Monday 16 July 2012

Game 21: Police Quest 2 - Sierra's Vengeance

Sonny Bond Journal Entry 1: “Jessie Bains has escaped! After all my efforts to put that punk behind bars, the guy is back out in the public and undoubtedly looking for vengeance. Thankfully Captain Hall has put me back on his trail, with Keith and I leading a task force to bring Bains to justice again. I spent some time in the shooting range today to hone my skills in anticipation of the battle ahead, and am about to hit the road. This time I’ll make sure the guy gets what he deserves!”

Set in the realm of joy, the people of Lytton are plagued only by aching facial muscles, and not anthrax as we had hoped. Sorry...wrong game!

You’re probably looking at that introduction and wondering how this post could possibly be as long as it is when all I did was collect my stuff, go to the shooting range for a bit, then leave the station. Well all I can say is that getting through the starting scenes in Police Quest 2 was umore difficult than putting Jessie Bains behind bars in the first place. I’ve had to put in a massive effort, and I’m not afraid to admit that I considered asking for assistance numerous times. The only thing that stopped me was the embarrassment of having to ask for help this early in the game and the fact I could see other readers making progress with no reported difficulty. In hindsight there would have been no shame in asking for help, and that’s a lesson I’ll take into future games. I’ll trust myself more after this experience, and all I can do is apologise that I have to make you guys relive it with me...

It appears a promotion wasn't the only thing Sonny got between games. He's gone from black to blonde...again!

The original Police Quest ended just after I’d brought the dangerous criminal Jessie Bains to justice. The intro to the second game let me know that I’d been promoted to Homicide Detective as a result, but gave me no other information as to what had taken place in the meantime, or even how long it had been. The game started with me arriving at the station in my car. Being pretty used to Sierra games by now, I typed “look” to see if there was anything of interest in the car that I needed to take with me into the station. Since the description made no reference of anything of value, I took the keys, got out, and locked the car. I immediately had flashbacks to having to check every vehicle on every side before entering it in Police Quest 1, but since I was leaving the car behind this time I went straight into the station.

"Check car"...walk around side of vehicle..."check car"...walk around side of vehicle...

Once in the station, I was confronted by four doors, an evidence window and a corridor off to the right. I investigated the evidence window, found there was nothing I could do there at this stage, so I did what I always do when given the choice of more than one door. I entered the first one on the left, with a plan to explore each one in a clockwise direction. Through the first door was the Narcotics department. I spoke to everyone there and looked at everything, but couldn’t find anything to do. I did see that there was a file cabinet of suspects and victims I could go through in the corner, but with no orders yet, it seemed pointless. I decided to move onto the second door, which turned out to be the Homicide department…my department!

Are we looking through a keyhole? That's one strange shaped key!

In this department I met my colleagues. Of particular note were my partner Keith Robinson and my boss Captain Fletcher Hall. I was quickly informed that Jessie Bains was back in town for a trial, but very shortly afterward that the Captain announced that Bains had taken a jailer hostage and escaped custody! Keith and I would form a task force called Target, and our first instructions were to “answer all calls that might be even remotely connected to this dirtbag” and to “find a mug shot of that punk, and get on this immediately!” Surprised at how quickly the game was moving, I wondered whether I should jump straight onto this mission or spend more time exploring the station. Then I realised I didn’t even have my gun yet, so I wasn’t going anywhere!

Target?! Can't we be called something a little less ominous?!

Investigating the Homicide department more thoroughly, I came across another filing cabinet. Inside was a file for Jessie Bains, with a photo attached. Remembering the Captain’s orders to find a mug shot, I added the photo to my inventory. I then took a closer look at my desk and found a few items of interest. Firstly, I uncovered a wallet and a letter in my drawer. Examining the wallet unveiled a scuba diving certificate and the letter appeared to be a love letter from Marie Wilkins, who I assume is now my girlfriend. Secondly, I found a subpoena in my document tray that ordered me to attend the trial of Bains at court. Unlikely to happen at this point! Finally, I turned on the computer and tried to access the various directories on there. I was asked to enter a password to access either Criminal or Personnel, so I wasn’t able to go any further with those, but I was able to get into the Sierra folder. This however turned out to be one of Sierra’s cunning marketing ploys, giving descriptions for pretty much every Sierra release of the mid-eighties.

Strangely this is almost identical to how my C drive looks these days

The next room I visited was the locker room. I was a bit surprised to find no showers there, but was happy that I wasn’t going to be required to shower every time I got changed the way I was in Police Quest 1. It didn’t take me long to find my locker, but opening it wasn’t going to be as simple as I’d hoped. I was required to enter a three digit code! I hadn’t seen a code anywhere, and began wondering where on earth a police officer would leave a locker combination code. Assuming the code must be in one of the locations I hadn’t visited yet, I moved on. The fourth and final door led to another department, this time being the Burglary department. Once again I spoke to everyone there and looked at everything, but came up with nothing of use. There was only one place left to explore, the corridor.

I swear some of the guys on the toilet in these Sierra games are dead.

Down the corridor was a shooting range. I spoke to the officer at the desk, and even entered the range, but without a gun, I wasn’t really going to be able to do much. This left me pretty confused, as I literally had no idea where I was supposed to find the combination for my locker. I briefly considered trying every number between 1 and 999, but decided against it for a plethora of reasons. Clearly I’d missed something, and would need to go back and investigate every area to see what I could come up with, starting with the car. I hopped back into my vehicle and tried typing “open glove box”. It worked, and I found within a business card and registration papers. There was no mentioned of the glove box when I examined the car’s interior earlier, proving very early on that Police Quest 2 was not going to list every item of use in room descriptions. What makes this extra interesting though is that the glove box was not even visible on the screen, so it really does take some guesswork. I added the card to my inventory, but wasn’t able to remove the rego papers from the car.

Why...thanks for telling ME!

Having decided to investigate each screen as thoroughly as possible, I searched the hallway inside the station with renewed vigour. After typing “look”, I noticed that the description mentioned the doorways, the evidence window, and a counter! What counter? There was a barely visible corner of what could be considered a counter coming out from around the corner, but surely that wouldn’t be of interest. I typed “look at counter” and received a message telling me that “the counter once held a nice coffee maker”. OK. I walked up to the evidence window and typed “look at counter” and received a message telling me that “built into the back of the counter are locked storage bins. One of them has your name on it.” What? Suffice to say that I was a little bit confused at this point, and it took me a few minutes to figure out that this was one of those classic Sierra line of sight puzzles. The counter was indeed the counter that was almost entirely concealed by the angle of the view, and only by being in the top half of the screen could I see the storage bins. (Edit: I failed to mention here that the field kit is in the storage bin, which is a vital object for the completion of the game.)

Oh I know this's Sonny Bonds right!?

Putting aside my disgust and promising myself that I’d learn from the valuable lessons Police Quest 2 was currently teaching me (i.e. always assume that this game is a bitch), I began my trip through each room determined to be as thorough as I could. I still had no success in the Narcotics department, but I did find something in the Homicide department that had avoided me the first time around. This time I had no-one to blame but myself! On my first visit to the room, I’d taken note of the noticeboard at the back of the room, but when I typed “look at board”, I hadn’t realised I was only looking at the one just behind the Captain to the left of the screen. When I walked right up to the board at the back and typed the same command, I was rewarded with the keys for an unmarked car.

A most suitable way for a narcotics detective to communicate.

So it was that ended up back in front of that locker, having no idea what the combination was. I looked over all the items I’d discovered since my last visit to the change room, and one stood out as a real possibility. Would I have written the code to my locker on the back of my business card? I typed “look at back of card” and was sadly only shown the front of the card (that says “LPD Sonny Bonds Detective”). Since that idea failed, I had no choice but to continue my exploration of the police station, aimlessly talking to people and looking at the same things over and over again. I also tried giving the mug shot of Bains to Captain Hall every different way I could think of, but nothing succeeded. I was well and truly stuck and almost ready to ask the readers for assistance. It was then that I saw that some of you fine readers were playing along. Not only that, but you'd gone further than me, with no mention of being stuck!

MacDuff seemed to be finding the game relatively easy, which made me more determined than ever to succeed

My competitive juices kicked in and I prepared for one more push at getting the combination. The business card really did seem like the obvious (well somewhat obvious) place for the code to be, so I tried typing “turn card over”. Well would you believe it! “Look on back of card” didn’t work but “turn the card over” did, and the code was there!!!! To make matters even worse, if I type “look on back of card” after I’ve successfully seen the code with the other command, it works! WTF? It may not be as bad as the parser issues I faced in Larry 2, but I was feeling pretty pissed off at wasting the better part of half an hour trying to find a code when I knew exactly where it was all along. Taking a few deep breaths, I tried to appreciate the fact that I now knew the code, and opened my locker. By this stage, I had a grand total of 17 points after an hour and a half of hard work!

Look at the curves on that baby! I bet it packs a decent punch too!

Inside the locker I found the gun I needed, some handcuffs, some ammo, and a picture of Marie in a bikini. I took all but the photo (which can't be removed), and prepared myself to hit the road. I had the feeling that the first location I should visit would be the jail, since that’s where Bains had kidnapped the jailer and escaped. After my experiences with the first game in the series, I was certain I would have to check the unmarked car on every side before getting in, but that turned out to be unnecessary in the sequel. It appears that either baddies had stopped car bombing between 1987 and 1988, or the game developers realised how annoying this feature was in the first game. I’m actually thinking it must be the former, since when I tried to get in the car I was told that I really should put my field kit in the trunk. I sighed and followed the game’s instruction.

If you say so!

Believe it or not, none of the struggles I’d had so far could compare with what I was about to face. When I got in the car, Keith hurriedly joined me, and we prepared to go. But then...I received a message through the radio telling me to come back to the station. “You haven’t followed your orders. Get back here NOW!” What now?! Did I misread my orders? I then appeared in front of Captain Hall where I got a working down like a small child that’d disobeyed its parent’s commands. I checked my screenshots to see exactly what my orders were. “I want you boys to answer any and all calls that might be even remotely connected to this dirtbag. Find a mug shot of that punk, and get on this immediately!” Was I supposed to answer calls somehow? Was there a radio somewhere I was supposed to pick up like in the first game? Was I supposed to do something with the mug shot I found in the file?

Would you mind just repeating what those orders were? a different way this time?

It suddenly dawned on me that I’d not yet taken my newly collected weapon to the shooting range. I couldn’t see how that was going to help, but with nothing else to do, I made my way there. I didn’t know what to ask the guy standing out the front for, so I wandered in, drew my gun, loaded it, raised it, and fired at a target. A message appeared telling me that I really should have ear protectors on. I lowered my gun, walked out to the man, asked for ear protectors, put them on, re-entered the range, raised my gun, and fired again. Success...well sort of! My gun needed adjustment to shoot accurately, so I spent the next ten minutes or so firing at targets, bringing them closer by pressing the view button, seeing where the bullet had hit compared to where I aimed, then replacing the target paper, then pushing the back button to move it back into position, then going out and getting more ammo from the guy, then re-entering the range, then loading my gun, then raising it, then firing it, then pressing the view button, then seeing where the bullets hit, then....oh you get the picture! Eventually I had a fully functional, accurate firearm and received a few points for the effort, but it wasn’t as much fun as it might have been!

I took out quite a bit of frustration on this poor target.

Unfortunately, having a gun that shot accurately wasn’t one of my orders. I really didn’t know what to do next, but decided the most obvious solution was to try to give the mug shot to Captain Hall again, in about 182 different ways. I failed, and could find no radio or “calls” to answer either. I tried getting in the car again out of pure desperation, only to be told off even more aggressively and suspended with a game over message. There were two choices left to me at this point. I could go to the readers, having to admit that Police Quest 2 had defeated me during the very first session, or I could start over and see if I’d just simply missed some vital piece of information along the way. I decided on the latter, but only because I really hadn’t made it very far. I figured it would take under half an hour to get back to where I was, and hopefully I’d find the clue I needed on the way.

Except for the one I'm waving in front of your stupid face you moron!

I won’t bore you with my second play through, but should tell you I had one more interesting discovery during it. While scouring the Homicide Department, I came across some papers on Captain Hall’s desk that had the passwords to the computer. I was then able to gain access to the Criminal and Personnel sections using the passwords. Unfortunately, I found nothing that would help my cause, but I did find out who The Gremlin was in the first Police Quest (the practical joker that was causing so much trouble for Sergeant Dooley)! It was Laura Watts! Only later would I read Ilmari’s challenge to discover The Gremlin and know that I’d already succeeded. I wish I’d had that exciting news at the time, because I was starting to get a bit disgruntled. I’d not found anything new and had played through the whole thing so far twice! I tried driving the car again, if only to see what the Captain said afterwards, hoping to get something...anything...that I could use. Nothing.

Aha! The Trickster 1 Ilmari 0

I tried driving again, knowing that I would then receive a different, and more aggressive message from the Captain, with the same plan of studying his response. I sat there in the car and waiting for the radio to buzz with the message to return to the station. I sat there some longer. The message never came! I quickly saved in case the message was just delayed and I was somehow going to just get away with it this time if I left the station quickly. Seriously folks, I was now able to drive the car with Keith and go to the jail, but I have absolutely no idea why! If anyone can tell me why, I'll happily dish out points. Police Quest 2 has been a brutal experience for me so far, and for all the wrong reasons too! It took me a total of two and a half hours to get out of the station, and I reckon about an hour and a half of that was spent fighting bugs, parser issues and line of sight stupidity. I will say that I’ve successfully beaten a fair bit more of the game since the above, and things have got a lot better, but I’ll save that for another post. This one has been torturous enough for all of us!

It's about f#$%ing time!

Session Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 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. The problem you had the first time was that you probably did not turn on the radio to listen to it before heading out.

    You corrected this by turning on the radio before leaving on your last attempt.

    This is a guess on my part from reading your write-up. I have not played this game.

    1. Nope. The radio is on when you get in the car.

  2. The problem you had with the Captain recalling you to the station is a very simple one.

    Once you get the order from the Captain to get a mughsot and start working on Operation TARGET, a timer starts where you have about 5 minutes to start driving to the jail. If you get in the car after the timer expires, you'll immediately be recalled and the game will be over, as you found.

    You're doing much better than I did. I failed to adjusts my gun sights perfectly on my first playthrough. Not having the gun gun sighted before you leave the station results in a dead man walking situation.

    As for the business card with the combination: I found this within the first 1 minute of playing as I found the glove box and I luckily typed "turn over card." I think the parser is not as smart as you think it is. "Look at back of card" is likely interpretted as "look card" because it ignores all the little words between a verb and a noun. The card inventory object is permanently transformed once you "turn over card" (I think "turn card" would work to, as "over" is likely ignored).

    1. What? A five minute timer?!

      I never once considered that there might be a timer. How hard would it have been for the captain to say "You've got five mintues to get your asses out of the station!"

      Even when I copped a gobful for failing to follow orders, I was never given the impression I was in trouble for being tardy. And how does stopping me from leaving help with the fact it has taken me too long to leave?

      So I assume that the timer restarts after you get ordered back into the station, and that's why it worked for me as soon as I went straight back out and tried again?

    2. Oh...and 10 points to MacDuff!

    3. Actually, you don't have to adjust them till much later in the game.

      When I played PQ2 for the first time as a wee lad, I got to a certain point where having a misaligned gun resulted in the death of myself and a bunch of other people. I was able to revert to a save moments before driving to the location that started the scenario, and could freely drive back to the station, fix my sights, and then drive to the location.

    4. In case it helps someone who finds this thread: There's a workaround for the timer.

      If you get in the car after the 5 minutes have expired, the game still waits a brief moment before the radio call that tells you to go back to the captain.

      If you immediately type "drive jail" the moment you get in the car (and thankfully this game pauses the moment you type the first letter), you can get away with the timer being expired.

  3. Ouch... my 51 is seemingly more likely than not after THAT beginning.

    Another unfortunate case of the "unseen timers, ticking away."

  4. I think this particular timer is pretty forgiving and it makes sense in terms of the game. (As Trickster discovered) you just have to take care of a bunch of stuff at the station before letting the timer get started.

    There is a definite sense of urgency. The Death Angel is on the loose! You need to get out there and catch him! I think the game would be less realistic if it just let you sit around goofing off at the station for hours.

    1. I agree, but it should let the player know about it, or even better, it shouldn't give them the order until they completed everything else.

  5. "...learn from the valuable lessons Police Quest 2 was currently teaching me (i.e. always assume that this game is a bitch)..."

    I'd have thought you would have learned by now that EVERY Sierra game is a bitch. Hell, my whole family learned that on our very first game on our very first computer (King's Quest III) and it lead to us questioning why we kept getting these stupid games every time we bought one.

    1. Yes, you're probably right, but for some reason Police Quest 2 seems abnormally difficult so far. It might just be the case that I've personally run into every possible challenge in the first section of the game. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don't!

    2. Ah, hidden timers. The bane of computer games. "Go, rush, do this."
      *explores game*
      Then either: *Fails due to hidden timer* or *Realism breaks as I catch up anyway*

      *Rushes and misses most of the detail and fun bits of the game*

      Also known as Oblivion/Mass Effect syndrome

    3. I don't see how realism breaks if there's no active day/night cycle anyway. If time doesn't move in a noticeable way, then there's shouldn't be any timers.

    4. "Rush out and save the galaxy, time is of the essence"
      *Spends 16 hours helping people around town with relationship issues*
      *Travels across half the galaxy and back helping some corporation make a new suit of power armour*
      *Visit a couple of casinos*

    5. If the designers truly wanted you to rush out and save the galaxy, they wouldn't have put all those tasty side quests in.

    6. Exactly, but in game my character SHOULD, by all logic, be rushing off to save the world.

  6. I'm just realizing I didn't submit a guess for the score. Oh well, for fun, let's say 47.

    5 minutes is a short timer if you haven't done anything else. They could have alleviated some of that pain by mentioning the lack of a sidearm when talking to the captain, before mentioning the escape.

    Puzzles where the character is supposed to know information (locker combination, computer passwords), really break immersion for me. Having to learn this stuff is counter-intuitive. It's not like it's his first day on the job.

    1. Especially since it wouldn't be that hard to make an in-game reason for the puzzle to exist! The particular example of the locker could have been addressed by having one of your fellow officers like to play pranks on you by changing your locker combination every now and then and you know that he always hides a clue somewhere. This information would be provided by a short pop-up box when you try to open your locker.

      There you go, you get your puzzle and a little more world flavor. At basically no memory cost to the game, since it would have to provide some sort of comment when you tried to open the locker anyways.

    2. I spent a while looking at the manual, expecting things like the locker combination to be in there (as a sort of copy protection).

    3. That's a great solution Mooki.
      I looked in the manual as well. I think PQ1 may have had the locker combo 'hand-written' in the manual as if it was Sonny writing it there to remind himself, which is also a good way to do it.

    4. I also spent quite a while reading the manual, searching for the code or some hint as to what I was supposed to be doing.

  7. That counter puzzle was a BAD idea. It really demands that the player metagame and ask himself, "What are the designers trying to get me to do?" It's only difficult because of the way the room was drawn! Of course, anyone who would walk behind the counter in REAL LIFE would see the storage bins. Argh!

    1. Were the storage bins helpful in some way? Trickster didn't mention getting anything from them.

    2. The storage bin has the field kit.

      I think the counter "puzzle" was bad design also. I think maybe the artist couldn't find a good way to draw the bins so decided to just make them not visible. Or maybe the bins were added to the room after the art was finalized. In the game's defense, the counter is mentioned in the description of the room when you type "look" so a curious player would check it out. I didn't find the counter & field kit until after 2 hours or so of game time.

      Spoiler: V guvax zbfg be nyy bs gur cbvagf lbh trg ol hfvat gur svryq xvg ner bcgvbany. Lbh hfr gur xvg gb trg svatrecevagf, znxr cynfgre pnfgf bs sbbgcevagf, rgp. Lbh trg cbvagf sbe rnpu cvrpr bs rivqrapr lbh pbyyrpg. Ohg V guvax abar bs gur rivqrapr vf rire arrqrq gb pbzcyrgr gur tnzr.

    3. I missed the storage bins on my first playthrough, and only later wondered how I was supposed to collect evidence. If you forget it, it tells you something along the lines of "you can't do that, you don't have your field kit!". Which then made me search the car/station on my second attempt.

    4. Oops! I forgot to mention that the field kit was in the storage bin. I'll add an little edit now!

  8. Congratulations on passing my challenge! I'll have to come up with something more difficult in later games ;) Oh, and I promised McDuff five of my own CAPs for finding the Gremlin first, if you didn't notice it yet.

    I must say that Sonny isn't at his brightest in this game, forgetting what codes he uses and where some of his personal belongings are - could be that he's trying to act blond. Speaking of Sonny's hair colour, it seems to change in every game. I bet we would have seen him redheaded, if there had been more Police Quests.

    I too remember being caught by the Captain too many times to count when I played this game. I wonder if this timer problem has something to do with playing the game with too modern a computer? Many of the Sierra games from late 80s and early 90s have such speed issues, which often make the game difficult or even unplayable. Then again, DosBox should probably take care of these problems.

    1. I'll transfer the points at the end of the game.

  9. Yes, Trickster, we had the same issues with the parser. I had issues in other areas though, one in particular being particularly annoying.

    spoiler: Gurer'f n cneg jurer lbh ivfvg Onvaf' zbgry ebbz, naq fbzrubj lbh ner fhccbfrq gb svaq n ohfvarff pneq va gur fvax. V hfrq n jnyxguebhtu ng guvf cbvag, ohg gur cebprqher V unq gb tb guebhtu jnf "ybbx onguebbz" (juvpu vf uvqqra bhg bs fvtug), juvpu gryyf lbh gung vg unf n gbvyrg/fubjre/fvax, gura V unq gb glcr "ybbx fvax" gb frr gur pneq. Abguvat orsber gung jvyy gryy lbh gurer'f nalguvat gurer! Orgjrra gung naq nabgure vapvqrag jvgu n obql va n gehax, vg jnf n ybat gvzr orsber V ernyvfrq jurer lbh arrq gb tb ng gur raq!

    1. Spoiler: V svavfurq gur tnzr jvgubhg rira ragrevat gur zbgry! V arire ybbxrq ng Jbbql Eboregf unaq, fb V arire xarj V jnf fhccbfrq gb tb gb gur zbgry nsgrejneqf. Nsgre gur Pbebare cvpxrq hc Jbbql'f obql, V urnqrq bire gb Znevr'f. V qvqa'g xabj jurer gb tb arkg, fb V gevrq gur nqqerff yvfgrq va Onvaf' svyr. Gurer vf cbyvpr gncr pbirevat gur qbbe. V thrff V fxvccrq guvf ragver frdhrapr ohg fgvyy jba gur tnzr.

      Ba bar bs zl cynl-guebhtuf V neevirq gb gur jnerubhfr yngr naq rirelguvat jnf tbar! V erfgberq gur tnzr orpnhfr V xarj V zvffrq fbzrguvat, ohg V jbaqre vs lbh pna onfvpnyyl fxvc rirelguvat naq whfg trg n gvpxrg gb Fgrrygba?

    2. Jnvg jung? Gurer ner znal fxvccnoyr frpgvbaf va guvf tnzr! Njj, guvf qbrfa'g obqr jryy sbe gur org V cynprq. Zl bja cynlguebhtu jbhyq unir tbar fb zhpu rnfvre vs V unq xabja V pbhyq fxvc gur jubyr qvivat cneg...

    3. Va beqre gb trg gb gur raq, lbh arrq gb xabj jurer Pbyol yvirf. Bgurejvfr, Xrvgu jbhyqa'g or noyr gb trg gur qrcnegzrag gb cnl sbe lbh gb syl gurer. Abg fher rknpgyl jung gur gevttre vf gb nyybj vg, ohg V guvax V jnf bayl noyr gb tb bapr V'q tbg gur ohfvarff pneq naq fcbxra gb Pbyol.

      Nyfb, jbefg jvgarff cebgrpgvba rire, jvgu Pbyol abg bayl xrrcvat uvf anzr, ohg hfvat vg sbe uvf ohfvarff...

      Nyfb, jurer qb lbh zrna jura lbh fnl "jnerubhfr"?

    4. Spoilers: Lbh pna svaq bhg jurer Qbanyq Pbyol yvirf (Fgrrygba) ol ybbxvat uvz hc va gur svyr pnovarg va (V guvax) gur Ohetynel bssvpr. Uvf Fgrrygba nqqerff vf evtug gurer. Pbyol'f nqqerff vf abg fubja va uvf svyr ba gur pbzchgre.

      V svavfurq gur tnzr jvgubhg rire pnyyvat Pbyol. V bayl pnyyrq gur Fgrrygba Cbyvpr. V pnyyrq gurz sebz gur nvecbeg cubar. Pbyol jnf xvyyrq ol Onvaf va zl tnzr.

      V nyfb arire sbhaq n ohfvarff pneq.

      Ol jnerubhfr V zrna gur jnerubhfr jurer Jbbql Eboreg'f obql vf sbhaq va gur gehax bs n terra pne.

      V znl gel gb svavfu gur tnzr ol fxvccvat nf zhpu nf V pna, whfg frrvat ubj fbba V pna ohl n gvpxrg gb Fgrrygba.

    5. Gur jnerubhfr guvat jnf cebonoyl n oht. Jura V cynlrq gur tnzr bire n qrpnqr ntb, V sbhaq zlfrys va n fvzvyne cerqvpnzrag - gur cynpr jnf rzcgl naq Xrvgu pbzcynvarq jung jr jrer qbvat gurer. Gura V whfg ragrerq gur pne naq rkvgrq ntnva - naq zntvpnyyl gur pevzr fprar unq nccrnerq.

  10. Oh and as for completing it quickly, on my fourth and final (winning) attempt, I reckon it took me around 2 hours to finish. So if you know what you're doing, it's really a short game. With all the restarts, figuring out puzzles and general frustrations it took me a few more hours though.

  11. Oh Trickster I feel your pain. I only played and completed this game myself a few months ago myself for the first time. Everything you describe in your play is basically everything I came out against.

    1. It shouldn't make me feel better that others experienced the same pain as me...but it does! ;)

    2. Add me to the growing list of frustrated souls. I hated PQ2's beginning and spent most of my time at the station wandering aimlessly from room to room waiting for something to fall into place. Calibrating my gun took ages and an unnecessarily large amount of typing. The morose room descriptions drove me bonkers, and I don't appreciate that so many actions are so nitpicky about the position of your character!

      I was so disoriented at first that I didn't notice the patrol car keys, and tried to hit the streets on my personal car. (I know, silly!) I got pulled over by a cop who in a trembling voice informed me that the captain wanted to see me... and we segue into a screen where I'm being personally scolded by the cap for not following "orders". Would you care to be more specific about what part of your orders I'm not following? I'm trying to get to the jail, dammit! My partner only tells me "you go ahead, I´ll be right behind you" or something of the sort.

      The pace does pick up once you're out of the station... but I can't shake the nagging feeling that I may have left something behind, or that I'm doing things out of order (you have a certain amount of freedom and can revisit locations).

  12. There is a funny Easter Egg in this game. ROT13 because it might give Trickster a hint:

    Gel qvnyyvat gur Fvreen Uvag Ubgyvar hfvat gur cubar: gjb-mreb-avar - fvk-rvtug-guerr - fvk-rvtug-svir-rvtug. Guvf ahzore vf sbhaq va gur znahny. V gubhtug gur erfhyg vf cerggl shaal.

    Nyfb, purpx bhg gur gerr va Pbggba Pbir. Nccneragyl Fbaal & Znevr unir xabja rnpu bgure fvapr uvtu fpubby. Znlor gung jnf erirnyrq va CD1. Ohg V unira'g cynlrq CD1 erpragyl fb V qvqa'g xabj.

  13. I actually installed and started the game with the intention of playing along.
    The turn card puzzle quickly made me change my mind.
    I just no longer have the patience to play Sierra games, but I enjoy reading about others playing them. :)

  14. You know, that raises a point that has been raised a lot lately on game sites like IGN, Kotaku, Destructoid, GameSpot, etc. ...

    Modern games really coddle gamers to the point where patients is pretty much eliminated beyond the immediate obstacle. This usually gets brought up in reviews of games like Demon's Souls/Dark Souls/I Wanna Be the Guy/et al.

    On the other hand, maybe it's just a Sierra thing. I remember making the switch from Sierra to LucasArts when my dad finally picked up The Secret of Monkey Island for my sister and me... and being stunned, STUNNED that Guybrush couldn't die (well, you know what I mean). It was shocking.

    So I guess the real question is: how did Sierra "get away with it," so to speak? Did we look past the insane difficulty because of the gorgeous art/sound, the ingenious puzzles, the compelling stories?

    Or was there just not a lot of competition back then?

    1. I think lack of competition was a big part of it.

      In the 80s there were much fewer story-based games released each year so you'd spend a lot of time on each of those games.

      And the competition's gotten even more fierce - PQ2 now has to compete for my time with every game that came out in the past 20 years and new games being released constantly.

      When you have 100+ games you haven't even started yet (Thank you Steam and GOG sales) spending days on a single puzzle when the solution turns out to be illogical isn't something I relish these days.

      But I think it was also the case that nobody had really tried otherwise at the time.

      Each game you bought was expected to be challenging enough that it would take months to complete, if at all. Action games made the enemies move faster/hit harder as you got further. RPGs made you grind the same enemies until reaching max level. Adventure games had to keep you occupied for just as long by making hard to guess puzzles and making you play the game from the beginning when you hit a dead end.

      In fact, I think most games in the 80s were deliberately made so the vast majority of players would never finish them.

      Once Monkey Island showed an adventure game can be fun and challenging (and financially successful) without dead ends, I think even Sierra gradually went the same way.

    2. Sierra games really aren't that bad, most of the time when you fail you'll have a good idea why. Generally, they appeared to be built around you failing and trying new things.

      Having the player-character die is sometimes a great way of telling the player that they did something wrong, and giving a hint about how to go about that task in a different way.

    3. I think I appeared harder on Sierra than I really am.

      I did enjoy their games back in the day, but I enjoyed them despite the dead ends instead of because of them.

      I agree with you about deaths, and Sierra's death scenes are some of the most entertaining parts of their games.

    4. I think that like pretty much everything in life, there's a balance that works well. I enjoy both old and modern games for different reasons. The old ones were often very creative and the player was forced to use their brain a lot more, but the new ones are slick and pretty, with proper gripping storylines and soundtracks worthy of cinema. I just wish that more would have a mix of the two!

      I actually don't have an issue with the difficulty level of the games I've been playing over the last six months. I'm not sure I believe that the developers purposely tried to make players have longterm deadends or used parser flaws as a way to make their games seem longer. Sierra was cranking out games incredibly quickly and with very few people involved. I'd like to think that the majority of the serious flaws were accidental rather than intentional. Then again, I'm a glass is half full type of guy!

  15. There's a flash sale with all Pendulo games (Runaway, etc.) on Steam. It lasts only 9 hours or so, so hurry if you're interested :). Personally not a big fan though.
    Dear Esther is also on sales, it has some good reviews.

  16. Hit my first dead end yesterday. To be honest it wasn't that bad -- the game started referencing events and information that I hadn't witnessed or acquired, which clued me in that I had missed something. While I'm disappointed that there aren't failsafes in place to avoid these narrative inconsistencies, at least they make it easier to identify the problems.

    Of course backtracking is another issue. I lost easily half an hour of progress, if not more.

  17. I have to think the genre was new back then.. so people tried to do things one way and they were kind of successful so they kept doing them that way and then a revolution in the industry happened.. and you had different challenges in games like Monkey Island.. now we can look back over all the styles of games and pick them apart because we have perspective of the innovations.. but back then Sierra was forging bold new game content.

  18. I'm only reading entries as I come to them in my own playthroughs, so I'm nowhere near caught up to the current, but it's my understanding that Trickster is no longer active on this blog. Nevertheless, for the sake of posterity, I feel I need to point out that the puzzle about the number on the back of the business card was misrepresented here.

    I suppose Trickster must have misspelled something and not realized it, because I can confirm that typing "look on back of card" DOES indeed result in turning the card over, regardless of whether it's the first time you've done it or not.

    Interestingly, though, it's slightly different if you're still sitting in your car when you attempt this. While still in your car, "look back of card" works just fine, but "look on back of card" or "look at back of card" both reply with a joke: "You see an adventure gamer looking over your shoulder." I assume the parser only looked at the first three letters and assumed you were trying to look in the back seat of the car. (Similarly, standing next to the car and typing "get in card" will cause you to enter the car.)

    Anyway, just wanted to point out that the parser, while still clearly needing work, wasn't quite as bad here as the initial post makes it out to be.

  19. You're right about Trickster no longer being active here, but thanks for the correction anyway - and more interestingly thanks for the info on the parser peculiarities.

    1. I'm still playing the game so I haven't gotten to the final score post yet, but I really hope Trickster didn't penalize the game any points for this particular puzzle. Especially since I just noticed that the solution is included in the introductory walkthrough in the manual LOL.

  20. Oh man! This is almost exacly how I spend my first 1,5h with the game. But I surrender and read a walkthrough. I think PQ1 was great even if it is a game that you just have to follow manual to complete. But it was refreshing and I was glad for the almost "easy mode" with that one. Now we're back to classic Sierra bullpoop! I hate puzzles where you have to figure out codes/passwords your charackter should know, I hate when you have to look at every single plain object in game and then look again at every object it mentions. There is about 10 desks in the police station and only one has to be exmine more but there is no indication that there is something special (as opposed to bulletin board when it says there also keys). And this timer I didn't know existed! Ohhhh I hope it gets better cuz this short intro is a sum of everything I hate about Sierra adventure games. But I still keep coming back for more :)