Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Game 50: B.A.T. - Merigo 'Round + WON!

Written by Aperama (mostly)

Special delivery from the B.A.T. headquarters



Special agents Mr. T and Mr. I

"Have we heard anything from our best operative yet?"
" Not a word. Last time we heard, Mr. A was forced to make his living as a gigolo in Selenia, using all his time to cheat in casinos just to survive. Merigo, the small-time crook he is after, has kept shooting him to tiny pieces, and Mr. A has been forced to go through several regenerative SAVE/LOAD-cycles."
"How awful! Should we just recall him?"
"He did finally manage to get a lead on Merigo and should be reporting in few minutes whether he has succeeded to eliminate this small problem."
"Ahh, I think I am hearing an incoming message..."

TRANSMISSON BEGINS... AGENT A CALLING FROM SELENIA

Angry Guy with a Gun's Journal mk. V: “Okay, now this is just ridiculous. I mean, who in the name of Crisa Kortakis is running this place? I'm not even sure why I'm bothering to save this stupid place any more. I found Merigo. I killed Merigo. Did I get a thank you? A parade? No, I didn't even have anyone notice the body on the floor! He had an access card to the Old City.. and why on Terrapolis I decided to go down there is beyond me. I even took Lydia and Sloane with me – they didn't seem to mind getting lost in what I can only call a hellish maze of tunnels. Well, they didn't complain, anyhow. It's thankful I took Lydia – heck, I think Crisa even knew what was going on – she conveniently left Lydia with a key that unlocked a secret compartment to find an access card to an.. Epsilon something. I can only think that this is going to be my way of getting to Vrangor. I have a new force field, plenty of ammo for my Nova and a DRAG.. it's time to leave Terrapolis, kill Vrangor.. and if they don't parade me as a national bloody hero, I might just blow the city anyway!”



This is what happened the first time I fought Merigo, just for the record.. just I could record it with him in one reliable place. I still wonder if Merigo can be killed without 'finding' the right alien

In order to run this blog (and facilitate between writers and admins), there's a forum for us to post up issues et al. This game gave me a first for the blog, I think – the game managed to literally make itself non-completable. This isn't me saying the game was too hard – it bugged up significantly. There's a maze (more on that later) which I literally needed step by step, square by square directions as it was unsolvable ingame. Despite being given directions and a map, I feel honour bound to say – I cheated. And in truth, that wasn't the advice given – the advice given was actually 'just call it here, the game is obviously doing you significant mental damage and you'd rather be playing a game of stick and paddle.' Or single player beer pong. I think that I might have to drink quite a bit to complete the game at the present rate, actually. Now I see why Chester needs his GIMLETs.



Merigo looks a little like he was dressed as John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever.. 
maybe he got what was coming to him

So when I last left off, I was ready to run into the Xifo club and face Merigo. As you can see from the video above – prepared, taking him down was actually quite simple. It just took having B.O.B. set to 'accelerated' (accelleration – I'm willing to forgive this spelling error as it may be something from the original French) to give me the time needed to blast his face off. (Well, actually, I aimed everything for his gut, but good enough.) So, on killing him, he drops a keycard that allows access to the Old City – a series of underground tunnels that sit underneath Terrapolis. Thankfully, as Ilmari refused to allow me to bite off my nose to spite my face, he pointed out before I touched in on the horrendous maze to come that I was missing a key item in the comments. This game is so awful that even his clue wasn't good enough! I had already found a 'hotel' – why would I be expecting to find another hotel hidden behind the force field shop? Keep in mind that to locate a place in this game is already like pulling teeth, having to go over the entire screen and sometimes not even getting a result despite being in the right spot (if it's decided that a random 'person' is there to be spoken to, you can have the 'speech' command override the 'go out of the room' command with no way of knowing you've missed it). Still.. even with the knowledge that this place was here, I wouldn't have thought to rent out a room, be 'randomly' assigned the right one and 'find' a keycard for the underground tunnels inside. Maybe if there wasn't already a place in another room called 'HOTEL' with a sign out the front I might have been looking for it.


Mummy. I give. Hail freaking Satan. Whatever I have to do to make it stop

So, I can only restate my thanks to Ilmari for giving out that hint – I'm not a hundred percent sure what it unlocked underneath the tunnels, but I'm certain that if I'd had to go through the maze of a thousand terrors again that I would indeed lose my marbles completely. See, here's what forced me to (for what I believe is a first in this blog's history) actually need to ask for an exact map of a maze. For one thing, the maze is absolutely huge – I'm certain that even TBD's work on gridding out KQ5's maze has very little in comparison to this thing. See, this one has dead ends. Several of the 'gates' which you go through actually don't allow you back through – to the point that you have to take an extremely wide arc to get around them. I'm willing to map out, trial and error and all of that. But now, add in another killing blow? What the FAQ writer apparently thought of as 'random' (it actually seemed to occur pretty damned reliably at four different locations), the maze will turn you around on entering a new room – instead of facing the same way every time, you face the other. Now, why couldn't I just grit my teeth and bear it?


What the maze is supposed to look like


What it looked like half the time

You can't save in this thing. Over 300 required squares (who knows how many erroneous paths) of individual, featureless nonsense. I mean, I can say that it does stop half way and you can save there – but trust me, that is barely good enough. This maze technically only took around about 30 minutes during the first section and maybe 15 on the second (as I had a better idea of what I was doing, using the mixture of 'sometimes this turns you around here' annotations from the walkthrough that Ilmari had copied out for me – the map was more useful overall though) but the true toll that it took on me was definitely mental. I can barely insist enough on how painful it was getting through this thing, and it's only out of sheer dogged persistence that I managed to go through (well it was 290 something and then the last lot is just 'keep going to the end', so I kinda blanked out for those last maybe 30 squares or so – that said, it did turn me around here in spite of the walkthrough's guide not telling me it would – I nearly cried when pushing forwards did nothing).. but to be honest, the real sin here is that for the incredible amount of effort taken, this is pure padding – it's not even where you end up wanting to be, this section of the game is simply to send you to get a single keycard which I'm assuming will allow me into Vrangor's base.


The 'underground city'! It's impossible to describe the elation in seeing this screen


Don't have to tell me twice, sir

So, now that we've finally made our way into the underground city, there's.. some people to talk to! They don't really say anything – they're pretty much mole people, and don't know anything about anyone. Even Merigo, who has obviously been down here recently in planting the bombs that the manual speaks of, must have forgotten to tell them his name – they don't respond to much of anything, so it's just onwards ho. I'm guessing that the last screen is the one that the technician's access card lets us into – I didn't go in without to confirm, but it does sorta look like an access tunnel-y place that it's sending us through. When we enter what looks to be a control room of some sort (albeit bereft of any real interactible features), Lydia pops up and finds something that the necklace Crisa gave her when we met with her 'would fit into perfectly'. So clearly, Crisa's in on this (though she won't let us in to see her again and confirm it) – maybe she's quietly trying to let us not have the city blow up, or she just thought it'd be funny to have us go a hundred and fifty squares through a maze to pick up something that the game has yet to say we'll need...


How convenient!


Radar.. thingamebob.. amewhatsit! Okay!

Again, it might not look like much progress has come out of this post – but good god does it feel like it. I'm calling it here. My word/character count is quite a way down from when I usually finish a post, but this is a special circumstance. The game literally doesn't want me to beat it. I can only say how frustrating the game is so many times. But it is. A lot. Alcohol. I need alcohol.


this haunts my nightmares

Session time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total time: 7 hours

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's 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. But if anyone is about to tell me I've missed something, tell me. I'm not sure I have the mental endurance to have to reload significant portions of the game – heck, even minutes of it could be tough. I just want the game to end. Can you please make it end? I'm willing to consider anything. Hammer to the brain? I understand that's a pretty polite way to go.

END OF TRANSMISSION

"I say, what a remarkable man! Walking through a devious maze almost blindfolded! I think he deserves 20 Cassiopean Astro Pins extra for this assignment!"
"Quite right. But what is this? A second transmission from Mr. A.!"
"So soon! What a remarkable man!"

TRANSMISSION BEGINS... AGENT A CALLING FROM SELENIA, AGAIN!

I Just don't know any more. Why am I even keeping this? Journal 6: “I.. uhm. I won, I guess. I don't know about the bombs and stuff. Was that important? I don't know. After making my way through the tunnels, I went down to the technician's station behind the airlock (gee, they hid that one well! It's just lucky I guessed they were there!) I found the code for what I knew was going to be the Epsilon Station from the code I found in the underground city – a series of eight left or right switches.. I could have guessed it but I think it would have taken a while. Anyway. I amped B.O.B. up to accelleration (damned French designers misspelling everything!), made my way into the Epsilon station – and found Vrangor already swinging his sidearm at me! I took a few hits, but I took him down. He's dead, so I won't be asking him any questions. I'll try to get onto B.A.T. command and report what's happened.. and.. god, what if those bombs are still active? Seriously, this could be bad..”


French Developer 1: 'Mon dieu! I know what zis game is missing!
The worst part of le Tex Murphy games!'


French Developer 2: 'But monsieur, if we were to do zis, we would have to make
le space stations look like circus tents.'

French Developer 1: 'Brilliant! But le bad space station is evil, so.. orange and black?
Like le Halloween!'

Tears. Tears of utter pain and disappointment. As though the game weren't causing me enough grief, it has to not only end badly – but badly on a cliffhanger. Hoo-boy. There is one key positive I can take of this – I'VE FINISHED B.A.T.!!! I DON'T HAVE TO PLAY THIS HORRIBLE GAME ANY MORE!!! WOOHOOOOOOO!!!!! (Also on the positive side, I only had to get through two bottles of cider to get through this section of the game thanks to my meticulous game saving.) I was wrong on Ilmari's clue from post #4 – it was actually needed for Vrangor's station, so I didn't actually need it when I was worried I would – but it saved more trial and error to make my way through.


Where we essentially last left off

The DRAG was a lot like the Tex Murphy flight simulator portions – except without elevation, or anything interesting. Or an auto pilot. Essentially, all it was was just going around in circles until I found an orange dot on the radar section, going around at full speed until nearing a place to make sure it took my entry properly. Not complicated. Landing in the station, it looks sorta like the Epsilon station has been crashed into or something. I really don't know what to make of it.


What would you guys call that?

Unfortunately, this led to the final 'puzzle' of the game – an entirely guessable 'code'. I figured having five different keys on me would mean that one of them would allow me in – after all, I had picked up the 'epsilon radar' thing in the underground city – but it was actually the technician's pass that was the way through here. I hadn't noticed another entryway in the 'northern airlock' area (I found it by sheer chance, naturally, as that is how this game works – I was scanning rooms at the time and figured that I hadn't given much care to the DRAG area, but found another arrow on my way to getting there) which let me enter an area with some people standing around in space suits. They told me to 'help myself to this data'. I did.


Thanks, guy!



LRLRRLLR? No, up up, down down, left right, left right, B A start, you fool!



The game has no sound, just music, by the way.
So when you click on this, you have to BACK out with no clues that the door is now open

So, I know what you're all thinking. There's going to be a great big climactic showdown of wonderment, where all of the questions we haven't bothered to ask are going to be answered? No, they spent all of their budget on printing manuals with indecipherable information and creating a useless flight simulator. And a useless maze.


So yeah. Nope!

Session time: 20 minutes
Total time: 7 hours 20 minutes

TRANSMISSION ENDS

"That's it, Mr. A did it! But what did he ramble about bombs? Surely he should have remembered that we were after Vrangor just for his assets?"
"I am afraid the traumatic experiences of Mr. A in Selenia have caused a partial amnesia. He thinks he is part of some silly intergalactic space police, instead of the Bureau of Avaricious Taxmen."
"How awful! He must be given some time off for his duties. So there were no bombs, then?"
"Of course there were bombs! What do you think we were blackmailing Vrangor with?"
"Ah, the standard procedure. Wait a minute... I am getting something... yes, Mr. A has been transported to a Bureau space cruiser with his harem that he insisted taking with him. Should we call our troops to remove the bombs?"
"And leave this rat hole colonized by French Maze Builders Association intact? Better to end its misery..."

12 comments:

  1. Wow, that is a terrible ending. And that maze with huge numbers of steps between each turn. What happens if you go off the path, is it death or kicking you out of the maze or just useless corridors that don't get you anywhere?

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    1. Some of the paths just continue on with nothing more of use. Others are gates that lock you in. I assume that through the food/drink cycle of the game you'd end up dying as you can access the wrist computer thing inside the maze. What you can't do is access the main menu where you can load, save or even quit... so to sum up, it's a maze that can leave you between two locked doors with no key that you have to exit Dosbox to stop.

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    2. My thanks to Ilmari for finding a novel way to condense two posts, by the way - i decided to fact check my first post having just finished it and realized i could probably finish the game without too much more drama.. of course, the accursed French couldn't even get that much right!

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    3. Wait, you can get locked in without access to Save/Load?!? Barf.

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    4. I thought the ending would have Mr. T say, "I pity the foo' who'd play & pay fo' this game!"

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  2. Congratulations! I certainly agree that the game is not exactly the most intuitive one, and that maze section is just stupid. I do rather like the graphics and atmosphere, though, and had been fascinated by the game ever since reading about it in a video game magazine in 1991. That and the fact that there wasn't much information about the game out there was the reason why I recorded a longplay (presumably the one Ilmari mentioned in the comments on the last post) and wrote an FAQ. Funnily enough after I had finished my FAQ and wanted to upload it to GameFAQs I saw that someone else had also uploaded one just a few weeks earlier. What are the chances after so many years of nothing being available?

    You seem to have used the other FAQ, but you mentioned that there was an error towards the end of the maze instructions. Just in case you used mine for that I'd love to know the details, I want my FAQ to be correct of course!

    By the way, I actually tried to create a full map of the maze for the FAQ just because, but there were some sections that looped back onto themselves but didn't seem to line up, so I eventually gave up. Oh, and you're right about the fact that the direction you're facing when you go through a door is not random like the other FAQ said, it's fixed for every door. Don't ask me why it's different for different doors, though.

    As for the display corruption, I think it only happens if you look at your B.O.B. while you're in the maze. If you don't do that then it shouldn't happen.

    I was actually thinking of doing a longplay for the Atari ST version as well while you were playing, mostly because it has slightly better (animated) graphics and better music, and I thought that I could just breeze through, but in that version there is no access card in the hotel, so you would have to buy or steal it from a random person. That would have put a damper on the "breezing" part, so I gave up on that.

    And just in case someone else wants to see the game in action I'm going to shamelessly link to my longplay here: https://youtu.be/MpQhiYzGVdo

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    1. The very last pair of instructions were 'go through a gate, keep going forwards and you'll make it out'. It turned me at the second last, so I was left headbutting a wall. That said, no - the thing that caused the corruption was the left/right arrow keys, reliably. I didn't use a FAQ out of fear of being given too much info - TBD linked me to a map, and Ilmari printed out the instructions (hilariously, he did them in ROT13 in spite of knowing my situation.)

      I actually reckon the technician card is a gratuity - you can probably guess the code with enough persistence.

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    2. Hey, I thought ROT13 was a required standard ;)

      I copied the instructions just randomly from one of the FAQs, it was probably the one not by Jan Larres.

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    3. Hurrah! I knew you could beat this game! I now remember how I beat that game too. With a freaking Prima Walkthrough that costs almost as much as the game!

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    4. I beat it at the cost of my immortal soul. (Which is essentially the same as paying for one of those things.)

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    5. You're right about that. Damn game designers are Devil's minions.

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  3. A new Kickstarter adventure that looks pretty awesome with lots of promise!

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/steamrollerstudios/deadwood-the-forgotten-curse-0?ref=category_newest

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