Sunday, 7 July 2013

Game 32: Neuromancer - Taking a Stress Pill

Tricky Journal Entry 15: "I ripped my way through zone 1 today, defeating two AIs on the way and collecting numerous awesome bits of software. Slow 1.0 in particular has been fantastic, allowing me to launch my warez at a much faster rate than the ICE I'm attempting to break down. My AI affecting skills are also increasing consistently now, so I reckon I'm ready to try my luck on the big boys in zone 2 and 3. I'm off to the high-tech zone tomorrow!"

Let's do this!

Onwards we go into cyberspace zone 1! The first base I hacked into was Chiba City Central Justice System. It was nice to know that I was going to gain access to bases I hadn’t visited previously, whether through design or through me simply missing them earlier. There were three menu options inside, being 1. Press Release, 2. Arrest Warrants and 3. Accounting. The Press Release section talked about the Justice Booth system, which many citizens considered to be a “thinly disguised method of supplying the city with a needed cash reserve”. I had to agree, and it didn’t help that the press release claimed that the “simple fact is that practically everyone who is brought into a Justice Booth is guilty of something. We merely provide a means of penalyzing these criminals for their antisocial behaviors.” The Arrest Warrants section listed six “Lawbot Arrest Warrants”, and while I didn’t recognise the first five names, I certainly knew who the sixth person was. It was me! I wasn’t able to edit the list or any details at all, but I could see that I was on the list for piracy. I also found myself on a list in the Accounting section, which stated that I and the other criminals mentioned there owed a debt to the Justice system for our crimes. I was a bit concerned that “liens have been levied against the known orbital bank accounts of the aforesaid criminal persons”, but then I remembered that my account was empty.

Oh what have I done now!?

The next base I attempted was Citizens for a Free Matrix. I only just got past the ICE and then ran into yet another AI! “Death comes only once to a sane person. A fool dies many times.” As usual, I was forced to use my evasion skill to avoid death, but not before I figured out that the AI’s weakness was Sophistry. Once I knew that, I repaired all my software and went straight back in for another go. I defeated the AI this time, but not before he could shout “My lord Greystoke will avenge this insult, you carbon-based scum!” There was that name again! Greystoke was clearly an AI, and had been the one concerned that the Turing’s software to defeat him was missing. I quickly forgot about Greystoke, as I had a base to explore! The software library had no additions to what I’d seen previously, and I knew to avoid downloading any of it anyway as it was dangerous. There was another AI Message Buffer though, containing two messages from Greystoke and Neuromancer to Sapphire (obviously the AI I’d just defeated). It talked about the considerable success of Sapphire’s cowboy trap, which must be referring to the infecting Blammo 1.0 software in the library. It talked about a “deck protection program” too, that could deflect the virus, but didn’t mention where it could be found.

By the power of Greystoke...I have the power!!!!

The message from Neuromancer to Sapphire was very intriguing! “I support your methods of cowboy prevention, but your seeming alliance with Greystoke troubles me. Consider the alternatives if Greystoke’s Great Plan should fail...and remember who holds the real power in the matrix.” So there are conflicting AI’s battling for domination in the matrix! That’s a pretty cool idea! I wondered what exactly Greystoke’s “Great Plan” might be, but figured I wasn’t going to be able to guess. There was nothing else to see on the base, so I moved onto Copenhagan University. I found four menu options there: 1. Notes of Interest, 2. Message Base, 3. Software Library and 4. Faculty/Alum news. The Notes of Interest section was broken into two sections, with the first one describing the university’s Bloodsport team's (The Polar Bears) victory in the Pan European Championship. It was interesting to hear about their star player having his leg nearly severed halfway through the first day, but still being able to finish the competition with a replacement limb, but otherwise it held no worth. The second part appeared more likely to have value, discussing “Cyberspace and Addictive Personalities”, but I didn’t pick up anything that seemed usable. It talked about a study, “funded by a grant from Tessier-Ashpool funnelled through their Allard Technologies subdivision”, that will try to figure out what it is in the matrix that is “alienating users” and causing them to drop out of the communications network.

Tis nothing but a flesh wound!

The Message Base section held five messages. The first and third were a conversation between Deathangel’s Shadow and the Polar Bears star player, Lars Mbutu. Deathangel’s Shadow congratulated Lars on his game, and told him he didn’t expect a quick response as the player had lost fingers in the last period. Lars responded, although the missing fingers were clearly marring his ability to type. “you r right tht loing fingr on my lft hn ill mk for iffikult riting, but ill try.” The second message on the board was from someone calling themself Habitual User to Dr. Marsha Sanderson, the woman behind the cyberspace and addictive personality study. “Hit the nail on the head – no harm in decks. Promote intellectual development.” None of these messages seemed important, but the fourth one was from Deathangel’s Shadow to me: “It’s getting really spooky out here. Was supposed to get some information from the Sumdiv Kid, but he’s gone null. Have you seen him?” This was very similar to a message I’d recently received from Matt Shaw, and I was beginning to wonder whether I was actually supposed to be responding in some fashion. I checked to see whether there was a way to send a message on this board, but there wasn’t.

I thought I would have found these guys by now! Where is this Gridlock place?!

The fifth and last message on the Copenhagen Uni message board was very useful indeed! It was once again from Deathangel’s Shadow, this time to everyone on the board. “All you new moes, remember that all ICE breakers aren’t created equal. So being the cool guy that I am, I leave the following info for all.” He then went on to list a bunch of ICE breaking software in Good, Better and Best categories. This is exactly what I needed, particularly with the RAM limitations I was facing with my deck of choice. I hadn’t come across any of the warez listed under Best (Concrete, DepthCharge, Logic Bomb), but would download them with no hesitation when I did. With that in mind, I entered the base’s Software Library, hoping to find one of them there. I didn’t, but I did find Probe 4.0 and one of the ICE breakers listed in the Better category, being DoorStop 1.0. There was also some software called Jammies 1.0, but I had no idea whether that was an ICE breaker, a virus, or something else entirely. I replaced my Probe 3.0 with 4.0, then added Jammies 1.0 and DoorStop 1.0 to my deck too. I was keen to get back out into cyberspace and test out these new warez, but I still had one more section to check out on the uni base, the Faculty/Alum news. This section didn’t reveal much, talking about a doctor named Heinrich Gott, who was made Professor Emeritus in Economics/Political Science using the “Heinrich Maneuver” to oust unfavourable dictators from small nations.

This was a great find! Makes choosing which software to keep and which to erase so much easier.

Next up was Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority, where I knew there was one extra level of security that I could breach. I hacked in pretty easily, but discovered no new menu options. I did however find ThunderHead 2.0 in the Software Library, which wasn’t there before. Given how effective ThunderHead 1.0 had been, I eagerly downloaded the upgraded version and moved onto the Gentleman Loser base. Once again there were no new sections to explore, but the Software Library had additional warez. I now had the option to download Slow 1.0, Injector 1.0 and Drill 1.0. The latter I’d used previously, but I hadn’t come across the other two before. I made room for them all on my deck and downloaded them. Some experimentation showed that Injector was a virus, although it didn’t last as long as ThunderHead 2.0. Slow 1.0 on the other hand was something very special indeed! Once Slow made contact with an ICE, it completely slowed down the software attacks coming back at me. This meant I could attack approximate three times for every two attacks coming back my way, which was a huge advantage! Unlike viruses, Slow seems to have unlimited uses too, making it rather invaluable! I couldn’t figure out what Jammies 1.0 did, if anything, so erased it for now.

I still can't get PikUpGirls 1.0. Disappointing to say the least!

By now getting into bases through ICE was pretty straightforward, and I hacked into the Internal Revenue Service with little trouble. There were four new menu options on the base, being 2. Supervisor’s Notice, 3. Special Audit List, 4. View Audit List and 5. Software Library. The Supervisor’s Notice was an instruction to all Field Supervisors to warn their Field Examiners not to use the garrotte, the Rack, and the Iron Maiden unless absolutely necessary. It’s their belief that “the rubber hose and the insertion of bamboo under the fingernails should be sufficient for Taxpayer compliance in most situations”. It went on to suggest that the only purpose of the message board on the base was to “locate and arrest tax offenders who have otherwise managed to be overlooked by our standard procedures”. Nasty stuff, but nothing useful. The Special Audit section was bare, with a message stating “No report at this time”, while the View Audit List section contained a list of five individuals that are known for evading tax. As with most of these criminal lists, my name was on there, although I wasn’t able to adjust it in any way. That left only the Software Library to check out, which contained Jammies 1.0, Hammer 2.0 and Mimic 1.0. I left Jammies alone for reasons mentioned above, but grabbed the other two. Having Hammer 2.0 allowed me to erase version 1.0, and Mimic appears to attempt to break straight through ICE by mimicking a warranted investigation. I haven’t had any success with it yet, but have held onto it in case.

Alright, what the hell does Jammies 1.0 do?

The next base was one I’d been keen to check out, being the NASA base. Level 1 access had been pretty pointless, so I hoped hacking in would reveal something important. Before I could find out though, I came face to face with another AI! I immediately recognised which AI it was too, when he said “Dave? Is that you? Be careful, I don’t want to hurt you.” I knew one of the AIs was called HAL, and this was clearly it, referencing HAL from Stanley Kubrick’s amazing 2001: A Space Odyssey. It didn’t take me long to figure out that Logic was his weakness, with HAL responding with “Dave, I’m losing my mind”, but I was forced to use Evasion on my first attempt. “Sorry about that, Dave, but I had to defend myself.” My second attempt was successful however, with HAL going out with “I’m losing my mind, Dave. I can feel my cores burning even now. Goodbye.” I thought this was all pretty cool, as a big fan of the movie, and it gave me access to two new menu options on the NASA base, being 5. Software Library and 6. HAL’s Funding Strategy. The software library contained Probe 1.0 , Python 2.0, BlowTorch 4.0 and Decoder 4.0! I didn’t need Probe 1.0 as I already had 3,0, but the others were all great additions to my deck! BlowTorch 4.0 replaced my 3.0 version, Decoder 4.0 replaced my 2.0 version, and Python turned out to be a really effective virus. I was very excited to find out what HAL’s Funding Strategy was all about, but it turned out to say nothing more than “File Under Modification”.'ve got something on your chin!

The second level access of the Software Enforcement Agency base contained one extra menu option than it had with first level access, being View Surveillance List, but a couple of the original ones were expanded too. Firstly, the Software Library now contained ThunderHead 2.0 on top of the original Comlink 4.0 and Sequencer 1.0. The Skill Upgrade section now had CopTalk level 4, while it previously only had level 2. Unfortunately, I didn’t have CopTalk at all, as I hadn’t thought it was going to be useful after restarting, since I appeared to have got everything I could out of the stupid cop at Donut World. Now I had to wonder whether that was a mistake, particularly as I’d taken Larry Moe out of the equation to get to Lupus. Larry was the one that had sold me CopTalk for $100, and I hadn’t come across it anywhere else! I put this concern aside for the moment, and checked out the View Surveillance List. Surprisingly, it was just another list of unrecognisable names, all of whom are suspected of some criminal action or another. I keep feeling like I’m supposed to do something with at least one of the names on all the lists I keep coming across, but I can’t think of what that might be or why.

I'm going to have to restore and find out whether CopTalk 4.0 has any real value at some point.

There were only two more bases to check out in cyberspace zone 1, and the first of them (Chiba City Tactical Police) contained no new levels of access. That left only Tozoku, which I was able to hack into easily due to my newfound Slow 1.0 software. There were two new menu options available to me, being 4. Jobs Listing and 5. Message Base, but the software library also held a stack of new warez. I didn’t need BlowTorch 3.0 as I already had 4.0, but Drill 2.0 and Acid 1.0 were new. I replaced my Drill 1.0 with the second version and added Acid to the list of one shot viruses that I knew where to find. The Job Listings section had three company objectives, along with a list of required employees they wanted to recruit for them. They needed “3 men with experience in breaking and entering” to penetrate the Hosaka plant with the intention of uncovering the action figures with “a striking resemblance to our own G.I. Akira”. They needed a woman to seduce a man within Musabori Industries named Clarence Hartesty to gather information. Finally, they needed “3 men and a baby”, who would be tasked with delivering contraband alkaloid substances from the Popul Vox ship.

I would have thought a cyberspace attack would be more effective than a physical one

The Message Base contained four messages, with the first three being between Iemoto and Tanenaga. The latter was asking whether he could leave his cover as an apprentice to a concert pianist, since it had been six months since he “terminated the two women using the nail polishing machines”. Iemoto responded to say he could now return, but only because there was another woman that required “terminating”. This didn’t seem to work for Tanenaga, who decided to remain under cover. I'm sure this is connected to messages I read earlier in the game, but I'm not sure it's important. The fourth and final message was from Phillip d’Argent to Iemoto, with the former asking the latter to contact him at Bank Zurich using link code BOZOBANK (which I found out about ages ago). And all there is to do and see in cyberspace zone 1! For my next post I intend to use the cyberspace jacks in the high-tech zone, before travelling to Freeside where there are another three that I know about. I have no idea how much more there is to Neuromancer. It’s starting to become a bit of a chore, but I’m sure that has more to do with the stupid amount of posting I’ve had to do to describe it accurately, and not necessarily the game itself. I will have to keep that in mind when it comes time to rate it. I really do want to finish it!

You terminated two women with a nail polishing machine or two women that owned nail polishing machines?

Session Time: 1 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 13 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. Jammer 1.0: We discussed this software with Lars-Erik and I think we came to the conclusion the first version is pretty useless. It "jams" ICE for a while, so you have a chance to hit it with something else without ICE able to hit you back. Unfortunately, with 1.0 the jamming effect doesn't last very long, so the advantage is fairly negligible.

    1. It's so negligible that it's actually a disadvantage to use 1.0.

    2. As we've already spoiled it for Trickster I'm not going to bother rot13 this.

      Yeah, good memory Ilmari. We discussed it after the second Neuromancer posting, around here:

      As Zenic said, it's worse than useless due to its short duration. Since you won't get attacked until you attack first, you lose a few seconds by using it.

    3. That makes sense. It seemed to be pausing ICE in some way, but as suggested above, the delay was nowhere near long enough to be of use. I don't see how later versions could be more effective than Slow, but then a dual approach might be worth trying.

    4. Since it's already spoiled I'll add my two cents: be sure to get the next Jammies you stumble upon and use it in combination with Slow. You'll need it.

    5. Fortunately it is possible to beat the game without using Jammies warez.

  2. I get the feeling that some people are going to explode when you finish this game, analyzing all your software choices, optimum fighting strategies, that kinda thing.

    "How did you you miss getting Elder Sign 4.0? It makes fighting Cthulhu so much easier!"

  3. Yay, you noticed the list from Copenhagen University! Actually being told what breakers are good and not so good is worth gold, and almost the only time you actually get helped by the game explaining things.

    1. Oh, and about the chore bit, it's not just the amount of posting that you do. For me at least the last part with cyberspace got old fast, and stayed that way.

    2. And yet I'm still looking forward to playing tonight! Perhaps I'm just looking forward to finishing it and therefore not having to play it. Or perhaps I'm looking forward to playing it rather than just posting about it. Or maybe I'm looking forward to posting about it which I can only do once I've played it?!

      I can't be sure anymore! ;)

    3. Seems to me your database has got some checksum errors. Better check the status of your ICE, you don't want cowboys messing up your data! :p

    4. Trickster is just using some philosophy to weed out the AI among us ;)

  4. New adventure game, available free for 24 hours! (I would have had the news sooner, but I had to beat it first).

    Anyway, and click the play button. Yes, today's Google Doodle is an adventure game

    I know it isn't on GoG or steam, but can I have some CAPS for it? :D

    1. Fantastic. Can't get any cheaper than free. :p

  5. Big news on GOG. The Dracula Trilogy has been released for $9.99, which includes Dracula: The Resurrection, Dracula: The Last Sanctuary and Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon.

    Not only that, if you buy Dracula 4: Shadow of the Dragon fo $19.99, you get the trilogy for free.

    I've not played any of these games, but as a fan of adventure games and Dracula in general, I can't wait to! Anyone had a go at any of them?

    1. As per your request, despite knowing nothing of the games in question....


    2. Here's some mini-reviews of the first 2 games for those of you wondering...

      I enjoyed Dracula: Resurrection - it has great character closeups (particularly for its era, but they still look good) and a nice first act. It loses a bit of momentum after that but was still fun enough that I enjoyed it. NOTE: I had a sound skipping problem and couldn't play it properly on Windows 7 64-bit, but that was with a CD version so GOG's probably fixed that.

      Dracula: The Last Sanctuary I didn't enjoy so much, and coming from an Adventure game AND Dracula fan that's probably not a good sign. It lacked the cool closeups of Resurrection and had an annoying amount of very small hotspots with quite a few nonsensical puzzles. I only bothered to finish it by playing with a walkthrough for most of it.

      Path of the Dragon I own but haven't played yet.

  6. Hi. I found your blog on the last week of December from the CRPG Addict and I've been reading all your entries since then.

    I origianlly planned to comment once I reached the latest post but I've noticed something that I really wanted to comment on (I was able to resist commenting on previous posts but not on this one).

    In computer programming, there are a lot of programming languages that people speak in: C++, PHP, COBOL, etc. One of the modern programming language is Python (created in 1990), named after Monty Python.

    I was surprised when a game from 1990 also has Python software (but acts as a virus) but I doubt it was inspired by Python the programming language. If I have to guess, I'll say its inspired by the snake; or a detail in the Neuromancer book.

    But that's not what broke down my resistance to commenting. What made my resistance futile were these:

    1. You found Python in NASA. NASA is one of the early adopter of Python (along with Youtube).

    2. NASA is using Python 2.0. In real life, Python 3.x intentionally broke backwards compatibility so they could finally get rid of some language mistakes that was there since the first version. There is a divide between the Python 2.x folks and Python 3.x folks (although, over time, there will be more Python 3.x folks as libraries from Python 2.x is ported to Python 3.x).

    I find it hilarious that NASA is still using Python 2.0 in the future.

    3. On your next post, you found Python 3.0. I was laughing at myself so hard. I guess the future is bright for my favorite programming language but we still won't have full 3.x adoptation. :)

    1. Welcome to the blog MrValdez, although it sounds like you've been hanging around here for a while.

      I imagine a lot of what appeared in Neuromancer had connections to either the book or other outside sources. Unfortunately a fair portion of it went completely over my head!

    2. Thanks for the welcome.

      But I don't see the Python in this game as a reference to the programming language. More like an accidental prediction of the future, (compared to the prediction that fax still exist in the future). ;)

  7. Why does this game still have no plot? What does your character want? What do other characters want of your character?

    1. Good questions, I wish the game would provide some answers.