Monday 23 November 2015

Martian Memorandum - Shooting Snakes and Ladders

Written by TBD

Tex Murphy Journal Entry #2: After spending most of yesterday grilling people for information, I started this day the same way. But by the time the day was over I'd beaten death at the junkyard and a jungle and knew how I was going to make my way to the next location in my investigation. I just need to figure out a way to get past this smuggler and, more importantly, his high powered weapon...

I finished my last post with a list of possibilities for making progress, so I got started on my list. I first decided to see if I could still talk to Chantal (I could, but she didn't have anything useful for me) and seeing if there's any more I could get from Jocques (a LOT more – I hadn't figured out the dialogue format when I spoke to him earlier and had just assumed that getting the film was all I needed from him.)

Jocques told me that Rick Logan used to work for “Galactic Pictures” which is an exploitative movie studio that ran into legal problems after their “Joltovision” experience accidentally fried 20 patrons in their seats.

I go to their address, but there's nothing there. Fortunately, my old friend Rhonda is available to help out.

Rhonda had sent several faxes (that futuristic technology again) to the studio chief Guy Callebero, asking for payment on Alexis' behalf, but he's never paid. She gave me the address the faxes were sent to (What – do they physically MAIL faxes in the future?)

This guy doesn't pay his bills, but he looks so loyal and adorable!

Rick Logan's in the Jungle somewhere, eh. I'm sure I can find it.

Guy tells me that Logan used to hang out with a greasy guy named Johnny Fedora, adding another name to my growing list. Guy also gives me some film of Andretti, which might be useful to Malden.

It IS! I can now talk to Mac Malden apart from us casually insulting each other!

My question though is, I've got film of Andretti from a political film GuyDog once produced for a company that's been out of business for some time – how the hell does that help solve his recent murder?

Mouthwash? Don't you mean Hogwash?

I'm not stupid enough to go somewhere so full of radiation you need a lead-lined house am I?
Yes. Yes I am!

If I get close to the small shack's door, I find my first death! Yay me!

P.I. Rule number 15: Don't pet ANYTHING that looks like it's part rhinocerous.
Let's touch that red puddle on the bottom right, in case it contains a clue...

P.I. Rule number 55: Unless you're visiting your local spa, don't step in ANY bubbling liquid.

I try to find a way into the locked door of the trailer. At one point I try using my gun on the trailer, hoping perhaps to shoot off the door lock. This is where things get weird.

My gun shoot ladders instead of bullets!

Wait, what ladder? I was just randomly clicking – at the time I was actually trying to USE my GUN on the boxcar. I didn't see any ladder. It went straight from "That doesn't seem to work" to "You lean the ladder against the boxcar" without me doing anything apart from clicking the first message away. After reloading and LOOKing everywhere in the scene I saw no ladder or anything else that would result in the creation of a ladder. Oh well, best not look a gift ladder in the mouth. I climb it and then climb through the hole on top of the trailer.

Okay, new location. Let's look at everything.

The newspapers talk about the “Stanton Expedition” where a group of Earth pioneers on Mars were massacred and and an impending nuclear war, as well as proof that Big Foot was just a large hairy man living in the woods.

I also found and took some cat food that was in the drawers in the bottom left of the screen. The orange thing on top of the boxcar in previous screens is a cat, by the way. The red and white thing on the same set of drawers is a knife, which I also take.

Another fedora I can't take, this game's just picking on me at this point.

Um... what? I tried to MOVE the open crate that was to the RIGHT of the door, not the closed one on the dresser, which is to the LEFT of the door. Oh well, two accidental puzzle solves in one post. I'm on a roll. Let's see if I can solve the rest of the game through dumb luck/friendly bugs.

I push the dresser and find a tear in the lead shielding. I try opening it with my knife, but no luck.

I open the door and go outside. 

Then I do the obvious by climbing the magic ladder and OPENing the cat food (I automatically use the knife and throw the food to the ground) - the cat jumps down, the dog's lead suddenly disappears (or more likely he breaks it in his haste, but the game doesn't specify) and he follows the cat off the screen, giving me access to the shed door.

I open the shed door and find a humming generator. I turn the lever on the generator which probably does something seeing as a wire leads from the shed to the main trailer.

I go back to the trailer and try some other things. Opening the newspaper shows me an ad for Terminator 12 - He'll be back. Let's do some maths – Terminator came out in 1984, Terminator 2 in 1991. If they kept going at that rate Terminator 12 should come out in 2061. Entirely possible that they wouldn't wait 7 years between movies after the success of the 2nd. Now as the ad was found in a paper titled August 2016, we'd have to have Terminators 3-12 all within 25 years so, 2.5 years between movies – entirely plausible. Damn, I was hoping to be able to pick on the game for using bad maths. Still unlikely with the fifth Terminator movie only coming out this year, but at least they had a plausible scenario.

Ooh. Opening the tear works. I wonder if that would have worked before I switched off the generator...

Luckily I wasn't standing in a pool of deadly acid rain while attempting to open the safe. That would have been problematic.

Almost disappointed that I didn't die, I open the deactivated safe and find...

A new location – Logan's jungle hideaway. As I'm about to take the girly polaroids... I mean cash... I mean, as I'm about to leave without stealing the man's possessions, I get a call on my comlink.

Whoah. This game has just taken a turn. Let's get ourselves straight to the murder scene before we miss anything.

At the scene I find: Mac Malden; a dead body covered by a sheet; a key with the letters M.A. embossed on them; a newspaper photographer; a bucket; various other scenery items; and the words “OOOYO HWENEED AJA LEE SAA SEE” written in blood on the train - if these words aren't gibberish, apart from “We need” I don't see much I can translate. Perhaps it will become clearer later.

I talk to Mac and he tells me what they know so far.

I MOVE the bucket and find a bloody razor sharp boning knife made of Martian Chromium. Is that how killers hide evidence in the future? Put a bucket over the murder weapon and hope the cops don't go to the effort of peeking under buckets at murder scenes?

I offer the keys and knife to Mac – he tells me the keys would probably help me more than him. What kind of cop does this? At least he's cop enough to take the murder weapon. He promises to fax me the results after he checks out the weapon.

Suddenly, Rockwell Bache sends me an SMS telling me that the estate would like me to continue my Quest for Alexis.

Coming soon from Sierra: Alexis Quest II: Romancing Vohaul's Vengeance Fire

Now that I have Alexander's key, I decide to visit his office and see what it opens. Rhonda isn't there, which is convenient because there's nothing more uncomfortable than starting a relationship with someone the day before their boss is brutally murdered and having to walk past them on the way to looting their dead boss' office.

The door to Alexander's office is open, so I go in. I look around and see nothing interesting apart from a painting, which I can MOVE to find a safe. Unsurprisingly, my new key opens the safe.

I now have more people and things to ask about or visit.

Added to my growing list of things to ask about from my last few locations are “Ferris Collett” “Oracle Stone” (Not sure where I got this info from) “Stanton Expedition”, Dr. Lawrence Barkley, "Power Plant" and "Collier Stanton."

I talk to everyone about my new topics, as well as ask them all about Marshall again to hear what they have to say about his death.

Nora may look angry, but she's clearly glad that Marshall's dead and hopes to hear about Alexis' death soon.

Added to my locations are Dr. Lawrence Barkley and Power Plant, but like Lowell Percival, I can't get there yet as they are all on The Martian Planet.

I can go to the cop station to talk to Malden about all my topics, and then go back to the murder scene and find him still there also. My gods, he's a Synth!

I don't get a lot of new useful info from anyone, so I go to Logan's jungle hideaway. I get to explore this area by continuing moving to the right. Unfortunately I can't jump on things or collect coins, so I just move to the right.

P.I. Rule number 73: Assume ALL jungle hideaways are trapped.

I can successfully avoid death by running away as soon as I see the log fall. It then bounces harmlessly and I can pick it up (realism be damned!)

I next come across rocks over quicksand. I try to walk on them, but that just causes me to fall in.

P.I. Rule number 44: Carrying around EVERY item you find makes you heavier. Be careful around quicksand.

Okay. That doesn't work. I try USEing my log on the quicksand to make a bridge, but the game won't let me do that.

I soon learn that I need to “GOTO” the rocks. To cross the quicksand. But that's not all. Some rocks (which look the same and have the same LOOK description of the other rocks) can't hold my weight. Oh, goody. A maze!

The quicksand 'maze' is purely a case of trial and error. For those who want the solution, you start on the lowest rock, then go right, up, right, up , right, right, down, down, right, right.

Stupid trial and error 'puzzle' is stupid. Let's move on, at least we won't have to deal with that again.

Moving on we casually walk ahead not finding any more obstacl...

P.I. Rule number three – a pit cleverly covered with grass when seen in 1991 era computer graphics looks exactly the same as every other patch of grass in the jungle

I've already worked out the solution to this trap with my failed attempt at passing the quicksand. I USE the log on the cleverly disguised pit and make a bridge. I can then walk across it (carefully though, if I click too high or low I miss the log and fall into the pit again.)

Next I come to a hut, where I am surprised by the total lack of something trying to kill me upon entering. I open the cabinet and find a SNAKE! The snake is not friendly.

P.I. Rule number 18: Never open a cabinet in a jungle without having completed your last will and testament.

Ignoring the fact that the small snake apparently swallowed me whole, I try again and this time quickly USE my GUN on the snake.

Aww. I was hoping to kill it by shooting ladders at it. Everyone knows snakes and ladders are opposites.

The snake was guarding a note in the cabinet. I read the note.

Hmm. I'm guessing the Trans-Martian Shuttle is a red herring and my real way of getting to Mars will be this mysterious Smuggler's base (Do real smugglers call their base “Smuggler's base” in their correspondence? Seems like an invitation to the cops to me, but what do I know. I've never tried to smuggle anything apart from the occasional budgie before I discovered Board Shorts.

As I walk towards the lizard in runs out of the window, obviously having seen what happened to his friend, the snake a few moments ago.

At the end of the hut that I'm pretty sure is a TARDIS (It doesn't look nearly this big from the outside) I find of note a bath with a screen, a shovel, and a chest from a famous Martian explorer.

Looking at the chest says it's from the famous Martian explorer, Neil Galloway.

Just for fun, I look up Neil Galloway and Martian and find this...

I now officially reinstate any points I had previously deducted for incorrectly predicting the future. Thumbs up, Access! Big Thumbs UP!

I grab the shovel in the corner, and move the privacy screen fully expecting to be killed by a bathing cougar. Instead I find...

In a third case of accidentally finding something useful, I try to talk to dead Rick and get the response of "KEY - There seems to be no response." In this way, I discovered that he has a key hanging around his neck. I take it.

I use the key on the obvious item in the room and get some more useful info.

Two more names for my collection (as well as Lowell Percival)

I leave the hut and try to travel.


Fine. Fortunately I kept a map of the directions for the quicksand 'maze' and just reversed the process.

After travelling to South America and back I thought I'd check out the murder scene to make sure Malden's still there.

Yep. Still there.

Next time I'll make my way to the smuggler's base. I'm sure there'll be no danger there. On with the stats...

Deaths: 6 - Rhino Dog, Radioactive Seltzer, Log, Quicksand, Staked, Snaked.

Inventory: Gun, Cash, Comlink, Paper, Keys, Shovel, Film (I lost my Rose at some point, probably because I didn't need it anymore and I don't have any ammo, because it's all buried in snake carcass.)

Session time: 1 hour 29 minutes
Total time: 3 hour 4 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's 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 CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one.


  1. I feel like we need a death counter... being an adventure game protagonist is dangerous work!

    1. I put in a unique death counter (6 so far) but haven't been keeping track of a total number of deaths counter (Probably around 20 including all my quicksand trial-and-error-and-error-and-error attempts)

  2. Nice to know, you've managed to find some friendly bugs, no such luck for me. Fortunately, the ladder was not so difficult to find.

    The whole jungle thing was just irritating. I was so frustrated with the quicksand that I eventually just googled how to get through it - and I still managed to fail it couple of times, because I apparently clicked incorrect pixels. Smuggler's base wasn't that fun either, but I've still managed to get through it.

    1. I'm particularly glad as I may have needed to ask for assistance if I didn't hit the bug and would feel pretty stupid if the assistance consisted of "move to the right and the screen scrolls" something that should have been obvious to any seasoned adventure gamer.

    2. Having survived mapping Serenia's desert in King's Quest V I found the quicksand section a breeze. It's the same basic trial and error process, but much, much smaller.

      I still feel like Roberta Williams should send me a T-shirt or certificate or something for completely mapping that useless desert!

  3. Re: Ladder bug. The junkyard scene actually scrolls to the right, if you walk that direction you can find a ladder. Presumably it will be gone since you've glitched it?

    There's also a death available in the junkyard if you mess with the wire connecting the railcar to the generator (I think Open was the verb that killed me).

    I really hated the jungle scene, especially the rocks through the quicksand. I probably died 20+ times in that section.

    I had to use the in-game hints to find the key on Rick Logan's corpse.

    Spoiler for possible missed item:
    gur fubiry pna or hfrq ba gur zbhaq bs qveg bhgfvqr gur whatyr uhg. Vg'f ivfvoyr va lbhe ynfg whatyr fperrafubg

    1. I was thinking that if Batman could fire grapnels in the 20th Century, then Tex Murphy should definitely be able to fire ladders in the future.

    2. Looks like I have a few things to try next time (I also still have to check out the 'best' Rhonda conversation)

      This is not the first game where I've fallen for the "Didn't keep walking in case the screen scrolls" trap, and it probably won't be the last.

      I'm particularly pleased that you found a new death that I can add to my collection! Nothing like a good death in an adventure game! Unless that death takes place many hours after the cause of said death - that's just mean.

      I found in my further attempts that USEing a piece of paper or some film or cash at the boxcar has the same magic-ladder result.

    3. But shooting a ladder out from the gun is way funnier than having a ladder appear from something else.

  4. "Let's see if I can solve the rest of the game through dumb luck/friendly bugs."

    Don't mind me, just watching the PISSED rating drop over here

  5. By the way, does anyone know where I got the clue to the "ORACLE STONE"?

    I can't remember anyone mentioning it or reading it anywhere but it somehow appeared in my ASK ABOUT list. Not that I'm complaining. Just curious...

    1. I think you get the clue automatically if you read about the Stanton Expedition on your Comlink after going through Alexander's office. Can't be certain though. Been decades since I touched this game.

      Also, fun read about Infocom; the developers of Zork!

    2. I don't remember exactly, but I think it was one or more of these places:
      - stuff guarded by the snake in the cabinet
      - stuff in the locked chest in the jungle hut
      - stuff in the locked safe in Marshall's office

  6. I love the laddergun. I'm fairly sure that will be police standard issue by 2030. (I'd also argue that the side scrolling affair is more Pitfall than Super Mario!)