Saturday, 21 July 2018

King's Quest VI – The Cliffs of RTFM

Written by TBD

When we last left Alexander, he had just visited the edge of Chessboard Land, and was hanging out in the garden of pun-named flowers, being hugged to death by the clinging vines.

Reloading after being smothered by the clinging vines, I tried something I didn't try earlier for no reason other than I hadn't thought of it - I gave one of the baby's tears some milk. This just made the other babies cry harder (and louder.) I try to take the bottle back to share it around, but that doesn't work.

The baby has no teeth and no hands, this really shouldn't be that hard, Alexander.

I go back to milk bottle brush so I can give each baby some milk, but Alexander won't take more than one bottle of milk at a time and after returning to the garden with a new bottle, the milk bottle I'd given the baby earlier had disappeared.

After drowning in the swamp trying to get to an anthropomorphic stick, I thought it was time to try a different island.


ISLE OF THE CROWN

Back in the Isle of the Crown, the creepy guy is upset that the shopkeeper is out of mints.

Me too, creepy guy – me too.

I also note a new sign in the market advertising the upcoming royal wedding. This angers and upsets Alexander.

I consider finding out Cassima's thoughts on the matter, but then decide who she marries isn't up to her and determine that I'll marry her instead.

I think I can see where we're going with this. Let's crash this wedding.


I go straight to the castle, and I see some serving girls entering, but still find no way to enter the castle myself.

Will this be how I enter the castle? Will the Cinderella character help me by giving me her serving girl clothing or go in herself and help me from inside?


ISLE OF THE SACRED MOUNTAIN

With no ideas on how to proceed, I go back to the Cliffs of Logic, where words had appeared on the cliffface. After some time of trying stuff, I click on the words for no reason and discover that clicking depresses the letter I'm clicking on. There doesn't seem to be any indication either in-game or in the manual that I have to press individual letters, so I thank my accidental fortune and think about how to proceed.

The first test isn't hard. The manual blatantly tells me the solution to the first challenge.

Only those pure of heart will be able to RISE the cliffs of logic.

I press the letters of R, I, S and E and a stone staircase appears that Alexander can take to the top of the screen.

The step-to-step animation is quite nice.

The next section has a similarly etched puzzle. This one contains symbols instead of letters.

… speak bocce?

The manual has a page with translations of the Ancient Ones' Alphabet. My first thought in answer to the riddle is that a master of languages will READ, so I press the correct letters based on the translation.


Unfortunately READ doesn't work. I try other words such as KNOW, LEARN, and STUDY, but none of them work.

Eventually I decide to read more of the manual. A few pages before the Logic Cliffs section is a section on the Ancient Ones. At one point in this section it says...

As cunning linguists, the masters of langage were great lovers.

I press S, O, A and R and another stone staircase appears. Well that was disappointing. I was looking to use logic to pass the Logic Cliff puzzles, but so far I've just had the answers handed to me by the manual, with no way to work out the answer myself using logic. Perhaps they should be renamed The Cliffs of Reading Comprehension.

The next puzzle gives us four circles, and the clue is given to us by the manual with a riddle...
Four men standing in a row,
Third from the left and down you go,
The rest, in order, move you on,
The Youngest, the Oldest, and the Second Son.
Taking cues from Wile E Coyote, Alexander looks at the player after his support stone disappears, waiting a moment before dropping to his death.

The solution is fairly straightforward. If the third one sends me to the ground the solution should be 4, 1, 2. It works.

I'll note that if you ever miss-click on one of the stones while making your way up, you fall to your death as well, but if it's one of the early steps you just fall to the beach and get up instead.

The next 'puzzle' states simply, “SACRED FOUR” with the symbols again.

Once again, I skim through the manual looking for the term “Sacred Four”. I find it, and go back to the alphabet table shown above, looking for tranquility, azure, caterpillar and air. I find the appropriate symbols, and proceed to the fifth test.

In case you haven't worked out that all the answers are found in the manual, the game will constantly remind you.

The fifth test would be cryptic if the manual didn't tell us the answer.

This isn't even a question. How is anyone supposed to work this answer out using logic?

Okay.

Now, I'm sure at this point that it can't be as simple as pressing, ASCEND, so I look through the manual for further clues. The challenge suggests that only those of the highest order can ascend.

Looking at the manual section where we found the Sacred Four answer, it talks about emotion being ranked high or low. The sacred four are the highest on the theological scale, so I guess that those of the highest order are the sacred four. I once again use the alphabet translation table to convert the sacred four symbols into the Latin Alphabet, and work out that I should press D, O, Q and G. Being proud of my logic skills, I set out to press those letters but quickly find that there's no Q, and no G for that matter. Thinking it can't be as ridiculously simple as once again just pressing the letters that appeared in all CAPS in the manual, I attempt to press, 'ASCEND' anyway.

Sigh. Well – these 'logic' cliffs were a disappointment

Having used my powers of 'logic' to climb the Cliffs of Logic, I reach the top. There, I find an old woman with a glint in her eye (HINT! HINT!) who attempts to entice me to eat a magical flying berry.

Despite the obvious trap, I'm not one to resist saving the game and doing something dangerous.




The Vizier's underling has all the subtlety of a 1960's Batman villain.

If I ignore the old 'lady' for a while, she disappears in a puff of smoke and I take the path, after unsuccessfully trying to open the large doors to the left.

At the top of the path I find a gate and am greeted by people who are dressed like angels in a cheap school nativity play.

That's only because nobody else had access to a .pdf of the King's Quest VI manual.

The Roman Angels tell me that I'm the first visitor since the red and white queen's spies stole their sacred golden fleece. I expect this fleece was actually stolen by the Vizier's people to sow mistrust between the islands, and perhaps I'll find proof of that later.

The angels fly me up to meet the king and queen of this island, making me wonder why they even have gate doors if everyone simply flies over them.

My trickery consisted of basic reading comprehension. Do they not teach English in the Green Isles' schools?

Because I've fulfilled a prophecy by climbing the Logic Cliffs, Azure and Aeriel are inclined to ignore the Vizier's orders to 'dispose' of me.

As a veteran computer game player, I've fulfilled more prophecies than I care to count - one more should be easy.
You two seem a lot more relaxed than I expect from people whose daughter is in immediate danger of being eaten by a bull-man.

Azure figures that sending me to the catacombs serves as both giving me a chance to defeat the minotaur and obeying the Vizier's instruction that I should be disposed of. Before throwing me into the catacombs, the rulers give me a chance to prepare on the condition I don't return to the island until I have all I need.

'Hmph' is his response to my promise to save his daughter – hopefully I'll get the chance to depose these tools for someone more deserving.

Um... you guys perhaps couldn't drop me off somewhere else? Princess Cassima's tower window would be nice? Guys...


ISLE OF THE BEAST

I travel back to the Isle of the Beast and find a new creature hanging from a tree.

A hanging creature who learned English at the same school as Yoda

The creature doesn't trust me, but as he references the way he speaks I follow a hunch and show him my incomplete “Where are you going...” sentence.

So, this creature is a "TO"?

Now that I have a complete sentence (actually, isn't “Where are you going” also valid as a complete sentence by itself?) I shove the creature in my jacket and go back to the bookworm to see if he wants the creature.


ISLE OF WONDER


Not remembering my high school English, I look up dangling participle.
noun Grammar.
  1. a participle or participial phrase, often found at the beginning of a sentence, that appears from its position to modify an element of the sentence other than the one it was intended to modify, as plunging in Plunging hundreds of feet into the gorge, we saw Yosemite Falls.
Um... I can't see how my now-complete sentence has any kind of participle, dangling or not. But not caring to argue with a green worm in a purple outfit, I let him have his weird friend. 

As promised, the bookworm gives me a rare book in return, but there is a page missing.

Even more importantly, what would be the point of an answer if I don't know the question?

I know the answer is 'Love' based on the paper fragment I found in the black widow's web and immediately lost. I briefly consider working out the question based on knowing the answer but after realising I'd need a supercomputer the size of a planet and 10 million years to work it out, I forget that plan and try to give the incomplete book to the bookseller, hoping he doesn't notice the missing page.


ISLE OF THE CROWN

Three cheers for unobservant booksellers!

The bookseller trades me the riddle book for the spellbook that had been sitting on his counter. The spellbook seemingly has one spell in it.

So, anything Alexander draws will come to life? Alexander suddenly regrets skipping the 'painting the nude female form' lectures in Daventry Art College.
That's a good point Alexander. You survived King's Quest III largely due to your spell-casting – some spells would have been mighty useful in this adventure.

Needing some River Styx Water increases my confidence in my earlier prediction that I'd be visiting the game over screen without remaining dead at some point - and I know how to do it as long as I can find Kevin Bacon and a CPR machine.


ISLE OF WONDER

Going back in the Isle of Wonder to further explore the garden, I play my flute for the wallflowers. They dance with the snapdragons, and continue to dance after I finish playing, giving me the opportunity to reach for the hole-in-the-wall. ADMISSION: Actually, I hoped the flute might calm the babies down, but as long as someone likes my music, I'm not complaining.


Looking in more detail in the garden, I notice something else I missed the first time around. There is iceberg lettuce behind the tomatoes. I take one, which is very cold and immediately begins melting. I have an idea and take the shortest route to the Isle of the Beast's boiling pond.


ISLE OF THE BEAST

I throw my iceberg lettuce in the pond, and can now cross it despite it still being very hot.

Papapishu

On the other side of the hot pond, I take the lamp from the tree and continue north to the next screen.

I find a gate with a gardener behind it. He beckons me to join him, and his eyes glint like the creepy guy, the Vizier's henchman and the old 'woman' on top of the Cliffs of Logic. Above the gate is a stone statue of an archer. He moves to follow me with his arrow as I move around the screen. It's obvious to me that the archer will kill me if I attempt to pass through the gate. I therefore attempt to pass through the gate.

You know, if I still had my mint I'd perhaps be able to entice YOU to cross the gate and get killed instead.

If I ignore the gardener, he disappears after a while, exactly like the little boy at the dock and the old lady on top of the Logic Cliffs who also tried to lure me to my death.

I try a few things with the archer, hoping he'll either let me pass or shoot something else instead of me, but nothing I try works.


ISLE OF THE CROWN

I go back to the Isle of the Crown instead, and try to enter the castle using my newfound hole-in-the-wall.

I can see through the wall and find that dogs patrol the hallway, but the hole doesn't seem to be big enough to crawl through myself, making another of my predictions false.

I haven't seen the lamp seller in my last few visits to the market, but now that I have a lamp, I'm hoping he's returned. Before checking, I made sure to rub the lamp, but no genie appeared.

As the saying goes, there's never an old-lamps-for-new peddler around when you need one.


ISLE OF WONDER

I explore many of the areas again, hoping to see something new. I'm rewarded in the Isle of Wonder garden, where I find something new on a chair.

I suspect this appeared after I got the spellbook that specified having a cup.

I'm not a big fan of things appearing in game areas for unrelated reasons like this, but I do like it when things change for plot-related reasons. For example, I liked that the sign declaring the impending wedding appeared in the market, driving home the urgency if I'm to properly declare my love to Cassima in time.

I also notice something else in that screen that had been there before but I hadn't noticed – one of the tomatoes was darker and sadder than the others. I must have faced some kind of mental block about this screen - I seem to only notice one thing each time I go there.

Meet Rotten Tomato

I attempt to use my teacup to collect swamp ooze from the next screen, having previously unsuccessfully attempted to collect it in my lamp.

Meet Stick-in-the-mud

Stick-in-the-mud and Bump-on-a-log then have an argument.

I don't just want but NEED to know what the hell your mother was.

It seems the only swamp OOZE is next to the stick, but he won't give it to me, and I drown if I try to wade/swim to him.

Care to wager on that, stick. I'm failry confident I can get you annoyed enough to throw some my way.

I try to throw Rotten Tomato at Stick-in-the-mud, but Bump-on-a-log points out that he's the only one strong enough to throw it. I give him my tomato instead and he lines up his brother.


Stick-in-the-mud retaliates by throwing some ooze at Bump-on-a-log.


Like the wrap-up last few minutes of any old sitcom, they both realise fighting isn't a good solution and they should be friends again. They take a nap along with Rotten Tomato. I fill my teacup with ooze from Bump-on-a-log, then leave.


ISLE OF THE SACRED COPY PROTECTION

Not having any better ideas at the moment, I go back to the Isle of the Sacred Mountain and allow the Roman Angels to lock me in the minotaur's labyrinth.


After some quick exploring, I die.




Well perhaps Alexander should have looked through the doorway before walking blindly into the centre of the room like an idiot!

The death screen suggests I let my conscience be my Guide, and the capitalisation of the G in guide makes it clear to me it's time to read another section of the manual. But I've read enough of the manual for this post so I'll do that next time.

Session time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total time: 5 hours 45 minutes
Inventory:


Predictions made:
  1. Something will be in the tree hole later 
  2. Some animal will need a flute song to be calmed  - just needed someone to dance - BUSTED
  3. I'll need to distract someone with a fake nightingale – not a distraction - BUSTED 
  4. I'll meet a painter without a brush or need to paint something myself 
  5. I'll need light, or a fire at some point. (actually, this prediction is valid for just about every single adventure game ever made) 
  6. The pawn shop returns policy will be used to avoid the game having dead-ends - CONFIRMED
  7. I'll be visiting the legendary fourth island (which is actually the fifth island) 
  8. I'll have to solve puzzles in order to meet the leaders of each of four islands - CONFIRMED 
  9. The bookseller's free book is cursed - probably already proven wrong - BUSTED 
  10. The swimming kid had an ulterior motive - CONFIRMED 
  11. The death sequence area will be playable later
  12. I'll need a plant growing potion or sticky substance to climb the vines 
  13. The creepy guy has a glass eye which I'll need to get - BUSTED 
  14. The pawn shop guy will throw out rubbish that I'll take and use - CONFIRMED 
  15. The boring book will be used to put someone to sleep - CONFIRMED 
  16. I won't meet Princess Cassima on my first visit to the castle - CONFIRMED 
  17. The shopping creepy guy is also the Vizier's henchman - CONFIRMED
  18. I'll be performing dentistry on a clam - CONFIRMED
  19. The hole-in-the-wall bug will allow me into the castle - I just got to look inside - BUSTED
  20. I'll be crashing a wedding with or without Owen Wilson
  21. I'll use a serving girl outfit to enter the castle (this is my third castle entering prediction)
  22. The Cinderella girl's outfit will get me (or her) into the castle
  23. The Winged Ones' golden fleece was stolen by the Vizier and I'll find proof of this later
  24. I'll be able to depose Azure and Aeriel as leaders of Sacred Mountain Land, possibly for their daughter
I also have a few current theories on the identity of the creature who keeps attempting to lure me to my death (swimming kid, old woman and gardener.)

Is it the Vizier's henchman, who I suspect due to the glinting eyes, or is it someone else - did Manannan and Mordack have a third brother wizard who's bent on revenge? Has it actually been multiple people who all hate me or my family for some other reason? I'm sure I'll find out by the end of the game.

22 comments:

  1. Ah, the Cliffs of "Logic," one of the weirdest methods of copy protection. It might've worked better had, say, Alexander found a copy of the Guidebook to the Land of the Green Isles in the bookstore or something and then have the narrator break the fourth wall and say, when you try to read it, that to actually read it "look in your gamebox for a copy" or something. That would at least make a little more sense in the context of the game. As it stands, Alexander says he solved it with something like "clear thinking" which ironically, makes little to no logical sense.

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    1. I remember being amused when Ultima IV's intro broke the fourth wall and told me that...

      "You read the Book of History."

      then, after clicking past that screen saying,

      "No. Really. Read the Book of History."

      :)

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    2. I was actually thinking Ultima when I made the comment! That was a game series that had good feelies in their gameboxes...

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    3. Which is how Lord British chose his publishers early on, if they would honor his demands for certain box fillers. That was part of the reason Origin became a publisher of it's own -- because of those negotiations. (Old, out of print book but certainly worth the read: Official Book of Ultima by the former adventure-reviewing great Shay Addams. Also, a good read if you can't find a copy of Ready, Player One, because quite a lot of the backstory in that book mimics that of Richard Garriott...)

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  2. Never a fan of such extreme levels of requiring the manual to solve puzzles, but I guess it's in keeping with Alexander's last adventure, where you have to follow the manual to the letter.

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    1. At least in that game the spellbook is an actual item in the game and makes sense within the context of the adventure. Here there's absolutely no way to justify Alexander's out-of-universe knowledge on how to solve the Cliff puzzles (you can't even say trial and error, since wrong guesses on some of them lead to deaths).

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    2. Certainly not without some precedent, though, Indy 3 (Last Crusade) was a LucasArts example, as was KQ3 which has already been mentioned.

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  3. The copy protection integration in Camelot and Longbow were much better; in those, the manual was necessary for certain puzzles too, but you still had to do more thinking.

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    1. Which begs the question -- this copy protection, which at least stays in the spirit of the thing, or the copy protection from, say, Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, or Colonel's Bequest?

      (For those of you not playing under ScummVM or similar, those games have copy protection that requires you to look in the manual with rose-colored glasses to look at pictures that can't be photocopied, or look at a spinning cardboard wheel to match up pictures. Obvious, but not interesting.)

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    2. Answers for photocopier-resistant copy protection usually have been reverse-engineered by now and can be found on the Internet.

      I prefer when copy protection takes the form of a puzzle. Otherwise, it should be only when booting the game up or near the beginning; non-puzzle copy protection at arbitrary points in the game (e.g. floppy versions of Kyrandia 1 and King's Quest V) are annoying when just trying to play through.

      The worst copy protection was in Zak McKracken. You had to answer it almost every time you traveled via aeroplane.

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    3. The reason Maniac and Zak had their copy protection in the middle of the game (as well as others, like LSL3, 5) was for a decent sales reason -- if someone pirated the game, you could play up to a certain point before needing the copy protection. Kind of like a demo. From that point of view, it makes a lot of sense.

      As for non-intrusive and helpful, I rather like LSL3. 2 blatant lookups (the locker combo and the ticket number) but also, the manual gives you an excellent hint (solution) about the maze, if you're observant.

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    4. Wait... the Zak aeroplane reservation terminals...

      ...It can't be...

      TROTTIER HAS A SIDE JOB AS A TICKET MACHINE MANUFACTURER!!?

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    5. I quite liked the wheel solution for TSR games, it was cute and had the different alphabets on it. I remembered many answers years later "that symbol kinda looks like a ZOMBIE".

      Also, Eye of the Beholder II. I finished the game many times knowing only the answer to a word on a single page, "PUMMEL".

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  4. I first played KQ6 one christmas at my uncle's. They had a copy and I was hoping to finish it before the week was over. I was young then, and I didn't realized that the cliff was a form of copy protection. I also don't remember if my uncle had a pirated copy or I just didn't look for the manual.

    Iirc, it was Return to Zork that made me look into manuals for solutions; something which I enjoyed back then.

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    1. > Even more importantly, what would be the point of an answer if I don't know the question?

      Is that a deep thought reference? (one sentence later...) yup

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    2. > Even more importantly, what would be the point of an answer if I don't know the question?

      This.... is.... JEOPARDY!

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  5. A riddle where the answer is love? I mean how many can there be?

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    1. "What rhymes with dove?"
      "What's nil in tennis?"
      "All you need is...?"
      "When push comes to shove, you should choose the one you...?"
      "What emotion is smaller than three?"

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    2. A quick Google gives us another 4: http://4riddles.com/category/riddle-type/love-riddles

      A source of alternating amusement and irritation for me is how much of the music industry is focused solely on this subject.

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  6. I'm enjoying this write-up of the game. Regarding the game, though, it's crystallized my perception of the King's Quest games as something of a set of loosely connected puzzles. In this portion of the game, it seems like there could be a stronger narrative force driving puzzle design and character interaction.

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