Tuesday 3 July 2012

Game 20: Manhunter 1 - Tyrannosaurus Hex

Manhunter Journal Entry 2: “My second day mission was to investigate a missing maintenance robot at Grand Central Station. The tracker program in my MAD suggested that three individuals were involved in removing the robot from the station, and since each went their own separate ways, I had to follow each path to separate locations. The first led me to the Wretched Excess nightclub, and after evading numerous knife wielding gang members, I made it inside just long enough to get another keycard from the perpetrator. The second suspect led me on a crazy pathway through a landmine infested Strawberry Fields, where I not only stumbled across a crowbar, but I also found the body of the man I was looking for. I don’t know who killed him, but he had the letter P carved into his forehead. Thankfully I got enough information from the scene to find his home nearby, where I came across a key, and what I assume was his wife, also dead with a P engraved in her forehead. The final lead took me to the American Natural Museum, where I put the 13 keycards and the crowbar to use while following the suspect’s path. I arrived just in time to witness the third suspect dying after the maintenance robot exploded due to tampering, but I was able to get a pattern off his arm that I’m sure solves the church candles mystery and some sort of map from the wall that means nothing to me yet. Despite not knowing whether I’m doing good or evil, I’m strangely looking forward to day three!”

Having "days" gives the game really good starting and stopping points.

Manhunter: New York keeps surprising me! Sometimes in good ways, other times in bad, but it really does make for a captivating experience. Day two was for the most part enjoyable, and if it wasn’t for one particular incident, I would have ripped through it in less than two hours and been pumped for more. The reality is though that I struggled very badly with one particular puzzle, and I’ll be very interested to know whether I’m the only player that hit a snag at this point. It’s very comforting to know that Charles is playing through the game at the same time as me, and I hope for his sake that he’s more fortunate than I was when it comes to the discovery of one particular item. I got through without requesting assistance though, but that probably has more to do with me having a lot of time to play yesterday, and therefore having the option of going past my normal exertion limit.

Another day, another mission given to me be a large floating eyeball.

Day two started just as day one did. I woke up to find an Orb staring me down, demanding that I complete a mission. This time I was to go to Grand Central Station and investigate the whereabouts of a missing maintenance robot. Watching the tracker showed that things were going to be a bit more complicated than on day one, with three perpetrators entering the station, before exiting and going their separate ways. It seemed logical to follow the first of the three suspects, as that was the one that was already tagged by the tracker, but before I did anything, I paid a visit to the station itself to see if it offered any clues. It didn’t! All that was there was a repair robot fixing where the three broke in while an Orb oversees the work. The model of the repair robot was revealed, but nothing more.

I wanted to break in myself but I had a strange feeling that I was being watched.

Following the first suspect led me to the nightclub, where the tracker suggested they made their way into the throng of ravers before disappearing off the radar. Getting into the nightclub myself was no easy task! The bouncer wouldn’t let me in, so I had to go through a dark side alley filled with gang members. It’s here that I was subjected to another action sequence. I say subjected because while dodging knives being thrown at you in a platform style by jumping and ducking is kind of fun at first, having to do it over four separate screens, slowly edging your way towards each knife thrower before punching them out, quickly becomes as monotonous as this ridiculously long sentence. It was a nice little distraction I guess, but all fun had gone out of it by the time I was evading the last gang member’s projectiles, which just happened to be bullets that I couldn’t even see.

You have to give the creators points for crossing into so many genres

Perhaps even stranger than the side scrolling action sequence itself is the way the last gang member picked me up and threw me into the nightclub rather than away from it, but I was damn happy to be there by then so wasn’t complaining. Once in, all I was able to do was investigate any of numerous dancers. Clicking on any of them bar one resulted in me being beaten up and kicked out for no reward. Clicking on the one party goer that was dressed in a brown robe resulted in me being beaten up and kicked out also, but with one main difference. The suspect, which happened to be a woman, dropped a keycard while smashing me with her handbag, which I was able to pick up before being harshly removed from the nightclub. I couldn’t see that anything else could be worth investigating, so I moved on, wondering what on earth the keycards, which now totalled thirteen, might be for.

How cool would a nightclub filled with multicoloured monks be! It's almost worth the alien dictatorship.

Time to follow suspect number two! The first location that they stopped at was a Vend-O Deli, which is apparently a place to go to solely to use vending machines. I could see that the suspect stood in front of one of the noticeboards, before being joined by another individual and leaving. I took the time to visit the Vend-O Deli before moving onto their next location, and spent quite a bit of time looking at the noticeboard for clues. The majority of what was on there seemed entirely irrelevant, but one message seemed to be in a similar poetic style to the message I received on the data stick at the end of day one. “Listen up brother, we saw the mother. She’s ready to go, on with the show...Harvey.” As much as I wanted it to, this meant absolutely nothing to me, so I moved onto the next location...Strawberry Fields.

All the other Harvey's are just imitatin'

On entering Strawberry Fields, it quickly became apparent that this was not going to be a walk in the park. The place was riddled with landmines, so venturing off the exact path that the suspect and his accomplice took resulted in a mess of body parts and an ugly spray of blood. Unfortunately, while the path the suspect took at each landmark was obvious when watching the tracker, it wasn’t always easy to discover it in the “real world” environment. On each screen I was given the option of about 16 different directions, with many of them being only very slight variations of left, forward and right. Just because I knew that the suspect went left doesn’t mean it was easy to figure out which of the four or five lefts available they actually took. Many, many deaths followed! Things were not helped by the fact I had to watch through the entire tracking recording from the start, every time I needed to find out where the suspect went next.

I hope the gardener is geting some serious danger money

There were also a couple of confusing moments, particularly when the suspect seemed to take a right path for a while before circling back and ending up at the same starting position, before then going left. I simply followed their movements exactly, and after close to half an hour, found myself confronted by a dead body. Interestingly, the body had a P carved into its forehead, and while still alive had been writing what appeared to be the word “cool” on a rock with their own blood. On the ground next to them was a note saying “meet Anna at 4:30”, a candy wrapper and a piece of cloth with the name H. Osborne on it. With nothing else to go off, I wracked my brain and skimmed through all my screenshots to see whether I could figure out the meaning of it all. Was it Anna that the suspect had met at the noticeboard? If so, where was she now? Or was I staring at the accomplice and not the original suspect? I had none of the answers, so I decided it was time to go with suspect number three.

Harvey will always be remembered as an unflinching optimist

The third suspect led me to the American Natural Museum. The tracker showed them going up three floors before finally disappearing off the radar in a specific room on the fourth floor. I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to move from room to room, continuously bring up the tracker to see where they went next, but first I was going to have to figure out how to get into the Museum. I found a locked door at the side of the building, but could find absolutely no way to unlock it or get in any other way. It soon became apparent that I wasn’t going to be able to, and in all likelihood was going to have to find the key for the lock somewhere else to progress. But where?! I was pretty certain that I’d done everything I could at the nightclub, and this idea was enforced when I went back there to find it closed. The answer was going to have to come from Strawberry Fields or in the clues I found there.

Locked glass doors! The ultimate obstacle!

I spent some time looking over the noticeboard message and the note to meet Anna. It suddenly dawned on me that if I knew a name to enter into the MAD, I could find an address to visit. I had three names...Anna, Harvey, and H. Osborne. I thought I would try entering Anna Osborne into the MAD device and was more than a little chuffed when it came back with an address for her. Not only that, but I could now see that location on my map, and set out to go their immediately. I later tried Harvey Osborne and got the same address, so they must be at least relatives if not husband and wife. Inside their home I found exactly what I was looking for...a key! That wasn’t the only thing I found though. Anna was hanging in the closet, also with a P engraved in her head. Was it Harvey I found dead in the field? Was it Anna that had met up with him at the Deli? Did she simply go home after he was killed? I assume they were killed by the same person(s) as they both have the P on their forehead, but the rest is unclear.

Another corpse with P on its head. This murderer is a real sicko!

Regardless, I had the key for the museum, and quickly went back there to unlock the door. I soon found out that I wasn’t going to be able follow my plan of moving from room to room, accessing the tracker as I went to find out where to go next. The tracker wouldn’t work in the museum due to a communication issue, meaning I had to draw the path the suspect took before entering. Following the path involved using keycards to get through lots of doors, but I fairly quickly made my way up to the fourth level, feeling like I was right on the verge of completing day two. This confidence was about to be shattered! I used up my last keycard, standing very close to where the suspect went out of range, and was suddenly confronted with a large wooden door with a massive plank of wood holding it shut. Even if I did have another keycard, that wasn’t going to be of any use here. I could see no way of getting past this door, and yet I had to!

Somehow I don't think a keycard is going to help me with this door

My brain raced back through everywhere I’d been and all the little hints I’d received. Nothing gave me any clue as to how to get past this door. I was stunned, but determined to figure it out. I revisited Grand Central Station and satisfied myself that there was nothing to do there. I restored to the nightclub and made absolutely certain that the only thing to get from there was the thirteenth keycard. I spent time in the Vend-O Deli, looking at the two noticeboards to see if I could gather any other hints of value. I couldn’t imagine that there might be anything else to discover in Strawberry Fields, as that was more about survival and navigation than item hunting. I decided whatever I needed must be in the museum itself. The question was, could I really visit any other sections in the museum and still have enough keycards to even get to the wooden door. After a few minutes of wandering around, I calculated that there was no way I could move through any of the floors in a more efficient way than the suspect did. The answer wasn’t going to be found in the museum!

Studying the blueprints revealed no accessible areas of interest

So it was that I stood at the beginning of Strawberry Fields once again, preparing to make my way through the seemingly endless mines while searching each screen for something, anything, that might help me get past that damn door. It was only then that I thought of that odd part on the tracker that showed the suspect racing off to the right before coming back to their original position, seemingly for no reason. I made my way there, and stared at the only screen in Strawberry Fields that didn’t have a landmark on it. There were no items waiting for me there and no pixel hunting revealed anything. The tracker didn’t really show that the suspect had left this section in any particular direction and they just appeared to move around wildly. The only thing to do was to start trying each of the possible exits from the screen, starting from the bottom left and working my way around. Within a few gory deaths, I finally had what I needed. One particular exit led to a screen contained only one thing. A crowbar!

There's a crowbar just off to the northwest. What do you mean you can't see it?

Should I have found this crowbar earlier? Perhaps! I probably should have spent more time investigating the anomaly in the suspect’s behaviour on my first trip through Strawberry Fields. If I hadn’t received any other items or hints from that section, I definitely would have, but the lead to the Osborne house left me thinking that there was nothing else to be done there. Regardless, after spending well over an hour trying to figure out how to get past the wooden door in the museum, I had what I needed! I raced back to the museum and made my way to the wooden door, eager to see what was on the other side. I used the crowbar on the door. What happened next was more than a little surprising. I was attacked by a dinosaur! At least I think it was a dinosaur. It might have been a wingless dragon, or a baby Godzilla. Whatever it was, it didn’t fit in with game so far at all! Manhunter is a game based in the real world, albeit one where aliens have invaded and taken over humanity. How do dinosaurs fit into that world?

Do all Natural History museums contain live dinosaurs? I'm so naive!

While I sat there in disbelief, the dinosaur killed me and dragged me off. As usual, the Murry’s gave me another chance, and this time I tried to think about what I might have in my inventory that could fend off a dinosaur. I couldn’t see how it would help, but I tried using the medallion just as the dinosaur was about to get me. For some unexplained reason, it worked, and not only that, the dinosaur very happily helped me out by removing the heavy plank blocking the door and took it away. This begs the question of course. Since the dinosaur came from behind me (not through the door), and since it removed the plank blocking my path, why did I need the crowbar at all?! The crowbar triggered his appearance, but otherwise achieved nothing. Given how much trouble I’d gone through to get it, I felt unreasonably ripped off by this strange turn in events. Thankfully, there were no further blockages to ending day two.

Everyone knows that dinosaurs are part of the rebellion against Orb domination

Through the door I found the third suspect, but seconds later he exploded after apparently tampering with the maintenance robot. Whether he did this intentionally to avoid me capturing him or accidentally I can only guess, but I’m thinking the latter. On the wall I found a map that will undoubtedly be useful down the track, while on his arm I found a tattoo that made sense to me immediately. It was a tattoo of fifteen dots, clearly representing the fifteen candles in the church I visited on day one. Three of the dots were white, so the first thing I’ll be doing on day three is visiting the church and lighting those three candles. Day one took about two hours to complete. Day two took me three and a half! I wonder what day three has in store for me. Despite the struggles I encountered on day two, I’m still keen to see what happens in this game.

He's going to regret that tattoo when he's older. Oh...forget I said that!

Session Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes

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


  1. Strange, Manhunter never attracted me. And even though I follow your adventures in it with rapt attention(thank you for all the detail you put into your posts), it still isn't enough for me to actually want to play it.

  2. Manhunter was my favourite Sierra game back in the day (until I played Gabriel Knight)

    It probably helped that I played the Amiga version which had full mouse control.

    As usual for me pre-internet, I got permanently stuck somewhere in Day 2 and gave up.

  3. I applaud Manhunter if nothing else because it makes for a perfect play-along game thanks to the day structure :-)

    So, what did I do differently in Day 2?
    - It didn't occur to me to search for Anne Osborne! Instead, realizing that the billboard would be a good source of first names, I went in looking for an "H" and found "Harvey". Bingo!
    - (And was the notice signed "Larry" on the other billboard a reference to any LSL game? I didn't get the Battery Park reference if so. But the stylized "L" certainly reminds me of the Larry character, or Lefty's bar's neon sign)
    - Was it me, or you could only advance by jumping and punching in the knife-throwing segments? I ended up advancing all I could at first by punching, and then mixing carefully timed jumps and punches (at least for the first two enemies...)
    - I actually had little trouble finding the crowbar. It didn't happen on the first pass of the park, mind you, but a little later when I was convinced I had to find some dinamite or explosive, and I noticed the little "detour" the signal took at one point. The reason for my search was...
    - ...the friggin museum. I became convinced for some reason that I had to traverse ALL doors on the 4th floor, so I didn't bother to go further once I realized I would exhaust all my keycards before reaching my goal. Trying to find an optimized path, I noticed the only change in 4th floor was a wall blocking the shortest route, so I gathered that I had to blow it up (or find more keycards). I even tried different routes in lower floors! When I tried one last time and found the big wooden door that had been there from the beginning... not the highest point in my adventuring career!
    - What about the suspects that the Orb demands? Three names?? I am completely lost as to the story at this point, so I offered Harvey Osborne, Phil again (maybe he is "P"!?) and Louis Redman -- the blue bouncer at the bar and the only other character I could think of with a complete name. I really hope this doesn't blow up on me later on!
    - I can't tell you how happy I was to see that tattoo and finally get a clue for those darned candles... lost count of how many patterns I lit on them.
    - I laughed out loud at the caption for poor Harvey Osborne's final words. But have you considered that znlor vg'f abg "pbby" jung ur jebgr, ohg "p bu bu bar"? Gung znl zrna fbzrguvat yngre...

    On to Day 3 :-)

    1. I'm very, very stuck on day three and am putting in a Request For Assistance. For Charles' sake I'm going to use ROT13 just to describe my situation.

      V'ir tbg zbqhyr N sebz gur puhepu naq V cnffrq nyy gur grfgf haqre gur cnja fubc gb trg gur pbqr sbe gur fnsr va gur pvarzn. V abgvprq gur anzr Uneel ba gur qrnq thl gbb, naq abj unir gur abgr sebz gur fnsr juvpu fnlf hphpp. V unir ab vqrn jung gb qb abj! hphpp qbrfa'g zrna nalguvat gb zr naq V qba'g guvax V'ir pbzr npebff n frpbaq anzr sbe Uneel gb or noyr gb frnepu sbe na nqqerff. Uryc!

      As usual, all responses should be in ROT13 and ideally will be a Hint followed by a Spoiler.


    2. As I said, I have not played this game, so I read a walkthrough to see what you're missing. As such, feel free to give Charles the points for this, since I didn't "earn" them fairly. :p

      Hint: Jurer unir lbh orra gung znl pbagnva anzrf?
      Hint 2: Unir lbh orra gb gur przrgrel lrg?
      Spoiler: Purpx gur gbzofgbar.

    3. Addition to Lars-Erik's spoiler (if you still find yourself unable to end the day):

      Hint: Lbh fubhyq ol abj unir nyy gung vg gnxrf gb thrff gur anzr bs gur zheqrere.
      Hint 2: Gur thl unf "fvtarq" uvf ivpgvzf jvgu gur yrggre C. Unir lbh frra nal anzrf ortvaavat jvgu C?
      Spoiler 1: Lrf, Cuvy vf gur svefg anzr.
      Hint 3: Vg vf n pbzzba gebcr gb jevgr gur anzr bs lbhe xvyyre jvgu lbhe oybbq. Pbhyq gur ynfg yrggre or fbzrubj vapbzcyrgr?
      Hint 4: Jung qb gur cebqhpref gryy lbh jura lbh svefg neevir ng Prageny Cnex? (Yes, this makes no sense)
      Spoiler 2: Qba'g trg lbhe tbbfr pbbxrq... Fb vg'f BOIVBHFYL Pbbx gur qrnq zna gevrq gb jevgr!

    4. That made me laugh!
      Sometimes I think games used to have a ridiculous puzzle like this just so people wouldn't finish it too quickly and feel they didn't get their money's worth.

    5. That was good set of hints & spoilers from Ilmari. I have to disagree with TBD, that this particular puzzle is ridiculous. In my opinion, collecting clues from multiple sources in order to discover (=guess) names was the best part of the series. I even managed to solve that puzzle myself as a kid, which felt like a grand victory!

      But collecting keycards (that give access to locked doors in American Museum of Natural History) from a sewer/cave which is similar to a arcade game maze which shows you the correct dolls you need to throw at, in order to get a medallion that you can show to a dinosaur.. now that is just ridiculous :)

    6. So after much gnashing of teeth I cave in and decide to spoil my MH:NY playthrough and read Ilmari's hint that'll supposedly get me to the end of Day 3 (which, up to this point, had actually zipped by!). Let's see... at least I'll finally learn what I've been missing an-- wait, WHAAAT?

      Not cool, Manhunter. Not cool!

    7. When I myself was playing this game a couple of years ago, I'd gotten as far as my hint 3 and then got the rest by trial and error (there's not that many possibilities to choose from), and only later on learned where the final hint was supposed to be found - my reaction was quite similar to yours.

    8. Might be considered a very small hint, rot13ing for safety:

      Znlor zber perqvg gb gur uvag pbhyq or tvira vs gur qrfvtaref pncvgnyvmrq bar yrggre. Ng yrnfg gura vg zvtug or bhg bs cynpr rabhtu gb pnhfr fhfcvpvba.

    9. I guess I have to take my words back a bit.. I also solved that puzzle by trying alternative possibilities, and I thought that was how it was meant to be.

      Fb, jung qb gur Zheelf npghnyyl fnl jura lbh neevir gb Prageny Cnex?
      Although I guess we will read about this in the next post..

    10. I've just read Lars-Erik's hints and since I'm at work, am unable to put them into practice. I am confused though, because the first thing I did on day three was try searching for the names that appeared in the cemetery. None of them came up with anything. I can only assume that there's a hint there that will allow me to combine the name Harry with a surname from one of the gravestones.

      Hmmm...I won't have much time to play tonight dammit!

    11. Trick, just a few micro-hints to complement Lars-Erik's clue for that particular puzzle, in spoilage order:

      Hint: Gur uvag vf abg va gur przrgrel
      Hint 2: Gur uvag pna or sbhaq va Uneel'f jbexcynpr (erzrzore jung gur zbax jub nggnpxrq lbh qebccrq jura lbh chapurq uvz?)
      Hint 3: Purpx Uneel'f bssvpr ng gur gurngre

    12. Plot spoiler to explain how you're expeceted to combine Harry with a surname.

      Hint 1: Lbh'er genpxvat na beo xvyyre. Jurer jnf gur qrnq beo sbhaq

      Hint 2: Gur tenirlneq. Jul jbhyq gur qrnq beo or cynprq gurer? Ybbx ng jurer gur beo jnf cynprq.

      Hint 3: Gur tenirfgbar ba gur beo'f tenir fnlf "Gvz Wbarf. Ur qvrq sbe uvf sngure" Creuncf uvf sngure jnagrq eriratr sbe uvf fba'f qrngu?

      Spoiler: Uneel Wbarf

    13. Haha, I've never seen so many hints and spoilers for one single game, let alone one puzzle. :p

    14. Included: V srry yrsg bhg....

    15. Fine, I'm caving
      Hint: Gurer vf n cynpr lbh pna trg uvagf rnfvyl
      Spoiler: Vg vf lbhe oybt.

      Ah well, I can help Chet out with Nethack from memory, though I'm tempted to start playing 3.4.3 again.

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  5. Ok, so I read your question, Trickster, and I'm only just ahead of you. Lars-Erik's hints should be enough to put you back on track... at least until the next dead stop. Which is where I am now! I can't seem to end the day. I'll give it a bit of extra thought and check Ilmari's additional hints if nothing works.

    1. In retrospect, I should have known that getting to the end of day 3 was a perfect place for a bet. Oh well, you can't beat them all!

    2. I probably shouldn't ask but I'm going to anyway. Just how many days are there in Manhunter? Are we nearly finished? Half way?

    3. Cool. I should have time to play tonight so hopefully I can finish day three, write a post, and start day four. That might be a bit ambitious though. :)

  6. I loved these games for the settings, and would love to see them remade. If only adventure games weren't a dead genre as far as the big developers are concerned.

    1. Well, this style of adventure game is. Check out Zelda (Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword), Beyond Good and Evil or Uncharted for an action-adventure game done well. Hey, I can't remember, is this the first action-adventure game?

    2. The games you listed are not adventure games.