There are plenty of stores and establishments to visit in Neuromancer
Before I kick off this post, I should mention that I restarted the game on resumption, quickly replaying through all the things of note that I’d achieved so far. The main difference this time around was that I had no real need to access the majority of the bases (since I'd either gained nothing from them or had already recorded the data I needed in my spreadsheet), and therefore saved quite a bit of time and money. I also gained second level access to Cheap Hotel this time around, and I was able to wipe my entire bill without paying a cent, just as I’d hoped. This meant that I’d pulled together a pretty large sum of cash by the time I reached the point I finished my last session at ($11210 to be precise), despite having once again purchased a $1000 Hardware Repair chip from Shiva. Before I went looking for places to spend it, I wanted to check out the final couple of bases I knew about using my critically panned UBX deck. I also wanted to try out the Scout 1.0 skill now that Ilmari had informed me how to use it. It turns out that once I’m in a base, I can access my software by pulling up my inventory. This wasn’t made particularly obvious in the manual, and I hadn’t even considered trying it. Perhaps I would have stumbled across it by accident at some point, but in all likelihood I would have gone on and become frustrated once I really needed to use my software when in bases or cyberspace.
Thank you Ilmari! I'd started to think it just wasn't possible.
I began my next session by accessing each of the bases I’d already visited to see just how many access levels they had, finding that Cheap Hotel, Regular Fellows and Consumer Review all had 2, while Asano Computing and World Chess Confederation had 3. That meant that the only base I’d accessed all levels on was Cheap Hotel. With my Scouting done, I tried to access the Panther Modern base, for which Akiko the masseuse had given me the password. My attempt failed with an “Incompatible link” error! The same thing happened when I tried to get into the Bank of Zurich (which once again Akiko had told me about) and also for the Psychologist service. It seemed that Comlink 1.0 had its limitations! I’d been worried that this post was going to end up like the last one, taken up by text-filled images of base visits, but it turned out I was free to continue my exploration of Chiba. The first thing I wanted to do was go back to Cheap Hotel now that I’d paid off my bill. I wasn’t kicked out this time, and as soon as I arrived I was informed that “Your room service order is delivered to you.” There was no-one around to talk to, so I decided to access the PAX to see if there were any new messages on the bulletin board. There was!
Through some sort of telekinesis apparently
Anonymous Bosch, the person that had sent me a message telling me that Shiva had my cryptology chip, had written again to apologise for missing me at the Gentleman Loser. Their reason was disturbing to say the least, but at least they organised another catchup. “Had to sell my pancreas at the Body Shop to raise some cash. Catch you next time. Maybe at Gridpoint?” I wrote that into my spreadsheet and opened up the Night City News to see what was happening in the world. There was a new article with the headline “VAGRANT PAYS HOTEL BILL”! Apparently the owner of Cheap Hotel had called a news conference to report that “Cowboy Tricky has finally paid his hotel bill”! This not only brought a smile to my face, it also told me that I was not in a static environment where my actions had no influence. It’s always satisfying to feel like an active part of a game world, so I hoped that this little bit of humour wasn’t a one off. That was all the news for the day, so I left the hotel, keen to check out some new locations. It felt like it had been ages since I’d hit the street and wandered around!
It was a slow news day obviously!
I reached a section of the street where there was a door to my left and my right, yet the door to Mass Biolabs to my left was locked. I therefore took the door on the right and found myself in the office of Julius Deane. The description warned me that I got “the impression that Julius has a gun pointed at you under the desk”, so I vowed not to mess with this guy. Julius told me that he dealt “in exotic hardware and information”, so I checked out my dialogue options. I could ask him what he knew about a topic of my choosing, or I could say “My friends tell me that someone is trying to kill me. Heard anything?” This seemed a pretty strange thing to say, since no-one had said anything of the sort to me. I chose it anyway, and Julius responded with “Not always easy to know who your friends are, is it?” I was then able to go one step further: “Maybe the people from Cheap Hotel are after me? I ran up a big bill there.”, to which Julius responded with “Of course, if I did hear something, I might not be able to tell you. Biz being what it is, you understand.” No, I didn’t understand quite frankly, but I had a think about what I might be able to ask the guy about.
Julius is a mysterious character, but not as mysterious as the things I said to him
Since he’d told me that he dealt in exotic hardware and information, they seemed like good topics to ask him about. When questioned about hardware, he told me he only had one thing on offer right now, which was a gas mask for $300. I was cashed up, so I bought it. I then asked him about information, but he apparently didn’t know anything about that. I didn’t know what else to do, so I moved on. At the end of the street was the Chiba City Spaceport, where two “JAL shuttles are waiting on the launch pads”. There was a ticket agent offering to sell me tickets too, although I couldn’t help being a tad concerned when I witnessed another craft crash and burn on the runway through the glass windows (another very funny touch!). I was keen to know where I might be able to travel to, so I spoke to the woman at the counter. I had the choice of flying to Freeside for $1000 or to Zion Cluster for $500. I knew that I was going to be spending time in cyberspace in Neuromancer, but I never expected to be travelling into space itself! I decided not to go to either destination until I’d thoroughly checked out Chiba, and left the spaceport.
Well that hardly fills me with confidence!
The next location I entered was one called Metro Holographix. Inside was the owner Finn, who was described as having a head that “looks like it was designed in a wind tunnel”. Finn asked me whether I needed any chips or software, and informed me that he’d “just got some new stuff from those bridge-and-tunnel kids in Jersey”, whatever that meant. My main dialogue options were “Yeah, Finn, I’m looking for some hot softwarez” and “I need a scan, Finn. Then maybe I’ll buy something.” I didn’t know what exactly he would be scanning for, but it seemed to be something I should do. “Scanned when you came in. No implants, no biological. You’re clean.” I assumed he wasn’t looking for skill chips when he’s mentioned implants, as I already had two of those in my socket. I was pretty keen to get some new chips and software, so I asked to see what he had. He had two skill chips for sale, being Icebreaking and Debug for $1000 each, and he had five bits of software for sale, being Decoder, BlowTorch, Drill, Probe and Comlink 1.0, ranging in price from $100 to $1500! There I was thinking I’d collected quite a bit of cash and now I’d need to spend $5500 to get everything Finn was offering me!
It's nice to have lots of things to buy, but not so nice when you don't really know what they do
I should mention at this point that the manual contains a list of skill chips, along with their purpose, but no list of software. It also states clearly that the skill chip list is not exhaustive, so I will no doubt come across some that I’ll have to figure out on my own. I looked up the two that Finn was selling and found that Debug “repairs damaged software in your deck” and Ice Breaking is “used at the beginning of an ICE combat session in cyberspace. The skill applies your previous experience with ICE breaking to locate weaker points in the ICE protection, making it easier to break in.” There’s a whole other section on ICE and ICE Breakers in the manual, but I’ll cover that off when I reach cyberspace. I really had no idea which skill(s) or software(s) would be required in the earlier parts of the game, so was pretty flummoxed about what to do. I ended up deciding to concentrate on “real world” stuff for now, as it looked like it would be a while before I’d need any of the cyberspace stuff. I saved my game, purchased Decoder, BlowTorch, Drill and Probe, and then tried operating them all in the real world. I had to do this in two separate loads, as my UXB deck could only handle five bits of software on it at once. It turned out that all four of the bits of software can only be used in cyberspace, so I restored my game and only purchased the Debug skill chip for now.
Well fancy that! A 1.0 version that's free of bugs!
I implanted and then operated the Debug skill, checking all of my software (Comlink 1.0, Battle Chess 2.0 and Scout 1.0) for bugs. Finding none, I left Metro Holographix and continued to travel east. I soon found myself with three establishments that I could enter, being Crazy Edo’s Used Hardware Emporium, Asano Computing and House of Pong. I entered Crazy Edo’s, mainly because I had the caviar he wanted and was keen to trade it for software. The salesman immediately noticed that I had it in my possession and asked me if I still wanted to trade it. I agreed to do so, and Crazy Edo very helpfully gave me Comlink 2.0! I wondered whether that would allow me to access the bases I’d not been able to earlier in the session, but decided to see what else was available in the store first. Crazy Edo reminded me that his “prices are much better than that pig, Asano, can do”, so I agreed to see his current inventory. Noticeably, none of his used decks were cyberspace-capable, but there were quite a few that I could afford.
Crazy Edo seems to have a fetish for caviar!
I figured there would be no point buying a deck with a RAM of 5, since I was very soon going to install more software than that would allow for. That ruled out the Blue Light Special and the Hiki Gaeru, but there were six other decks on offer that had a RAM of 10 or more. The first of them was the Gaijin, which had a RAM of 10 and was priced at $3600. The next cheapest model was the ZXB, but that was twice as much with the same amount of RAM. If I was going to purchase a new deck, the Gaijin seemed a decent bet, particularly as the Consumer Review base had described the manufacturer (Moriyama) as “very reliable with a solid line of matrix simulators” and “a good buy for the amateur cyberspace enthusiast”. I bought one, despite having no idea whether I should really be saving my cash for a cyberspace-capable deck or not. OK, I now had a better deck, with Comlink 2.0 installed, and I still had $6310 left up my sleeve. I’d have to find a location with a jack to try it out, so I instead moved on to Asano Computing, hoping I didn’t find a better deal there than the one I just accepted!
I certainly won't be touching the ZXB, as it's the followup to the UXB
Asano’s shop had all the latest models, and “gleaming new cyberdecks line the display shelves”. Clearly this was the place to go when I need a top of the line cyberspace-capable deck down the track. I took a look at what was available, and was shocked to find he was selling a deck with a RAM of 10 for only $1000! My shock subsided though when I realised it was the dreaded Blue Light Special that Consumer Review had put on the Flatline list, noting that “the bugs in this system are subtle and may not appear for some time” and that “the Blue Light Special should be considered armed and dangerous”. Feeling better about my purchase, I soon discovered that the Gaijin was priced at $3600 here too, and once again seemed the most cost effective deck for my current needs and cash position. I certainly wan’t going to buy a cyberdeck for a while, as the cheapest one was the Ono-Sendai Cyberspace II at $18000. I left Asano’s and headed for House of Pong, but you’ll have to wait until next post to read about the craziness that occurred there.
I'm going to go across the street, and get you some orange sherbert!
Session Time: 0 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 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!