Sunday, 17 June 2018

Inspector Gadget - Won!

Written by Joe Pranevich


We made it! After madcap (get it?) adventures across four continents and rescuing all of the U.N. environmental ambassadors, we finally arrive back in New York. For acclaim and fanfare? For fortune and glory? No! It’s time for our final confrontation with M.A.D. inside the hallowed halls of the U.N. building itself. This is exciting and I am eager to see how (and if) all of the various plot threads come together. Will we be able to avert an environmental catastrophe? Will we have the same plot beats in New York as we have in all of the other episodes? There’s only one way to find out!

Unlike the previous time that I came to New York, it’s light outside and it’s a nice detail that they actually changed the little airplane animation to show blue skies. We don’t have to navigate an airport this time; we arrive directly at the U.N. building, guarded by an Officer O’Malley. Penny expresses disbelief that M.A.D. could ever infiltrate an organization as important as the U.N., but there seems to be something going on inside. When we talk to the officer about it, he can tell us only that Dr. Claw is here and hatching a “twisted plot”, although he doesn’t know specifics. (“I don’t know exactly, but it’s wrong. That’s for sure.”) He says that the police do not plan on doing anything about the situation except to hand it off to the world-famous Inspector Gadget. Uncle Gadget agrees and the police officer lets him in, but Brain and Penny have to remain outside where it is safe. How will we help Gadget if we’re trapped outside?

A developer’s lament?

After Gadget leaves, we can talk with Officer O’Malley some more to get conversation options. I try them all and none of them let me in, although there are some funny bits scattered in there. It seems that Penny is a huge fan of Dag Hammarskjöld although I had to crack open Wikipedia to find out who he was. Did you know that he’s a former Secretary-General of the United Nations who died in a plane crash while traveling to negotiate a ceasefire in the Congo? I had no idea! Maybe I am uncultured, but I really don’t know much about U.N. Secretary-Generals. I’m glad that someone on the design team did their research!

Someone tried to write “Employees Only” but seems to have forgotten how in the middle.

Just in front of the building are the flags, but we cannot go that way. Instead, we can creep to the back of the building to the loading docks. A supervisor is here, but he refuses to talk to Penny. Scattered around the area are stacked boxes (including one off by its own) as well as a bandana and a shirt. I flip to Brain and have him put on the clothes to create a loading dock worker’s outfit. As soon as we are dressed, the supervisor looks up and declares Brain late for work. That’s great, but it still doesn’t get me inside!

The next bit actually took me a few minutes to figure out, but it’s obvious in retrospect: if I have Penny “use” the box that is off by itself, she will climb in. As soon as she’s inside, control switches to Brain and he can now “use” the box to pick it up. Brain is able to carry Penny-in-a-box into the building. Solid Snake never had it this good!

Shouldn't you be wearing a weight belt?

Once we are safely inside, Brain puts the box down. To their credit, no one makes any jokes about Penny’s weight. There are plenty of items in the room for us to collect including an antenna, a wire, and a battery. There’s also a microchip hidden inside a cabinet. What do you do with all of that? I have no idea, but I start to tinker. By using the items together (the first time in this game where we use inventory items on each other?), we find combinations that work. Just by trial and error, I see that the battery and the microchip together form a “robot regulatory module”. Using the wire with the antenna forms a “directional unit”. Combining those both together forms a “robot control circuit”. I’ll keep an eye out for what that might be useful for. Do we have robots on the way? Not that I want to nitpick the interface (much), but these combinations are one-way. Using the wire on the antenna makes the directional unit but using the antenna on the wire just gave us a useless message. With only four objects, it didn’t matter, but that made it a bit harder to solve than it should have been.

Exit into the gift shop!

Leaving the office through the door, we arrive at a U.N. gift shop. There are souvenirs and such here, plus a collection of postcards featuring pictures of the U.N. building and Secretary-General Selda Oner of Turkey. If you are like me, your first thought is, “I didn’t remember a Secretary-General by that name!” I suppose I didn’t really think about the U.N. in 1992, so that’s a good piece of trivia to stick in my head… except it isn’t true. Depending on when the game was made, the Secretary-General was either Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (until the end of 1991) or Boutros Boutros-Ghali (from January 1992). There are also no previous Secretary-Generals by that name. Was Selda Oner a real person? Or did the developers just make him or her up? Google is no help as it is convinced that I am misspelling “Zelda Owner”. Any guesses? Is this a deep cut reference to something?

That looks imposing!

In the next room, we find the door to the “balcony area of one General Assembly hall” which is locked by both a keypad and a security camera. Two-factor authentication! Penny won’t enter a code because she doesn’t know it nor will she touch the camera because it is too high up. She says that we’ll need to trick the system into letting us in. But how? I am actually stuck. I ask Chief Quimby for help and his clue is that the camera will let someone in that it recognizes.

I start to experiment. Back at the gift shop, I discover that if I do anything at all with the cash register, Officer O’Malley turns up and escorts me out of the building. I wasn’t trying to steal, honest! Does that mean that there is something in the register that I need and I need to find a way to distract him? Or that the game doesn’t want to encourage stealing? Well, it better not be the latter because I discover that Penny can pick up the postcards (gasp!) without paying for them. I even try to pay, but Officer O’Malley shows up no matter what I try. Whenever he gabs us, he deposits us back at the front of the building. It’s no trouble to walk back in through the loading dock, but the game’s walking speed is interminably slow. The postcards end up being the solution: If I use the postcard of Selda Oner with the security camera, Penny holds the card up to the lens and fools the camera into thinking that he/she is present. That is a surprising lack of security… especially since the postcards were just down the hall. As soon as we’re past, Penny discards the postcards. Not only did we steal them, we didn’t even recycle them. Where’s your environmental and law-abiding message now?

Great security!

It looks so real!

On the balcony, we are blocked once again by technology: this time a M.A.D. robot who is not letting us through a door deeper into the complex. We can at least snatch up a key that someone has left on the railing. The robot is a duplicate of Nascimento, the ambassador that we rescued in Russia. Will we see duplicates of all of the ambassadors here? Penny tries to get through by telling him that we are M.A.D. agents, but he says we need authorization. Surprisingly, he recognizes Brain as a dog even though he’s still wearing his loading dock attire! He’s the first person in the game to see through Brain’s disguise and that has to count for something.

This is embarrassing, but I am stuck again. Chief Quimby’s hint is that I need to show him something to prove that I am M.A.D., but I don’t have anything. The robot control circuit seems to be the solution, but I cannot use it on him. On the bright side, I used my frustration time to do some research on the U.N. building. It looks like the developers found pictures of the inside of the building after all:

Image circa 2000.

You can see in this picture the various rooms overlooking the hall, just as in the game. I haven’t been able to find any pictures that show an adjacent balcony area so that might just be artistic license. In the 1992 game, the TV monitors are smaller and lower than when this picture was taken which could either be artistic license or a further adjustment made since 1992. The whole place was renovated in 2014; you have to search to find pictures of how it used to look to make a fair comparison with the game.

While I have you distracted by my unnecessary research, you won’t notice that I missed something silly: back in the room with the gift shop, there was a large door. I saw the door but never tried to open it or get in it because I thought that it led back to the loading dock. Not so! (The loading dock can be returned to by going off the screen to the left.) I turns out to have been locked so I did not miss much, but I walked right by that door more times than I care to remember without interacting with it. Since I have a key, I unlock it and head in.

Any help with this one?

Once inside this little side room, I poke around and find a computer, a closet, and some drawers that I can open. The computer seems useless as it will only run a music program called “Dr. Jam”. I’m positive that is a reference to some 1990s-era software, but I have no idea what. Annoyingly, the music doesn’t change when you turn on the computer although that would have been a nice touch. There is a pair of Gadget Handcuffs in the drawer, a reminder that we never recovered all of Uncle Gadgets equipment. (The inventory screen has room for more than double the number that we found so far.) Inside the closet is a pair of janitor suits. Unusually, I can dress both Penny and Brain in these disguises, turning them into a matching pair of surprisingly short janitors.

M.A.D. owns a janitorial company, of course!

I head back to the balcony, and this time we tell the robot that we are janitors. When asked, we even admit that we are M.A.D. janitors, but that is not enough: he needs more proof. What can I show him? As an aside, he doesn’t seem to notice that Brain is a dog this time or has no issue working with a canine janitor. I still cannot use the robot control on him so I use the only other thing I have: Gadget’s handcuffs. If I hand him the handcuffs, he “knows” that only a M.A.D. agent would have one the stolen gadgets. With our identities confirmed, he lets us into the offices overlooking the General Assembly Hall. Penny almost gives the game away by thanking him for opening the door, but he lets it pass.

One of these things is not like the others...

Behind the door is one of the U.N. translation rooms, where interpreters translate the ongoing discussions into the native languages of the delegates. This room in specific has booths for Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and… Pig Latin? There’s also a remote control on the floor that I pocket because, you know, it’s an adventure game and a remote control on the floor is probably important. (I am reminded of a certain Sierra remote control puzzle. You know the one.) Penny can slip on the headsets to hear someone talking in the various languages, but since she doesn’t understand them that isn’t helping much. Using the “Pig Latin” headset however causes the bookshelf to open and reveal a hidden passageway! Brain is the one that points out the passage, but he does so in clear English rather than his usual sounded-out dog noises. I suspect this was an editorial error.

While I would love to go through the hidden door, Penny stops us. She says that we need to retrieve the Gadget Handcuffs from the robot before we should keep going. How am I going to manage that? I head back into the balcony room, but nothing has changed. The only new item I have in my inventory since last time is the remote control. Without having anything better to do, I combine my remote control with the “robot control circuit” that I built earlier. That works! I now have a fully-functioning “robot remote”. I use that on the robot duplicate of Nascimento and he explodes, dropping the cuffs as well as all of his insides onto the floor. It’s a bit gruesome, but it works.

It’s finally Brain’s turn to be kidnapped!

Just beyond the secret door is a robot assembly line. The moment that we arrive, Brain gets nabbed by a duplicate of Thomas Chang, the U.N. ambassador that we rescued from the coal mine in London. We also see a duplicate of Monica Adams, the ambassador that we just rescued from Hong Kong. There are some other robots behind her, but I can’t quite make them out. Penny can actually have quite a long conversation with Robot Chang as she tries to convince him to abandon Dr. Claw and be reprogrammed for a happier future. He reveals that robots don’t like people so having all the humans die in an environmental catastrophe would suit him just fine. He also fears change and doesn’t want to be reprogrammed. He says it is his job to destroy the environment to help Dr. Claw make big bucks and that so that is what he is going to do. But how can we rescue Brain? Well, it’s not very difficult: we just use the remote again! Using it causes both the Chang and Adams robots to dance around then explode, but this time the remote explodes with them. We won’t be able to use that trick again, but at least Brain is safe.

Now that Ms. Adams is gone, we can more clearly see that the two robots behind are duplicates of Ms. Smotherincreme and Ms. M’Benga. For some reason, the game really wants to draw attention to Ms. Smotherincreme’s hair, but I don’t see anything we can do with it. Instead, the only thing we can monkey with is the robot control panel. Using the blue lever causes the give gate to open and close, but as soon as it is open I am approached by another robot. I quickly close the gate again, destroying the robot in the portcullis.

I am become Penny, destroyer of robots.

Using the various buttons on the control panel will cause the robots in the background to be completed, cause Ms. M’Benga’s hand to go up and down, or cause Ms. Smotherincreme’s hair to stand on end. It’s all very funny but I do not see the point. Instead, I just raise the portcullis (since it won’t let me climb under) and head to the doorway conveniently marked “M.A.D.” It’s Dr. Claw’s lair! Penny decides that it’s time to ditch the janitor’s costumes and we head into the belly of the beast wearing our street clothes.

Nice kitty!

Never one to let her uncle do all the hard work, Penny confronts Dr. Claw. He congratulates her on being as meddlesome of her uncle. Since he’s a supervillain, he also tells us his master plan: to build robots to make environmentally poor decisions so that his business empire can prosper. He says that his environmentally-unfriendly ways could make him billions (with a b!) each year. Penny asks what he will do if he destroys the Earth with his anti-environmental message, but he just replies that he has no kids and do not care what happens to the planet after he dies. It’s all about short term profit and not about a sustainable future.

Is Scott Pruitt secretly a robot?

Just as he is finishing monologuing, Inspector Gadget finally arrives! Gadget threatens to arrest him, but he doesn’t actually do it. What does he need? Handcuffs! I hand over his handcuffs and use Penny’s computer book to force Gadget to use them. Dr. Claw is finally captured! … except he isn’t. He activates the rocket booster in his command chair and blasts off, pulling Gadget with him. It is only the quick thinking of Penny and Brain that keep Gadget from being sucked into the stratosphere with Dr. Claw.

Go, go, gadget handcuffs!

This is not going as planned…

This is really not going as planned.

Ultimately, Gadget is saved and Dr. Claw has escaped. Chief Quimby and Officer O’Malley both show up to offer congratulations. And then… nothing. I’m still playing. Shouldn’t the game be over? Penny even talks to Officer O’Malley (who remarks about how she shouldn’t be in here) and complains that she doesn’t know what to do now. There are some awkward pauses and it is all very funny, but seriously what do I need to do? Is the game over? Office O’Malley recommends that Penny check out the control panels. He says that he’s do it, but it’s not his game. Chief Quimby similarly seems to be surprised and impatient that the game isn’t over yet. I eventually activate Dr. Claw’s control panel and a large “The End” pops onto the screen before zooming in completely. I won!

We won!

We are treated to a quick look at Dr. Claw’s plane flying away from New York, plus a synthesized “I’ll get you next time, Gadget!” over the sound card. We get a brief denouement at Gadget’s house where he reiterates all of the environmental messages so far before the credits are cued. He talks about recycling and nuclear power and all of the topics of the game, but Penny asks the really important question: when do they get a new TV?

Penny asks the important questions.

Now which of these writers did all the pop-culture references?

And with that, the game is over. There are no environmental messages in Penny’s computer book this week, just history of the U.N. I’ll skip that so next week will be the final score. This should be very exciting and I have no idea yet what kind of rating the game will receive.

Time played: 1hr 30 min
Total time: 7 hr 30 min

9 comments:

  1. I didn't turn up anything for Selda Oner, but a potential connection for Dr. Jam is the Dr. T MIDI software that existed around this time. It's the only 'Dr.' connection I could really come across. http://www.muzines.co.uk/articles/dr-t-s-midi-recording-studio/2266

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    1. I suspect it wasn't a reference to an existing product, just an excuse to use the word "jam" to talk about music.

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    2. Which could very well be the case, but the 'Dr.' inclusion adds at least some credence to a cultural reference. And it seems to have been a pretty popular MIDI and recording program from the late 80's to early 90's, so it's worth a shot, anyway. The Selda Oner definitely bugs me, though. It's an odd last name to throw in, though there were other famous Selda's from Turkey.

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    3. I'm guessing the surname is meant to be Öner, that's common enough in Turkey.

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    4. There's even an IMDB reference to Selda Öner, who appeared in one movie (Arzu Rüzgari, 1987). The film can be found in Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swswVbxVwdE), if someone who understands Turkish wants to check it (I don't understand it at all). Although I think it's unlikely that the Gadget creators would reference an obscure Turkish movie.

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    5. I half wonder if that is such a common name that it's essentially "John Smith" in Turkish. There are a good number of people with that name on Facebook and LinkedIn, for example, which made Googling for who they could have meant all the more tricky.

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  2. Inspector Gadget does have an admirable talent for showing up in just the right place at the right time for all the wrong reasons. Shame we didn't get to see more of his bumbling around trying to unsuccessfully solve things, especially considering its his name on the game, but I can see why it would be hard to add without a bunch of cutscenes.

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    1. I think the bugger shame is that none of the solutions in the end-game involved gadgets. We spent the whole game gathering up gadgets, including ones that had no function in the episode we found them in (the squirt bottle, for example), but there was essentially no gadget-based puzzles at the end. The handcuffs hardly count.

      That is doubly a shame because the developers clearly put a lot of time into them. Each gadget has a vocalized "go, go, gadget!" from Don Adams, plus a unique animation. I especially liked the roller skates (never used in the game) which has gadget struggle to stand while wearing them. In terms of things this game could have done better, I rank that pretty high.

      Shame we never got a sequel.

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    2. Either way, I think it comes down to wanting more of Gadget himself doing stuff one way or another. Hard to have a gadget-based puzzle when the guy himself is off-camera.

      Sadly, voice clips and animations don't come through in screenshots very well, but I'm familiar enough with the show that I can imagine what they're like. Certainly, that does sound pretty typical for him using the skates.

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