Thursday 31 January 2013

What's Your Story? - Draconius

I've just completed Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but while I put the Won post together, I thought we'd celebrate another one of the blog's fine readers. Draconius! It's scary just how much Draconius' answers sound like my own, and he could very well live around the corner from me as well. Small world!'ve got something hanging out of your nose!

My home country is… Australia. Live in the best part of Sydney, the Northern Beaches. Always have done always will.

My age is… 37

The first adventure game I played was… The first that I remember playing was The Hobbit on my Commodore 64. Never got over/through the Misty Mountains. I also remember playing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but I don’t think I even made it out of Arthur Dent’s bedroom. Damn the genius of Douglas Adams, no one else could come up with so many obscure puzzles. First Graphic Adventure game I played would have been King’s Quest 1 at a friend’s place. Loved it and was hooked on adventure games from then on. First I owned would have been Space Quest 3 for the Atari ST (hey that rhymed).

My favourite adventure game is… Hero’s Quest series. I will always call the Quest for Glory series Hero’s Quest. Mainly because of that first game. So if I had to pick one I would choose the first one for nostalgi sake. Only just now finished Hero’s Quest 5 about a week ago. I really enjoyed it too.

I've heard very conflicting opinions about game 5. Hearing that you enjoyed it gives me hope I will too!

I like my games in (a box, digital format)… A box. At least originally. Nowadays though the boxes are just DVD cases with a disc so it’s becoming less important one way or another. Loving GoG though.

When I’m not playing games I like to… Read, mostly fantasy (finishing A Song of Ice and Fire at the moment. Had to start reading it so I could watch Game of Thrones, even though I hate reading an unfinished series and having to wait years for the next book ever since the Wheel of Time. Anyone who has been reading that will know what I mean) Favourite is Tolkien from The Silmarillion to Lord of the Rings. Just love the whole mythology he created. Watch movies/TV. Play piano/sing. Collect Transformers (the original Generation 1 stuff). Oh yeah, I have a 4 year old and 2 year old twins who also keep me a tad occupied.

The collector in me wants these bad!!!

The thing I miss about old games is… Adventure games, although they are making a comeback in the Indie scene and as episodic downloads (which I hate. Just give me the whole game in one go). I also miss the big interesting manuals and extra goodies that you used to get in big boxes too. That seems to be a recurring loss for this question. But there was nothing like opening up a new Ultima game and having your cloth map, interesting books to read, seeing what little trinket you’d get this time, would it be an ankh,a coin, some stones. So much to do while you spent the required half hour installing the game from the 8 or 10 enclosed floppies.

The best thing about modern games is… The advances in tech. Don’t get me wrong, great graphics and sound don’t make a great game. I still love playing the earlier Ultima games which certainly couldn’t be said to have either. But when you get a great game now like Batman: Arkham Assylum/City where everything goes click, there’s nothing like it.

I saw this on the side of a bus once and wanted to play it. Damn marketers that use sex appeal to catch my attention!!!

If I could see any band live it would be… The Beatles. I know I can’t, still I can wish. Blind Guardian if I was going to pick someone still performing

The one TV show I never miss is… Doctor Who. I’m a bit of a Doctor Who tragic. Loved it as a kid, still love it. Have a collection of DVDs only missing 2 stories because they haven’t released them yet (oh and the series that’s only half finished of course). I’ve even got the lost episodes as reconstructions in DVD format with matching cases so they fit in nearly seamlessly with the bought stuff. And it turns 50 this year, think I might have to start at An Uneathly Child and work my way through to celebrate this year. Also love Game of Thrones. Other series I like: The X-Files, Black Adder, Red Dwarf, Buffy/Angel, Stargate, Star Trek, Alias. None come close to Doctor Who though

I must admit I've thought about watching Doctor Who from start to finish (I don't think I've ever seen one that doesn't have Tom Baker in it). Maybe Draconius and I can blog our way through it one day! The experienced and the inexperienced, traversing the universe with the good Doctor!

My favourite movie is… Lord of the Rings. The extended version. It’s one 10 and half hour movie dammit. It just has 2 intermissions.

One interesting thing about me is… To be honest I really can’t think of anything. I would hope that people I know could answer this question, but  to me whatever I am is just me. I know this seems a bit of a cop out. Then again maybe I’m just boring.

If anyone else wants to send their answers and get 20 CAPs, please send them to

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Game 28: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Villainy 101

Indiana Jones Journal Entry 6: “Well, I got dad out of that Nazi infested castle! I’m almost disappointed that I managed to do it without punching a few soldiers in the face! There was that big muscle-bound guy, but then that was hardly challenging since he was completely smashed when I hit him. Dad didn’t exactly make it easy to get him out once I found him, still refusing to take the easy route and climb out the window. It was inevitable that we’d get caught going back through the castle, but at least the Colonel isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. He accepted my Grail Diary replica and then tied us to chairs mere metres from escape. Since then we’ve made our way to the flight terminal on motorcycle, stolen some zeppelin tickets from some poor bastard, and are currently leaving Germany behind. Somehow I don’t think our troubles are over though!”

I'd take the whole keg if I could!

So where were we...oh that’s right! It was time to test my theory about the weakness of the brute on the top floor of the castle! I took the recently beer-filled trophy upstairs and gave it to him. The big bastard took about twenty seconds to down the whole thing, and then crushed the trophy on his head once again! Surely that would be enough to knock him out? “Er, that was... (HIC!)... good! But I’ll still... (HIC!) ...have to teach you... (HIC!) ...not to come up here!” Seriously!? I was still going to have to fight this guy? Well, no...not really! One little jab was all it took to knock him out cold, so I’m going to take that as a non-combat solution. It seems pretty obvious that the trophy of beer is the most ideal solution to the puzzle. With him out of the way, the rescue of my father seemed very close now!

Never even knew what hit him!

However, the game had one big mystery up its sleeve, and it’s one I haven’t found a completely satisfactory answer to. Just south-west of the brute was Guard 11, who was walking up and down a lengthy corridor. I could easily avoid him by following a short distance, entering one of the empty rooms to my right, then re-entering the corridor further down from another empty room (the two rooms are connected from inside). I could then enter a room with a swanky looking lounge, and collect a key hanging from the candelabra. The problem was that there seemed absolutely no way of getting back out of the corridor without coming into contact with the guard. He accepted no items and no dialogue options resulted in him letting me pass. I must have spent over half an hour trying every way I could think of to avoid him, but failed.

Getting in wasn't all that difficult. Getting out was impossible!

Given my non-combat approach, I restored to just after defeating the brute, and travelled north-west instead. This took me to three locked doors, which I assumed would all be opened by the key in the room guarded to the south. I could also safely assume that these three rooms were the same ones I’d visited through the windows after scaling the castle wall. That meant the only one I was interested in was the middle room, which had two very obvious green wires running into it. I saved my game, and then tried pulling the wires. Unsurprisingly, this act set off the security alarm, and shortly afterwards a heavily armed guard began firing warning shots. Oddly, my father was now standing next to me in the corridor! Then the Colonel arrived on the scene.

Yes Satan. Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you were someone else!

“Ah, Dr. Jones! You have an item I want. I’m sure I can – persuade – you to part with it.” Obviously he was talking about the Grail Diary, so instead of trying any of the useless dialogue options available to me, I offered him the grail replica that I’d collected from my dad’s chest. “Ah, the Grail Diary! I’m glad you decided to cooperate” was all he had to say, and then both dad and I found ourselves tied to chairs and each other in the room containing the secret door on the ground floor. I soon figured out that I could pull or push the chairs to make us shuffle either back or forward along the floor. Knowing that the suit of armour to the right of screen would drop the axe and cut the ropes, allowing us to escape out the secret door, I saved my game and reloaded back to the top floor. I wanted to find out what would happen if I had the key!

Well, we could make the axe fall and cut our ropes, then escape through the secret door in the fireplace? Thoughts?

Long story short, I tried getting the silver key and then defeating Guard 11 so I could take it up to the three doors. This allowed me to unlock the doors, but it didn’t allow me to avoid setting off the alarm. I then tried heading downstairs and deactivating the security system, before coming back upstairs and getting the key. This allowed me to unlock the doors and enter the room with my father in it without setting off the alarm. However, since dad wouldn’t go out the window, the only option was to head back through the castle. I was never going to make it that way, and in fact, as soon as we walked a few feet we were ordered to halt and the same scene occurred with the Colonel demanding the Grail Diary. So, from what I can tell, it really doesn’t matter whether I deactivate the security system or get the key, every scenario results in the same confrontation.

I even tried not cooperating, but ended up in the same place without the real Grail Diary!

I therefore restored my game back to dad and I being tied to a chair, having not fought a single guard on my way through the castle (apart from the one punch knockout of the brute). As expected, we were able to pull the chairs over and over again until we were positioned beneath the axe of the suit of armour. It was probably pretty excessive to make the player pull the chair repeatedly for minutes (I probably clicked Pull and then clicked on the chairs about forty to fifty times) to get in the right position. Luckily I saved my game once I got there, as the first time I pulled the armour; the axe fell directly on top of me, ending my game rather rapidly. The second time I got it right though and we were finally free to open the secret door and leave the castle behind.

Predicting the exact line the axe will take wasn't straight forward

I was still wondering what on Earth I was supposed to have done with the grail painting in the vault though. I tried taking dad to it, but there seemed no way to re-enter any other parts of the castle. I’ve since come to the conclusion that the purpose of the painting is to answer a question that came up much earlier in the game. When Indy was reading the Franciscan manuscript in Walter Donovan’s apartment, he made the statement that it “says a painting was made of the Grail that answers a question my Father had: Does the Grail actually glow?” The painting in the vault must be that painting! Anyway, the only option available was to hop on the motorcycle and head off to Iskenderun. This of course meant that poor Elsa was simply left behind with the Nazis, so I can only assume that she will play a role further down the track. Off we went!

Anyone got a better theory?

Arriving at the travel terminal, I could now switch between Henry and Indy whenever I wanted to. Henry had a few coins in his pocket, but nothing else, and taking control of him didn’t suddenly give me any different actions or anything like that. There was a man standing in front of us in the terminal that we could talk to, so I started up a conversation. The three dialogue options I had available (which are in the image below) didn’t seem like they would be of much use, and that turned out to be correct as far as I could see. To the first question he simply answered “no”, to the second one “that’s none of your business”, and then for the third and final question he rattled off the names of fifteen grandchildren for no apparent reason. I really couldn’t see how any of it was useful, so I moved on.

That third one is a fairly random thing to ask of a stranger!

The only other person I could interact with in the terminal was a man selling tickets behind a counter, and clicking on him caused Indy to request “two tickets on the first flight out of Germany.” The tickets were going to cost us 175 marks, which was 50 more than I had! I quickly became concerned that I was going to have to restore back to the castle to find 50 more marks before returning, but that would almost certainly involve getting into a fight with one of the guards I’d evaded. I couldn’t say anything else to the ticket man, nor was there anything else in the terminal I could interact with. I went back to the man with the fifteen grandchildren and tried talking to him again, but none of the dialogue options were available to me anymore. He must be there for a purpose though, so I restored back to arriving at the terminal and started over.

175 Marks!!! Are you kidding me?!

This time when I asked the man about his grandchildren, I noticed that I was able to use the action interface while he was listing them one by one. I then noticed that he had something sticking out of one of his pockets. Tickets!!! While he was busy talking away, I got Henry to take the tickets from his pocket. Eureka! I felt a little bit bad about stealing the poor guy’s tickets, especially as they were probably to get him on a flight to see his beloved family, but I was searching for the Holy Grail here! Surely that takes precedence! So, where do I use these tickets??? The only thing I could do was walk back out of the terminal the way I came in, at which point I had a distant view of the terminal. There was a plane nearby, but I couldn’t see a zeppelin anywhere.

Stealing from a loving grandpa. The Jones' would stop at nothing to get eternal life!

I hopped into the plane and found myself sitting at the controls. Was I supposed to try to fly this thing? I remembered reading something about flying a plane in the manual, but nothing about controls or how to take off. My father started telling me that “those mechanics are eyeing us strangely”, so I decided to leave the plane for now and see if there was indeed a zeppelin to hop onto. After all, I stole these tickets, so not even using them would seem awfully impolite. I walked to the right of screen and slowly but surely, a zeppelin was revealed, preparing to take off. I hopped aboard as quickly as I could, which turned out to be mere moments before it released its attachments to the ground and began its ascent.

I wonder if I'll get another opportunity to fly a biplane

Once aboard, we were confronted by a man asking us for our tickets. I gave them to him, and seconds later experienced another cut scene of the Colonel back in the castle. He was predictably quite cranky about our escape, stalking back and forth across his office floor. One of the lower guards entered and informed him that “we have reports that the Jones boys have boarded a zeppelin leaving Germany!” The Colonel demanded he “radio to have it turned around at once”, a command the guard eagerly left to obey. It appeared I was going to have to do something to make sure the zeppelin wasn’t turned around, although I didn’t have any idea what that might be at this point. Time to explore...and quickly!

Why thank you! Say...would you mind going away so I can break into some things?

I quickly noticed a hatch in the ceiling and a hole in the wall that I could interact with, but apart from discovering a bolt in the hole, I couldn’t find any way to use either of them. The door nearby was locked, so I left this part of the zeppelin and entered the main floor. There were quite a few tables, with many characters sitting at them, but my “what is” action revealed absolutely nothing I could interact with! Soon enough I was informed that the zeppelin was turning around, which I assumed was not a good thing. I restored back to arriving onboard and tried again. There must be something that will help me open the hatch or do something with the bolt somewhere! Some pixel hunting revealed that I could interact with the bowl sitting next to the piano man, and I knew exactly what to do with it. I took control of Henry, because he had the coins.

My pleasure. Now make something happen that will lead to our eventual salvation.

Using the coins on the bowl resulted in the piano man asking me “what would you like to hear?” I had a few different options of what to suggest, yet it didn’t seem to matter which of them I chose. “No, but I’m sure you’ll like this little ditty.” He began to play a jazzy little number, and shortly afterwards the locked door near the hatch opened and a Nazi soldier walked out. Apparently a lover of music, the soldier wandered over to the piano and lent on it, tapping his feet. I switched to Indy and entered his office, finding a short-wave radio sitting on a desk next to a locker. I didn’t seem to be able to do anything with the radio, so I opened the locker. Inside was a wrench, which I picked up and used on the radio, making a real mess of it. It took me a couple of attempts to do all this before the soldier returned and caught me, but I eventually succeeded and got out unscathed.

Take your time buddy. Take your time.

While the soldier tried to fix the radio, I attached the wrench to the bolt in the hole and used it, causing the hatch to open and a ladder to drop down. Climbing the ladder took me up to a platform, which felt distinctly like it might be part of a maze of sorts. I could see guards wandering around and there were ladders ascending and descending all over the place. I’d made some seriously good progress, so this seemed a pretty good time to stop and get a post out. I have to admit I’m not thrilled at the idea of a maze of ladders and platforms while dodging guards, so hopefully it doesn’t rely on total guesswork. Otherwise I’m still very much enjoying Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I haven’t required any help yet, which suggests it’s not overly difficult, but then I’ve had to use my brain a heck of a lot while playing, which suggests some good puzzle design more than anything else. I wonder how long there is to go...

Happy happy, joy joy

Session Time: 2 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 30 minutes

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

Sunday 27 January 2013

Game 28: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - The Holy Fail

Indiana Jones Journal Entry 5: “These Nazis aren’t real smart, and it’s just as well too. While the castle is crawling with them, I’ve been able to disguise myself as one of them, and then convince a whole bunch of them to let my pass. I’ve actually found where dad is located too, by scaling the outside of the castle and climbing in through the window. Unfortunately the old man isn’t quite as agile as he once was, so I’m going to have to get him out through a more conventional path. Before I can do that, I’m going to have to figure out a way to get past a monster of a man that’s blocking my way on the top floor. I’m a firm believer that everyone has a weakness, and I think I might just have figured out what his is. It’s time to go find out!”

Being bad never felt this good!

At the end of my last post, I’d just put the officer’s uniform on that I’d unlocked in the closet. I figured that I’d now have a much clearer path through the castle. Perhaps the guards would just acknowledge me as one of their own and ignore me altogether?! It didn’t take long for that assumption to be proved incorrect. Coming into contact with Guard 2 just outside the closet still resulted in conflict, so I was still required to use stealth to avoid him. Then Guard 3, who I’d already convinced that I was a servant, called me an intruder and starting swinging hay-makers, because last time he’d seen me I was dressed as a servant. I figured out pretty quickly that I needed to stay dressed as a servant while on the ground floor, only putting the officer uniform on once I took the stairs to the second floor.

Harrison Ford refused to do nude scenes!

Let’s continue my exploration of level two, starting with the security room in the top left corner. I spent a lot of time in this room, trying endless ways to satisfy the guard that I wasn’t an imposter, but nothing worked. I’m pretty sure I offered him every item I had in my possession and took every conversation path possible, but it always ended with a fight. The drunk guard had warned me to “watch out for that text-book Nazi who minds the alarm”, which made me think that this guy wasn’t going to be tricked by any of my pranks. Eventually I decided to fight him; just to see what would happen if I beat him. It took a few attempts as he was pretty decent, but I took him down, allowing me to explore the room unopposed. I found 70 marks on him too, which suggests maybe fighting this particular guard is the right thing to do?

I have a real knack for winning fights with a minimum of health left

The only item in the room that could be interacted with was the security system itself. There were a bunch of lights on the front that I could do nothing with, but the grating on the side was a different story. It was welded into place, so I couldn’t remove it, so I started thinking about other ways I might be able to deactivate it. Liquid always seems a good option for destroying electrical equipment, so I tried using the beer stein on it. It worked, and the security system was deactivated. However, I was still determined to get through the whole castle without fighting a guard. Since I didn’t yet have any idea why I might need to deactivate the security system, I restored my game and ignored the security room for the time being. I could always come back later and fight him again if I absolutely had to.

Proof that beer is the answer to everything!

If you look at the map for the second floor (in my last post), you will see that I needed to get past either Guard 7 or Guard 5 to be able to reach the stairs leading up to the top floor. It had seemed to me so far that the walking guards could generally be evaded or coaxed into letting me pass, but the stationary ones in rooms could not. For that reason, I chose to focus on Guard 5. As usual, he didn’t recognise me and demanded to see my papers. After a few failed attempts, I eventually got past him by taking the superior approach. “Soldier! Is that any way to speak to a superior officer!” put him on the back foot, but he still wanted to see my papers. “Colonel Vogel knows of me. Please call him right away” did the trick though, as he seemed unwilling to disturb the colonel. Excellent, I could now access the rest of the floor and get to the one above too! then you're not one are you!

The room just to the south of where Guard 5 was situated, there was a room with a first aid kit in it. I added it to my inventory, despite hoping I would never need it. North of Guard 5 was a room with a window. While I haven’t mentioned anything about it, there are lots of rooms with windows in the castle, but this one was special. I’d tried opening every window I’d come across, simply because I was able to interact with them, but this one...opened! I hopped through it, out onto a ledge that was apparently pretty slippery. So slippery in fact, that Indy changed into his “action clothes” to better deal with it. Oddly, my version of the game’s graphics really screwed up at this point! A whole section of the outside area was a wash of colours that made it really difficult to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Thankfully the “What is” action allowed me to move the cursor all over the glitch and the game still described to me what was there.

Yes, rainbow waterfalls are very dangerous!

Ignoring the glitch, the first thing I noticed was that I was able to open the other two windows on the level I was standing on. The first one led straight into the room where Guard 7 was posted, so that was a no go. The second one led to an empty room that I’d previously not been able to get into. The door had been locked when approached from the other side, yet I was now able to open it from within. Strangely, there didn’t appear to be anything else in the room of interest. Confused, I jumped back out the window to see if there was anything else I could do out there. I noticed I could interact with a brick above my head and the trellis (lattice) on the right hand side of the screen. I began to wonder if I might be able to get onto the trellis and climb up to the next level. Was this just another way to get there, instead of getting past Guard 5 onto the stairs? Or was something else going on here?!

Indy made his bondage preferences very clear!

I wasn’t able to reach the brick or the trellis unfortunately, nor was I able to use any of my items to help me get there. Interestingly, when I tried using my whip on the brick, I was told that “there’s not enough there for me to whip”. What did it all mean? I hopped back inside the room nearby, and it was only then that I noticed I could interact with the brick from the inside! I pushed the brick, therefore giving myself more brick to whip from the ledge. Hopping back out, I then swung myself over to the trellis using the whip, feeling on top of the world! I climbed up the trellis and now had access to the three windows on the top floor. Considering I’d covered every room on level two, I was happy to enter level three this way and start exploring.

(insert exciting music here)

I entered the first window and found myself in a room with a fireplace and a cabinet in the corner. The only thing I was able to do there was open the cabinet, within which I found 75 marks. I have no idea what the marks are for at this stage, but was happy to take them. I wasn’t able to open the door in the room as it was locked, so I went back through the window. On entering the second window, I was shocked to find my father standing right in front of me! Had I somehow avoided the top level altogether by discovering this alternate route to rescuing dad!? It turned out I hadn’t, as the old man refused to go out by the window. I didn’t seem to be able to converse with him and he didn’t want any of the items I had, so all I could do was explore the rest of the room. There was nothing there, and unsurprisingly I wasn’t able to open the door once again.

Er, Dad, you don't expect ME to find another way in do you?

I left by the window and told dad that I’d come back for him. I never came back this way, nor did I really gain anything other than knowledge of his whereabouts from my courageous climbing act. I’ll be very interested to hear whether there was some other reason or benefit to the whole thing. The last window took me to a completely empty room, so I climbed back down to level two and re-entered the window I’d opened in the first place. Once inside, I took the stairs up to level three (pausing to change into my officer uniform on the way) and ran straight into Guard 9 (see map for level three below). Thankfully this one was easily persuaded to let me pass. As soon as I could tell how nervous he was talking to a superior officer, I criticised the wrinkles in his pants and the sauce stain on his jacket, then demanded he stand aside. It worked, allowing me to continue my quest.

The third and final floor!

I entered the door behind him and found myself in the Colonel’s office. Thankfully he wasn’t there, but his vicious looking dog wasn’t too happy about my presence. As soon as I got close to it, it started growling threateningly. The solution was really quite obvious though, and the beast strolled off to its doghouse as soon as I gave it the roast boar I’d picked up in the kitchen on the ground floor. With the dog out of the way, I was able to get the combination that the Colonel had placed in the file drawer, and I was also able to collect the trophy that was sitting on top of the cabinet. I wasn’t at all certain of where the vault would be located, although the large room filled with paintings seemed the most likely place. I’d not found anything that resembled a vault when I’d first checked it out, but then I hadn’t had the combination then anyway. I decided to continue my exploration of the top floor, and head back downstairs later if need be.

Indiana Jones: Dog Whisperer

My next encounter was one that many of you have mentioned in comments. A large brute of a man stood between me and the rest of the floor, but he didn’t look like the type of guy I wanted to get into a fight with. I was able to talk to him, but no matter what I said, it always ended with a fight I had little chance of winning. I began looking at my inventory, wondering whether there was something I might be able to offer him. I tried giving him all the cash I’d collected, but he refused to take a bribe. I then gave him the stein of beer, and watched as he firstly sculled the whole thing in moments, and then secondly crushed the stein on his head! Once he was done, he said “I barely tasted that thimbleful, and you’re still not allowed up here”, before sending me away. Hmmm...did I have something larger I could fill with beer? Yes I did! The trophy!!!

A little thirsty buddy?

After restoring (I might still need the beer stein), I quickly took the trophy back down to the kitchen on the ground floor, remembering to change into my servant’s uniform on the way. It took a while, but I was able to fill the trophy with beer! Before heading back upstairs, I thought I’d take the opportunity to revisit the room with all the paintings now I had the vault combination. My instincts were telling me that the vault must be in there somewhere. I tried picking up, pulling and pushing a few of the paintings and statues until I finally had some success! Pushing the Mona Lisa out of the way revealed a vault door, which I was able to open with the combination I’d retrieved from the file drawer in the Colonel’s office. Everything was falling into place now and I was very excited to find out what was inside the vault that the Colonel felt was so important.

You mean the vault combination? Good thinking Indy!

Inside was the painting of the Grail that the Colonel had asked one of his guards to protect with his life right back in the opening castle cut scene. Sitting alongside it was the small painting I’d given to that guard to get him out of the way. Strangely, I wasn’t able to pick up either of the paintings, nor was able to do anything else with them. I tried everything imaginable, but if there was any purpose to breaking into the vault, it evaded me. I decided to move on, hoping that the solution would come to me down the track. Perhaps I needed my father with me when I entered the vault? Perhaps I would find an item later that would do something? For now, it was time to head back upstairs to that thug of a man, to see if he was as tough as he thought it was. Stay tuned to find out what happened!

Surely there's a reason to be here?!

Session Time: 1 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 30 minutes

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

Friday 25 January 2013

Game 28: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Nazi Drunks

Indiana Jones Journal Entry 4: “This castle is filled with damn Nazis! There are too many to fight my way through, as enjoyable as that would be, so I’m going to have to take the stealth approach. It helps when they can’t hold their liquor, as I managed to get a bit of information out of one particularly inebriated guard (along with his beer mug). If I’m going to sneak my way to wherever they’re holding dad, disguise is going to be the key, so it’s damn fortunate that they stash their clothes on the first floor. Dressing as a servant got me far enough in to find the key to unlock the officer’s uniforms. I never thought I’d find myself in one of these bland outfits, but I’ll do what it takes to get to dad, and hopefully do some damage to whatever there up to while I’m at it.”

Getting into the castle was easy...

I’ll say straight off the bat that it took me no less than five hours to get through Brunwald Castle! There are a few different reasons why it took me that long, but the main one is undoubtedly my obsession with getting through without having to fight a single guard. I won’t give the game away and reveal whether I was successful in that quest. There’s no way that reading through a blow by blow description of all five hours could remain interesting, so I’m going to take a different approach. I’ll move my way through the castle in the most ideal way I could figure out, revealing all the challenges I faced and revelations I discovered in each section as I go along. Before I start, I should point out that I was able to map out the castle in Excel, since all the corridors are in the north, east, south, west directions. This definitely helped me to figure out the best way of doing things.

When it comes to mapping, right angles and straight lines are my friends!

My last post finished with me having just convinced the butler to leave the castle to go see his relative. As soon as he left, a message popped up saying “Meanwhile, elsewhere in the castle...”, and I was then witness to a scene within the Colonel’s office. I know both Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken utilised cut scenes to inform the player of goings on that they otherwise couldn’t possibly know about, but for some reason I hadn’t expected to find them in Indiana Jones. In this particular scene, Colonel Vogel commanded one of his guards to “protect that priceless painting we just acquired”, because “the Fuhrer is VERY interested in it”. The guard accepts the order, but only after commenting that “it’s just a painting of an old cup!” So, the Nazis have a rare painting of the Holy Grail locked up somewhere in the castle, but I had no idea whether that’s something I should try to retrieve.

Painted by a young boy with no knowledge of the Grail's appearance for that matter.

The castle has three floors, with the first one being split into two separate sections. If you look at the room where the butler interrogated me, you will notice there are exits at the back of the room and to the right (there are actually two to the right, but they both end up in the same place). I took the exit to the rear as soon as the cut scene was over, and found myself in yet another top down maze-like environment. While this made me sigh loudly after having just got out of the Venice underground, I quickly realised that I was going to be able to map this one, so settled into it. There are only two locations of interest in this section, so I won’t bother describing any of the rest. The first one I came across was a very drunk guard, and I do mean drunk! The guy could hardly stand up, and didn’t even contemplate the fact that I might be an intruder.

The dotted lines mark doors or stairs by the way.

Below you can see the options I had available to me when starting a conversation with him, and I would eventually try every conversation path possible to make sure I found the optimal dialogue. Saying “Hello, and how are you?” caused the guard to respond with “Terrible. I’ve run out of ale.” When I offered to get him another drink, he thanked me and gave me an empty beer stein. The only useful information I was able to get out of him was that “the big fellow on the third floor can be nashty when he’s shober”, that I should “watch out for that text-book Nazi who minds the alarm”, and that there are only a dozen Nazis in the castle. This all seemed like useful information, but I set out to find the poor guy a drink. He seemed to think there was a kitchen somewhere around the place, but couldn’t figure out which direction it was in.

This guy was amusingly pissed!

The kitchen was in fact just next door, and in it I found a keg of beer and a large roast cooking over hot coals. Using the stein on the keg made Indy fill it with beer, but before I went back to the drunk, I spent some time investigating the roast. The meat and the coals were way too hot to touch, and I didn’t have anything in my possession that might be able to assist with that...except for the beer! I used the beer on the coals and the fire was put out, causing a heap of steam that lasted a few seconds. I was then able to pick up the entire roast and put it somewhere on my person! I didn’t seem to be able to do anything with the coals, so I refilled the stein and went back to the drunk. He simply thanked me for the beer and nothing else happened, making me think the stein’s purpose was to put out the fire and nothing more. I offered to get him another drink anyway, and filled the stein one more time in case it had another use down the track.

Throwing beer on the coals probably gave the roast boar an added flavour boost too!

With that section of the castle done with, I took the second doorway out of the starting room. Here’s where things got challenging! Immediately I could see two guards walking up and down corridors. Running into either of them caused them to interrogate me and eventually start throwing punches. Besides the fact that I’d committed to trying to get through the castle without fighting, any attempts resulted in me losing more than half my health. Since there are twelve guards in the castle and Indy’s health doesn’t regenerate, fighting every single one just wasn’t going to be an option. I began taking the stealth approach, waiting until Guard 2 (see map below) was facing away from me, before bolting into rooms. I could get to two rooms using this technique, but getting out without him seeing me was challenging to say the least.

Where you see the same guard multiple times, it represents the path they walked up and back

The first room I came across was a hall, with a large table, a fireplace, and two complete suits of armour as decoration. There were only two items that I was able to interact with, being one of the suits of armour and the statues at the fireplace. Interestingly, if I interacted with the armour in any way (Push, Pull, Open, Pick Up etc.), the axe would fall from its grasp and stick into the floor. Indy would then say “oops” and then pick it up and put it back. I couldn’t seem to do anything else, so I figured eventually I would have something in my inventory that needed to be cut into at least two pieces. I tried using the roast, but that didn’t work. Pushing the belly of the left statue caused a secret door to open up in the fireplace. I saved my game and walked through to see what was hidden beyond.

I really wanted to put this armour on. See how the Nazis like facing a knight with an axe!

The secret door took me outside the castle, where I found a motorbike parked at the rear. I tried using it to see what would happen, and Indy told me “I’m not leaving without my father”. I could only assume that the secret door was to be used to escape once I’d found my father, so restored back inside the castle (the secret door had closed behind me so I wasn’t able to walk back in). I then used stealth to access the second room without being seen by Guard 2, which turned out to be a closet. I was pretty excited when I saw a grey officer uniform in the rack, but that feeling was short lived as there was some sort of lock stopping me from picking it up. There was however a servant’s uniform, which I picked up and put on immediately, hoping it would allow me to sneak past a few guards unnoticed.

I guess I put my entire outfit in the same pocket that has the roast boar in it

When I walked out of the closet I was confronted by the guard, and no matter what I said to him, it always ended up with him being suspicious of me and then fighting me. In the end there seemed no way to avoid fisty-cuffs, so I had to restore until I left the closet while he was facing away from the door (by chance) and then stealthily move out of the corridor. There was no way I was going to be able to evade contact with Guard 3 though, and since there was no other path to take in the castle, I set about talking my way passed him. Through trial and error, I figured out the only way to get the guard to let me pass. I told him I was “on an errand for one of your fellow soldiers”, that the errand was “to pick up some boots to polish”, that the boots were “on the second floor and their owner is on guard duty”, and then finally that the fellow soldier was “on guard, just like you.” Answering his questions in this exact way resulted in him saying “I suppose that’s OK. You may go to him.”

Fat guards are always stupid apparently!

The guard didn’t disappear; he just didn’t bother me anymore, allowing me to walk through that corridor unopposed. Past him were some stairs, leading up to the second floor, which I took. The second floor was by far the largest and most challenging of the castle sections, and it’s where I spent the majority of the five hours. When I describe what occured there, it will probably sound easy, and you might wonder why it took me so long. But hindsight is a beautiful thing, and many things that now seem obvious were anything but at the time. You might also be thinking that all of this sounds awfully tedious, and that does seem to be the reaction some of the commenters have had, but I found it all to be challenging in a good way. Mapping it all out to find the best approach, trying to figure out the secret to get past each guard, and then trying to figure out how I was going to save dad really made me use my brain, and was hugely satisfying whenever significant progress was made.

Guard 4 really messed with me on this floor!

The first room of note on the second floor contained nothing more than a chest, inside which I found 50 marks. With that collected, I continued on my way, running into Guard 4. This particular guard caused me no end of pain. I could avoid him by waiting until he was facing away from me, which would allow me to enter the rooms to the right of him on the map and beyond, but I could find no way to get past him to the doors I could see on the left. I tried everything, including every possible conversation path, but it always ended up with a fight and me restoring. Eventually I simply fought him and beat him to a pulp, which would at least allow me to see whether what was behind him was even worth getting to. The door at the end of the corridor led to a large room containing stacks of paintings of note, but I couldn’t find anything to do in there at all. It did however give me an idea!

I initially wondered what the purpose of this room was. I eventually figured it out.

I restored back to just before I fought the guard and confronted him again. This time I used the "Offer an Item" option and gave him the painting I took from dad’s house. His response was “What are you doing with that? You know the help isn’t supposed to touch anything valuable!” and then he was gone! A few seconds later I witnessed another cut-scene, as the guard took my Holy Grail painting (which I did as a boy) to the Colonel. The Colonel said “Good Work! Here, I wrote the combination to the vault on the back of this form. Memorize it now. I’ll keep it in this drawer if you need it again.” I can’t go on without mentioning the obvious puzzle flaw here. I would never have known how to non-violently pass the guard without defeating him violently to find out what was behind him. I would have had to just try giving him the painting for no particular reason, which I don’t like. I probably wasted an hour because of it, so I have a reason to hold a bit of a grudge.

I can't help but think of Austin Powers when I see these cut-scenes. "I'm putting the combination to the very important vault in the draw right here. You got it?!"

The next room of interest contained another chest, and in this one I found another uniform. Looking at it revealed that it was way too small for me to wear, but that there was something in one of the pockets. A key! I knew straight away that the key would be for the clothes rack in the closet downstairs. Since I found this key long before I finally got rid of Guard 4, this is where I wasted stacks of time. Even if I could get past him through stealth, he would come running and shouting “HALT” as soon as I tried to take the stairs back down to ground floor. Once he was out of the picture though, I was able to go back down to the closet, unlock the rack, and get the officer’s uniform! I’d previously tried using stealth to get through the top floor and failed miserably, so I hoped having the officer’s uniform would get me through. You’ll find out how I went soon enough.

If you can't beat'em...join'em!

Session Time: 2 hours 00 minutes 
Total Time: 5 hours 00 minutes 

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

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Game 28: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Pull the Plug

Indiana Jones Journal Entry 3: “I finally made it through that underground tunnel system beneath Venice. I soon realised there’s no way my father went ahead of me, since many of the obstacles I faced on the way were unsurpassable in their current state. Flooded rooms, broken machinery, stuck levers, he didn’t go through there! I managed to find what he was looking for though, and the second marker in the knight’s tomb suggested our next destination should be Turkey. I can’t believe the Holy Grail might actually exist! Once I was out of there, I found out what happened to dad, and it’s more than a little inconvenient. He’s been kidnapped, and is being held captive in a castle on the Austrian-German border. Elsa and I have just arrived and I plan to scout the place out before trying to rescue him. The Holy Grail will have to wait I’m afraid!”

Indiana Jones waited patiently for the player to return and continue his adventure.

So, my last post ended with me having fully explored the underground area of Venice, and I was about to set off to go look for something I could hold water in. The manhole I exited took me straight to the plaza, where I had another attempt at getting the wine bottle off the two lovers at a table. I really have no idea why, but when I approached them this time and asked if they minded if I took the bottle, the man responded with “Of course not. It was a dreadful wine” and gave it to me. Can anyone explain why he responded this way at this stage, yet he’d said “Indeed I do!! We’re not done with our fine wine yet!” when I first tried? Is it a matter of timing or is there something else at play here that I just didn’t get? Either way, now I had the wine bottle, and went straight back into the underground to see if my instincts were right.

Well make up your mind buddy!

I made my way to the flooded room and used the wine bottle on the pool of water. It worked, so I now had a bottle full of water! I took the water back to the room with the torch stuck in the mud and used the bottle on the torch. Once again, it worked, and while I wasn’t able to remove the torch from the wall, I was able to pull it down. This caused a hole to open up in the ground beneath me, which I subsequently fell into. I found myself with another top down view, meaning I had a whole new maze to get through. As it turned out, it wasn’t a big maze, with only a couple of places of interest. The first thing I came across was a ladder leading back up to the floor above. I hadn’t seen a ladder leading down anywhere, so I ascended to see exactly where it would come out. The answer was the concrete slab that I’d been unable to get a grip on. It makes sense that I was able to push the slab up from below, even if it was too slippery to shift from above.

The little touches are great in the game, like Indy falling into a hole and his hat slowly drifting down after him.

The second place of interest had a narrow bridge, with what appeared to be a wooden plug that was dripping water in the ceiling above it. I figured it must be the plug that I could see in the floor of the flooded room above, but before I tried to figure out how I could pull it out, I crossed the bridge to see what was on the other side. I came across an alcove containing inscriptions all over the wall. The inscriptions described the Grail, and after reading through them, Indy came to the conclusion that “either the account of Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, or that newspaper column about the New Gospel is the correct account of the Grail”. The articles he’s talking about can be found in the Grail Diary that came with the game, and I’m assuming that this finding means the other numerous accounts in the book are nothing more than misinformation. I’ve taken screenshots of these two accounts if you care to read them.

You mean dad wrote red herring grail accounts in his diary in case it fell into the wrong hands? Genius!

Possible correct account number1

Possible correct account number 2

After reading the inscriptions, I moved back to the bridge and set about removing the plug. The first thing I tried was using the hook on the plug, which resulted in Indy screwing it in. I tried using the plug and then using the red cordon with the plug, but neither worked. I then tried using my whip with the plug and watched with great satisfaction as Indy walked to the side, wrapped the whip around the plug, and then pulled it down. The water came rushing through, knocking part of the bridge out on its way through. I felt pretty happy that I’d already crossed the bridge to the alcove, although I could have restored to just prior to the bridge if I hadn’t. With that done, I made my way back to the room with the ladder and up to the floor above.

Now I really feel like Indiana Jones!

I made my way to the previously flooded room, and was now able to climb (well, fall really) down the rocks to the ground. While there appeared to be three new exits to the room to check out, two of them were nothing more than dead ends. I took the third one and found myself in...yes, you guessed it...another little maze. I have to admit that I was getting a little bit fed up with the mazes at this stage, and hoped this was the last section. The first location I came across contained some sort of machinery, although it didn’t appear to work. Seeing the numerous wheels, I decided to try using the red cordon on it and was thrilled when it worked. Indy placed the cordon around two of the wheels forming a belt, and I then I turned the wheel at the side to make the whole thing work. The machine’s purpose seemed to be to lift something up below connected to a chain, although I couldn’t see what it was.

I think someone is making up for inadequacies

With that done, I began wandering through the twisting corridors of this maze section, eventually entering a room with three statues, a closed door, and an exit on the other side to where I entered. I immediately looked at the diary and was shown a “correct” configuration for the statues as well as one labelled “certain death”. By using the statues I could get them to change, but changing one would always cause another to change too. This resulted in me accidentally forming the “certain death” scenario, which caused me to fall through the floor. Strangely, I didn’t die, and was merely taken back to the room with the manhole exit to the plaza. I restored, and this time was able to form the “correct” configuration without too much trouble. The door that was closed now opened, so I went through.

A lot of effort just to lock a door!

The maze continued, as if there was any doubt, and I eventually come across a small bridge leading to a doorway with a chain next to it. This must be the door that I opened when I used the machinery that pulled the chain up, so I took it. It led to a couple more caverns, with the second one containing a locked door and a pedestal with six skulls on it. When I used the skulls, Indy would press them, and they would make a bonging sound. Each of the six skulls made a different sound, ranging from high to low. I looked at the diary and was shown some sheet music. My heart dropped! Clearly I was going to have to replicate the music on the sheet, yet my music skills are on par with my geography skills. Retarded!

I pity the player that arrives at this point and didn't fix the pulley machine!

When I got over my fears, I at first thought it would be fairly straight forward. Each of the lines must represent one of the skulls, so I must simply have to figure out which line represents which skull. Except there were only five lines and six skulls!!!! I quickly noticed that two of the symbols on the sheet music had stems (that’s what I’m going to call them) that went down, whereas the others went up. What did that mean??? The note in the diary said “the excerpt uses an obscure musical notation, and I am not sure why it never has more than six different notes.” Six different notes? How can there be six when there are only four different notes on the sheet? Confused! I decided to treat the first skull like the top line on the sheet and the last skull like the bottom line, therefore pressing them in this order: 1, 5, 6, 5, 1. The door partly opened and then closed!

I have as much chance reading the music as I do the title

I looked up sheet music on the net to try to figure out what the different stem directions mean, and discovered that it means absolutely nothing. The stems go up if they’re on the bottom lines and down if there on the top, but it’s for purely aesthetic reasons. I decided I would try ignoring the end skulls and try 1, 4, 5, 4, 1 and then 2, 5, 6, 5, 2. To my great surprise, the first combination worked, meaning I’d solved the puzzle on my second attempt, despite feeling completely flummoxed by the whole thing. Can anyone explain why there are six skulls? Is my confusion related to my ignorance about music or is this just a devious puzzle that’s solved through a bit of guesswork? Regardless, the door opened, and I raced through before the game could make me do anything else related to the skulls or music.

It opened? Really? You mean I solved it? No...seriously?!

The doorway led to more twisting paths, but it didn’t take me long to find my way through it. The exit from the maze took me into the room containing the casket that I’d seen through the gate about forty minutes prior. I opened the casket and discovered the knight was inside as I’d expected. I was told that “The shield is the second marker Donovan spoke of! It mentions the ancient city of Alexandretta! Today, the city of Iskenderun is built on its ruins. We’ll find the Grail near there!” Of course I had no idea where Iskenderun is, but I figured that piece of information is all I needed. It was time to leave! I went to the gate I’d peered through earlier, hoping that I’d be able to open it from this side. Thankfully, the lock was easily broken from inside as it was rusted (surely I would have been able to break it from the other side), so I was able to exit the underground of Venice.

Please don't come back to life! I fear you would kick my butt!

As soon as I climbed out of the manhole, Elsa approached with news that she knew where my father is. “He’s being held captive in the Brunwald Castle on the Austrian-German border.” It was decided that I would try to rescue my father and then Marcus would meet me in Iskenderum, then we immediately set off. The overhead map view showed a red line leaving Venice and taking an indirect route to the boarder on Austria and Germany, where it stopped. Soon afterwards, I was looking at a rather foreboding castle, complete with lightning and Nazi flags for full effect. I exited the car and told Elsa (who’d apparently come along) to wait while I scouted. Perhaps I wasn’t supposed to enter the castle through the front doors, but that’s what I did. The butler confronted me immediately!

Yes, you just sit in the car right outside the front door of the castle we're about to break into!

I’d decided early on that I was going to try to finish the game without fights if possible, so I set about talking my way into the castle. The butler of course wanted to know who I was, but I instead asked him if he was “the one with the relatives in town”. He responded with “My nephew Otto in Salzburg? Is something wrong?”, to which I said “No, he’s fine, but you must go to him immediately.” He wanted proof that I knew Otto, but I was somehow able to convince him through ridiculous logic, causing the butler to leave. OK, so now I’m in a big castle, likely filled with Nazis, trying to find and rescue my father without assistance. Shouldn’t be too difficult right? Well, you’ll find out how I went tomorrow.

That's a pretty random thing to say to someone. It could actually work!

Session Time: 0 hours 40 minutes 
Total Time: 3 hours 00 minutes 

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