Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Heart of China - Curse of the Ninja!

Written by Aperama

First, I'd just like to apologise to everyone. I'm not going to make any real excuses or do anything more than just explain – ninjas attacked my computer. Oh, sure, it was a 'fixable' thing, but it was undoubtedly the work of black-clad people who broke into my house mid-way through the night. Smoke arose from my computer and it died – and we all know what ninjas do with smoke, after all. It's been so long since I got to talk about this game that you've probably all forgotten about it – so my apologies. Ninjas. What can you do?

Okay! I get the picture! Ninjas 'didn't' kill my computer! No problems, Sir!

Anyhow. For those who weren't paying attention last time around...

We even get a postcard!

I'm at a bit of an impasse which is rare for me in my time here on the Adventure Gamer – I had to stop because I didn't feel I'd be able to get enough information down in the space of a post, instead of wanting a break from the game. Heart of China is really quite fun! Dynamix is borderline amazing at managing to take a whole bunch of small things that really could irk (there are so many stereotyped characters and iffy dialogue spots that it would be out and out considered racist these days I feel) and still coming out with something that feels a bit more than the sum of its parts. Last I left the bunch of you, Lucky, Kate and Chi were all piled onto a plane and deciding whether they should try to rush back to Hong Kong and E.A. Lomax's safe arms.. or if, y'know, they should actually cure Kate of the poisonous cobra bite that was completely Lucky's fault.. or Chi's for not being willing to fight a cobra. Or even Li Deng's – why on Earth he thought 'surrounded by a pit of cobras' was a reasonable way of holding a hostage...

A perfect landing! 10/10!

Unfortunately, Li Deng's 'hotel for hostages' has led to grave consequences

It's not quite a crash landing, but it's pretty close – unfortunately, Lucky had only loaded up enough fuel to make it to Hong Kong and back – the unexpected trip to Kathmandu was one that made things a little awkward, with Lucky crashing somewhere in what I'm guessing is one of the Himalayan mountain ranges (the exact location is never discussed). There's a little bit of a 'dialogue puzzle' of sorts, here – you can either succeed in making Lucky generally not be a jerk.. or you can not do that, and have everyone die. As I'm kinda a stickler for endings being positive (or, indeed, I don't particularly like the 'we heroically battled with a tank through the evil fortress and then crashed our plane and died' ending), I decide that Lucky can behave. See, he can either show that he actually cares about the wellbeing of Kate even if that comes across as a little self-centred given the fact that his livelihood literally depends on her being able to live, which will have Chi explain that he has a series of ninja healing tricks behind him – or he can not volunteer that and have Chi walk off in search of rescue. This is a game over, as Chi evidently just doesn't have quite the same constitution as Lucky.. or isn't laughed at as violently by strangers in the snow.

Of course, as Chi we still have to swarm Kate in blankets, set up a windbreaker and feed her as many ninja herbs as she can..

But Lucky will regardless meet the Abominable Snow..

… child

Is there a way to have Chi find his way to Kathmandu itself and bring the trio to civilization? Well, perhaps there is.. but I certainly didn't work it out. Much as the puzzle involving 'go through the sewers', I get a 'plot branch' here but have all but an instant Game Over when I make that decision. I don't even see an interaction that could be made here – again, I'm not saying that I'm 100% right in this, but I couldn't work it out. Fortunately, the opposite way works. A little sweet talking and having Lucky be convinced that he's better off leaving Chi and Kate alone (which he's mostly nervous about because he thinks Chi will run down to the teetering end of the plane and quickly pick up all of the food) and Lucky ends up getting lost in a snow drift only to be found by a sherpa boy. There's some truly terrible/awkward dialogue out of this between Chi and Lucky (and another flying bank note) where Lucky feels too awkward to say that he actually only managed to slog through the snow as far as he did given the knowledge that the pair he'd left behind were truly counting upon him.. and Chi (either through poor English skills or just generally being a bit of a bastard) immediately starts going into 'sports metaphor' level conversation with him. 'Chi very glad to help you partner.. Lucky the Kid!'

Just a little less stereotyping/hardline character development, and I might actually have found this small conversation touching

Thankfully, Ama here is something of a bad ass – 'feisty, crotchety but endearing if you can stay with her long enough'...

Line of game so far: 'Little boy save you. HA HA HA!'

Just to keep you guys with a fair idea of Lucky's 'stellar' dialogue

It turns out that Ama, who is virtually Queen of the Sherpas, immediately begins to fire away at Lucky, constantly belittling his manhood. Any attempts to talk to her using Chi immediately has her go at Lucky even more ferociously. Ama doesn't really tell us much upon our first speech with her, just using the opportunity to hurt Lucky's feelings – so we can fairly safely leave Kate to her mountain magic-healing. Chi and Lucky step out into the chilly outskirts of Kathmandu, where we have a few options. There's a telegraph office (where I visit and leave a message with E.A. Lomax to tell him that Lucky, Chi and Kate will all meet him not in the expected Hong Kong – but instead in Paris. This seems like a sensible enough port of call to begin Lucky's day, to my mind. There are a few other places. There's a junkyard, where I decide I can probably find some extra fuel for the plane I've pseudo-crashed. The 'Bojon's Office' (which I feel means 'the ruler' or some form of the like – Urban Dictionary suggests that it has something to do with 'good-looking Slavic dudes'). I can ascend to the sanctuary of the Lama (as in, Dalai), and a tavern where I might be able to hire in some cheap labour to get the Yankee Eagle back into shape.

The proud town of Kathmandu..

Telegram office: comes with free poster for, a, uh. Yak chip tossing competition?

We might have no choice but to abandon the plane? I can live with that. Thing was a death trap!

After a quick stop at the telegram office, I started with the junkyard, thinking I might be able to spot some way of obtaining fuel for the plane. The junkyard appears to be manned by a little kid who immediately accosts Lucky, attempting to offer him 'petroleum'. I decided that I might try to use Chi given that he could give him the 'no, we want to talk to your parents, respect your elders' sorta line? Absolutely not. No dice – Lucky is too enthused and wants to take over negotiations. See, Kubla (the kid whose parents run the junkyard and have left him in charge) thinks he wants to leave Kathmandu. He's willing to offer all of the petrol that we can carry.. but the issue is he wants to come with us. Lucky can either try to say he's joking, say that he needs to talk to his parents and are really worth caring and worrying about.. or optionally to just go through with it. All of the sane options led me to nothing, so I decided to just lie and say he could come with us – eh, why not, right? He drops a petrol siphoning hose when he rushes off to pack his things, and so I snatch that eagerly. I'm a terrible person!

Man with petroleum – have anvil, will travel

Hopefully, this doesn't come back to bite me in the posterior

This is when the game insists that I'm short on time to save the Yankee Eagle. Deep in my heart of hearts, I know that this is very unlikely to happen regardless – I know that the people who made this game programmed a fistfight atop the Orient Express from the manual, and I can't see them as having left something as potentially iconic as that as little more than an 'option'. Instead of rushing straight to the likely ways of getting the plane back in the skies, I tried leaping out to the Bojon's Office, who essentially started flinging insults at Lucky for being, well.. I'll just sum it up to 'filthy foreigner'. If we go down this path, Lucky either steps out gracefully or gets arrested for slighting the ruler of Kathmandu. This is easy enough to get out of – Chi disappears during the ensuing fight and goes back to Ama for advice. Ama is actually Cpt. Bojon's aunt, so she'll happily go up and raise a storm on Lucky's behalf largely because she plainly hates her nephew. This, however, wastes another day and we get to see another flying bank note – I'm not at all willing to allow a day to fall apart just for the sake of things, because there's clearly money to be had. Not to mention, the Yankee Eagle is doubtless destroyed by the extra day of waiting. So I filed 'visit His Bojonness' for an as-needs basis and headed off elsewhere. If you revisit Herr Bojon after this, it ends in both Chi and Lucky getting immediately blasted away.

I'm still not sure if it's 'Mr. Bojon' or 'The Bojon'..

Old ninja trick!

There's a real heavy reliance on the 'yak' jokes here..

You can tell that the actors had a great deal of fun with this, even if the dialogue is a 'touch' ridiculous

There's not a great deal to be done in the Lama's Sanctuary, at least at present. You can trick your way in by pretending that you've been sent there by the Lama himself to one of his disciples and the Lama is quite appreciative of this trickery, freely giving an audience. All of the conversation leads to dead ends, though, so I decided that instead the clear line of fire is the tavern. Within, it becomes rather quickly evident that this is the planned entrance point for this section of the game – this is where there are a few willing workers who might be convinced to drag the Yankee Eagle out of the snow.. or, indeed, an alternate way down the mountain paths to escape the town. As I suggest, I'm certain that the caravan leader is the actual way out of here (as speaking to him leads to a cutscene where Li Deng is planning Lucky's demise). It takes a little effort to get the right idea of 'buying a few rounds for the locals to get them on side' – it took a little work to actually work out how to give them enough to get them thoroughly buzzed. Sardar, the local caravan leader, is willing to take Chi, Lucky and Kate down with his caravan once drunk enough – but the caravan isn't due to leave town for another entire season. The only way he's willing to give in to the demands of Lucky to go down immediately is to take out Sen├Ár Bojon.. I'm insisting that this is a title and not a name. I hope I'm right!

I have remained notably un-nobled

Sardar is a very happy drunk

Literally every line he says has 'HAHAHAHA' in it..

So, I'm now at a place where I have a few options, which I am sure will lead to their fair share of 'plot branches'. I'm thinking that my plan of action is going to be to try and use either my friendship with Wally Lama (that's what Lucky is calling him so I may as well jump in on the action) or my knowledge from the unplayed direction of Lucky's arrest and Ama's true powers of 'controlling aunt' to my advantage so that I can make Sardar take the team (figuratively and literally) down on a one-way trip to Paris, escaping the evil Li Deng's clutches and making them all bestest of friends for those free meals at Lomax's restaurants – but this felt like the best 'choice point' to stop at, so.. until next time – a reminder of the IMMINENT DANGER...

Dun dun DUUNNNN!

Session time: 30min
Playing time: 3 hours

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 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. The game really is quite fun, with fast pacing and lots of twists. Even the romance is OK. It's all like a silly but enjoyable B-movie! I might have underestimated it a little bit with a guess of 55 - it could actually be the best Dynamix game. The puzzles and dialogues may have a tad too much trial-and-error though.

    1. The best Dynamix game OTHER than Willy Beamish, you mean? :)

    2. Agreed, Laukku. It makes me cringe - but only does so in the same way that a 80s B action movie would. And it's not quite that r ridiculous, for that matter.

      I've also played Beamish, Joe - in spite of the fact that I prwfwrred the art style, the game has felt SO much less aggravating up to this point.

    3. I know it was just a one letter to the left typo, Aperama, but when I first read it I thought you'd morphed into Chewbacca for a single word before changing back to normal

    4. Phone keyboard, roooaaarrr. :)

  2. BTW this post shows up in full on the front page. Usually that has been fixed shortly afterwards, but not yet for this one for some reason.

    1. Damn. I still haven't quite got the hang of doing that consistently.

      Thanks for letting us know Laukku. One day it'll sink in that that's one of the things I have to do before posting. One day...