Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Missed Classic: Emerald Isle - Won! (With Final Rating)

By Ilmari

I have to admit that “winning” meant this time rather heavy use of hints. In hindsight, I probably could have solved most of these puzzles with a little bit of persistence, but I was getting a bit tired of the game in whole. Oh well, enough of the excuses, let’s get on with the game.


So long and thanks for all the fish!

Diving

One of the most persistent puzzles facing me has been the dilemma of lighting up the underwater screens in the ocean. When I finally succumbed to a clue, the glass wok bowl turned out to be the solution. Apparently the bowl was big enough that by inverting it I could use it as a sort of diving bell, and within it my carbide lamp could continue burning brightly.

There were only three underwater rooms to search and only of them was of interest - the one with the sunken ship. Among the ruins of a galleon I found two new treasures, a sapphire and a sword.

Surviving a traffic jam

Another unsolved problem had been the giant logging machine that had defied my attempts to fully explore a forest in the southern island. When I finally looked at a clue for this, I was a bit disappointed.

The Armband is magnetically coded. Wear it to get past the Logging Machine.

I really haven’t seen any clue that the armband had any connection with the machine. Of course, I might have accidentally found the solution by wandering to the logging site with the armband on, so the puzzle isn’t completely unfair, but it still is the worst offender so far. In any case, sensing my armband, the logging machine moved far away to the sunset.





The finger?

In the new area I found a large monument, dedicated to sir Shaun Abbott, who led the first expedition to Emerald Isle (in case you’ve forgotten it, in real life Shaun Abbott was the designer of Emerald Isle). The monument had a small hole, and it was quite obvious I should put something in it. Eventually I just bruteforced this puzzle and tried everything I could for the hole - a post I had previously used for supporting the ceiling of a mine did the trick and I found a way within the monument.


Looks more like a wild boar to me

I went down a cavern with simple carvings. When I tried to push them, an exit opened into a high-tech underground complex, decorated with LCDs, WYSIWYG icons and recycled QLunks (I don’t know what piece of technology this is a joke about). I found a long rope and a slot that required an identification. The slot accepted the card I had gotten from the beggar in the native village.


Let’s not discuss why a lowly beggar would have special access to a control centre of the island

A huge monitor in the room I discovered showed a city-wide traffic jam, where automated cars had ground to a halt due to a fault in the computerised signalling system. There was only one lever I could pull so I did just that. Apparently I had engaged the manual override and the traffic jam cleared slowly.

I was asked to come to an office to get my reward. Great, but where this office was located? Since the traffic jam had happened in the modern city in western Emerald Isle and within that city I had found a skyscraper with an apparently empty office, I went to check it and received some valuable gems for my efforts.

Now that I had found a long rope, I remembered I had used a short rope to climb down a hole into a small cavern. I tried changing the short rope to a long rope and found out that now I could climb to a completely different cavern. This discovery wasn’t useless, since with some digging I found a ruby.

Tarzan and the treasure of Opar

The only remaining problem I had was how to use the vines in the jungle. The solution, as given by a clue, was to use a boathook, with which I could reach high places. With vines in my hand, I swang across an alligator infested river.



The first thing of interest I found on the other side of the river was a letter E. I now had found letters “A - T - H - W - L - E”. Hmm, I wonder what word they could spell? THE LAW?



More important discovery was an abandoned stone city, overgrown by ivy. The city was otherwise empty, except for a temple of sun.


He’s a sunny fellow

Within the crypt of the temple I discovered a huge statue and an apparently useless block of granite. The statue had a prominent arm that was pointing upwards. I couldn’t do anything with the arm, since it was just out of my reach. After a few failed attempts, I got the right idea. I had to stand on the huge block, throw a rope to the arm and pull the arm with the rope. The result was a new opening.

After a short exploration of the cave system that had opened up I was hit by a spear. With a little bit of experimenting I noticed that I had to carry the granite block to the place, where the spear had flown. When I dropped the block, its weight triggered the spear trap and I survived.

Going deeper and deeper I came to a low crawl with a drawing of Sun-God and worshipers pointing up at him. The roof was mentioned as something to be interacted with, so I tried pushing it with my boathook. A section of floor slided aside and I found myself in a greasy grotto with an archaeologically crucial idol.

The idol was another treasure, but it wasn’t the last one. A while ago I had had an idea that maybe some of the valuable items had to be to taken to the museum. I had tried each treasure, and idol did the trick - because of its archaeological value, I received a bag of silver as a reward. Amusingly, I still got to keep also the idol.

The end

The rest was simple. With every treasure in the treasure chamber of the capital city, I pulled a cord in the chamber. A solemn butler appeared and fetched a uniformed guard, who asked a password. I said WEALTH, and I was let in to a beautiful room, where I was appointed the Ruler of Emerald Isle.


Note how the game is advertising itself as a first part in a trilogy

Session time: 6 hours 10 minutes
Total time: 24 hours 40 minutes

Treasures found: Robe, Necklace, Coconut, Map, Platinum Pyramid, Opal, Dubloons, Figurine, Diamonds, Treasure Chest, Coronet, Brooch, Gold Nugget, Painting, Sapphire, Sword, Gems, Ruby, Idol, Bag of Silver

Final rating


Puzzles and Solvability

Considering the rather bleak experiences I’ve had with Level 9 puzzles, Emerald Isle was a positive surprise. I appreciated the variety of the puzzles and their levels of hardness, and when it comes to giving clues, the game showed a clear improvement on its predecessors from the previous year. Even in the cases where I eventually had to take a hint I mostly felt like I could have found the solution with enough determination.

Score: 4

Interface and Inventory

I have little to add on what I’ve already said about the interface of Level 9 games, but I could use this space to again rant about the inventory limit, which becomes just infuriating in such a large game, where too much time is taken by moving items from one place to another. Unlike in some other Level 9 games, there is no object that could increase your carrying capacity. Amusingly enough, the clue sheet suggested there was something that could be eaten to make the PC stronger - this fabulous item was a windmill, which existed nowhere in the game, but was intended to be chased by cheating players looking at clues when they did not need them.

Score: 3.

Story and Setting

Story - the little there is - is just a cover for a very old-fashioned treasure hunt. But the worst offender is the setting. Emerald Isle is just a confused geographical and cultural mishmah that does not make up a coherent whole. Marsh, jungle, desert, mangrove, forest, volcano, mountains - all within few square kilometres. An automated traffic system of a bustling metropolis is controlled within an ages-old monument, which you can enter with a wooden ID of a native from a village of low huts. Who could really take any of this seriously?

Score: 2

Sound and Graphics

The confused collection of settings had at least the positive effect that Level 9 could use a variety of different images. Nothing really revolutionary, though, but the pictures served their purpose.

Score: 3

Environment and Atmosphere

With no narrative drive forward and less than convincing game world, Emerald Isle just failed to capture my heart. It was not a game I would have hated to play, just a bit too bland and desolate to hold much of interest.

Score: 2

Dialogue and Acting

Level 9 had clearly found a way to increase the amount of text, even with all the pictures taking up precious disk space.The text could now be called adequate, but little more can be said about it.

Score: 4

(4 + 3 + 2 + 3 + 2 + 4)/.6 = 18/.6 = 30.



This means that Alex Romanov guessed closest, with just one point difference. Congratulations! Since Joe is starting to play Inspector Gadget, it seems I’ll get to continue with another Missed Classic.

8 comments:

  1. I can feel your relief to be done with this one, Ilmari. Good job!

    Is it time to change the name of "Missed Classic" to "Missed for Good Reason"? Not every missed game is a classic . . .

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    1. I suppose your comment was made tongue in cheek, but it does feel so sometimes! Then again, it would mean lot of work to change all the titles and tags to "Missed for Good Reason".

      Seriously speaking, what we should mean by classic is difficult to decide. Is it a historically important game? Or is it a game that still seems good after all these years? The Level 9 games I've been playing were much acclaimed in their own time - they were consistently praised by magazines and they even won prestigious awards. But this was mostly because of a lack of better games in their own niche (UK adventure games made for cheap 8-bit computers) and from modern perspective they are sorely lacking in many areas.

      Another explanation for the popularity of Level 9 games in the past might be a difference in the adventure gamer culture in 80s and nowadays. Level 9 emphasised the room count in their advertisement, and it is true, if you love mapping, these games are awesome, because they have hundreds of rooms to explore. Mostly empty rooms, of course, but still rooms.

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    2. My comment was absolutely made tongue-in-cheek. And you are right that it's somewhat unfair to slag these decades-old games as being deficient to stuff made later when both technology and puzzle design were a little more refined.

      Plenty of older games still hold up . . . and I don't really want you to have to change all of these post titles!

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  2. I love how I got some scores right for completely unknown games to me, but not for the ones I really know haha

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    1. It's a gift, and a curse. (But mostly a curse).

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    2. I find that often personal perspective on a game just clouds my judgement on how another person would rate it. With games I know nothing about it's easier to be objective.

      And, of course, most of the Level 9 games I've played have really been of cookie cutter variety, so the scores have differed only by few points.

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