Sunday, 1 November 2015

Willy Beamish - A Little Exploration Before Bed

Written by Joe Pranevich

Even the dog looks sad.

William J. Beamish Journal #3 - I won back my Nintari key! Yeah, it involved seeing my sister naked but that’s a price I am willing to pay to become the Nintari champion! A few more chores before bedtime, but something tells me that tomorrow is going to be a very big day.

Last week’s session ended in disappointment: Willy’s dad lost his job and we no longer have the spare funds to send Willy to the Nintari Championships. To make matters worse, Willy’s sister has the key to his Nintari which will prevent him from practicing. We also discovered that there is a “plot” afoot in the city of Frumpton as the head of the Plumber’s Union and the CEO of a sweetener company are plotting to overthrow the town. How this relates to Willy’s dream to be a Nintari master still remains to be seen.



With the cut-scene over, we find ourselves in the living room. Willy’s father and dog are both sitting on the couch, trying to outdo each other at looking morose. I talk to Dad to offer some comforting words, but all he has in mind is mowing the lawn. On the bright side, he’s offering a few bucks for it and a bus ticket to the Nintari championship won’t pay for itself. I am given the choice of refusing, but I take the job and Willy cuts the grass. When he’s done, we find ourselves in the backyard; we saw it last time when we pushed Brianna on the swing, but this is the first time it’s explorable. (Or perhaps I just missed an exit?) I do not find anything of interest, so we push on. With that chore done, two dollars has appeared in my inventory!

On the bright side, she isn’t asking for toilet paper.

Right after I get into the house, I hear a call from upstairs: it’s Tiffany and she has run out of conditioner. Willy’s mom shouts that he should help her. I suppose I could just ignore the request, but that’s likely to cause Military School. Let’s help out!

I’m uncomfortable. How about you?

In the bathroom, Tiffany relaxes in the tub, covered in bubbles. There’s a bottle of conditioner on the counter, not to mention a very tempting-looking key on a chain. Could that be the Nintari key that I need? Would she be silly enough just to leave it out like that? Yes! But rather than just take the key, I try to be polite: I give Tiffany the conditioner and am given some dialog options. I can just ask for the key or I can try to suck up (“Your hair has such body… sheen…”) first. I suck up a bit, but all I get is kicked out of the bathroom. Now that I think about it, why aren’t any of the female relatives dealing with this problem? I didn’t have any differently-gendered siblings growing up, so perhaps this isn’t very odd at all. It just seems that Willy isn’t the kind of kid that particularly wants to see his sister naked.

I consider restoring to find another way to get the key, but opt instead to be patient and explore further. Nothing is different in either my room or the attic, but I stumble onto a small problem (*ahem*) in Brianna’s room: she’s fallen off her bed and can’t get back up again.

Silly Sally went to town, walking backwards upside-down.

Of course, I do the right thing and rescue her. Willy reassures his sister that it doesn’t mean that he actually likes her; he just wants to get on Mom’s good side. Even better: my Trouble Meter went down! I’m almost to “OK” now and that has to be good for something. I pop back into her room quickly and Brianna is all smiles. I guess she knows that her big brother loves her after all.

My next stop is Tiffany’s room and she’s there when I arrive, out of the bath and talking on her phone in bed. I overhear a bit of her conversation, but it’s all banal “he said, she said” banter and doesn’t seem to be related to the plot. If I have to remember her friends’ interpersonal problems to solve a puzzle down the line, perhaps I should be paying attention… but let’s hope not. Tiffany is not happy with my presence and kicks me out of her room.

Since I really need that key, I go back in a second time but this time show her that I have her diary. That gets her attention! She is mortified as Willy reads aloud a section complimenting the tightness of her boyfriend’s pants. He continues, but Tiffany has heard quite enough.

He keeps a Pez dispenser in his pocket.


From here, the game gives me the option of offering to trade her diary for the Nintari key, or just giving it back. I’m sure that in any other set of circumstances, I would be a nice brother. But right now? I just need the Nintari key. I demand a trade. Tiffany agrees and the key is handed over in a particularly badly-animated cutscene. She chases Willy out of her room with a bottle of hairspray. Who cares? Let’s play some Nintari!

We walk across the hall to Willy’s room and sit down to play some Nintari. Mom shouts up that it is time for bed, but surely one game couldn’t hurt… There’s no difference in the gameplay animation (which you can see in my previous post), but this time Willy has a new “success” message when he’s done:

And all it took was playing one more time.

But before I can bask in my imminent victory: Mom is mad. Very mad. I didn’t go to bed on time and my Trouble Meter goes all the way up. Once again, it’s off to Military School and “The End” for Willy’s adventure. Time to restore.



I resume just before I had to help Tiffany in the bathroom. This time, I don’t try to negotiate for the key and just straight-up grab it. Tiffany jumps up, her naked body thankfully covered in suds, and whacks me with a towel forcing me out of the room. That didn’t work, but during the melee I heard Horny ribbiting. Is that a clue?

You’re welcome, pervs.

I head back in and this time use Horny on the bathtub. That works! He jumps toward Tiffany, causing her to panic and jump up (again, covered in suds). She throws a towel over the frog. Aha! Now, I can grab the key and she has nothing to whack me with. I do so and head out of the room. Victory is mine! And because I am nice, I head back in right after to hand Tiffany the conditioner. She doesn’t seem to appreciate my congenial attitude and shouts down that I’m bothering her in the bathroom. My Trouble Meter increases and I learned a valuable lesson about being nice.

I really like this puzzle. I don’t know how important it is, but I found two relatively interesting ways to get the Nintari key. Both ways feel like accomplishments and in-character for the game. I hope the rest of the puzzles are like this, but if they have too many alternate solutions then they are hardly puzzles at all. Certainly, little challenges like this are much better than the trial-and-error methodology of the earliest posts.

Bedtime approaches fast and I explore the rest of the rooms in the house. I try to go outside, but there are rules against that-- apparently because Willy’s town has a zombie apocalypse at night.

Spooky! Just in time for Halloween!

I am not at all a fan of horror movies, but I think Willy has been watching too many himself. Any idea what some of these references are? The two guys in the middle may be Jason Voorhees (from the Friday the 13th films) and Freddy Krueger (from A Nightmare on Elm Street), but the rest are a mystery to me. The dog on the left doesn’t look like Stephen King’s Cujo, but perhaps. Anyone else want to make some guesses? Is the skeleton wearing Mickey Mouse ears?



I could go to bed right now, and I suspect that I should. But I’m still terrified that I’m going to miss something important if I do, so I restore back to the beginning of this section again. And (good news?), I can explore outside if I leave earlier!

Won’t you be my neighbor?

From here, I find that I have three options: the treehouse (left), the fountain (center) and the city (on the right). I try the treehouse first. It’s nice enough, but I guess I was spoiled by Willy’s imaginary one he talks about in the manual. Unfortunately, there is nothing to do there. A chest in the middle of the room screams out “touch me”, but I can’t interact with it in any way that I can find. I suspect that there will be something here later.

Who built this thing anyway?

My next stop is the fountain. It’s actually in the center of a small (but overly paved) park. There’s a hopscotch game (that I can’t interact with), as well as a cart vendor. I talk to the guy and he’ll sell me a can of soda for $1, but I didn’t mow the lawn before heading out this time so I do not have any money. I make a note to come back later.

Remember when playgrounds were paved and still had monkey bars?

I suspect that this is as far as I can go-- after all, it’s almost bedtime, but surprisingly I can click on the city and go there. If I stay out after bedtime, what’s the worst that can happen? Military School? I can always restore. This is what happens when you make “trial and error” a fundamental game mechanic!

Yet another fountain.

Downtown Frumpton offers a few more places for me to explore. The castle-looking building in the middle is not accessible; there’s an error message telling you that you’d have to take either a boat or a service road, neither of which Willy can do right now. Do you think that’s where the final boss lives? I do. I can’t wait to see their hot tub in person. Clicking on the buildings on the right leads back to Willy’s neighborhood, but clicking on the fountain takes you to a nice central square downtown.

This game loves fountains.

The fountain plaza itself has several places to go and I can’t help but feel that I probably should be exploring this area when I have more time. But yet, why not? Who knows if any of the things here will be present on later days so better to be careful. The pizza shop seems to be closed and there is no boat at the pier, but the fountain and kiosk are both selectable as destinations. In fact, when you get a close look at the fountain you can see some coins at the bottom. I click and scoop up one because every little bit counts when you are saving up to be a Nintari champion.

This doesn’t look good.

I have no trouble picking up one coin, so I get brave and I pick up a second. That does not go well. The officer decides that enough is enough and arrests me for theft. And instead of getting sent to Military School, I get sent to actual prison instead. Harsh! What ever happened to juvenile court?

Second thought, can I pick Military School?

I restore back a few minutes and only take one coin out of the fountain. The officer seems to let you go after that, which is a good thing, but I was not rewarded with cash. The coin turns out to be a token for a one-way trip on the Frumpton Ferry. Since I already received a clue that I would need to take a ferry to visit the mansion, this seems like a very useful thing!

If I only had three more dollars...

The final place that I can explore is a tiny T-Shirt kiosk next to the fountain. A vender there sells personalized shirts for $5, but I have not yet found a way to make that much money. A flower shop next door has an “open” sign on the door, but is in fact already closed. Clicking on the lottery machine reveals that it is out of order, but a spot of exploration reveals that someone has left a lottery ticket in the slot! Could this be my way to pay for the Nintari championships? Will there ever be an adventure game that has a vending machine without something important in the change slot?

And with that, I have reached the end. There is nothing else I can explore right now and I’ve been away from home a long time. I restore the game once more and try to do it all faster: I quickly mow the lawn, use the frog to get the Nintari key, help Brittany, leave before the zombies appear, buy a bottle of cola from the vendor at the park, grab a ferry token from the fountain and the lotto ticket, then come home. But even doing everything as fast as I can, I get scolded for coming in late (with an increase in the Trouble Meter) and don’t have time to play Nintari.

I may have to come back to this later, but I decide that enough is enough. On my “final” playthrough for this section, I stay around the house. If it turns out that I needed to do any of those things today, I can restore back, but I’d rather make sure that I get the key and practice playing Nintari because that seems to take the most time.

Willy has a gun next to his bed??

With all of our options exhausted, Willy spends some time petting his frog and puts himself to bed. Perhaps most importantly, we discover that Willy Beamish wears Batman underpants!

I can’t help but think that I’ve just spent three posts and we’re just now ending “Day 1”. I suspect that subsequent days will pass much quicker, especially now that I did a good amount of exploring the town that I perhaps did not need to do yet. More on that next week, I expect.

Predictions:
  • I’m going to be re-doing all of my “city” activities next post.
  • The mansion that you can see in the city will be a destination in the game, perhaps even the “final” destination before the Nintari championships. 
  • The lottery ticket I found is going to end up a winner. 
Terrible Joke of the Week:

“I’m calling the paramedics and your family, Mrs. Fletcher.”

This game just likes to mine terrible commercials for jokes. Good thing I was actually a kid around the right time for this game or I would be missing the references; as it is, I’m probably missing some. The “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” line comes from a line of emergency contact bracelet commercials that started in 1987. When the old women in the commercials would say that line, the emergency dispatcher would respond, “I’m calling the paramedics and your family, Mrs. Fletcher.” Strangely, they would update the actress and have different women falling and not able to get up, but they always kept the same cutaway so they were always named Mrs. Fletcher. Strange but true.

Time played: 1 hr 55 min
Total time: 5 hr 40 min

Inventory: dog tag chain, yo-yo, $2, diary, Nintari key, jar of flies, Gamebuddy, Horny (and I know where to get a can of soda, a ferry token, and a lottery ticket)

Deaths / Reloads:
           2 “game overs” (10 total)
           5 restart to try different paths (22 total)

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 CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one.

19 comments:

  1. In the zombie apocalypse picture, I'd claim it isn't Freddy due to the pointy ears. It's likely just a nosferatu-style vampire, like the guy in the monk's robe on the right.

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3850631680/tt0013442?ref_=ttmd_md_pv

    And to get technical, why does the skeleton have glowing yellow eyes? Shouldn't he just have holes instead?

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    1. The skeleton looks like he's wearing a Mickey Mouse hat...

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    2. Isn't the glowing eyes a standard trope in animated movies and cartoons when it comes to the undead or occult? The skeleton ghost in Scooby-Doo and the Boo brothers had red eyes, while all other ghost and wolfs had yellow eyes for example. And one episode of Ducktales had some druid wolf with gleaming eyes.

      And now you got me thinking of the skeleton in Haggards castle in the Last Unicorn who at first didn't have glowing eyes and was pretty useful until he got enraged and the eyes turned red as he shouted for Haggard. That used to scare me as a kid and I probably think it was the red eyes and angry voice so I guess it might just be scarier than plain black holes.

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  2. I expect that gun is a toy. Part of a cowboy costume?

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    1. Almost certainly. But now-a-days I think we are more sensitive to realistic weapons in the hands of children.

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    2. Oh yeah - when I was a kid in the '80s, all my friends had realistic looking toy guns. Some of them looked exactly the same as the real thing except in plastic instead of metal. I grew up in what was then a farming community, and most of them received hunting rifles or shotguns when they were of age to start helping around the farm. I would call that situation a "special case," though - definitely not the norm for most people and places.

      And Frumpton doesn't look like that kind of place; I don't think Willy is hunting squirrels for the soup pot... on the other hand, his family DOES seem obsessed with military school.

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    3. I think that no matter how out there, a gun is a gun. Laser pistol with ridiculous rings surrounding it or photo-realistic replica, the aim is to teach a kid that you point at something and it ends up going kersplat. I don't think that this is necessarily a bad thing, so long as it's taught that guns are a tool lole chainsaws, forklifts and automobiles that can be used in a constructive fashion or a destructive one alike. To deny Willy his cop show et al replica would seem overly protective to me so long as he's not going around pointing it consistently at people. I had a very realistic cap gun as a kid, and never once entertained the notion of it as more than a toy - this in a country that has a very minimal number of guns since a few public national incidents that soured the idea of them. I think that those same sensibilities that tell you such a thing is bad, whilst nobly placed, still feel a little over the top to me.

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    4. His family also is certainly extremely affluent or one of those old-money families. If it's the former, I wonder what kind of job his father held to allow them so much luxury. For one thing, I know I wouldn't buy my son a gaming console if he is just *one* small trouble away from being sent to a military school.

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    5. Part of the plot of the game is that Willy's family isn't that affluent. For all that Willy is one forgotten dog walk away from Military School, his family is living just at their means. They cannot afford to build a nest egg and are one major life event (a layoff) from putting everything at risk.

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    6. The idea might be to portray them as not that affluent, but it's been done in a very American TV show way where they have a huge house in a nice neighbourhood with all the home comforts of a middle-class family. So you can see why it might seem to many that they are very comfortable.

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    7. Really? I mean, check out that bathroom! It's the size of my bedroom! And goddamn fountains everywhere!

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    8. I feel that Frumpton seems to be a smaller version of San Francisco, especially from some of the things coming later. But the size of the houses are more middle-american.

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    9. @Aperama

      Hmmm, I can´t seem to think on a constructive way to use a gun. You mean hunters?

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  3. Day of the Tentacle remake website launched:

    http://dott.doublefine.com/

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  4. I've an inkling that Beamish will grow up becoming Ferris Bueller.

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  5. The tone of this game seems a bit all over the place. Is it light-hearted romp attempting to recapture the wonders of boyhood? Ribald 80s style teen comedy? Something darker? All three? Neither?

    I mean, the frog is named "Horny" and Willy threw put it in his naked teenaged sistwr's bathrub.

    ...

    But Louis Stoole is a pretty good one. I may be in the minority's here, but that cracks me up.

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    1. I agree with you! In fact, the next post discusses this tone problem a bit further. (And there is a HARD swerve in tone coming up. It's hinted at in this post, but it's a strange diversion.)

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  6. One thing this series of posts has reminded me of is what great background paintings this game had. I think the animation hasn't aged well at all - it's ambitious for its time, but there's a certain shoddy, MS-Paint quality to the jaggedy-edged character outlines that seems very much at odds with the smoother (if still low-res) backgrounds.

    The tonal shifts might be traced partially back to the Simpsons comparison, which has already been noted here. Those first few seasons of the Simpsons got a lot of attention for being supposedly very ribald and shocking and so on - which is amazing now because if you go back and watch them they seem to be a bunch of cuddly, heartwarming slice-of-life family tales! As I recall, around this time Sierra was trying to more clearly mark out some "kid" games (e.g. Castle of Dr. Brain, EcoQuest) but with the Dynamix acquisition was trying to hold on to some kind of teen "cool factor" in addition to their core audience of white-collar computer-savvy adults (Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry) and the for-the-whole-family King's Quest games those folks were meant to be taking home. I may be over-schematizing this but it could be that a title like Willy Beamish went through some different rounds of conceptualization as people imagined this cartoony mischievous kid game as being about Dennis the Menace on the one hand and Bart Simpson on the other. Meanwhile, perhaps, key decisions got made, and things of no interest at all to kids, like the extended plot revolving around a Leona Helmsley parody, came to sit side by side the rather undercooked Nintari business, the "trouble meter" and other good-clean-fun material. I don't think any of this makes the game *bad*, though - just kind of an interesting mix.

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    1. It certainly is ambitious. It's one of the few games launched in that era that requires high-end PCs to run on; forcing many disillusioned kids to finally admit that it's time to pester their parents to upgrade their desktops or get a brand new Nintendo.

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