…there was the popcorn I’d just picked up. I typed “give lion popcorn”, and the following response appeared: “Right idea. But you don’t want to get that close. The lion may take more than you want to give him.”


Well he's not alone on that front!


How the hell did I end up here? I just walked through the tent entrance!

Throwing the popcorn didn’t seem to work, so I tried dropping it. That did work, and the lion padded over and began aggressively eating the popcorn immediately. This didn’t allow me to do anything else on this screen, but it did let me move onwards to another screen to the right. It was there I found Frederick Von Leep (aka The Flying Leep) along with his vacuous assistant Alona. I attempted to speak to Frederick only to discover that “he speaks not Englaise”. I was therefore forced to speak to Alona, but she wasn’t any more useful: “Alona isn’t a great conversationalist. In fact, she’s rather shallow.” I figured there must be some reason for them being there, so I started asking questions of Alona. I asked her about Fred: “Vot hes doink? Vy he not climb ladder?” Luigi: “Vot hes doink? He teekle me vit dat musdache of heez.” Angelina: “Vot she doink? She alvays vear too much leepsteek.” Bob: “Vot hes doink? Vy he not pay me lately?” The King: “Vot hes doink? DA KING run my country eento ground.” Finally someone seemed willing to talk, but I was going to have to sift through her nonsense to try to find something useful. First and foremost though, why won’t Fred climb the ladder? That will be the first thing I look into during my next session…


Lucky I had some meat flavoured popcorn on me!


Vot shes doink? Vy she talk like dis?

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

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've 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!

40 comments:

  1. Ah, Les Manley. Just as fantastic as I imagined from the warnings.
    I was pretty sure I'd never played it, but now that you've posted more images from the game it seems irritatingly familiar, especially the circus parts and the fence. Vot brain doink? Vy it not work?

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  2. If you look at the railings the text blames the background artist's mistake.

    I've come to the conclusion that this kind of self-referential humour is the laziest form of parody. They couldn't think of a proper subject to satirize, so they mock the game itself. It's very telling that the developers have so little faith in their work that they make fun of it.

    I didn't recognise "rosin" either until I looked up what the word is in Finnish - as a violinist I know it very well and apply it to my bow all the time to increase friction. It makes the sound better and clearer.

    There wasn't any need to wait for Les to finish the job - as soon as he picks the shovel up, it counts as done, and the shovel can be instantly dropped again without doing any manual labour at all.

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  3. Seems like my call was off. :)

    I'm glad you worked out that the poop shoveling was temporary. You really CAN do it forever...

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  4. I don't know exactly but something about the art direction ticks me off. Graphics seem to be all over the place... the style goes from lazy/cartoony to semi-realistic for no apparent reason. Those elephants are quite nice, but the lions and the bird's eye view of the circus look dire.

    Also, Trickster, about the identity of the King: did you notice the garb Les is wearing on the game cover? I remember basically nothing about the game so I may be wrong, but that looks like a clear clue to me. I wonder if there was any concrete reason why they didn't use Presley's name?

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    Replies
    1. My understanding is they couldn't use his name for legal reasons.

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    2. Canageek's right, I think. At one point you can look at some pictures of King, and the game tells they are unclear because of copyright reasons.

      Also, if you try to refer to Elvis (say, ask someone about Elvis), the game suggests using the word KING.

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    3. I haven't found that Ilmari. I've asked quite a few people about Elvis, and they've all "said nothing". It's only when I ask for The King that I've received any information.

      Oh well, at least you guys have put that thought to rest.

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    4. Just checked, yes ASKing was one command where this doesn't work, but just type LOOK ELVIS or GET ELVIS or TALK TO ELVIS, and the answer will be "Hmmm.... better use THE KING".

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    5. You guys are just imagining things. The manual plainly states: "Les Manley in Search for the King is a work of fiction. Any similarities of characters in the game to persons living or dead is either coincidental, or unintended."

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    6. Wow, I had no idea about legal issues around invoking Elvis' actual name in a video game. But now I remember at least one previous instance of this: one of the aliens in Zak McKraken is a fan of the King, but the name is never spelled out.

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    7. I think I know why Colonel Bob seems to know the King: he’s probably a parody of Colonel Parker, the manager of Elvis. Here’s some proof:
      • Colonel Parker was chubby, bold and smoked cigars (check!)
      • He was skinflint and kept most of Presley’s earnings to himself (check!)
      • He had worked in carnivals (check!)
      I rest my case.

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  5. I vaguely remember thinking this game was hilarious.
    Of course, at the time I played it, I think I was between eight and ten years old. There's something to be said for nailing down your target audience.

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  6. All right, Ynf Irtnf is done (I think)! Except I can't remember how you got to the arkg fprar and the game isn't exactly helping here...

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  7. I'm so stuck! I fear a request for assistance is on its way!

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    Replies
    1. This soon? Pffft. You're weaker than we thought. I don't think you've even reached even any of the moments when our bets become relevant.

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    2. As if the game wasn't tormenting me enough, now I have to deal with mocking companions!!!

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    3. Don't fret. This game makes a mockery of us all.

      Maybe give us a couple of ideas of what you're thinking so we can clue you in?

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    4. This is supposed to be one of the most unfair adventure games out there. I had a LIST of things I was going to bet on for that reason, so don't feel too bad.

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    5. I've played enough games now to know when a game is being stupid as opposed to me. :)

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    6. What... wait... are you mocking the game or yourself, Trix?

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  8. I was going to play along, but after a short visit to the world of Les Manley, I'm going to have to say no. I have far too many better games to be playing!

    Thankfully Trickster is putting himself through this torment on our behalf.

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  9. Hey has anyone managed to restore a game successfully? If I press F7 to restore to my most recently saved game I am able to type, but if I restore to any of my older save games, I can't type anything.

    This hasn't been a big deal because a) I haven't got all that far and b) I haven't been dead-ended yet (that I know of), so only need the most recent save.

    Anyone else having trouble?

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    Replies
    1. ...........So, Trickster, how able do you feel to do this game without ever dead-ending yourself or making more then one mistake?

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    2. I can save and restore any save game just fine. I'm using version 2.0 of the game (just type in version in game to get the info) on DOSbox 0.74. I've not tried quicksaving, but regular saving (Esc and the then File menu) seems to work ok.

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    3. That is one (of the only) handicap that does not hit Les Manley to my knowledge. And please do take my words literally - even though the game is short, you WILL require backtracking through saves. Not an option in this one unless you're playing it via sheer memory (and in my recent successful playthrough - though I'd argue as to whether or not anything regarding this game could be considered a 'success' - I still had to do so three times due to not remembering key things.)

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    4. I was joking. I can think of at least one location that Trickster WILL have to backtrack, unless he is able to read the developers minds. Or possible goes so insane by then that he kidnaps one of them and keeps them locked in his basement, beating answers out of them as needed.

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    5. I'll check what version I have when I get home.

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    6. The version where you can have multiple saves or the version where, as Canageek suggested, requires multiple beatings of the developers?

      Come to think of it, I'd still beat them even if I know the answer... for making such a shitty piece of shit. Psycho? You have a mean contender coming up!

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    7. Kenny: There are versions to which beating the developers with a mackerel is not the answer?

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    8. I would choose the slimiest, thorniest and most venomous sea-creature available to club them with.

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    9. No, that's not enough Kenny. They deserve something worse. Much worse.

      Like...

      Being forced to play through this very game. After forcingly causing amnesia so they'll remember nothing about how to solve the puzzles.

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    10. Forget about the amnesia, just make them play Emmanuelle.

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    11. Or Les Manley... with Emanuelle's art assets. XD

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    12. That wouldn't work...they obviously like poorly drawn women...

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  10. I just stumbled over a review of Les Manley in the Los Angeles Times from 1990. Amazing that there was game reviews in regular papers that long ago.
    http://articles.latimes.com/1990-08-18/entertainment/ca-470_1_les-manley-elvis

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    Replies
    1. Nice find, Lars-Erik. I think Trickster may want to wait until he's done with the game to read it, though, as there are a few mild spoilers.

      It's good to know Les could fool no one, not even back then. I think counting the references to Elvis' songs in the article may prove more fun than playing the actual game.

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    2. Are you serious? this piece of not-so-excellent design cost 60$? I would have felt quite ripped off!! (apart from the three different sources of hints)

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    3. One of the games I found in my Dad's basement still had the recite in it. Might and Magic I think? Possibly M&M2? As I recall the game was over $90 (He got it free off a friend who had beaten it). Also: These were 1980 dollars, so they were a lot more then today.

      Delete
    4. Wow... I can't recall 1990 as a particularly great fiscal year with loads of bonuses to spend.

      I guess Accolade was treating hints like how EA is treating DLCs.

      Delete
  11. Maybe it's just Trickster's writing style, but MAN this game seems kind of hilarious to me!! I'm really into the way this game's trolling him and I kinda wanna play it myself now.

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