Written by Joe Pranevich
|I think she’ll know.|
I am also reaching a point in the game where I am solving the puzzles more slowly and with more frustration. This post accounts for more than ten hours of playtime, almost as much as the previous three combined. I made some good progress (with one “Google accident”, more on that in a bit), but I might soon be reaching the end of what I can accomplish without help. Another theme this week is “parser weirdness”-- I may be exiting the polished portion of the game as nearly every solution involved some butchering of the English language. This week, my adventure started in Hell...
|Back to the temple...|
Descent into Hell
I’ve alluded to this puzzle before but never really solved it “for real”: the entrance to Hades. This is the area near the temple where we found evil spirits and a helpful sign that urged me to “Abandon Hope”. I thought I remembered this puzzle from Zork I; I’m pretty sure that it entailed fetching the bell, book, and candle from the temple and using each one in sequence. Since that didn’t work, I gave up for a while but eventually found the solution in one word: “exorcism”. Grammatically correct equivalents such as “do exorcism” or “exorcise spirits” do not work, you have to use the bare noun. Once performed, the spirits depart and the path is clear.
The next room, the “Tomb of the Unknown Implementer”, smashes the fourth wall. Not only do we find the decapitated heads of the four developers but also strange real life items such as empty Coke bottles, stacks of faded line-printer output, and sign that says “Feel Free”. A hollow voice rings out, “That’s not a bug, it’s a feature!” For all the humor, the room is deadly; even examining the heads kills you. According to an engraving on the crypt, the Implementers lost their heads due to “amazing untastefulness” by the “keeper of the dungeon”. Is this the first reference to a goal for the game? Will we be meeting the “keeper”?
|1970s bottles. “Coke adds life”.|
Unfortunately, I cannot find anything else to do here and neither the Coke bottles nor the printouts solve any puzzle that I am working on. All attempts to interact with the heads or the crypt results in death. I even try explosives! I’ll have to come back later.
To Kill A Thief
Without too many good options, I turn my attention back to the cyclops in the center of the maze. He’s guarding a staircase but always killed us quickly when we approached before. I pacified him briefly by feeding him the hot pepper sandwich from the house, but then he demanded a drink that I could never provide. Some commenters suggested that I should be searching for wine, but it turns out that I was just approaching the problem in a face-palming way. What did I forget to do? I forgot to open the bottle! Once you do that, we can give him a drink and he falls asleep. Problem solved.
Just upstairs, we discover that the cyclops was guarding the Thief’s treasure room, currently containing the golden sarcophagus and a chalice. I last saw the former in the Egyptian room and have no idea how it ended up here. Before I can act, the Thief shows up and all the treasures poof away. He attacks, but I bravely run east to see what else is here.
|The heart of the maze?|
- The first room has a note from the Thief and a hole in the floor. The note tells me that there is no treasure below-- but do you trust a thief?-- and that if I go down I will be trapped. I jump down the hole and learn that the Thief was telling the truth about both. The only escape is restoring.
- South of there is an room with a locked steel door. Is this the path to the endgame? The keys don’t work here so I’ll have to keep looking for a way to open it.
Taking the Elevator
With the wind at my back, the next puzzle I take on is the giant’s well. This is the bucket that I found after the Riddle Room with the strange etchings that I had been unable to decode. But now that I have solved both the cyclops and the river puzzles, I discover that I have all of the pieces to win.
Dungeon’s vehicle words are obscure enough that we are given a helpful note the first time we use the raft: board, disembark, launch, etc. I had tried to climb into the bucket before with “enter bucket” when I actually need to “board bucket”. I did warn you about the parser issues! Once inside, I also opened the bottle of water and poured it into the inside of the bucket. Whatever magic that powers it must have been satisfied because it takes us to a new room. We did it!
The upper room also had an intact version of the etching. When you see it now, it makes sense, but I do not think this is “solvable” as a clue:
|Not useful as a puzzle clue.|
The main room of the Wonderland area consists of a table set for a tea party, including for varieties of cake: one labeled “EAT ME” plus three plain ones with orange, red, and blue icing. There’s a hole just to the east that is too small to climb into; do you see where this puzzle is going?
Our first problem though has nothing to do with the puzzle and everything to do with the parser. The labeled cake is just called this:
> There is a piece of cake where with the words "EAT ME" on it.
|Let them eat cake!|
- Orange - We eat it and explode. Boom!
- Red - No immediate result.
- Blue - We grow bigger and are crushed by the ceiling.
- “Eat Me” - We become small enough to pass through the hole to the east.
I eat the correct cake and run off to find the hidden room half-filled with sewage. The description hints that there may be something beneath the pool, but I’m briefly drawn to a small flask with a skull and crossbones on it. We can pick it up, but opening it is immediately fatal. Is it a weapon? I try everything from sticks to guano before discovering that the solution was right here: the red cake. Throwing it in the sewage dries it up to reveal a Tin of Spices. I have no problem getting that back to the trophy case, but I can’t help but to notice that I’m still carrying the orange cake, the poison, and another piece of the red cake. Am I missing a separate puzzle here or will these come in handy later?
|Wouldn’t you like to be a pepper, too?|
Just to the north, we find a robot and some instructions. (In yet another parser glitch, the “piece of paper” can only be referred to as a “piece” rather than “paper”.) The robot is so easy that an adventurer with a broken parser could use it! All it takes is to write, “tell robot” then a comma and the command we want to execute. It’s simple. This robot is brought to us both by Frobozz Magic Robot Company and “MIT Tech”. I assume that the latter is further fourth-wall breaking, unless there is an MIT in the Great Underground Empire.
The next room contains an obvious robot-puzzle: a high-voltage control panel with three buttons. Touching any of them results in immediate electrocution, but we can command the robot to do the pushing. Two of the buttons, a square one and a round one, cause a whirring noise to increase or decrease respectively. Pushing the third, a triangle, causes a dull thump in the distance. I explore to see where the thump came from but I do not get far before realizing that the room where we found the robot is now magnetized just like the Round Room! I backtrack all the way to the real Round Room to discover that a steel cage has fallen from the ceiling and the room is no longer magnetized. Opening the cage reveals a violin which I can return to the trophy case. Unfortunately, my theory from last post about the room having eight exits turns out to be false. Two of the exits, north and south, both lead to toward the magic well area. I’m disappointed because that would have been a beautiful puzzle, but perhaps I was over-thinking it.
The final room of this section contains a crystal sphere protected by the Frobozz Magic Alarm Company. If I try to take the sphere, a cage crashes down and the room fills with poisoned gas until I’m dead. If I have the robot take the sphere, the cage smashes it and the sphere at the same time. It takes trial and error, but when I have the robot in the same room when the cage falls, it can lift the cage and free me. That lets me grab the sphere (and the cage) and get out of the room before the poisoned gas does its thing. Another treasure and I’m done with this area for now.
|One note spelled L-I-T-E.|
After doing so well plowing through puzzles and parser errors, this is where I fell off the track. I started researching Zork I in anticipation of beating this game, but I stumbled on a post that mentioned the canary puzzle and just like that the memories came flooding back. The golden egg wasn’t the treasure; there’s something inside!
Once I remembered that, I also remembered that only the Thief is able to open the egg without breaking it. Since I killed him already, I had to restore back a ways to give it to him. After that, we can now find a clockwork canary hidden away in his treasure room! I repeat all of the other puzzles again, but I then remember that this isn’t the end of the canary puzzle either. The details are fuzzy so I take the canary just about everywhere-- I was particularly excited in the coal mine-- but none of those unlocks the treasure I vaguely remember getting before. Finally I realize that you can wind him up when you hear the birdsong in the forest, netting us a golden bauble. Not a bad catch, but I’m disappointed for the accidental cheat. I doubt I could have solved this on my own, but memory is a powerful thing.
|Who doesn’t like rainbows?|
During the course of my solving these puzzles, I also ran into a few more things of note:
- If I “pray” at the altar in the temple, I am transported to the forest. I wish I had known that two posts ago! I spent far too much time climbing that chimney.
- In addition to the river, I can use the boat to cross the filled reservoir and even paddle upstream for an alternate route to “Stream View”. We cannot use the boat on the river after the falls. Neither of these seems to help in any way.
- I vaguely remembered that I needed to wave something to make the rainbow solid so at one point I waved every item in my inventory. To my shock, the pointy stick gives you a “Very good.” message when you do that. I have no idea what that means, but waving the pointy stick near the rainbow allows me to cross and pick up the requisite pot of gold. Any idea how a piece of pointed wood became so powerful?
- I also remember that there was a second solution to the cyclops puzzle: if you say “odysseus”, he runs away straight through a wall in classic Looney Tunes style. That hole leads to the white house, once again completely screwing with my sense of place in this game. This puzzle seems to have no foreshadowing and I’m still not sure if it was intended as a real solution or just a debugging aid. I guess we’ll never know.
- I use the gunk everywhere. I can use it to fix the leak in the dam when I push the wrong button but find nothing else of note.
Before I go, one small request for help: I lost my rope. I left it tied to the railing above the torch room and the Thief nabbed it at some point, probably hundreds of points ago. I have mapped nearly 150 rooms so far and re-explored them all, but to no avail. I cannot find the rope anywhere. Can someone please give me a hint: will I need the rope again before the end of the game or do I need to start over?
Treasures Found: 23 (Egg, Painting, Portrait, Pearl Necklace, Coins, Platinum Bar, Grail, Sapphire Bracelet, Jade Figurine, Crystal Trident, Ivory Torch, Stack of Zorkmids, Emerald, Diamond, Statue, Gold Coffin, Chalice, Fancy Violin, Crystal Sphere, Tin of Spices, Clockwork Canary, Glass Bauble, Pot of Gold)
Time played: 10 hr 50 min
Total time: 24 hr 30 min