Sunday, 29 November 2015

Willy Beamish - Preteen Novice Ninja Beamish

Written by Joe Pranevich


William J. Beamish Journal #6 - Tomorrow is the big day! I was able to get my entrance form to the Frog Jumping Competition no problem, but I had a bit of an adventure getting back home. Fortunately, some nice Japanese tourists helped me out and took me out to dinner. They were very sweet and I hope to meet them again someday. We also defeated a street gang together; it was very cool.

Last week, the young Mr. Beamish had successfully defeated his vampire babysitter and settled in for a good night’s rest. It might have been a dream, but it seemed real at the time. In the morning, we did our chores and boarded the ferry for a fun day of adventure: West Frumpton, here we come!

On the way across the bay, Willy has a brief scene with a nice group of Japanese tourists. It’s one of these scenes that you either love or hate, built around the joke that they don’t speak English very well and keep misunderstanding everything Willy is saying. In the end, he succeeds in helping them take a group photo. They think that Willy tells them that they will be “friends forever” and to show their gratitude the grandfather gives Willy a real (!!) throwing star and smoke bomb. This whole exchange just opens up dozens of questions, but who really thinks that it’s a good idea to give a throwing star to a 10-year old? And do Japanese people keep ninja stars and smoke bombs in their wallets? I’m not sure whether this is racist or funny, but I am leaning toward “funny”. The whole sequence is handled with a light touch, especially for a game that enjoys fart humor.

I captured the whole sequence and I welcome alternate opinions:

The art in this game is fantastic, but someone never learned to draw lips.

Before we move on, I have to nitpick: the ferry is called the USS Dumpling. This is probably a Star Trek reference of some sort (anyone want to hazard a guess?), but the “USS” designation in real life is reserved for United States Navy ships and this ferry should have been the SS Dumpling, instead. Star Trek borrowed the designation because (in the mind of Gene Roddenberry), Starfleet is the successor to the US Navy for space flight. Try not to think too much about it.

With that cut-scene out of the way, Willy disembarks onto the darker and more industrial world of West Frumpton. The region is dominated by the Tootsweet building, probably my first stop, but a quick search of the exits show that I can also visit the Humpford Sludgeworks, the Plumbers Union office, and the “Golden Bowl”. Sounds like a bowling alley to me. Time to start exploring!

Is anyone else uncomfortable by a food factory next to a sewage plant?

First stop will be the Tootsweet building to pick up an entry form. The place is set up for the Frog Jumping Competition already: there are bleachers, food concessions, the weigh-in table, and a registration booth. Thankfully, my exploration in the morning didn’t take TOO much time as it’s only 1:30 and I had until 5 PM to pick up the form. I’m still very concerned about the clock in this game, but I haven’t hit a real time-sensitive puzzle (that I know of) since the first day. I collect my form from the man at the booth; he tries to push Willy into taking a Tootsweet tour, but there’s no option to say “yes” so perhaps it’s an idea that will come later. The guy claims to give me two forms, but my inventory only has one. Do I need to give one to Dana? I’ll have to remember that for later.

There’s a $25K prize, but only 42 seats? How are they making money on this?

Once I collect my form, there does not appear to be anything more I can do here. There is no obvious way to fill it out now, nor do I find anything else that I can act on nearby. I wish I could have taken the tour and gone into the building, but I wager there will be time for that. Meanwhile, there is a lot more to explore.

No crossing the picket line for Willy!

My next stop is the Humpford Sludgeworks, but it’s only a brief stop. The entrance to the facility is blocked by a group of striking plumbers and they will not let Willy pass. I do get the “exit” cursor when I mouse over the door, a pretty clear hint that I can eventually get inside, but no dice for now. I try a bunch of things, but nothing helps me to get past the plumbers. I’ll make a note to come back later.

Next stop: the Plumber’s Union!

Do you think this is a reference to the car or the cleaning product?

The union office is another location being blocked by throngs of striking plumbers. Willy is able to push through the crowd to watch a bit of the meeting, but it’s all plumbing rhetoric. I can’t help but feel it probably pays homage to some famous speech in the history of organized labor, but we are well out of my depth. I captured the whole thing if anyone wants to make a stab at it. They want to be called “tubular technicians”, have more weekends and holidays free, and that sort of thing.

Here’s the speech in full:

Plumbers crack. Once seen, cannot be unseen.

After watching for a bit, someone notices and kicks Willy out. After that, there is no obvious way back into the meeting. There is a window just to the left of the door which you can try to climb in, but you get caught immediately. Looking more closely, I see that it goes straight into Louis’s office. That sounds interesting for later. A nearby pay phone is also out of order, so no help there.

This whole area seems like it’s set up for something later. The Tootsweet building will be the Frog Jumping Contest, of course, but the Sludgeworks and Union office seem like they have too much going on to be throwaway rooms. Time to press on.

Is that man holding a Keyblade? Ah, no. Wrong decade.

My final stop is the bowling alley, except I made a mistake: it’s not a bowling alley. The sign that I thought looked like a bowling ball is actually a food bowl. This is the “Golden Bowl Saloon”, a drinking establishment frequented by the local plumbers and workers at the nearby sludge plant. A bouncer stands outside carrying a wrench, but he seems friendly enough. He won’t let me in, but he at least warns me that this is a bad neighborhood. Coming out after dark is not recommended.

With that, I think I’ve seen everything. Time to pack it up and head home, perhaps see if there is something new to do on the nicer side of town.

A sludge bar! Call Captain Planet!

Returning to the terminal, it’s pretty clear that I am not supposed to go home yet: the ferry has been lodged onto a “sludgebar” and unable to make the return journey. If the industrial sludge is thick enough to make “sludgebars”, I think our problems here are much larger than can be solved by one Mr. Beamish. Can someone please call the EPA? Since I didn’t do whatever I was supposed to do, I quickly re-explore each of the areas. Willy now has new dialog with the strikers, asking how he can get home, but they aren’t any help. The payphone is still broken, so no calling our parents. My fire ants and smoke bombs also do nothing interesting.

My best clue comes from the dialog at the Golden Bowl where it tells me that Willy needs to “think of something fast”. There’s a bus stop there and I initially think that might be it, but even when I speed up time to when the bus comes “every half hour, give or take a few hours”, it does nothing. In the end, I just try to get into the Bowl several times, each time getting a humorous message from the bouncer. But after a few rejections, instead of letting me in, he tells me that “they” are coming. Oh no! Who are “they”?

A street gang that enjoyed “West Side Story” a bit too much.

I find out immediately: “they” are the local street gang, the Cripes. They are a snapping, singing, violent gang from the wrong side of the tracks. The name is obviously a takeoff of the Crips, an American street gang originally from Los Angeles, but I’m reasonably sure that the real gang members don’t sing. I seem to recall back when I was a kid in the 80s a lot of fear that street gangs were moving into the suburbs, and this may be playing to that fear. To give me a hint, Willy wonders what the Ninja Turtles would do in such a situation. Since there’s no pizza immediately available, and the nearby manhole cover isn’t manipulatable, I’ll have to think of something else. As Willy backs away, the bouncer throws him his wrench to help him defend himself.

What else would the Ninja Turtles do? I throw the smoke bomb and that seems to do the trick! The gang members are disoriented. Thinking I am on a roll, I throw the star next, but that doesn’t work as expected. They just say “bad move kid” and drag me screaming into the streets. The end.
cripes: exclamation (informal); used as a euphemism for Christ

What about my wrench? On the next restore, I throw the smoke bomb and then use the wrench on the fire hydrant. That works! But I do not move quickly enough and they manage to grab me again. I seem to be working in the right direction, so over the next several restores I try similar things: just running away, using the smoke bomb then running, using the wrench before the smoke bomb, and a couple other combinations. Five deaths later and I get the pattern: first throw the smoke bomb, then use the wrench on the hydrant, then run like hell. That lets me escape!
But even though Willy is running, he’s not running very far. He’s just taken back to the map screen with the gang members on his heels. Running to the docks doesn’t help; they catch me before I reach there. The closest location is the plumber’s union, but I can’t even make it there. Did I have to move faster? What is the trick? Six more deaths later and I work it out: I can go to the Tootsweet factory.

The word “cripes”, used correctly in a sentence.

Let’s pause and consider this solution for a moment. Willy isn’t able to make it to the closest nearby building, but somehow he is able to make it all the way across town to get to the factory? How exactly does that work? As puzzles go, it isn’t the most stupid, but it is counter-intuitive. At the very least, they could have given us a hint. Perhaps Willy should have been able to get to the union, but then have a scene where they refuse to help? That would have given me a clue. As it is, I only figured it out because there weren’t any other options.

When Willy arrives at the factory, the group of Japanese tourists are still there, but the Cripes are hot on his heels. In the few moments that we have, we can talk to the family and Willy is given the choice between two dialog options, both of which mean “Help!”. I pick the more polite-seeming one and that’s when things take a turn for the strange: the tourists are ninjas and they challenge the gang to combat on the roof of the Tootsweet building.

Ninjas are deadly and silent! They’re also unspeakably violent.

To make a long cutscene short, the ninjas battle the gang on the roof of the factory. Exactly how they all got up there is not explained, but does it really need to be? The ninjas win and they take Willy out for some sushi before giving him a ride home in their limo. It turns out that they are wealthy Japanese tourist ninjas. Throughout the whole scene, they continue to do the misunderstanding joke from the ferry, but I suppose I am warming to them as characters now that I know they are ninjas. Also, Willy likes sushi! That’s a win right there.
I captured the whole exchange for your viewing pleasure:

“Oh jeeze. This is bad karma, man.”

After the limo pulls away, Willy is back at home. Was that all a dream? It certainly seemed real. I re-explore the house, but that takes too long and we are late for bed. I restore back and just go straight to bed to avoid increasing the trouble meter unnecessarily. Hey, remember when the Trouble Meter was a core game mechanic? It seems the game took a bit of a different direction.

And with Willy being tucked into bed for the third night, I’m going to end our story for today. Tomorrow will be the Frog Jumping Contest and the proof once and for all whether I doomed myself two posts ago when I skipped warnings that we didn’t know how to win the contest. That should be fun! I’m looking forward to a heavily caffeinated frog.

  • We will be back for the Frog Jumping contest obviously, but there will be ways to get into the Sludgeworks and the Union office, the latter probably using the window.
  • The Japanese tourists will not appear again. Like the vampire babysitter, these evening interludes will remain separate from the main plot of the game.
Terrible Joke of the Week:

What? No “V” for victory sign? What kind of stereotypical Japanese tourists are these?

I’m going to let everyone down when I say this, but the humor this time was pretty well-done. I enjoyed the ninjas, the new age bouncer, and even the “Cripes”. The continuing joke of the Japanese tourists not understanding Willy is a misfire at first, but largely redeemed when they turn out to kick ass.

Tough call, but I really want this to be the final image of the post. We’ll just pretend that the ninjas were the worst of the lot… but really? Ninjas are awesome! Go ninjas go!

Time played: 1 hr 5 min
Total time: 13 hr 20 min

Inventory: entry blank, dog tag chain, yo-yo, ninja star, lottery ticket, no smoking sign, Slam Dunk Cola (partial), diary, Nintari key, jar of flies, jar of ants, Gamebuddy, Horny

Deaths / Reloads:
12 “game overs” (31 total)
1 reloads for other reasons (26 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. I've come to really look forward to these Willy Beamish posts!!

    Although it seems the game is just all over the place in terms of tone, game mechanics, sense of humor, etc. It almost feels as though several different teams worked on it independently and then were forced to shove it all together at the last moment. Anyone know the in-depth production history for Beamish?

    I look forward to the Frog Jumping contest

    1. This game has really grown on me. I'm not sure what the PISSED rating will look like, but I am glad that I picked this one up when I probably would never have touched it otherwise.

  2. Had I played this game before, I wouldn't have (a few minutes ago) went, "What... the... fuuuuuuu"

    1. But in a good way, right? Because ninjas.

    2. It's strange that, with their poor command of English, Ninja Dad could issue a challenge in Shakespearean (aka Official Lingua Britannia of Ultima) English.

  3. Aww. I was going to point out that the 'Golden Bowl' looked more like a chinese restaurant than a bowling alley, but you beat me to it a few paragraphs later.

    1. It's worse than that. I didn't realize this until I replayed that section, but the "bowl" is a toilet bowl. It's a bar for plumbers. THIS would have made the "Terrible Joke of the Week" had I of realized it while writing-- but ninjas are still awesome.

  4. That street gang part was when there was just a bit too much trial and error for me to endure (especially with the somewhat clunky interface), and I resorted to a walkthrough for the first time in the game.