Saturday, 21 July 2012

Game 21: Police Quest 2 - All in a Day's Work

Sonny Bonds Journal Entry 3: “Things have gone from bad to worse! It’s apparent that Jessie Bains is trying to take out everyone that had anything to do with his incarceration, and he’s kidnapped Marie as a result! I just saw her last night, and we were so happy! I can’t believe I might never see her alive again! My day started out investigating the death of Woody Roberts, and while it wasn’t certain at the time who killed him, evidence at the scene led me to the home of Bill Cole, where the booby trap waiting for me left me in no doubt. It’s here that I found evidence that Jessie had killed Roberts, and was going after Marie and Don Colby next. I rushed to Marie’s house, but all I found were signs of a struggle and a hit-list confirming the worst. Not only was Jessie after Woody, Marie and Don, I was fourth on the list! I warned Don and Steelton Police about what might occur, and quickly jumped on a plane. Of all the flights to get hijacked by terrorists, this had to be the one didn’t it! I wasn’t going to let anyone stand in the way of me rescuing Marie, so I quickly took those dirtbags out, disarmed their bomb, and made it safely to Steelton. Now...where are you Bains? I’m coming!”

Day one finished with 100 points. Time to go out and celebrate!

Well, well, well! Police Quest 2 got a lot better between session one and two, and session three was better still! There’s a real story here, and damn it if I’m not going to take Bains down and get Marie back! Not only is the story a big step up from the first game, there’s also a much greater reliance on finding clues and putting all the pieces together, and much less on simply opening up the manual and working through a bunch of numerical procedures. I’ve really had to use my brain, and while there are still some parser issues and a lot of possible dead ends, I’m finding that if I pay lots of attention and follow up every lead, I can get through without the need for assistance or constant restarts.

"It's not a tuna!"

Session two finished just as I’d left work for the day and was preparing to go and meet Marie at a restaurant called Arnie’s. I made my way over there, figuring that something would happen during the date that would push the plot forward. That didn’t turn out to be the case, and while I got some points for giving Marie the rose and kissing her a couple of times, conversation was sparse and nothing really occurred. I did however promise Marie that I’d pay her a visit the next day before I dropped her back home, but I couldn’t figure out how I was going to do that, since I didn’t know where she lived. A strange little scene really, and one I assume serves no other purpose than to set up events down the track.

Well, I've had a fair bit of practice. Not as much as you of course, being a hooker and all.

Day two began with a homicide. Hall ordered me to head down to a warehouse, where I investigated the body of Woody Roberts in the boot of his car. Keith chose to look for evidence in the car, so it was my job to examine the body, on which I discovered the corner of an envelope and got a blood sample to confirm the victim’s identity. There was an address on the corner (where someone called Bill Cole apparently lived), which was the obvious next destination after the very creepy and inappropriately humorous coroner arrived to do his thing. I looked hard for any other evidence in the boot of the car, but came up empty handed (as did Keith), so we took off to go to the home of Bill Cole.

Yes, this is a most excellent time to crack jokes.

Mr. Cole lived in a seedy looking motel, so the first thing I had to do was figure out which room was his. Thankfully there was an attendant out the front, who happily told me the room I needed was 108, but whom wasn’t going to be convinced to give me the key. I figured that wasn’t going to stop me, so after my knocks had no response, I kicked the door down the way I'd seen so many cops and detectives do in the movies. The next thing I knew I was flying across the car park with a shotgun blast in my chest! Despite admiring how cool that was, I restored with no clue how I was going to get into the room. I tried the window without success, and I tried getting into specific positions to kick the door down with the same life-ending result. Eventually I opened the manual to see what I was failing to do. “Step 1: Before proceeding with arrest, your back-up unit must be staked out in close proximity.” Aha! I got back in the car and requested backup. Once they were in position, I took step 2 (draw weapon), tried step 3 (identifying myself as a policeman), but there was still no response from within. All the other steps in the manual were useless, because I still couldn’t get into the room without getting blown to pieces. I decided to focus on the attendant again, wondering if there was a way to get that damn key off him. What would a policeman do in this situation!? Eureka!!! They’d get a warrant!

A death worth experiencing at least once.

I once again hopped back in the car, but this time I typed “get warrant”. It took less than twenty seconds for an officer to arrive with the warrant in hand, which I took straight to the attendant and demanded the key. I was then able to open the door without standing directly in front of it, avoiding the shotgun blast by mere inches. It has to be said that this was a very cool scene, and once again it appears that following protocol exactly (in this case calling for backup) affects only your score and not necessarily the outcome. There was no-one in the motel room, and it was a booby trapped shotgun strapped to a chair that had been causing me all the trouble.

Where were those trained reflexes a few minutes ago?

Once safely inside the room, it was time to use my field kit, and to search as thoroughly as I could for clues. I got a blood sample from the carpet, found a business card in the bathroom, lipstick (the same brand used by Marie) under the bed, and the rest of the envelope in a drawer next to the bed. I was then able to piece everything together. Bains had mailed the letter to Woody Roberts, asking him to come to the motel for a business deal. Roberts came, Bains killed him, dumped his body in the car at the warehouse, with planted evidence that would lead me straight to room 108. He then rigged the shotgun hoping to take me out. Bains was attempting to kill two birds with one stone!

Hiding items in unseen rooms is very nasty indeed

So where to now? The business card seemed the most likely lead, but while it had a name (Colby Imports in Steelton) and a phone number, it had no address. The envelope had the home address of Woody Roberts on it, but I wasn’t able to drive there, and couldn’t think of any reason to either. I had nothing else to go off, so I went back to the station to hand in evidence and perhaps call Colby Imports. It turned out I wasn’t the only one starting to put things together. Captain Hall had deduced that Bains could very well be taking out everyone that testified against him the year prior. Woody Roberts had done so, but more importantly, so had I. That was important information to know, but didn’t help me in the short term. It was time to call Colby, and I really hoped something resulted from the call.

Point #4: I really like to state the obvious

Nothing did! Don Colby answered the phone, but no matter what I said to him he responded with “that’s not very interesting” or “why should I care” before hanging up. I tried typing words like “Bains”, “murder” and “Woody Roberts”, but nothing worked. The guy was pretty aggressive towards me, and it suddenly dawned on me that he might himself be a criminal. I looked in the homicide filing cabinet but came up empty handed. There was however a file for Donald J. Colby in the narcotics department filing cabinet! Well and behold, Mr Colby also testified against Bains, so was more than likely going to be next on Bains’ hitlist. It was time to get back on the phone with him, and this time I wasn’t going to give up until he listened!

Why hello Mr Colby! It seems we've met before. I just can't remember it.

I tried typing “testified” and “hitlist” and all sorts of other variations of what I needed to tell Colby, but eventually I finally nailed it with “Jessie Bains”. It might seem stupid that I didn’t type that earlier, but after I got absolutely no bite from “Bains”, I’d just let that idea go and started thinking about others. I assume I could have typed that straight away and that there probably was no advantage in finding the file, but at least now I knew the connection. Sadly, even after this breakthrough, I still didn’t get the lead I was after. Colby merely responded with “I’m in Steelton, under a witness protection program, so I’m not worried”. What was I meant to do now? Go to Steelton? I tried driving there, but the game told me that was way too far to drive. Was I supposed to fly there?

Yes, who would be worried about a murderous psycho that's escaped prison with the intention of having revenge on you

I drove to the airport, but Keith’s “what are we doing here?” comment on arrival dissuaded me from continuing down that path. Instead, I went over all the evidence I’d collected, trying to uncover a lead I’d not yet followed up. I came across the lipstick, and remembered that I’d also promised Marie that I’d drop in on her today. But I had no idea where she lived! I tried calling her, but there was no answer. I hopped in the car and typed “drive to maries” and was elated when that’s exactly what happened! Should I have known her address from somewhere or was that the only solution? Regardless, I was finally back on track!

Man was I happy to find myself outside Marie's house

At Marie’s house I found a note on the door that said “Dear Sonny, Gone Shopping. Love, Marie.”, but that wasn’t enough to convince me that everything was OK. I tried opening the door to find it locked, but Sonny grabbed a spare key from the top of the door and entered before I even considered kicking the door down this time. My fears for Marie increased dramatically when I found her place ransacked, and signs of struggle all over the place. I searched every inch of the place, but all I could come up with was a hitlist that confirmed what I already knew. “Roberts, Wilkans, Colby, Bonds.” Bains had taken out Roberts, now he had Wilkans, and I was pretty sure he was going to use her as bait in Steelton to try to complete the set.

It was clear that it wasn't going to work out. Her taste in decor just wasn't compatible with mine.

Once again though I was gradually creeping forward, but finding myself uncertain of how to progress further. Knowing what Bains was up to didn’t tell me how to stop him. Where had he taken Marie? I went back to the station and handed the hitlist over as evidence, then went into the homicide department to see if Captain Hall would give me any direction. All he had to say was “I’m sorry to hear about Marie”, leaving me scratching my head. I couldn’t help wondering what he might have said had I given him the hitlist, so I restored and gave it to him instead of the evidence office. His responses of “I’ve looked over the evidence and see that Bains now knows where Colby is” and “You’ve got a blank check to proceed however you feel is best” made me more certain than ever that my next destination must be Steelton.

He's not really that hard to read really. There's a list...and he's killing everyone on it!

Maybe someone out there can answer whether my first attempt to get a flight to Steelton (which I ended prematurely due to Keith’s negative comments) would have been successful, even without all the evidence I’ve built up since. Perhaps I had to get to the point where Hall offered me a blank check to be able to purchase the tickets on arrival? Either way, this time Keith made no negative comments, and I successfully purchased two tickets to Steelton after Captain Hall sent a purchase order to the agent. Hall also suggested I call ahead to the Steelton Police Station to warn them about Bains’ intentions, which I did. Shortly afterward Keith and I found ourselves back on a plane out of Lytton, thinking about what might await us on the other side.

Finally a chance to put my feet up and relax for a few hours. Might even get some shuteye...

The answer to that was going to have to wait though. I was seriously caught by surprise when two men hijacked the plane “in the name of The Shieeek of the Golden Sands”. One of them entered the cockpit, while the other held the stewardess hostage at the front of the aisle. Confident of my abilities, I unbuckled my seatbelt, drew my gun, hopped up and fired at him in a brief moment when the stewardess fell to the floor. Rather shockingly I missed, and the hijacker neatly pumped me full of lead while I pondered what type of detective misses the target from about two metres away. Jim Wall gave me the answer on the game over screen, telling me I missed because my gun was not sighted. What? I adjusted the sights way back on day one and got points for it too? Do I have to readjust them every day?

...oh you've got to be kidding me! That's it, you picked the wrong day to mess with Sonny Bonds!

Apparently the answer is yes. I was forced to restore back to the station, go through the whole readjustment rigmarole, then travel to the airport all over again, just to get back to the hijacking bit so I could shoot the son of a bitch. His partner in crime very agreeably came out of the cockpit to see what the commotion was, so I shot him too. Unfortunately, his last words were “I’m taking you all with me...the timing device on the bomb has been activated”. He wasn’t helpful enough to tell me the whereabouts of said bomb, but I had a fair idea where it would be. I rushed to the bathroom at the back of the plane, and eventually found it hidden away in the paper dispensing unit. As is usually the case, there were a number of coloured wires attached to it and a timing device with under a minute left on it. I highly doubted this was going to end well!

For f#$%s sake, can I just sit down for five minutes!

My first attempts at disarming the bomb failed miserably since I had nothing on me with which to cut the wires. After a restore I discovered some wire cutters in the pocket of one of the hijackers, but no matter what order I tried cutting the wires in, the end result was always the plane blowing up in mid-flight. Eventually I discovered a paper entitled “Building your own bomb” stashed away in the other hijacker’s turban. It didn’t make things a heck of a lot clearer, but it did give me the idea that I could reconnect wires if necessary. The solution was to cut the yellow wire, then cut the purple and blue wires, then reconnect the yellow wire, then cut the white wire, before finally cutting the yellow wire again.

Bomb disarmed...(yawn)...what's next?!

With the bomb disarmed, Keith and I were finally able to finish our journey to Steelton, which is where I decided to end my session. I currently have 193 points out of 300, but I feel like I must be getting fairly close to a final showdown. There’s a lot I could say about the experience so far, but this post is lengthy enough already. All I’ll say is that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Police Quest 2 after a very disappointing start. It will be very interesting to see whether the game can really bring the story home well without subjecting me to too many more parser disasters, time-wasting dead ends or manual opening solutions. I’m actually feeling confident!

A crazy helicopter pilot. Terrific!

Session Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 9 hours 00 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. Nice to see you are beginning to enjoy the story. If you don't remember Colby, he is one of the guys you arrest in the park for drug dealing in PQ1. But shouldn't witness protection change the person's surname? Or is that only a Hollywood trope?

    I think it is possible to drive to Marie's even during day 1. I suppose the producers just assumed that it is reasonable for Sonny to know the address of her lady friend (although he does forget everything else).

    And I knew you wouldn't think of adjusting your sights again! I've always thought that the terrorist attack was a bit over the top -moment in an otherwise quite realistic story - after all, this is a pre-9/11 game.

  2. So.... you sure you checked Woody's car thoroughly? ;-)

    Interestingly I didn't find any of the "Cole" leads. I was a bit at a loss regarding what to do next, so I simply checked Bains' address on file and decided I'd arrange a little stakeout. It worked!

    I'm impressed at the amount of optional actions you can do in this game. Unprecedented at the time, that's for sure...

  3. I am also impressed by all these optional side clues. Are these things that, if you follow the manual to a T, you would come across? Or do they take some luck and guesswork?

    1. There's definitely some guess work involved. It's all very well to know that you should "search the surrounding area thoroughly", but it's still up to the player to search in exactly the right place.

      Following the manual was an absolute requirement in game 1. In game 2, it's only a requirement if you want to get maximum points. That makes for a better game in my opinion.

  4. "I got some points for giving Marie the rose and kissing her a couple of times, conversation was sparse and nothing really occurred."

    Sounds like Police Quest 2 predicted the gameplay of The Sims by over ten years.

    That bomb puzzle sounds like it had to be done purely through trial and error. I wonder if there was any way to solve it without having to die first and reloading. I don't like those kinds of tricks. :P

    1. That Sims joke made me laugh out loud! I also hate "cannot beat this on the first try" puzzles.

    2. My guess for the bomb puzzle would have been to follow the bomb-building directions in reverse. Was that how it ended up working?

    3. @TBD - yep, that is the way it works.

    4. Yes, that's exactly how it works, although I didn't notice that until you mentioned it.

      In my defense, I'd already used trial and error to get right down to the last wire before I found the guide, so it was only a matter of figuring out the last step. Now that I look at it, it's very obviously a case of following the process in reverse order!

      I also laughed out loud at that joke rotgrub. Couldn't be closer to the truth!

  5. Sounds like the game is really blossoming. I hope it lives up with a good ending. After the first PQ, I really wondered what they were going to do with the sequel. It's amazing how much variety in actions they packed into the parser, even if at times it is finicky.

  6. I was waiting to see how you would deal with the out of nowhere hijacking. I was pretty upset because I hadn't readjusted my sights and had to go to a save from way before. Not happy about that. Thanks Sierra!

  7. Last day of the steam sale: Double Fine Bundle:

  8. Say, we have our first 1989 game showing in the left column - does this mean that the playlist for 1989 has already been fixed? Particularly, have the KULT and the Emmanuelle now officially been abandoned? And can someone now play-and-blog them for CAPs?

    1. That's a good question, I went back and took a peek at the 1989 post, and couldn't find a conclusion to all the discussion there. Seems like nobody ponied up any CAPs at the time though for Tricky to play them, but it would be good to have the final word.

    2. Emmanuel was the erotic one, right? How many points to force Trickster to play that one? I'd be willing to chip in some of my ill-gotten gains. ,

    3. Sorry if I wasn't clear, but I wanted to give readers the chance to spend CAPs right up to the moment I finish the prior year. So, the moment I post a Final Rating for Zak McKracken is the moment people can a) no longer force me to play a game for 1989 and b) nominate themselves to play-and-blog a game instead.

      To answer your question Canageek, yes, you have enough CAPs to make me play a game, but not enough to make me play Emmanuelle on your own.

      You currently have 125 CAPs to spend.

      Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess is Borderline, so you can spend 50 CAPs to make me play it (it's a 100 if a bunch of you wanted to pool CAPs).

      Emmanuelle is Disregarded, which means it will take 200 pooled CAPs to make me play it.

    4. Sadly, unless I write up a Fatty Bear Wikipedia entry, so I have to save up 200 CAPs for that. Once I have those I'll contribute to other games.

      Anyone want to pay me to write some Wikipedia articles? Same rates as before if I just have to expand and edit, lots more points for me to fully write it.

    5. Or you could do a bit of lobbying. Surely it wouldn't be difficult to convince everyone of the merits of Emmanuelle: A Game of Eroticism! ;)

    6. I'll chip in 25 points for it, if people can come up with another 175!

    7. I'm in for another 35 points for Emmanuelle, so we just need 140!

    8. I might share 30 points for this. Now, well need only 110 points!

    9. If some people help me write a Wikipedia article we have almost enough points already.

    10. Actually there's already an article on the game in French Wikipedia: Perhaps some of our French readers could translate the main points, if you still wish to do the article.

    11. Sorry, I skipped that one in high school.

    12. Can you skip French, being Canadian? I thought it was mandatory in schools.

    13. Synopsis/ plot:

      The game is very loosely inspired by Marayat Rollet-Andriane's (better known to the world with her pen name Emmanuelle Arsan) Emmanuelle -books. [4] [Book has also inspired a comic book, which follows the plot of the book faithfully, and a series of soft-porn films and TV- movies: Wikipedia knows probably more about these than I care to find out.] The actual plot is the brainchild of Muriel Tramis [3].

      The following part is a bit spoilerish so ROT13 it is:

      Rzznahryyr va gur tnzr vf n jvsr bs Serapu ohfvarff zna jubfr wbo erdhverf pbafgnag geniryyvat, guhf yrnivat uvf jvsr hashysvyyrq. Rzznahryyr unf gnxra n ybire, Znep, ohg yngre fhssref cnatf bs pbafpvrapr, orpnhfr fur fgvyy ybirf ure uhfonaq. Rzznahryyr geniryf gb Evb qr Wnarveb va Oenmvy, ohg Znep sbyybjf Rzznahryyr gb Oenmvy. Gur nvz bs gur tnzr vf gb nhtzrag Znep'f rebgvp cbgragvny fb ur pna frqhpr Rzznahryyrntnva. ([1], [2], [4])

      Rebgvdhr cbgragvny vf nhtzragrq ol sbyybjvat gur guerr ynjf bs rebgvpvfz: ynj bs ahzoref (frqhpr nf zhpu ynqvrf nf lbh pna), ynj bs nflzzrgel (gel gb frqhpr na bqq ahzore bs ynqvrf) naq n ynj bs fhecevfr (frqhpr cersrenoyl pbaprnyrq/znfxrq ynqvrf). Shegurezber, gur cynlre fubhyq svaq guerr rebgvdhr fgnghrggrf. Gurer'f abg nal uneqpber fprarf, ohg Znep zvtug pngpu Rzznahryyr qvfebovat juvyr ybbxvat guebhtu n pregnva xrlubyr, nygubhtu zber bsgra ur jvyy frr bayl na byq tragyrzna jnfuvat uvf srrg. [These plot details appear to be original research of the French Wikipedia. Actually the plot is starting to sound so corny that I wish someone would write about the game.]


      The DOS -version supports EGA-, CGA- and monochrome graphics ([2], [3]) Even the Amiga version uses only 16 colours [3]. Emmanuelle is a point-and-click adventure, but the DOS -version has no mouse support ([3]). The game uses multiple-choice dialogues ([2], [3], [4]). The game includes sub-games like playing in casino where the player has to collect money for flight tickets ([2],[3], [4]. The player might also end up fighting with angry husbands and smugglers ([2], [3], [4]).

      The reviewer of ST-Computer thanked the game of its good graphics, but criticized the lack of sounds and too easy puzzles ([1]). The reviewer of Power Play thought the game was boring and titillating only in casino sequences; he also criticized poor graphics and the lack of sound ([2]). Power Play awarded Emmanuelle as being the game with the most idiotic dialogue ([5]).

    14. The beginning appears to have dropped, so here it is again:

    15. Emmanuelle was published by Coktel Vision in 1989 for Amiga, Atari ST and DOS ([1], [2],[3], [4]) [A company called Tomahawk was also somehow involved in the making, but I am not sure if it was just a name under which Coktel Vision published its more risque games, like Geisha and Fascination]. It was developed by Muriel Tramis, who is most famous for developing the Gobliins-series ([3], [4]) [Actually she appears to have been behind most of the games from Coktel Vision. By the time of Gobliins, Sierra had bought Coktel Vision and published its products in US.] Need I say that the game has a hint of erotique, but is not pornography? ([1], [2],[3], [4])

    16. @Canageek: So the above is translation of the main points in the French Wikipedia + some info from other sources. I apparently cannot publish the web addresses of the sources or the blogspot destroys my comment, but if you wish to do the Wikipedia article, I can email them to you. And just to make it clear, I am not buying a Wikipedia entry, I am just giving you info, if you want to make one – I am not that keen to get Trickster play this game ;)

    17. Don't worry; I got about a zillion emails from you about this. I'll see what I can do over the weekend; Would you like to talk on Google Talk or such if I have questions?

    18. Well, I have very little time to be near computers this weekend (have a wedding to attend - not my own, but cousin's) so answering to an e-mail is probably the most I can manage.

    19. @Canageek: And sorry about all the e-mails. In any case, if you have something on your mind, I have an obvious gmail-account (although I can't guarantee answering quickly).

    20. No worries; I have a filter set up to move them all to a Blog Comments folder. My gmail is also my name, so feel free to add me on Google Talk. I have to go into work tomorrow, but am free after that.

  9. Your 6th screen shot does have the part where it says "...slamming your gun hand against the wall." I assume that's supposed to be your clue to re-sight your weapon. Still, this is one of those dead-ends I tripped back when I played the game.

  10. You'd be doing pretty well to make the association.

    " gun hand slammed against the wall. I better go back to the station to re-adjust my sights in case I need to shoot at someone."

    I'm afraid it's a clear example of Sierra delaying the end of the game to "add value". If you remove these delaying tactics, the game time would drop significantly in some of these games.

    1. At least there's not that much retracking to do now. If they really wanted to add value, the producers could have (minor spoiler) fpenccrq gur greebevfg nggnpx naq znxr lbh tb guebhtu n uhzvyvngvat tha svtug jvgu aba-nqwhfgrq fvtugf ng gur irel raq bs gur tnzr.

    2. I wonder if that is why they added it? To prevent that gunfight at the end of the game from being dumb.

  11. Back in the day, I was stuck forever in the motel room scene. The problem was that the game allows you to call in the SWAT! It had full animations and stuff, and they even throw a smoke grenade into the room. I just couldn't believe they did all of that for nothing! Maybe it was originally meant to be part of the gameplay.

  12. i was wondering , this was released in 1988 so there was no internet for help neither tips , (If you ware able to get a magazine ) .
    Lets say that someone was stuck with the game and only the manual .
    How would you find the phone of Steelton Police to call them?
    how would you know all those things without a solution ?

    1. Do you mean the phone number? In Police Quest 2 you could call 0 to reach the operator, where you could ask the number for the Steelton Police. I think it was a thing in USA back then that 0 was the number for operator, but for us abroad, this was quite an unfair puzzle.