Friday, 8 January 2016

Willy Beamish - WON!

Written by Joe Pranevich

Time to make some frog legs?

William J. Beamish Journal #9 - We did it! With the help of a bit of elbow grease (and some of the real stuff), I was able to rescue Horny and his friends from Chef Childish. Mrs. Humpford managed to catch me, but then it was time for Turbofrog to return the favor by rescuing ME. It was really cool! Dad was kidnapped and we had to break into the Sludgeworks to rescue him! Thanks to my trusty yo-yo, Mrs. Humpford and Mr. Stoole were flushed down the drain and I saved Frumptom. Everyone was so happy! Winning the Nintari Championship was just the icing on the cake.

In our last post, Horny had been frognapped and taken to the kitchen of the evil (or at least culinarily questionable) Chef Childish. Although they were right in front of me, I could not find any way to rescue the frogs. What’s a Beamish to do?



I don’t know what Willy would do, but I decided to make a Request for Assistance. I really wanted to solve this one on my own because my track record isn’t exactly stellar. I had to take a hint on my first game, Operation Stealth, as well as a few Missed Classics. I had already beaten Space Quest IV as a kid, so I dimly remembered some of the trickier solutions. Should I worry that much about these things? No! But I take it as a point of pride that if I’m going to review old adventure games, the least I can do is try to be good at them. Eventually, I had to concede defeat and I requested help. Thank you to everyone that provided answers!

The first hint I opened was from Aperama: “You have what you need.” That is reassuring, but not entirely helpful. The next clue was better: “You just picked it up, actually.” What was it that I had just picked up? The pan. What could I do with it? Not much. It is too hot to add to my inventory and spilling out the contents into a nearby pot doesn’t seem to do all that much. But now that I knew where to start, I could try brute force. I picked up the pan and clicked pretty much everywhere in the room to find the solution: you can pour out the pan in FRONT of the big pot. Why would I do that? What is Willy thinking about that I’m not? More experimentation and I discover that I can now click on the pot itself and push it forward, inching it closer to Chef Childish. Aha! From there, I can ride the conveyor belt, swing around, and knock the chef into the pot! Score.

But that’s not the end: now, she’s trapped with her butt in the pot and screaming her head off. The sound is just awful, like a million cats crying out in pain at once. I move to use the conveyor belt controls to free the frogs, but Mrs. Humpford hears the screams and captures me. The end.

Early modern soundproof headwear?

Two more deaths and I figure it out: Willy can put the helmet (from the suit of armor) on the chef’s head to quiet her down. That lets me fool around the with conveyor belt: the left button makes the frogs go faster, while the right button stops it. As soon as the belt isn’t moving, all the frogs escape. We did it! I leave the room… and am captured immediately. The end?

Just as I am about to restore, I realize that something seems off. I’ve seen this death message a dozen times already, but the dialog is different. Willy is still trapped in the aquarium, strapped into a giant fake treasure chest. But while Leona gloats, this time Turbofrog (!!) swims down and rescues me, with Horny right behind him. He pulls the stopper out of the drain and we are all sucked out into the harbor. I’m still not sure why an aquarium has a drain, but wondering about that is better than trying to figure out how Willy managed to fit through it at all...

I take back all those things I said about your lederhosen!

I don’t want to complain: I LOVE this scene. I can’t think of the last time where I played a game with such a fantastic “YES!” moment; I yelled at the screen it was so awesome. This game has many flaws, but it sure knows how to handle plot beats like this one.

Pardon me, do you happen to have any Grey Poupon?

As Willy and his frogs tread sludge in the harbor, we get a brief cutscene. Dad is standing on a street somewhere when a limo pulls up. He should be suspicious; after all, he did just backstab one of the most powerful people in the city. But he knows that his wife is giving him a “surprise” 40th birthday party so he plays along. (We got the hint that a party was coming in the last post where we could see the family setting up the party decorations. I’m not sure how Gordon found out.) Unfortunately, Dad is now in Mrs. Humpford’s evil clutches and Willy is going to have to rescue him too.

Once the cutscene is over, we are free to explore Frumpton again. Dad is being taken to the Sludgeworks, but it is still guarded by the same protesters that blocked my way earlier. I search everywhere else, but very little seems to have changed. On the other side of the bay, Dana is no longer in the treehouse so I cannot give her the good news about Gigi. My final stop is back at home where I find lots of people all waiting to give Dad his birthday surprise. But none of those places are getting me any closer to breaking into the Sludgeworks. How do I do it?

Surprise… er… maybe later?

After another circuit of “what did I miss”, I have to admit that I am stuck again but I still have some hints left. I pop off Ilmari’s first one: “Have you checked your jetski thoroughly?” Umm… what? I looked at the jetski when I first got it, but did not see anything unusual. But armed with this clue, I experiment around and find that YES you do get a different view if you look at it while you are riding it.

You know what every jetski needs? A waterproof tape deck.

Not only did Willy win a kick-ass mode of transportation, but he also won a waterproof AM/FM radio tape recorder with it. It’s the perfect way to listen to barely audible tunes over the sounds of a motor and the roaring waves. Even better: this tape recorder is portable, requiring no power or connection to the jetski to operate. Why does this bother me more than Japanese tourist ninjas or Willy being sucked down a pipe that is obviously smaller than him? I have no idea. I blame the uncanny valley.

But with the new object in hand, I have an idea where I can use it: the phone booth. I have not yet found anything to do there and my guess is that you can use it to play back something when you call people on the phone. Let’s find out!

She’s living in L.A., with my best old ex-friend Ray.

My hunch turns out to be correct: I can place the radio in the phone booth and stick the phone receiver on top of it. I guess that I could move the receiver into my inventory before was a bug, after all. The six buttons on the front of the radio turn out to be pre-programmed radio stations: a country station, a pop station, some talk radio, etc. Using the “record” and “play” buttons, I can capture snippets of these shows and then play them back. That’s progress!

With an idea of what to do, I try calling each of the numbers in the booth again. Only one seems different: when I call Ray, the bouncer from the Golden Bowl, he stays on the line a bit longer before deciding that it’s a prank. I play him snippets of a radio station, but before I get very far I am reminded that this game has a time limit. Dad has been killed! Game over. I restore back and do it all more quickly. I play each and every radio station for Ray, but none of them do anything. (What am I trying to do anyway? I’m not sure.)

The solution takes me a couple of minutes to figure out, but it’s so “out of the box” that it’s awesome. You can’t just record the radio using the tape deck, but also other calls. What is the radio for then? I have no idea. But I quickly find that if I record the psychic hotline and play it back for Ray, he becomes very interested and stays on the line. Seeing an opening, I run back to the Golden Bowl and YES, he has moved away from his post. I can finally enter the “saloon”.

Is your name Lefty by any chance?

When I arrive, Ray is still listening intently to Willy’s prerecorded psychic nonsense. The bartender wants to throw me out, but we quickly find a way to stay just a bit longer: the lottery is coming on TV and the poor barman neglected to play his lucky numbers today. Fortunately, Willy has a spare lottery ticket and he lets us stay for a while. He even gives us a Shirley Temple to drink! Moments later, the lottery comes on and Willy’s ticket is a winner of the largest jackpot in recent history. Millions of dollars down the drain because Willy had to trade his ticket for a Shirley Temple. Ray finally gets off the phone and somehow we get hauled off to jail… for something. Being a minor in a bar? Seems unfair, but game over. Whatever I was supposed to do, I didn’t do fast enough. The next time around, I ignore the excitement or the lottery win and just search the room. We find a magazine on the bar, grab it, then run like hell. No problem.

You don’t have to be an adventure game expert to figure out the next part: Willy can use the magazine (filled with scantily clad women, naturally) to get past the striking plumbers. Apparently they are all in desperate need of dates, or perhaps the tedium of standing outside is finally getting to them.

Can I interest you in a psychic hotline?

The magazine gets us past the striking plumbers, but we still have to deal with the security guard. He accepts the security ID card that I picked up in Louis’s office, but he questions how someone so young could have a badge. As soon as we are through, he reports Willy up to his boss-- she is NOT pleased. Additional security guards are on their way. Hurry, Willy!

I really don’t want to know.

With that, we’re finally in the Sludgeworks! The first room is strange: a center platform sits over a vat of sludge. A bridge, guarded incompetently by two police officers (“Frank” and “Frankie”), leads to the platform. Presumably the controls on the platform will extend the bridge to the other side of the vat. It makes for a fun game location, but having your entrance immediately go into a room with a giant vat? That’s questionable. But the fact the vat doesn’t even have guardrails? OSHA would have a field day. One of the guards tries to tell the other a dirty joke, but he forgets the punchline. Where do they hire people like this?

We have to problem sneaking past the guards to get to the center platform where we are presented with a selection of buttons and a joystick.

Pastel buttons? In a sludge factory?

What to do? The colors of the buttons are the clue. Rather than being a typical “red” or “blue”, we have a pinkish purple, a light green, and a brown one. They aren’t your typical colors, but that reminds me of one of the notes on the Sludgeworks map: Burnt Sienna, Mauve, Chartreuse, and Mauve. I’m not sure if it’s my lack of art education or something else, but I had to Google what each of those colors looks like. Burnt Sienna is brown, Mauve is sort of pink, and Chartreuse is a shade of green. It takes me a couple of tries because the police offices finally notice me, but I am able to use that to extend the bridge and trap them on the other side.

Dying in this area also scores me a new and cruel ending: Willy gets processed into a giant container of Tootsweet!

That’s… just about as disgusting as turning wastewater into sweetener.

Before I get farther into the factory, I make sure to print out the Sludgeworks map. In addition to the colored buttons puzzle, it also contains a number of three- and four letter words and a bubble map. I’m not sure yet which room we are in on the map-- perhaps now one east of the intake room?-- but I suspect it will become clearer as we get deeper in. If the next room has a snake, we’ll on the right path.

Im the mapIm the mapIm the map.

The next room is a strange conglomeration of tubes, again leading to a platform with a control terminal. Getting to the control panel isn’t a challenge, but this one contains six labeled buttons: A, F, I, R, M, and T, as well as an on/off switch. Looking at the map, this is obviously connected to the “Fart Air Tram” and “Raft Farm” lines, so what do I do? I first try taking the first letter of each word, but that doesn’t work because there is only space in the control screen for four. While I am pondering, the security guy catches up and kills me. The end.

Just like the internet: made of tubes.

On my next restore, I work faster. Taking the first letter of the first three words (“FAT”) doesn’t do anything, but I suspect I am overthinking. What if I can just use the words themselves? I try “FART” and smelly gas comes out of one of the tubes! The security guards aren’t phased by it and I am captured again. The end. The next restore, I try “TRAM” and that does the trick! The security guards are momentarily stunned by a gas (a different one?) and Willy gets sucked into one of the tubes.

The next room-- and now I have no idea where I am on the map-- is a conveyor belt suspended over a lot of nothing. The far end of the belt drops off into a waste chute. Off to the side is what looks like a giant button and a tram car… but how do I get there?

Who designed this factory anyway?

Willy lands on the belt and has to immediately start walking the other way to keep from getting tossed into the chute. Before I can really gather my thoughts, a guard arrives and throws his hat at Willy, knocking him down and into the pit. That must be some hat! We die again. On the next restore, I find that I can click on Willy to make him stop walking for a second and duck. With some good timing, we’re able to dodge the thrown hat and then pick it up for ourselves! Just like with the babysitter, we can use the targeting reticule to decide where to throw it. I pick the obvious approach and throw it back at the guard. He collapses onto the belt and is sucked into the system to become his own bag of Tootsweet.

Oh my goodness. Willy Beamish killed a guy.

Once he is gone, the “button” rises up and Willy is able to leap from the conveyor to the “button” and then down to the tram car. But before we do that I have to point out that this is the first confirmed death in the game. It hasn’t been nonviolent (there were ninjas, after all), but Willy never actually harmed anyone. Having an 8-year old kill a guard, even in self-defense, just feels wrong. It all works because it’s game logic, but at the very least we should feel guilty about it.

The tram itself looks pretty simple: the game switches into a first person view with arrow keys clearly marking what direction we want to go. A small display tells us the name of our current location. I started jotting them down to map the area, but then I remembered I already had a map. I leave checking every room as an exercise to the reader.

Boldly going forward ‘cause we can’t find reverse.

My guess is that NOW we are at the “intake” and the other Sludgeworks rooms aren’t on the map, or at least not in an obvious way. Just to see what happens, I immediately turn right and head to the picture of water spilling out. That dumps me back in the harbor. We have no problem getting back into the Sludgeworks, but since it seems to start the exact same sequence of rooms over again, I just restore.

Next, I head to the dark area on the right side of the maze. I really have no idea where I’m going, but trial and error will get us eventually. That room is a bit… odd.

A journey into a wondrous land of imagination?

“Pastrami Quest” can only be a Sierra parody. I suspect it would be fun to explore all the different exits to see what I see, but I’ve played this game enough. I choose the big toilet in the center of the maze as my next target.

When I arrive, the room opens up to reveal a giant toilet. Leona and Louis are both there, taunting Willy’s dad by slowly dipping him into a toilet bowl full of sludge. I start to play around with objects and figure out what I can do, but I don’t do it fast enough and we’re caught. Willy is put in the sludge with his father and they can at least die together. That’s sweet. I also get a new ending which confirms my theory: Leona’s “Humpford World” is a giant amusement park. A woman is free to chase her dreams, but how would an amusement park be more profitable than owning a popular artificial sweetener brand as well as a waste disposal facility? It seems she’s already in the right industry. And if she did want to invest her profits from her other businesses, why does she have to tear them down to do it? Couldn’t she just build an amusement park somewhere else nearby?

A world of hope and a world of fear.

I find the solution to the final puzzle in a few minutes of experimentation: Willy can use the yo-yo, twirling it around like a bolas, and then release it towards Leona and Louis. (Just as before, we get a targeting reticule for the purpose.) The pair of them are knocked into the toilet bowl, allowing Willy to jump toward the giant handle and flush the toilet. Did Willy just kill two more people? I suppose they deserved it.

I still see dead people!

We won! Gordon gives Willy a great big hug as Ghost Beamish looks on. With the toilet flushed, all of the sludge miraculously disappears from the city’s bay and water supplies. We party in the street, Willy as the town’s hero. We never do make it to that 40th birthday party, but saving the city seems like a pretty good excuse. Some days later, Willy wins the Nintari championship just as expected, while Horny and Gigi have baby frogs together. (But shouldn’t they be tadpoles?)

I know I overdid it on the animated GIFs before, but I promised I’d make one more for the ending. Here it is:


I’ll have more to say about this in the final rating post, but the ending is sweet enough-- but repetitive. The scene where Willy wins the championship is fame-for-frame the exact same as his daydream in the beginning of the game. Is that supposed to be foreshadowing? Taking the game full circle? Because what it seems like is inexpensive. An ending sequence for a game that is as good as this one really should have been able to have it’s own animation. I have a theory about this, but it may just be my thinking too far into things: Willy DID daydream winning the Nintari championships, that’s why it’s exactly the same as the beginning. This would set up a sequel where Willy would have to have wacky misadventures getting to the championship event. It’s probably not true, but it’s fun to speculate.

Final Terrible Joke of the Week:

I have a bad feeling about this.

Up next will be the final rating post! I’m still very torn on this game; I am not sure at all how it will come out on the PISSED scale. Let’s find out together!

Time played: 2 hr 12 min
Total time: 23 hr 22 min

Deaths / Reloads:
            16 “game overs” (105 total)
            2 reload for other reasons (41 total)

16 comments:

  1. Apologies to Joe and the one person who saw this post while an unfinished version was published for 10 minutes.

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  2. Unforgiven!!!

    Just kidding, no worries. What an interesting game! More than a little subversive, aimed as much at adults as kids, genre bending (probably mind bending as well), with a plot that can only be described as wacky. I'm kind of surprised the game allows you to kill people. And since it does, that it limits you to only three!

    Thanks for a great playthrough!

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    1. The plot is wacky, but I don't think it's all that much stranger than a normal adventure game. The trick was that they decided that Willy's real goal would always be the Nintari Championships, he had no interest in saving the city. He only did that by accident, first because Horny was kidnapped and then because his father was. Willy might think that the whole plot was just a footnote to how he got to the championships-- but of course we the player get the exact opposite as the championships have almost nothing to do with the game at all.

      I like your word, "subversive". It does twist normal conventions on their ears more than once.

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  3. Ugh. I just realized that I dropped an illustration of the final room with Louise and Leona. Oh well; you can see it in the animated ending. Just imagine a giant toilet with Willy and his adversaries running around the lip of the bowl.

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  4. “Pastrami Quest” can only be a Sierra parody.

    That looks like a Rod Serling / Twilight Zone gag to me.

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    1. It can be BOTH! It's a Twilight Zone riff, for sure, but you can't tell me that "Pastrami Quest" doesn't sound like someone's parody of a Sierra game...

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  5. Congratulations on beating the game! I am not sure, if you knew it, but the guard with the hat is clearly a spoof on a classic James Bond -henchman:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDDjxa7RsKg

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    1. No! I had no idea that was a James Bond spoof. Good catch!

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  6. I'm relieved to see you're through. This game repeatedly refuses to play fair. I've always felt that no adventure game should risk the slippery slope of time related puzzles, and the constant timer is more stressful than the game feels right to be to me. Congrats!

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    1. I agree with you, but not completely. The time puzzles where you had to squeeze a bunch of activities into a single day were the worst, but really only were a problem for me on the first and last day. This was especially annoying this time around because I had so little time with some of the events that I could try one-two things, die, and then go again. The sequence in this post with trying to figure out what recorded message would get me past Ray was a terrible example of that.

      The individual scene timers weren't all that bad or unexpected. Fighting the vampire was on a timer, but it was a self-contained area so it always felt "fair".

      The biggest checkmark AGAINST the timers is actually the game itself. There is a lot of good content and details scattered about and the time-based puzzles encouraged you to actively miss them.

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    2. You've hit on what I was hinting at almost precisely. The game would be way more fun if you got time to go around enjoying yourself instead of worrying that the clock is going to keep you from a more obvious objective (e.g. winning the frog contest). In other games this might even feel like a fun point or something to possibly lead to replaying - but in Beamish it always feels prohibitive. (I'm suggesting I don't mind it where it comes down to 'a role playing choice' of doing one thing or the other - the issue is where it feels like they've put in a second game that you don't get to play and also progress further in because you need to win the frog jump competition instead of exploring the town. Spellcasting (1/201) has the same issue actually.

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  7. So after spending several tries to get to play the nintari to train for the competition... does it matter at all? Would Willy lose in the end or something like that? Not that Joe should replay to check it out due to replaying it enough, but does anyone know?

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    1. I have been wondering this myself, especially as it relates to what score I will give it in the "P" category. Does anyone know? I really don't want to play through again to find out.

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    2. On thinking about this further, you MUST get the Nintari key to pass the Tootsweet security guard. So the multiple-solution puzzle to get it (either with Horny in the bathtub or blackmailing with the diary) is still required. Whether the game cares or not that you practiced ONE MORE TIME is less the point. If Willy was good enough that he was guaranteed a win with one more play, I think he had ample time to do it after the game was over.

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    3. Actually did some research (aka reading some FAQ) and apparently to get the winning screen you need to practice it twice. It was also mentioned that if you didn't take care of your finger properly when you cut it you would also lose the competition.

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  8. This one seemed both wildly entertaining and wildly frustrating. I will say I personally do not like games that are on a timer, so kudos to you, Joe, for being so thorough. Bet you're glad it's over!

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