Sunday, 15 November 2015

Willy Beamish - He Who Smelt It

Written by Joe Pranevich

Breakfast of champions!

William J. Beamish Journal #4 - Holy heck! Today has been a busy day! Now that I can practice Nintari again, I just need to figure out how to pay my way to the championships. The solution came to me during breakfast: a frog jumping competition! My friends and I spent a lot of time practicing today and we plan to enter Horny into the competition tomorrow. We also managed to teach that bully Spider a lesson that he won’t soon forget! Have to head out now to meet the new sitter. Really, Dad? I’m old enough to babysit Brianna myself!

Welcome back! Apologies for the skipped week last week, but I had an emergency in “real life” that threw the schedule out the window. I wish it had been an emergency playthrough of Fallout 4, but that is a special treat I am going to save for after writing this up. See? I do have priorities! Joking aside, I will still have some distractions over the next several weeks as we kick into the end of the semester and the holidays, but I am expecting to be able to keep the adventures of Young Master Beamish on a regular schedule from here out. Wish me luck!

Where we last left Willy, he had just gone to bed at the conclusion of his last day of school. His father has lost his job, and with it any chance of having the money to go to the Nintari championships. Because of a poor grade in “Music Appreciation”, Willy had also been grounded from practicing Nintari, but we dealt with that by convincing his sister Tiffany to hand over the key. All that stands in the way between Willy and Nintari domination is actually getting to the competition.

This could not possibly be a hint.

The new day dawns with Willy getting out of bed and starting his morning routine: brushing teeth, breakfast, and morning chores. While brushing teeth, Willy reminds himself to see his friends Dana and Perry at the treehouse, so I can take a hint and will be heading there first. But before we can set out, there is a short sequence at breakfast with a handful of options, none of them controversial. Should I help Brianna pour her cereal? Should I feed the dog? Yes and yes. It doesn’t even seem worth it to try out other options.

While we eat, Willy’s dad scans the “Help Wanted” section in the paper, looking for jobs that might fit his skillset. He quickly finds one and boy does it sound too good to be true:

Could not possibly be a warning sign that a VP job requires no experience, right?

Even in the 90s, I’m pretty sure you could not make “handsome” a job requirement without tripping over a half-dozen anti-discrimination laws, but that is far from the only red flags in this little ad. Who hires a VP without experience? Of course, we know that this is all part of the “hot tub” plot that was revealed to us a post or two ago, but Gordon doesn’t know that. After a very brief phone call, he is scheduled to have an interview at Tootsweet tomorrow. Score one for Dad! Especially if it means a salary that lets us pay for a trip to the Nintari championship.

Much more importantly, one of the commercials that comes on while we are eating breakfast is for Tootsweet’s “25th Annual Frog Jump Contest”, a competition where the winning frog’s owner walks away with $25,000. That would also be more than enough to get us to the championship! Of course, we’ll have to beat “Turbo Frog”, the defending champion. To enter, we have to go to the Tootsweet Pavilion after 9:00 AM tomorrow. It seems both Willy and his father will be heading to Tootsweet tomorrow, could that be a coincidence? Is there any such thing in a game like this?

Monday! Monday! Monday!

The commercial also gives us a better idea of the calendar of the game. Yesterday, the last day of school, was on a Friday. Today is Saturday. I will have to collect the entry blank on Sunday, to compete in the contest on Monday. The only strange thing is that Dad will be interviewing on a Sunday, but I suppose that they are in quite a hurry to find someone for the role. That also suggests that I will have at least four more days of game play, assuming the Nintari championships take place at least a day after the frog jumping contest.

I suspect it means absolutely nothing, but we also find out Willy and Brianna’s favorite Saturday morning cartoon shows: “Pony Tales” (for Brianna) and “Spacenoids from Cybernet” (for Willy). “Pony Tales” is an utterly brilliant piece of 90s joke-reference. The name is a pastiche of “My Little Pony” (1986-1987) and “DuckTales” (1987-1990), but the joke goes geekier than that. Just listen to the last line of the DuckTales theme song and you’ll get it. I’m less certain of what “Spacenoids” might be referring to, but “The Transformers” (1984-1987) had shape-changing robots from “Cybertron”. Could that be it? Any better ideas?

I captured the whole morning sequence for your exposition enjoyment:

First day of summer vacation!

After breakfast, Dad asks me to wash his car (a “Grange Rover”) for a few bucks. Since I need the money, I accept and score $5 after a brief cutscene. With that out of the way, I motor directly to the treehouse where I suspect my friends are waiting for me. I found it in my explorations yesterday so there’s no real mystery on that front.

The artists really have trouble with lips. Even on frogs.

As expected, I am greeted at the treehouse by two new characters: Dana and Perry, as well as Dana’s new frog. The new frog’s name is Gigi and (for a frog) she must be quite the looker because Horny is immediately very interested in her. Willy tells Dana about the frog jumping competition and I am given a choice of how much of a “hard sell” to give her, but she refuses because Gigi is just a “show frog” and should not be lowering herself to that level. Willy seems pretty sure that Horny will be more motivated if Gigi is around and that seems like a pretty good hint. How can I get her to join me in this adventure? Dana also returns an old comic that she borrowed off of me.

Before we can do much of anything else, it’s lunchtime and Dana suggests that we use a coupon that she has to get lunch at the local pizza shop. I do not find anything else to do around the treehouse, so we’re off for pizza.

Patiently waiting for a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” joke.

The local pizza parlor is “Slice of Life”, the restaurant that we had seen in the main square during our explorations yesterday. Willy and his friends enjoy their meal before being interrupted by a photographer. He offers to sell us a commemorative group photo for $1 and while one of my friends (Perry, I think?) suggests that it’s just something that tourists do, I buy it anyway. I’m not low on cash yet and it seems like it could come in handy. Nowadays, I suspect they just would have taken a group selfie.

Unfortunately, the pizza does not sit very well with Willy and he gets very uncomfortable before finally belting out a loud fart. While his friends take it in stride, it turns out that Spider, the class bully, was sitting right behind him at the time and is not at all pleased. I get the choice of asking to be let go or just telling him to stand back, but he is kind enough at least to let me run into the bathroom.

What is it with Spider and bathrooms?

Inside the bathroom, a painter is just finishing up. He warns Willy that the paint is wet, but that he’s all out of “wet paint” signs and hung up a “no smoking” sign instead. I’m not sure how that makes any sense, but he also warns me not to use the last stall because he poured some turpentine in the toilet. (I had to look this up, but apparently turpentine can be used as paint thinner. The more you know…) Shortly after the painter leaves, Spider barges in. Just like in the school bathroom (which never happened in this game because I skipped it to get home faster), he demands something from my backpack. I am given the option of saying “no” and do so; Spider punches me straight through the wall.

When this happened at school, it was no big deal: I was sent to the nurse’s office but was fine. This building must be made of sterner stuff because Willy suffers multiple broken bones and has to be taken to the hospital. While his doctor complains about his golf game, it becomes clear that we won’t getting out any time soon. The end.

There is only one nurse in this entire town.

Take Two

I restore all the way back to the beginning of the day, but this is also where I discover a very helpful comment on a previous post: you can press “tab” to cycle between interactable objects! I am sorry that I cannot find who made that suggestion, but when I do there will be some CAPs because this is a tremendous help. Using this, I can quickly see all of the objects in each room which I can interact with in a basic way, as well as all of the exits. It is not perfect because it does not show you things that you can look at but not touch, nor does it tell you what you can use other objects on. So for example, you can go into Tiffany’s room and “tab” over to see that you can interact with her or the scale. But if I go into my inventory and choose her diary, “tab” does not tell me that I can use it on her. Even if it isn’t perfect, this is a huge improvement and my first step is to re-explore the house to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

As it turns out, I did miss a few small things:
  • Duffy is waiting in the living room to be taken out for a walk. I give it to him.
  • Dad is up in the attic playing with his trains.

Good thing I didn’t break the trains yesterday…

The conversation between Willy and his dad is pretty cute, actually, albeit full of train puns. Willy gets to give his father a pep-talk to give him confidence and we get to see just how much stubble Gordon can grow in 24 hours. I don’t get any items, but it seems good to have Dad feel more upbeat about his chances.

With that out of the way, I head back to the treehouse. I must have done something differently or talked to my friends in a different order because this time I get a sequence where Willy asks Perry for some soda. All Perry has is gum, but when he opens his wrapper he discovers a very rare baseball card! He claims that there are only twelve of them in the world and offers to trade it to Willy in exchange for something, but after some trial and error it does not seem that I have anything that he wants. I hope I can come back to this later because I honestly do not have a clue what he’s looking for. I try out the second choice dialog option with Dana (stressing the award money for the frog jumping contest), but that doesn’t make a difference. Just as before, we are quickly off to eat some pizza and have some flatulence.

This time, I offer to give Spider the Biffo-Man comic book that Dana had just returned to me. He’s thrilled with it and Willy suggests that he read it in the stall on the end (the one the painter told him not to use) because it has the best light. Spider agrees and Willy runs like hell, grabbing Perry and Dana and exiting the building as soon as possible.

What this scene needs is “Ken Sent Me” graffiti.

Spider sits in the stall on the end and lights up a cigarette (good thing I took the “no smoking” sign!) and the toilet explodes, sending him flying all the way through the roof and into the stratosphere. I hope I do not see Spider again any time soon because he’s going to be pissed.

As we leave, Perry reminds me that I need to go to West Frumpton tomorrow to get my entry form for the frog competition, but also that we can’t go today because the ferry is not running. He also lets me know that he trades baseball cards with Gus, the ferry captain. That sounds like a hint! I have no idea why I want the baseball card, but at least now I have the start of a plan for getting it.

Concrete and monkey-bars. It must be the 90s!

Willy suggests that with the clock ticking they all go to the park to practice frog-jumping. While there, I put my $1 down to buy soda from the vendor (another thing I did in the previous session, but not in my final save game). Thanks to Gigi’s encouragement, Horny jumps farther than ever before… but still not close to winning the competition. I try several times before hitting on the obvious solution: caffeine. If I feed the soda to Horny before his jump, he springs way up over the course and lands in the fountain. That works!

Except… it doesn’t? While everyone is impressed and all, Dana and Perry’s speech still suggests that I haven’t solved the problem. Could this be a bug? I try other things and the only one that has any effect at all has the wrong one: giving Horny flies before the jump only causes him to fall asleep. With nothing else to do, I pick up my frog and leave. If I revisit the area, Perry and Dana are gone, but the game is kind enough to tell me that I haven’t found a way to get Horny to beat the record yet. I hope the game isn’t glitched.

I hope everyone is okay...

As I leave again, I am greeted by a brief cutscene where Tiffany is being taught to drive by her boyfriend. It doesn’t go well and she crashes into a light pole. I can’t seem to interact with the scene in any way, or even talk to Tiffany or Cliff after, but I’m sure it will factor into the plot later. Since I have some time, I also finish all of the other items from the previous day that I hadn’t done yet: grabbing the ferry token from the fountain and the lottery ticket from the broken machine.

While I am in town, I notice that the woman who offered to make me a shirt yesterday is back and is happy to talk to me! Willy wants to make a shirt out of the commemorative photo that he and his friends took at the pizza parlor, so the woman takes my $5 and hands me back a shirt. I take this to Dana in the treehouse and she loves it! Because of the strength of our friendship, she and Gigi will do the frog jumping contest with me and Horny. The day is saved!

With nothing obvious left to do for today, I head home only to discover that Mom and Dad are heading out and leaving Brianna and I with… the new babysitter!

Adventures in Babysitting?

And with that, I think I will end this play session. Thanks to my spending the time to explore in the previous part, I was able to quickly “connect the dots” for a few puzzles here. One thing that I did not mention is that this game is getting increasingly buggy. I had three occurrences where the game became unplayable and I had to restore back to try to keep playing: once in the bathroom with Spider, once while at the park with Horny, and once while talking to Tiffany in the house (after her car accident). The bathroom situation could have been a DosBox problem because the graphics glitched, but the other two were cases where all of the exits from a room I was in would just disappear. With the lack of a “success” message from my figuring out how to get Horny to jump far, I am a bit afraid I could be in a glitched situation already. Please let me know if you think I am.

  • I’ll need to meet with Gus, the ferry captain, tomorrow to find something Perry wants for his baseball card.
  • Something “fun” will happen with both Willy and his dad going to visit Toot Sweet on the same day.
  • Spider will be back and he’s going to want blood. 
Terrible Joke of the Week:

Attack of the bottom burps!

Not so much a specific joke this time as a sequence: the whole “fart” routine. It’s a far cry from the most famous fart scene in cinema, and might be the first use of flatulence in an adventure game. Can anyone remember an earlier example?

One final note: for anyone still patiently waiting for the final Questprobe post that has been delayed as well. My priority right now is to have a weekly schedule for Willy Beamish, but as soon as I can squeeze in the 20+ comics I have to read to complete my “research”, I will do so. Worst case, it will come after Willy Beamish is over.

Time played: 2 hr 50 min
Total time: 8 hr 30 min

Inventory: dog tag chain, ferry token, yo-yo, lottery ticket, no smoking sign, Slam Dunk Cola (partial), diary, Nintari key, jar of flies, Gamebuddy, Horny

Deaths / Reloads:
  • 1 “game over” (11 total)
  • 3 restarts (all due to bugs) (25 total)
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. It is a little concerning to see so many bugs! It does seem like you got the frog jumping solution though, but will you be able to feed your frog cola during the competition? Maybe there's something else to it.

    The story really does seem like a mash-up of various 90s sitcom plots, or maybe Simpsons episodes. Even by adventure game standards it does seem to require a lot of trial and error though.

    1. I should clarify that I think I hit some scripting bugs rather than something deeper. Perhaps I did something that was intended, but not well-tested?

      For example, one of the issues was that I tried to give back the diary to Tiffany on the second day. There's some written dialog for this and she's glad to get it back, but when the conversation is over I am trapped in her room and cannot leave. Similarly, my issue at the park was perhaps because I left and re-entered and gave the cola to Horny more than once. Nothing that has been earth-shattering, but I am playing the game thoroughly and so maybe I'm finding corner cases. Or, maybe I am screwed. Hard to tell which.

    2. Ouch Joe! For your sake, I hope that you are not screwed. But on the other hand, if these are just scripting issues, I applaud you for breaking the game. I don't know why, but even though those things are annoying, I always found it fun to do things that the designers didn't expect.

  2. So the game is buggy? No problem--you've got a frog! Let it eat the bugs.

  3. 25k for a frog jumping contest? That's an immense figure in 90s money. Willy can probably buy a house instead of winning the Nintari Championship.

    Unfortunately, you're not wrong - this game is notorious for completely random bugs. When something feels wrong, reload and try again to see if you've missed something or the game has just decided to lose its nut. (Don't worry, I think from memory you get the entry form on Sunday.)

    1. You are right! I hadn't even considered how absurd that amount is, especially for 1991. That works out to just about $45K in today's dollars. Not enough to buy a house in a nice city like Frumpton, but it makes a nice down-payment.

    2. Then again, Frumpton is a make-believe place, ain't it? Just like Slice of Life Pizzeria!

      Oh damn... uh...

  4. I love this game, but I hate these fucking bugs: They made getting through the game ridiculously hard due to scripting issues and missing items. I just realized, and this is kind of a spoiler, that this game predicted the effects of fracking on the water supply and the poor. Also, there is a reason the corporation wants someone with no experience: It wants a fall guy, someone too naive to see that he is being exploited and who will kiss ass until he becomes the sacrificed scapegoat.

  5. Just wait until the day with the Japanese family and the gang: You will probably have to replay that five times before it works.

  6. Just wait until the day with the Japanese family and the gang: You will probably have to replay that five times before it works.

    1. Fortunately, I have already played through that section so this isn't a spoiler... but rot13 would have been nice! :)

      And I did have to play that a few times (as you will read about soon enough), but not because of anything broken that I noticed. It's just a difficult section, made worse by the speed by which you can die if you choose incorrectly, and then compounded by a bit of stupid geography fail. But we'll get there when we get there.

  7. I love this game, but I hate these fucking bugs: They made getting through the game ridiculously hard due to scripting issues and missing items. I just realized, and this is kind of a spoiler, that this game predicted the effects of fracking on the water supply and the poor. Also, there is a reason the corporation wants someone with no experience: It wants a fall guy, someone too naive to see that he is being exploited and who will kiss ass until he becomes the sacrificed scapegoat.

  8. The scene with Spider in the pizzeria bathroom is an example of the trial-and-erroryness of some of the puzzles in the game. When I first tried giving the comic book, I hadn't yet taken the sign from the mirror, and Spider made me his slave for the rest of my life upon receiving the gift. This lead me to believe for a while that giving the comic was ineffective, but luckily I tried it again properly.

    Oh and yes, don't rely on tab TOO much. There was at least one crucial clickable area that I didn't know existed and prevented me from progressing.

  9. Great, after a long day where I've gone through a national survey data to create diagrams and such with the looping acronym MLP (which I, the biggest fool of all, came up with) and incidentally been humming the My Little Pony theme song in Swedish every single time I've seen it and at home I think I finally gotten rid of it and there BAAM it is again. I'm going nuts here!

    1. Are you going nuts, perhaps, due to . . .


    2. I wish, the 80's transformers movie is so much better having stuck in your head if we are talking aliens. Although, shows like Galaxy Rangers, Thundercats, Silverhawks and Saber Rider can be as addictive with their theme songs.

      Of course I'm stuck with My Little Pony... but then again, I remember seeing the pilot episodes for the 80's cartoon as a kid where we in the first episode had dragons, a satanic centaur who turned the ponies into dragons and the rainbow of darkness and the following episode drug addiction, steroids and slavery. No wonder Transformers had to top that by killing of Optimus Prime in the movie.

      Regarding the "boy"-cartoon, just by the structure of the name I would guess Bikermice from Mars.

  10. Wondering about those "Spacenoids from Cybernet"... Could that be a reference to "Space Paranoids", the videogame in the original TRON movie? And then you add some Cybertron from Transformers and maybe Skynet from Terminator?