Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Missed Classic 6: Wonderland - Part The Second – In Which Alice Discovers Time Goes Odd

Written by Mad Welshman

“Is it strange, sir, that my head unaccountably aches here, and I feel that I have been here for longer than I've seen?” Alice enquired, scratching irritably at her ribbon. The Reviewer chuckled, showing perhaps more teeth than necessary.
“Not all here is fair, child, and we want you to find things out yourself.”
Alice frowned. “That... Didn't answer my question.” The Reviewer's grin widened.
“It's a good demonstration of unfairness, don't you think?”

As you might have guessed from the last post, I already know this game somewhat, and can tell you right now that, while the descriptions are sometimes interesting, the pixel art is mostly lovely for the time, and the game has technical experimentation I'm quite fond of, one thing I'm not fond of is the often arbitrary nature of item placement, some of the puzzles, and some of the deaths.

Important note: You do have to stand up first.

Here's a good example, we fell on a pile of leaves and twigs. We can look at them, and we can search. We need to search, because there is a key inside, and examining the heap gives you not a single clue that there's a key in there. Locker on one side, 10 on the other? Right, let's keep an eye out for a Locker 10, then!

We find ourselves, as you can see, in a little corridor. We're locked in for the moment, with not a key in sight. But first, let's go to the far end of the east corridor, where an important mechanic awaits. Specifically, a bottle (in plain sight) and a cake (hidden under the table in a glass box). Anyone who's remembered Alice in Wonderland will know what these do, but for those who don't... Let's take a look at our score text again.

“You are normal sized.” Size is an important part of some of the game's puzzles, and it won't always be clear when we have to go smaller or bigger, or even how much smaller of bigger we need to get... Because yes, there are multiple sizes.

Let's experiment a little. Looking at the bottle, there is “some potion” inside. Well, what's the harm in drinki- Ahahaha, as expected, we're tiny, we're small, we're... big one turn later. And there's no potion left. Hrm. Well, there's still the cake, I supp-OUCH.

It's amazing how often Alice gets a bump on the head...

That, in one paragraph, is a further Dead Man Walking (wasting five minutes of our time) and another trip to the medicine cabinet, another damn reload. Well, if we knew the source, we'd know that was a silly idea in the first place. Not that it matters, but we ate all the cake too. There's also about five or six doors in this one room. So let's try the other end, passing a door with a C on it (near where we fell), a wooden door, and some furniture that seems to just be there as furniture.

How odd, a Piano is playing itself here, and some chairs are playing... Musical Chairs, oh ho ho ho! This is a nice easy puzzle, although if you're not careful, you can definitely die in here. One key's on a musical sheet (Key in C), and the other (Key in G) is inside the piano... Exactly where you'd expect musical keys to be (20 CAPs to the first person who correctly notes why these keys are unusual)! And... A thing I had not expected, or misremembered. Actual music. It's about a minute long, it's cheery, aaand... You'll probably have finished listening to the music before you've managed to switch discs the two or three times it asks you to and loads the graphics. I now remember why I preferred the DOS version more, less music or not.

Remember, sit on a chair when the music stop- Oh, it isn't stopping, and nor are the chairs.

...I can't believe I forgot that. Either way, getting the second key requires a bit of fiddling, taking the music sheet when the chairs are in the right position, getting on a chair, shrinking, getting into the piano, getting the key, and getting the hell out before you break the piano (And, incidentally, your head). After that, it's time to open some doors! The Broom Cupboard, opened with the Key in C, has three items, one of which (the card-shoe) is utterly necessary to the endgame. Thankfully, you can't leave the area without the overalls that are also here.

Now, it would be a good time to mention at this point that, within the six rooms of this area, you will be expected to change discs, if you're efficient and already know the solution, about five or six times. Two to four in the Piano Room (Not sure why it asked me to change disks twice), and two as you switch from the corridor (Disk 2) to the Long Hall (Disk 3, where our potion and cake are). I mention this because it's fun to see how much the game's assets take up. So far, it's around ten, eleven locations, two of which have animations attached, and one MIDI tune on disk 2 (Disk 1, as far as I can tell, is just the title image, the title midi, the installer if your ST had a hard drive, and the game's engine, which then stays memory resident until you reset the ST.)

For extra oddness, the three middle rooms are disk 2, the outside ones 3.

Either way, once we've gotten the Key in G, we can unlock the tiny golden door (of no use to us right now because we're too big), get visited by the rabbit, who drops a blue fan and blue gloves, and then... What?

This is where the puzzle isn't so elegantly designed. See, we have overalls, which are Gingham patterned (red and white checked cotton), but they're slightly too small for us. The cake is obviously not the answer. The gloves don't appear to be that important. We basically have to look through, and, in a process of elimination, work out we're meant to open the fan, wave it, and get into the overalls... Then wait for Mr. W. Rabbit to come back, mistake us for his maid Mary Anne, give us a key to his house and some demands, then leave the white door unlocked. Stepping through, we find ourselves... With no visible way back, and a second set of demands, this time from the Knave of Hearts, who tells us what we already knew (It's a dream), and that he'll tell us how to escape if we steal treacle tarts from the Queen of Hearts.

Damn his eyes, because although Alice hasn't met the Queen of Hearts, we, the players, have... and I'm already feeling an itching sensation as my neck feels slightly less attached than it is before. Still, there's also a stick insect here, on a stick. Adventure gamer kleptomania strikes again, and I try to get both. Sadly, the stick insect manages to get away. There's lots of directions we can go, but we're only going to deal with one this update. The rest are:
  • North, to the Palace Grounds. Nuh-uh, No Way Jose, not yet. That's Heart Country! 
  • Every southerly path takes us to some woods, and straight south is a grin floating in midair and a saucer on the ground. I don't know about you, but I don't trust floating grins.
  • East is the path to the residence of Mr. W. Rabbit Esq, along with a poster telling us about a croquet game... We're not to be late if we're invited... Or heads will roll. Argh! 

I actually kinda like it. Got a kind of old-country chic to it...

Rabbit's house is very badly maintained, which leads us to believe that Mary Anne, the maid we've been mistaken for, has been gone a very long time. The grass is overgrown, there's no laundry on the washing line, and the house itself doesn't look too great either. So naturally, we steal the washing line and the sole clothes peg, forlornly hanging on it. Time to rob Mr. W. Rabbit. Step one: Unlock the front door, and in we go!

I'm not going to bore you with the entire process lovingly described here, I'm just going to summarise. Upstairs is a locked door with a gap on the bottom. It is locked and the key is on the other side. There is a vice in a nearby garden shed, and we already have a sheet of music. I think you can guess how we're getting into the White Rabbit's room. However, one thing you're not going to notice unless you're looking at everything is that there's a playing card (6 of Diamonds). This is what the card shoe is for...

What the... Did anyone get the number of that card?

We also steal an egg and a cup from the kitchen. So, with all that bumf out of the way, we are finally in the White Rabbit's room, which has the pink fan, and the pink gloves we were sent here to get. You may be surprised to note that we're already a quarter of the way through the game... And already, we've found things where the developer has relied more on the hint function than designing the puzzles well.

All of the Items in Room we can see are lovingly described,
you can interact with most of them... And most of them are not very helpful.

There is no obvious clue as to the uses of the fans, although the potion and cake are obvious to anyone who's read the Wonderland stories (and there are clues on their containers), there is no clue that the No. 10 Locker key is there (and, as far as I am aware, we can completely miss this item, leading to a Dead Man Walking scenario). We have several items, and I will say that successful completion of this game requires all of them. But we have a goal: Get the hell out of Wonderland, escape this dream that, really, doesn't turn out to be a dream. More of a nightmare.

I currently have a pair of pink gloves, a pink fan, a pair of blue gloves, a lantern, an empty bottle, a cake, a washing line, a clothes peg, a stick, an egg, a cup, and a Locker 10 Key

Time Taken: 1 hour, 10 mins
Total Time: 1 and a half hours

Death States Discovered: Banging head on tunnel (Update 1), Crashing through piano (This update), Eating the cake indoors (This update)

Dead Man Walking States Discovered: Drinking the Potion (This Update), Not Getting Locker Key (This Update), Eating the Cake Before You're Supposed To (This, and At least one more update)


  1. "There is no obvious clue as to the uses of the fans, although the potion and cake are obvious to anyone who's read the Wonderland stories"

    Shrinking fan's part of the Wonderland stories as well. In fact, I am pretty sure the puzzle is based on this paragraph:

    "As she said this she looked down at her hands, and was surprised to see that she had put on one of the Rabbit's little white kid gloves while she was talking. 'How can I have done that?' she thought. 'I must be growing small again.' She got up and went to the table to measure herself by it, and found that, as nearly as she could guess, she was now about two feet high, and was going on shrinking rapidly: she soon found out that the cause of this was the fan she was holding, and she dropped it hastily, just in time to avoid shrinking away altogether."

    1. Ah, many thanks there, Ilmari! Nonetheless, I found no clue within the game that I could see, although the same does apply to the cake (It has nothing but the fact "EAT ME" on a cake is well known to clue you in). The bottle, however, does have a tiny person on it.

    2. I'm guessing they expected people playing the game to be rather intimately familiar with the books. For example, I have no freaking clue what is going on, since I've never read either one.

  2. Broken Age part 2 release date announced:

    April 28, 2015 in North America and April 29 in Europe.

    1. About freakin' time.

      Even Massive Chalice is fully out the door (although still in Beta) before Broken Age!

    2. Yeah. Broken Age was the first of 7 kickstarters I pledged for - and all the others have been released except for one. Though knowing my backlog and gaming habits I may not end up playing it for another few years.

  3. >20 CAPs to the first person who correctly notes why these keys are unusual

    Other than being related by a perfect fifth and not indicating whether they are in major or minor or some mode, nothing comes to my mind. :-/

    1. You can use them to open locks?

    2. I will say that, capitalised as they are, they're both definitely majors. And there are a few good answers. :)

    3. D'oh! Forgot the capitalisation thing. >_< My music theory is rusty.

  4. I don't get. If you wake up, you lose the game. But the goal of the game is to wake up? What?

    1. From what I can tell, it's more to a) Wake up *without* needing a liberal application of witchhazel (Every single "death" so far has involved you waking up because you injured yourself) and presumably b) So the author can pay homage to one of the final segments of the first Wonderland novel (Where she proclaims it's all a dream, and the cards fly *eeeeeverywhere*)

      I honestly get the feeling that it wasn't thought through as well as it could be.

    2. This was my EXACT thought. "But...but you already beat the game! Right away, when you ate the cake!!"

  5. That rabbit has a quite artsy taste in decoration. And I can say his house is in Arles :p

    That said, I wonder if the other pictures in the game are also homages to famous painters. I only recognize this one but other pictures also seem to have a "painting" look...

  6. You should have known better than to trust the cake. Didn't Portal teach you anything about cakes?

  7. Question from Canageek: if you had a computer with 2 disc drives, could you run 2 discs at once and would the computer be smart enough to switch between them as needed?

    (Meanwhile, I'm used to single-CD games and having trouble getting my head around the idea that you have to switch discs five times in one hour of play. That's dream logic for you :P )

    1. That is nothing; I played the original 5 CD-ROM release of Baldur's Gate.

      My Dad's 386 had two 3.5" drives, a 5.25" and a CD-ROM.

    2. Have you gotten to the part of Homestuck yet where you have to switch discs?

    3. I seem to remember that at DOS times you still had to tell your PC that you'll be using B:- instead of A:/-drive, if disk change was involved. Could be wrong though.

    4. Could you do that during the game though? I'm guessing no, which seems rather dumb.

  8. It could be that the most famous way to end any piece of music is V to I which would be G to C in C Major?
    I dunno, I just kinda wanna know what the answer is, even though I'm very, very late. On the plus side I did go and review my Circle of 5ths as a result of this and found out my first guess was very wrong (I was thinking C and G were the keys you just needed to recognize, not C and F)

    1. Could be. Unfortunately the reviewer of this particular game hasn't contacted us for quite some time, so we might never hear the real explanation.