Sunday, 9 June 2013

Game 32: Neuromancer - Remember Zion, Mon

Tricky Journal Entry 7: "Now I remember why I hate travelling off Earth! I haven't written since I went on a whirlwind tour of Zion Cluster and Freeside, looking for ways to make a quick buck and upgrade my warez. As if the flights weren't bad enough (seriously, those hostess' could at least try to make me feel safe), the people I met during my travels were completely insane! That drugged up Rastafarian dude on Zion might as well have been speaking another language, and the less said about the disembodied Tessier-Ashpool member that tried to kill me on Freeside the better! I certainly didn't find what I was after at either location, but I did find out enough to know what I might want to take with me if I ever have a need to go again. Here's hoping that day never comes!"

You didn't hear anything about them planning the same treatment for me did you?

You might recall that I’d asked the prostitute in my last post whether she knew anything about General Armitage (the guy that paid me $10K to work for him then never turned up to give me any instructions). She’d explained to me that someone had set a trap for Armitage outside the Matrix Restaurant, but gave me no further information about what had become of him. Well, the next time I walked past the very same restaurant, the lawbot outside suddenly stopped me: “Hold it there! We got Armitage, not we’ve got you.” I was once again sent to face virtual justice and had to pay $500 to be allowed back out into the city. So what was it that caused this arrest? At first I’d figured it must have been triggered by me asking about Armitage, but I was still arrested at the same point after restoring to an earlier game where I never even spoke to the hooker. Was this just scripted to occur at a certain time, and merely being associated with Armitage was all it took? Or did it occur due to something I did, such as clearing my bill in the Cheap Hotel base? I wasn’t sure at the time, and I’m still not sure now.

Um...for what exactly?!

What I do know is that I entered a PAX straight after being released from court, and found a new article in the News section. “CRIMINAL HITS CHIBA CITY: Tricky, a notorious criminal who recently arrived in Chiba City, has been arrested and taken to the Justice Booth. This comes as no surprise to police, who have been watching this criminal ever since he arrived. “We knew he’d break the law eventually”, said Officer Watanabe. “These habitual criminals can’t go a whole day without committing a crime.” So, I’m a notorious criminal? I can’t say that had been communicated to me prior to this article. Regardless, it still left the reason for my arrest up in the air, perhaps pushing me further towards believing it to be entirely scripted and unavoidable. I let it go, and since I had no other available locations to explore in Chiba City, I decided it was time to head back to the Spaceport and catch a shuttle elsewhere. I purchased a ticket to Zion Cluster for $500, and was informed that the holo-movie for the flight would be Aliens III. It’s funny to think that the game developers were merely predicting that the Alien series would get a third movie, but they would have had no idea that it wouldn't arrive until 1997 (with the title Alien³ mind you).

Prepare to be disappointed!

Soon after getting my ticket, I found myself aboard a JAL shuttle, preparing for departure. The hostess went through the standard security announcement: “In the event of a fire on the ground, all passengers will have to fend for themselves, because the crew and I will be the first ones out that door. In the event of a pressure loss while we’re in transit, we’ll all be sucking cold vacuum in a matter of seconds, so we hope you bought flight insurance.” The look of the scene immediately reminded me of Zak McKracken, and once the hostess began humorously playing up the danger of the flight, I felt a real sense of déjà vu. While the flight scene in Larry 2 had a very different look to the others, the hostess banter was also very similar there, all of which made it pretty hard for me to appreciate what otherwise would have been an amusing touch. The concluding part of the message was unique to Neuromancer though, so is worth mentioning. “You will note that our in-flight holo-movie has just been zip-shot directly into your brain using psycho-graphics. We hope you enjoyed it. There will be an additional charge if you’d like to “see” the movie again.”

I kind of expected to have to put an egg in the microwave as a distraction

Tell me this wasn't a huge inspiration!

Not to mention this!

On arrival at Zion Cluster, I was very surprised to find that it was a “thirty year old Rastafarian orbital colony”, and the room I was standing in was filled with pot-smoke. An old man, apparently “one of the original Founders who built Zion”, was standing in front of a wall filled with hippie symbols and listening to dub music. He spoke to me: “Measure twice, cut one, mon. Have you come up the gravity well out of Babyon to lead the Tribes home? Or be you the tool o’ the demons. A tool of the banks.” My dialogue options were suitably confused, being: “Excuse me?”, “Uh, yeah, sure...”, and “I think you’ve confused me with someone else.” I chose “Uh, yeah, sure...”, to which the man replied “Soon come, the Final Days...Voices cryin’ inna wilderness, prophesyin’ ruin unto Babylon...” It appeared to me that this guy was either completely mad or just off his head on drugs, and my character agreed with me. I only had the option to say “Right. Can I get a ride to Freeside from here?”, “I’d like to pay for a ride back to Chiba City.”, “Do you speak English or what, you crusty old wilson!”, and “Do you know anything about______”  Uncertain of what to do, I saved my game and tried all four options!

This no' makin' sense mon. I an' I no' un'stand it!

The man refused to assist me in getting to Zion, but would allow me to pay another $500 to get back to Chiba City. Most interestingly though, if I abused him and called him a wilson, he sent me back to Chiba City for free! None of this helped me though, and since I wasn’t able to go anywhere else on Zion, I tried asking the guy for information on anything I could think of. Babylon: “Babylon mothers many demon, I an’ I know. Multitude horde!” Zion: “Zion? Zion be home, mon.” Most tellingly though, this guy seemed infatuated with music, having mentioned it several times before I asked him about it. Music: “Dub be the music, mon. I an’ I have great respect for dub musicians, ya know?” This gave me an idea, but it wasn’t one I could act on just yet. I’d noticed previously in the manual that there was a skill chip called Musicjanship, which was described as “Used in the Real World to play various styles of music for amusement.” I figured that was the key to achieving anything on Zion Cluster, and so restored back to the spaceport to buy a ticket to Freeside. This one cost me $1000, so I hoped there was something more useful there.

You're just a tool!

The ticket woman told me that the holo-movie this time was Burning Chrome (not sure if anyone knows the reference there because I don’t recognise it). The safety message was identical, and I soon found myself in Freeside Spacedock, where a ticket agent “who looks like a clone of the Chiba ticket agent” was present. All I could do was buy a ticket back to Chiba City or leave the dock through an exit. I chose the exit, and reappeared in a corridor with exits left and right. I saved my game and went left, which took me to a doorway to some place called Villa Straylight. Inside the Villa was a rather striking sight! “This is the Villa Straylight, home to the Tessier-Ashpool clan. A platinum bust of a human head sits on a pedestal, its cool ruby eyes staring at you with quiet menace. It speaks to you in a melodious voice generated from tiny organ pipes.” That all sounded ominous, and the words that came out of the bodiless head didn’t help: “In this room lies death, my friend. This is the road to the land of the dead. Marie France, my lady, prepared this road, but her lord choked her off before I could read the book of her days. Stay and become a ghost, a thing of shadow in the land of the dead. Keep me company. Become a sphere of singing black on the extended crystal nerves of the universe of data, your consciousness divided like beads of mercury.” Huh!?

I really wasn't expecting scenes like this when I started the game. Is this part of the book???

It was then that I noticed my view at the bottom of the screen had changed from the amount of cash I had to my constitution level. It began going down, 20 at a time! I couldn’t say anything at this point, nor did I have anything in my inventory or skill list that might assist, so I decided to just wait and see what would happen if my constitution hit zero. The answer is that I died, and reappeared in the Body Shop back on Chiba City with my cash balance at zero. I really have no idea what I was supposed to do at Villa Straylight, and can only imagine I will get an item or skill that makes it clear later. I restored back to the space dock, and this time went to the right of screen. The first place of interest I came to was the Bank of Berne. Inside I found a desk where a secretary mocked my presence in such a fine establishment: “And what, may I ask, do YOU want? This is a very exclusive bank...” I had four dialogue options available to me, being 1. “I could use a cup of coffee about now. Why don’t you make me a cup?” 2. “I’d like to see the Manager.” 3. “I’d like to open an account with your fine establishment.” and 4. “I’d like to hold up the bank. Give me all your money.”

Hell, if I'm going to be a criminal, I might as well have a real crack at it!

Unsurprisingly, the first option resulted in the secretary telling me to drop dead, and the fourth one put me in front of the virtual judge back in Chiba City. Asking for the manager resulted in her saying “I can make an appointment for you in 6 months, if you’d like to wait.” I was then able to either demand to see the manager or tell the woman that “I’d be happy to wait if it means I’ll have the pleasure of your company.” The latter option once again put me in court for loitering, whereas demanding to see the manager resulted in me simply being thrown out. That only left trying to open an account, which resulted in the secretary telling me that “You need money to open an account with this bank. I doubt you qualify in that category.” When I informed her that I did indeed have money and was serious about opening an account, she went off to find an application form, saying it would likely take a while. A message popped up saying “You notice that the door to the manager’s office is slightly ajar”, so I walked through it. The manager wasn’t there, but the only thing of interest in the room was a cyberspace jack on the wall. I didn’t have a cyberspace compatible deck, so there wasn’t much I was going to be able to do.

Not a bad view really!

Taking my leave from the Bank of Berne, I made my way further to the right of screen, ending up at the last location to be found on Freeside. It was another bank, being Bank Gemeinschaft! There was a warning on the wall that said “WARNING. SECURED AREA. Unauthorized entry punishable by termination.” I ignored it completely of course and entered the bank, being greeted by a security computer demanding to know my security code or be destroyed. I of course didn’t know what the code might be, so entered three random guesses before I was destroyed and reappeared in the Body Shop as before. So, it seemed there wasn’t a lot of point visiting either Zion Cluster or Freeside since I didn’t have certain specific skill chips, decks and access codes. At least I now know what to keep an eye out for in the real world, which is exactly where I’ll be restoring to when I kick off the next post. Surely now that I’ve visited all the available locations in Chiba City, Freeside and Zion Cluster, it won’t take me a full post to describe what occurred in a mere thirty minutes of gaming time. I guess we’ll find out with the next post!

Um...are there any other options?

Session Time: 0 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 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!


  1. Sounds kind of frustrating, your most recent play report.

  2. Burning Chrome was the first of Gibson's books (actually a short story) in the Neuromancer universe.


    1. Thanks Olivier! I figured it wouldn't be referenced for no reason.

  3. Arrest outside Matrix Restaurant: I am pretty sure the arrest is connected to the e-mail you send to Armitage. There's still some randomness, because in this playthrough I did not get arrested (perhaps because it took so long before I entered that room).

    Burning Chrome: Wikipedia says there's a W. Gibson short story with the same name. Gibson apparently also made a screenplay of the story, but it was never filmed.

    1. Yeah, I never got arrested there in any of my attempts. I wonder what triggers it? That being said I never bothered to talk much with the...lady either, so it may have something to do with that?

    2. I always was arrested. Maybe it has to do with waiting a certain number of days between posting the message and walking past the restaurant.

    3. You can avoid arrest when waiting for a while after receiving 10k bucks. I have been arrested when went to the restaurant immediately after transaction. So, restored the game and appeared nearby the establishment the next day. A lawbot was there but at that time I did not arouse suspicion.

  4. It bugs me that you can visit the Villa Straylight without having a reason to be there. Quite a bit of the action in the book happens there. Where is the plot in this game??