Sunday, 13 October 2013

Game 36: Hugo's House of Horrors - Monkey See, Monkey Do

Hugo Journal Entry 1: "I've broken into the creepy house in search of Penelope! Things are much worse than I imagined too, with a bunch of freaky monsters, an aggressive dog, a murderous butler, and some truly horrible decor! I haven't found where they're holding my girl yet, but I've gathered a bunch of useful stuff and distracted the dog long enough to check out that part of the house. There can't be many places to hide someone in this damn place!"

 So I just need to find the key to get insi....oh sorry, wrong game!

I’ve finished Hugo’s House of Horror! It was all done and dusted after a single hour and a half session, which is by far the quickest game so far on the playlist. Despite it being very short, it would be too much of a rush to get through it all in one post. I'm therefore going to split it into two, and will try to get them out as quickly as I can so we can move onto something more challenging. The game started in exactly the same fashion as Maniac Mansion, with my character standing outside a creepy looking house, pondering how they would get inside to save their girlfriend. Straight away it was apparent that the graphics and movement in the game were going to be primitive, but there was a kooky fun to the visuals that promised at least some entertainment. The introductory music felt like a cross between the fun of Leisure Suit Larry and the unpleasantness of Manhunter’s PC speaker based theme. I was pretty stoked when it stopped after about thirty seconds, leaving me in complete silence. Moving my cursor around the screen caused labels to come up on certain items, such as the pumpkin, the bat flying in the sky, and the door. I typed “look”, the way I would in any Sierra adventure game, and found that I could get a description of the environment as I’d hoped. “You are in front of the house where Penelope was last seen. If you are to rescue her, you must find a way inside, no matter what lies ahead...!”

 It doesn't really look very big. I figure I could have this sorted in a few minutes.

I set about getting inside, unsurprisingly finding that the door was locked. I looked under the mat for the key, the way I had in Maniac Mansion. “Nice try! Nothing under there, though!” The pumpkin seemed rather conspicuous, so I typed “look at pumpkin”. The response I got was “You don’t have it!” Well there was my first sign that the parser might not be completely friendly in Hugo’s House of Horrors. I couldn’t investigate things until I had them in my possession. On the other hand though, it pretty much assured me that I was going to be able to pick up the pumpkin, so perhaps it could be seen as a hint. I typed “get pumpkin” and received the message “Picked up the pumpkin ok” (2 points). Huh!? At least now I was able to look at it, after which I was informed that “There appears to be something inside it”. I then “opened” the pumpkin to find the house key (5 points), which I eagerly picked up (5 points). So far, so good! I unlocked the door and entered the house (11 points), noting that I already had 23 points out of the possible 190! Once inside I witnessed an old man dressed in white walk along the second floor hallway and then into a room. Could that have been the mad scientist? It seemed likely, but I decided to investigate the ground floor entirely before heading upstairs to follow him.

Grammatical inaccuracy ok.

The family's pet bat is clearly their pride and joy

There were two things that caught my attention on the ground floor, being a candle on the table and a small door in the wall. I walked up to the table and typed “get candle”, only to be told that I wasn’t close enough. I had to position myself on the exact right side of the table to be able to pick it up, which was an unnecessary annoyance (3 points). I then walked up to the small door and looked at it: “I don’t see anything much in here... Wait! There is a little penknife lying in the dust on the floor and next to it is a little silver whistle.” (8 points) I picked up both the whistle (6 points) and the penknife (6 points), incredulously noting that my score was now 46 out of 190! If it continued at this rate I was going to be done in a matter of minutes! I saved my game, and took the door to the right of screen, reappearing in a dining room. There were five monsters sitting around a table eating dinner, while a butler wandered around! “A feast is in full swing here in the dining room. Some of the guests look rather ugly! Something tells me this is not a good place to be unless, of course, you want to end up on the dinner plate!”

 Just reach across the table buddy!!!

Alright, who invited the jawa!? How many times have I said it!? They're always stealing shit!

Before I had a chance to do anything, the butler approached me and asked me if a cared for a chop! What could I do but respond with “yes”, to which he responded with “Very good sir. Ere! Just a moment! You’re not one of us, you’re a bloomin’ interloper! Come ‘ere you little blighter, I’m going to chop yer ‘ead off!!” To my great surprise, the butler did indeed chop my head off with a carving knife! So much for family friendly!!! I restored my game, deciding to avoid the dining room for the time being. I instead took the exit to the back of the screen, reappearing in a horribly green kitchen. There were a bunch of cupboards, an oven, and a broom leaning against the wall. Strangely, there didn’t appear to be anything in any of the cupboards or the oven, and I wasn’t able to pick up the broom. “Gonna do some sweeping are we? Hey! The broom must be gripped by some magical powers! Despite your best efforts you can’t budge it!!” That was weird, and I couldn’t be certain whether there was actually magic involved in the game or whether David simply hadn’t wanted the player to be able to move the broom so made up a lame excuse as to why they couldn’t. I figured the latter was likely, so let it be.

 Yes, that's my head on the floor next to my still-upright body.

If Zak McKracken taught me anything, it was never to judge a broom by its appearance!

I took the right door out of the kitchen, but found myself back in the dining room. I backed out, and instead took the northern door, leaving the house and finding myself standing in a yard with a shed at the end of a path. I wasn’t able to leave the path, so I followed it to the shed and tried to enter. “The door appears to be locked with a combination lock. What’s the combination?” I didn’t know of course, so tried a random number. “I’m sorry, that combination doesn’t seem to work!” I made my way back inside and took the only remaining door out of the kitchen, to the left. As soon as I entered the next room, a dog charged me, killed me and ate my remains! I restored my game, and had a think about how I might avoid the dog. I did have a whistle, so that seemed a likely solution! I prepared the sentence “blow whistle” before entering the room, as there was no way I was going to have time to type it once I was in there. Hugo did indeed blow the whistle, but it didn’t stop the dog from rapidly ending my game. Nothing else that I’d picked up so far seemed likely to avoid death, although I did try using the knife, so I endeavoured to check out the upstairs area to see what I could find there. Hopefully I would find a combination for the shed and some way of avoiding being killed by the butler and the dog.

 It must be 300, given the importance of that number today. Can anyone guess why?

Oh bother! Never mind. I guess the poor thing was hungry.

The first door upstairs accessed a small bedroom. There was nothing more there than a bed and a closet, and after finding I couldn’t interact with the bed in any way, I opened the closet. There was an item inside, but I couldn’t tell what it was. Thankfully, when I moved my cursor over it, the word “mask” appeared on the screen, so I typed “get mask” (4 points). “It appears to be a Halloween mask looking somewhat like a grotesque monkey’s head!” I figured the mask could very well allow me to enter the dining room without being killed, but put that thought aside while I continued to check out the upstairs area. The second door on the second floor accessed a bathroom, within which there was a bath, a toilet and a sink. I wasn’t able to do anything in the bathroom as far as I could tell, but there was something on the mirror that made the trip very worthwhile. The number “333” was written there, which was clearly the combination I required to gain access to the shed. Things were going very well indeed, and there was still one more room to check out on the floor. It was the one I’d seen the old man enter when I first broke into the mansion. I saved my game, and went through the door. A strange message appeared!

 An ugly monkey creature mask. It's apparently all you'll ever need!

Why would anyone do this?!

“The high frequency cosmic radiation emanating from this room knocks your mask onto the floor! (You can pick it up again when you come out!)” Really?! The radiation coming out of the room was so strong that it knocked the mask out of my hands? That can’t be good for me! I soon found myself standing in a machine room of sorts, with a large contraption wired to a console. The scientist was there, as was an ugly green monster. It immediately reminded me of Maniac Mansion, where Dr. Fred had played around with similar looking technology in his laboratory. If David Gray really hadn’t played Maniac Mansion prior to making Hugo’s House of Horrors, the coincidences were pretty huge. Anyway, the professor spoke to me on my arrival: “Ah! There you are! I’ve been looking all over the house for you! Look, you’re late and we haven’t much time! Step into the box and we’ll begin the experiment!” What experiment? Had the professor mistaken me for someone else? I looked around the room while I still could, discovering a “little table with an assortment of odd-shaped items on it” in the left upper corner. I looked at the table, and was told that “the only thing you recognize is a useful looking rubber bung!”

 Sorry, I was trying to find the bathroom!

Never leave home without a "useful looking rubber bung".

The professor seemed to be waiting patiently for me to comply to his request, so I spent some time trying to get the bung. Unfortunately, it was behind the glass door of the box, and I didn’t seem to be able to get to it. I thought I might be able to press one of the buttons on the console to close the door, but any attempt was met with “I think you’d better leave that to Igor!” With nothing else to do, I entered the box, wondering what the hell the crazy old man was about to do to me. The glass door slid shut, and the professor said “Good! Ok, Igor, press the BLUE button!” Apparently Igor was colour blind, as he pressed the RED button instead, shrinking me to half my normal stature! This infuriated the scientist, who stormed out of the room for a lie down. The door of the box opened, so I walked out. I wondered whether I might now be able to squeeze behind the glass door to retrieve the bung, and found that I could (11 points)! Well that told me that I was supposed to allow myself to be shrunken, but was I really expected to play the rest of the game in the body of a small child? I went to leave the room, only to find that I couldn’t! “Too bad! In your current state you can’t reach the door handle!”

One can only wonder what the professor was actually trying to do to me

Once again Hugo's inability to reach his arms away from his body threatened his chances of rescuing his girlfriend

That was unexpected. I looked through my inventory, but couldn’t find anything that assisted me in reaching the handle. I figured I would have to increase myself back to my normal size, but still wasn’t able to press any of the buttons on the console. I didn’t appear to be able to talk to Igor either, as every attempt was met with “Igor is good at taking orders but is not much of a conversationalist!” I soon began wondering whether there was something I needed to take into the room with me, so decided to restore back to outside and see what else I could achieve. Instead of entering the lab, I made my way back downstairs and out into the backyard. When asked for the combination to access the shed, I entered the code 333, after which the door opened (9 points). Going inside did not however take me to a new screen, meaning I had to explore without visibility. Typing look gave the following message: “The shed seems to have fallen into disuse and is pretty much full of garbage, either broken or rusted to pieces. You are just on the point of leaving when you notice an oilcan sitting on a shelf.” It goes without saying that I picked it up (4 points).

Damn it! I'd really hoped to find a prosthetic arm in here somewhere.

Once back inside, I typed “wear mask” to prepare to enter the dining room. Hugo put the scary looking monkey mask on, so I entered the dining room and accepted the chop that the butler offered me (8 points). This time he didn’t pick up on the fact that I was an intruder, clearly used to a whole range of monstrous visitors coming for dinner. I spent a bit of time trying to achieve something else in the room, but wasn’t able to interact with anything or sit down at the table. I had a fair idea what the chop was going to be useful for though, so I left the dining room and made my way back to the vicious dog. Typing “give chop to dog” resulted in “Seeing how ferocious he looks, you may well be better off throwing it!!” I typed “throw bone to dog" instead and watched as the dog chased the piece of meat into the corner of the room and began eating it. That was great and all, but I hadn’t actually considered what I was going to do once the dog was out of the way. The only obvious thing in the room was a mouse hole, but looking inside only revealed a "medium sized pile of mouse droppings", which I wasn’t able to and didn’t want to pick up. I figured that I hadn’t risk my neck to get the chop for nothing though, so there had to be something useful within these four walls. Join me in a day or two to find out what it was.

 Surely I'll be accepted now that I look completely ridiculous!

 That's not a chop! That's a bloody torso!

Session Time: 0 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 0 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. That's an advantage of using the Windows-version. In the DOS-version you can't mouse over things to see what they are. I spent a few minutes to figure out the thing in the wardrobe was a mask.

    Now I'm just waiting for your next post to see if you got stuck at the same spot as the rest of us. :p

    1. I played the DOS version though. In fact, I've started up three different versions of the game now (Windows, DOS 1.1 and DOS 2.0), and I can put my cursor over the mask in all three and been told what it is.

      What am I missing here? Is it because I used SCUMMVM?

    2. Yep. Tried opening the game in ScummVM instead of Dosbox, and got the mouse-over hints.

      According to Wikipedia mouse support wasn't even included in the DOS versions, it was added when the Windows version came out. So it seems like ScummVM added that feature to all versions by itself.

    3. I'll have to take that into consideration. I only used it a couple of times, so shouldn't be too hard.

    4. And yet another reason for me why... er I guess you all get it at this point.

    5. I'm going to say: probably, yes. The dialogue boxes in your screenshots are ScummVM dialog boxes too.

      I just tested by downloading the game and trying it on both Dosbox and ScummVM and yes, ScummVM also gives you a cursor and tooltips that Dosbox does not.

      This is probably a good example of why Laukku doesn't like ScummVM. I see your point a lot better now Laukku!

    6. And this is what happens when I don't refresh the page before adding my reply. :)

    7. After looking at the screenshots a little more, I noticed even more inaccuracies all over them. So I made a comparison image.

      (Warning: very nitpicky)

    8. To be fair, Hugo shows as 90% complete in ScummVm's compatibility list. AFAIK that usually means the game is completely playable but a number of glitches are expected.

      Not sure that applies to that ugly orange popup which in my view is the main offender here.

    9. I thought the dialog boxes looked way too modern to be Dos. Question: How did an independent get to use the Scumm engine anyway? Wasn't that a private LucasArts thing?

      Also, how much you want to be no one cares enough about these games to fix ScummVM to handle its edge cases?

    10. ScummVM is an open source project by a bunch of fans of adventure games used to recreate the SCUMM engine so old games can still be played on modern operating systems.

      Though it originally started as a SCUMM engine and kept the name, it's gradually added more adventure game engines to its repertoire - including Sierra's engines, when they a few years ago merged the ScummVM project with FreeSCI.

      David Gray, the designer of the Hugo games, worked with ScummVM to port the Hugo games to their engine.

      I'm not sure to what extent he was involved in the port, but it seems that using the ScummVM dialog box in the ScummVM version was more of a design decision than an error. I could be wrong about that though.

    11. ScummVM started out as a ScummVM emulator, but it covers many other game engines. Hugo's House of Horrors doesn't use Scumm to my knowledge. As far as I can tell, it's proprietary; there's nothing I can find on the web that says it licenses any engine. Maybe he released source to the ScummVM team. I don't know how else they would get enough info to run the game.

    12. Note: Here's a 2009 post from the ScummVM forums from somebody who wrote to David Gray:

      I wrote to David Gray
      Here is his answer:
      Thank you for your kind comments. I am receiving a number of comments similar to this and I will look at porting to SCUMMVM when I get a chance. The game already has a Windows 9x/XP/Vista/7 version but mobile phones does sound interesting.

      His name is also in the credits of the latest version of ScummVM in the "Special Thanks To" section: David P. Gray from Gray Design Associates for sharing the source code of the Hugo trilogy.

      And yes, because it's a game with a small fanbase, I doubt these issues will be fixed.

      I've seen much more trivial differences noted and fixed in their bug tracker, so it's not like they don't want to be as accurate as possible. Here's an example...

    13. Looks like TBD posted before I did. I posted around the same time, but I didn't see his post. Looks weird when you read it like I'm contradicting him! :)

    14. And even more strangely, it looks like my next post responded directly to your last sentence even though I didn't read yours until after I'd posted :)

  2. Oh, finished already? Come on, I have to know if you had to google gur nafjre gb gur byq zna'f Ebl Ebtref dhrfgvba.

    Ugh, after seeing those message boxes I'm more hesitant than ever to touch ScummVM again. -_-

    Also, this is the 300th post in the blog.

    1. Yep. 300 posts! Who would have thought?!

      Laukku gets 20 CAPs for figuring out what I was getting at.

      As for your bet, well...let's not ruin the surprise. :)

    2. Dammit, I was going to guess that as well, I was just too slow reading the post.

  3. So, do I get CAPS for recognizing that Jawa is a Star Wars reference?

    1. That's not a "shameless grab for more CAPs" is it Draconius? ;)

    2. Certainly not shameless. More shameful again than anything else

    3. That's just so typical Jawa behaviour Draconius. Trying to barter og beg (or steal) free CAPs from Trickster just for the purpose of later trading them back to him.

    4. That's clearly too big to be a Jawa, it must be a visitor from Manhunter's dystopian future.

    5. Looks like death, or the character from World Molder (which I think is supposed to be death).

    6. Surely if it was Death he'd be speaking in capitals, and Binky's head would peer through the window. I'd offer a reward for guessing the reference but I don't have anything handy.

    7. Discworld obviously :-P

      He could also be Bobbin with red contact lenses. (Anyone not knowing who he is will find out within a matter of days.)

    8. Sounds like it must be a Loom reference. Looking forward to playing that.

  4. Hmm, looks like there's a misplaced quote mark. What you wrote:

    I typed “throw bone to dog instead”

    should probably be:

    I typed “throw bone to dog" instead

    unless the parser is THAT clever.

    1. Right you are! Corrected.

      Thanks Laukku!

  5. So throwing the chop to dog doesn't reward any points in the original? It gives 10 points in Windows-version, which probably accounts for the score difference.

  6. Goodbye Deponia is on sale: