Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Bargon Attack - The Kessel Run

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Bob journal #3 : “It’s beginning to make less and less sense! After what I can only assume was a trip to Bargon itself, I’m back in Paris. Under Paris, actually, in a world of smugglers, stolen pieces of art and talking statues… I’m getting closer and closer of this dreadful cult and its alien pals, though. Bargonians, here I come!”

After a week of weeping silently in the sewers after spending three hours trying to pass this stupid wall, I’m ready to resume my adventure! We left Bob under the streets of Paris last time, in what can only be the cult headquarters… As we’ll soon see, the sewers are no less a deadly place than the surface of Bargon. Let’s get sleuthing!

Skulls, grates, torches, bars, chains… we’re one pool-dancer away from a bar I know.

I try grabbing and pulling everything. The ring on the left opens a secret alcove in the wall containing a fountain. Touching the skulls gets me killed by a spider, but shooting them allows me to frighten it. Ah ah, take that stupid spider! I find a phial behind the skulls, but trying to use it on the fountain tells me that no water is coming out. Pulling the right ring opens a trapdoor a few steps back. Another pull and it closes again. I guess it’s gonna be of some use later, for once that a trapdoor doesn’t open right beneath my feet… I move on to the next screen. The decor is even more alike a strange medieval castle here, with a stone statue, a strange wall, more gargoyles (nooooo), a luxury chandelier and a harp. Playing the harp makes the statue talk to me!

Played Loom much?

Fiddling around with the harp have the statue feeding me cryptic clues, one relating to the Sark exposition in Beaubourg for whatever reason. Playing with the buttons have me killed twice : one by having the gargoyles spewing fire at me, the other one by walking underneath the chandelier afterwards (one never knows when the “release chandelier lock” button will come in handy…) Using the Mutate program turns the point on the board into crosses.

Playing tic-tac-toe by myself in the sewers is what I call having a good time.

I spend quite some time here trying to shoot my beams at everything, then I realise that shooting a cross again with the Mutate beam turns it into another symbol. I suddenly remember the Beaubourg program. Of course it was twenty screens ago, but the game had already proven it wasn’t shy of having you restart the game from scratch to find a clue, so let’s go back to the start again.

These aliens have a tendency of putting crucial clues in plain sight…

Pushing the two left buttons after having entered the code opens a secret door behind the statue. Trying to move into the next room grabs me a “I think I forgot something” message, which is way less aggressive than just sending me back in the room. The game gets back in politeness what it loses in coherence. Good, I prefer it this way! So I’m guessing I have to do something with the fountain in the first room. Let’s see if all the fiddling around with buttons changed anything here… Sure thing, the fountain is now running… and a giant ball just start bouncing towards me, like in The Prisoner!

I am not a number! I am a free man!!!

This one is pretty obvious : the trapdoor! Well less obvious is the timing needed because my first try results on the ball nonchalantly jumping over the trap and crushing me. I have to time perfectly so the trap opens when the ball jumps on it. Getting the timing right is tricky, and also a bit boring considering each try gets me back in the “scary game over screen - loading time - reload” ten seconds loop. I manage to trap the ball, fill my phial and move on… into emerald kingdom.

The green “archological” treasures. The other colors are probably in another room.

The room is filled with antiquities stolen and smuggled from all over the world. I search the room for a bit (getting me another game over while trying to open the chest on the right of the statue) then I pour the vial into the plant because why not. And it makes the center carpet disappear because why not. Trying to take the door to the right finally gets me an answer from the (obviously) talking giant statue. It tells me to wait. Then falls silent. I try a lot of other things but to no avail. Trying to open the chest then getting on the center tiles makes it talk again, but I have to do the same thing another time for it to ask me a question.

What? Don’t tell me… this game… is trying to TEACH me something??? Edutainment alert!!!

So of course, being the very good student I used to be, and paying a lot of attention in class have me immediately recall that the vowel A is black for Rimbaud, fingers in the nose.

Of course…

Sorry about that guys, but it’s a grey area here, this is not cheating, I’m not consulting any walkthrough per say! Getting at this point as a kid, in the pre-internet days, would have probably made me resulting to trial and error to pass this point (or, God forbid, open a book!), but nowadays, Google is your best friend. Pretty interesting, though, I admit my lack of general knowledge regarding poetry. Then again, does it have its place in an adventure game, especially one that didn’t have any relation to poetry or edutainment so far? The cadavre exquis continues… Entering my answer is also another thing, because you have to stand on a particular tile (making the arm-band color of the statue change) and shoot the Mutate beam on said arm-band. Another example of weirdness and shifty interface. At no point before that did the game have me stand on a particular spot of the screen to make something happen. Then again, I guess the interface change is not as surprising as the sudden poetry quiz. After three questions, I open the safe to get… a Save program. Whatever that means. Must be pretty important, though, considering the loops I had to jump through in order to get there.

Commenting on the scarcity of the plot doesn’t make it ok, screenwriter friends…

Trying to open the door afterwards grants me another set of questions (because why waste a great idea for padding the game). I actually can answer one of them without resorting to Google! Woohoo! Van Gogh is known for his use of the color yellow! Another trip to the internet to learn about Yves Klein’s use of the color blue and the door is open! Yeehaw. What’s next? My money is on a 300-frogs choral or a black hole made entirely of popcorn.

Yeah, well another smugglers cache was my third guess… a bit disappointing though.

Before we move on, though, Sark appears in the room and converses with the statue! We learn that he knew about us all along and that we were supposed to take this disk! I would be intrigued if the plot had made any sense before that! Well it’s never too late to start, maybe we’re entering a world of conspirations among bargonians!

Searching this new room brings me little new information or things to play with. Using the Mutate program on the flywheel in the top-right of the screen opens an elevator in the right wall, secured by a keycode panel. This one is pretty straightforward now that we’re used to looking for clues in all kinds of places. The drawing on the left column spells the code. And into the elevator we go… to the Buren columns!

I always knew this place was hiding something… also the text is becoming less and less clear!

As soon as I arrive, a nice little chirping bird lands on a Buren column and get promptly disintegrated! Well, at least this time we have a warning! Using the Translate program on the graffiti gives me the code A2, B2, C2. Now where to put it? I use the code panel again and this code reveals a button. Pressing it turns off the field around the two first columns. This one is pleasant. I like when one element is used twice in two different ways.

The rest is less pleasant. You have to be very precise when you navigate this screen because clicking on the other side of the room has Bob going around a column and getting fried by the force field.

Hmmmm… crispy...

Step by step, I get closer to the column with the graffiti. Next to it is a coin with a bargonian head imprinted in the ground. I try everything on it but it does nothing. I try fiddling around a bit more here (getting fried numerous times), then I try putting the first code back in the elevator. Strangely it works and I’m back downstairs! Oh I can come back to the last screen now can I?

So obviously I missed something here. I try shooting everything with my different beams (which resume 90% of the gameplay so far), but nothing happens. Thorough pixel hunting reveals that I can select the eye of the horse statue. Pressing it reveals a blue bargonian token! I grab it and go back up the elevator. Putting the token in the imprint (after getting fried again because I forgot to re-enter the second code) turns off the last force field on the right! Yay, we’re making steady progress here! What follows are ten screens of text and cut scenes explaining that we followed a hooded guy to a funfair, entered the gorilla attraction (whatever that is), saw a belly dancer that turns into a bargonian that shoots everyone, barely escaped with our lives, then followed another guy to a hooded church, then saw a spiel from one of the hooded gurus aaaand… got into the church proper. Way to move into the story! It feels like after twenty-something screens of random puzzles, the game suddenly remembers about the plot and rushes through it!

You know, you didn’t have to tell me all this just to bring me to a fairground screen, I’m used to jumping around random places now…

Wow, random nudity! Do we have Muriel Tramis to thank for that?

Wow! Sorry, miss, I didn’t mean to glare!

You my brother the confused player! Try to keep up with the plot!

What just happened? Can I resume playing now?

I realise after a few seconds that the last cutscene of many has ended and that I can play again. I click around me but I can’t seem to move. Suddenly a bargonian enters the screen and shoots me. Way to wake up the players that fell asleep during the cutscene.

That’s what you get for not paying attention.

So, restore. I realise now that the time has finally come to use the hood and gloves I’m lugging around for hours! After sitting through the Buren scene and the cutscenes again, I quickly put on the hood and gloves as soon as I get to move.

What? What about my suit? I left it in my car. But I’ve got the hood and gloves so I’m obviously on your side right?

So this is it! We’ve entered the cultists headquarters! And I feel like Bargon is not far away! Nothing will be able to stop me now! Beware bargonians! You’re as good as defeated! Ahah I’m invicible! I’ll save the world in a jiffy!

Or I’ll get killed by the first flower pot I meet...

Session time : 1 hour 30 minutes
Total time : 5 hours 30 minutes

Inventory : Arm Unit (Shoot, Mutate, Translate programs), Save Program

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. Thanks!

2 comments:

  1. Those "color" questions are Roy Rogers's dog all over again.

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    Replies
    1. This isn't the first time that such trivia questions occur in Coktel Vision games. I guess it's part of their history as a producer of edutainment games.

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