Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Rex Nebular - Won!

Written by TBD.

Rex Nebular's Log: Stardate – Ides of March, 44 BC: I was just sitting down in the Senate before work when all the senators came in. After my good friend Brutus hugged me I felt a sharp pain in my bac... ... Sorry, wrong log... ... I won. I've completed my mission and escaped the evil women with help from an inexplicably homeless person. Let me tell you how I did it...

Well, I left off last time having gotten a bad ending and being stuck and asking for help. I received help from gboukensha, Charles and Leo Velles. Thank you all.

I looked at gboukensha's hints first.
1. You need to distract the dog
Well, I already knew that and if I wasn't somewhat impatient I would have tried a few more things before looking at the second clue. But that clue could easily mean I needed an item I didn't yet have and I was already impatient, so...
2. You should use the bones to do that
Okay. I had the bones and I'd tried throwing the bones to the dog one at a time and he just ate them up until I ran out.

So I go back to the auto shop and start throwing bones around willy-nilly. After a few aborted attempts to throw (There's really no need to throw the bones at the manhole...) the action line changes from Throw bones at item to...

Aha. When I point at the fence AT gets replaced with OVER

I throw the bones over the fence and the dog jumps over the fence, which leads to a sheer drop to the level below.

Pleased that I can now explore a new area, I enter the garage through the side door. When I arrive, something jumps through the broken window.

Note: really fast dogs look kind of like brown trains.

As for how the dog got back here from jumping off a cliff, I'm going with the same cartoon logic that allows Wile E Coyote to live through the first minute of every cartoon he's in.

Avoiding walking to the area the dog's barking in, I look around, and apart from other things in the area, I can press a down button or up button to raise or lower the car. The area below the car is named...

You can be my wingman any time, Maverick!

Hmmm. Would this be the kind of game that makes me murder a dog? Let's find out.

Rex is pleased that he did this. Rex is a bastard.

I tried this puzzle again after switching to NICE mode, thinking the dog might just run away instead of get crushed or the whole section might be covered with a CENSORED sign but no, he gets crushed just as bloodily and we see it all - weird.

Now that I can explore the area fully without danger, I do so and take some POLYCEMENT and a REARVIEW MIRROR.

I know immediately what to use those items on, so I start with the REARVIEW MIRROR and go back to Bruce's house in the Residential area.

Aha. So my idea of reflecting the beam to blast open the safe was correct!

With a hole in the safe, I open it and take the key to the video store that I got last time when I tried MEDIUM difficulty. I found it interesting that the safe combination wasn't available at all in HARD, and presumably using the first mirror on the laser beam in MEDIUM serves no purpose at all.

Using my newfound key on the video store door and looking around shows me a bit of a difference of opinion between Rex and the narrator.

Well, yes, Rex. There are. Let's take some.

Gee narrator. No need to get snippy.

Looking at the items in the video store gives me lots of jokes, but the only item I seem able to interact with is a cordless phone. I can take it, and remove the batteries. I can also put the batteries I took from the penlight into the phone and put it on the charging station which lights up red. Thinking that perhaps the reason the penlight didn't do anything whenever I'd used it previously was because the batteries were dead, I leave the batteries to charge and leave the store.

Now, I became stuck again here. I had my polycement, rearview mirror and phone batteries, but still didn't have any idea what I should do next.

Do you think I went back to the clues the helpful readers had left me after a small amount of time of trying other things? You bet I did...

Charles had said...
Now, if I'm not mistaken, you have missed something else. Just in case the dog puzzle isn't enough to get you unstuck:
Well, the dog puzzle wasn't enough to get me unstuck and Leo Velles had also confirmed that Charles' hints could help, so let's look at Charles' first hint.
  1. You may want to check the 9 locations again, but not for items

This clue made me think I'd missed a location somewhere. Most likely a door or exit I didn't realise I could use. I went back to the 9 locations and found it... after doing an entire lap of the area and ending up exactly where I started - back outside the video store...

See that “GO” sign. That's an alley.

I can see why I missed this alley because it looks like the road just curls around to the left here instead of also having something branch off to the right. In my defense I'll add that each screen in Machopolis has similar GO cursors that just tell me I can't use them once I watch Rex attempt to walk there. This very screen has two of those GO cursors at the obvious roads to the south and west. Here's a compilation of useless GO cursors.

Yes, I made this GIF purely as an attempt to validate my ability to miss the alley!

Anyway, I enter this well hidden alley, and find a hermit. His name is Herman.

For some reason I had to fight an overwhelming urge to cry over him.

Herman tells me that the vase I'm after is likely housed in the tallest building in the city, which was owned by the governor who was also the local art collector. He also tells me about the war, and that he was a teenager when it ended.

Now, after talking to Herman I note that he seems to live in a cardboard box in this alley, but he also has access to a nearby teleporter and has explored the city as thoroughly as he can without my particular set of skills and items. Why doesn't he live in someone's abandoned home? Bruce's house is close enough that he could get there on foot. There's probably somewhere even closer if he needs it. Anyway, ignoring his residential choices, I keep asking him questions.

Most usefully, Herman mentions that he's upset that he can't listen to his squalkman (walkman (iPod  to younger readers) ) any more because he's out of batteries. Well, I happen to have some freshly charged phone batteries with me now.

Of course, his squalkman needs four batteries and I only have two, so I have to go back to the video store and get my batteries back from the phone charger.

I give him all four batteries and he gives me the Fake id he's been using to get around town. Then he moonwalks away.



Now that I have a fake ID, I should be able to enter the two doors that need security cards. Let's take a look.

This ID made me laugh. Well done, Herman. Well done!

I use my fake ID on the elevator and it works! It takes me to a high ledge, where I find a non-working teleporter, a skeleton containing some more bones, and a proper ID. I also find some cement pylons, one of which contains a hook. I attach my fishing line to the hook.


I go back to the other security card-barred entrance, and even though I have a better ID, I use Herman's first to see what happens.

I like to imagine Herman getting crushed by a giant boxing glove here too.

I use the professional ID card instead, and enter the security room. I take some detonators and find some useful-looking weapons.


Unfortunately I never get to use any of these weapons.

I try attaching the detonators to my charge cases.

Turning my charge cases into bombs explains why I couldn't blow anything up yet. And I've tried to blow up a lot of things, including the display cases the weapons are behind in this very room!

Well, now I go back to my idea I had a few posts ago of blowing up the viewport to the ocean. On prompting from the narrator, I put the timer module on the bombs to create a timebomb, put in on the viewport and set it.



Then I go to where the boat is on the ground and attach the dangling end of the fishing line that I'd previously attached to a hook on the upper ledge.

I don't think this boat is big enough for me to take two of every animal.

I was hoping to sit in the boat and ride the wave as the place flooded, but I still can't get in the boat. And the car also won't go back to the place with the teleporter in it. Before I have time to come up with a plan C, the bomb goes off.


Well, after reloading, I decide to try getting higher before the flood. This time I go to the upper ledge after securing the boat, and I remain safe after the area floods. I pull the fishing line and get on the boat.


Now, the one place I can see in the distance must be the governor's tower where the vase is. I'm sure I'm close to the end of the game now! I go towards the tower.

Unfortunately the game won't let me just drive around the monster.

I throw food and bones at the sea monster, but after a small time he sticks me with his tongue and eats me.



I try a lot of things here and was actually stuck for quite a while. I can drive back to the ledge, but each time I try to go toward the tower the monster pops up again. On the ledge, I can use my binoculars to look at the tower and see the vase glinting temptingly. Remembering how I eventually got rid of the dog, I tried throwing the bones at various parts of the water but the monster didn't budge. After a surprisingly long time I tried putting my bomb in the chicken.




With the sea monster dead, I continue along towards the tower, picking up a floating bottle on the way. After entering the penthouse window I find the vase. I suspect a trap but try to take it anyway.

Should've put the rearview mirror on my rear.

With Raiders of the Lost Ark being one of my favourite movies, I'd already guessed the likely solution. Going back to the window, I partly fill my empty bottle with sea water. I can ½ fill it, ¼ fill it, ¾ fill it, or completely fill it. You can guess what happens when I fill the bottle too much or not enough, but when it's exactly half full, I Indiana Jones it with the vase.


So, now that I have the vase, I use the governor's personal teleporter to go back to the launchpad I'd used last time when I got the bad ending.

Just for fun, I try to make Rex's dangerous trip totally pointless.

Aw.

I apply my polycement to the crack in my cockpit window and take off, hoping that the cement will let my cockpit survive the vacuum of space. It does, and I get in a short battle with the ship that shot mine down at the beginning of the game.



Alright! I've blown up those evil women and escaped. Now time to get my reward

We now return to the opening scene of the game, after Rex started to tell Colonel Stone what he went through to get the vase. I'll admit I'd kind of forgotten that this entire game was a flashback.

That ending was... extremely abrupt.

And I've won! After all that effort, Rex carelessly knocking the vase over and breaking it is very in character for the incompetent hero he (along with a lot of comedy adventure game protagonists) seems to be. And going straight to the credits rather than show me the aftermath of the breakage is a valid comedic choice, though it did take me by surprise and I generally prefer to sit back and watch a detailed ending after finishing a game.

All in all - I had fun. It had enough funny moments to keep me interested, and I overall found this game good enough, but not excellent. We'll see next week how it fares with the PISSED rating system but I'm expecting a middling score. See you then!

Session time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Total time: 8 hours 40 minutes

12 comments:

  1. Some random comments on Rex Nebular:
    - I found the main character oddly unengaging. The writers seem to be going for a mixture of Roger Wilco and Larry, but Rex feels more like a collection of familiar tropes than a character (I suspect the logbook, written by Steve Meretzky, provides the depth that is missing in the actual game.)
    - Speaking of humor, I thought too many of the jokes fell flat or felt like they were trying too hard.
    - I too was taken aback by that ending. It just seems too abrupt-- enough to make me wonder if the version I played was glitched.
    - The game feels oddly disjointed, with two distinct parts that don't fit much together, IMO. The Gender Bender has very little bearing on the story and it just breaks down and disappears halfway through the game. Moreover, its only function was, after all, that of an elaborate keycard. The title must have been picked for marketing reasons.
    - The box cover is misleading, too. I didn't think the tone of the game was lighthearted; it actually gets pretty dark in places. Almost every woman in the game is indeed after Rex-- but with murder in mind. Again, I guess the cover was chosen expressly to elicit comparisons with other popular franchises at the time.
    - I was disappointed that the witch doctor never showed up, or that the piranha river was actually uncrossable. I wonder if content for these areas was planned at some point and later ditched for budgetary reasons. Then again, the game does like to tease the player with objects that serve no purpose at all (that friggin' air hose...)

    I realize that all of the above reads a bit too negative, but I actually had a decently good time with the game. "Good enough, but not excellent." Yes, and I would extend that to the other Microprose adventures I've played.

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    1. I agree with pretty much everything here. I also thought the game might have glitched when I went straight to the credits. I played the end twice and watched an ending on a youtube playthrough to make sure I'd seen the entire ending. :)

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  2. The issues that got you stuck are at least nothing unusual for games of the time period, missed areas were really not uncommon. The humour was also surprisingly un-crass considering the title from what I've seen.

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    1. Yeah. This is not the first game that's hit me with the 'unusual exit' issue. I needed help in Martian Memorandum for exactly that reason, and I also made a GIF in that game to try to justify my lack of observation.

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  3. I definitely remembered this game with rose tinted glasses back when you starter playing. I think that my score guess was quite a bit too high.
    Also I don't think I ever made it to guy town when I played this, as that's all new to me

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  4. In defense of the missed area, the first time you reach the location with the car you can see the hermit peeking at you around the corner. That's the hint the game gives you about an extra location in the alley.

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    1. Yeah I completely forgot that I did fleetingly notice that guy when I did my lap after reading the hint. I forgot about that because he didn't stay on screen long enough for me to take a screenshot. My bad.

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  5. Adding to the above thoughts, I like the amount of red herrings in this game, the useless items and whatnot. Any other game of the period, if an item was a hot spot, there was a 90% chance you needed it to win. Only a few games bucked that trend (such as some of the junk you could carry around in Monkey Island, or even a lot of random items like gems or broken items in the Kyrandia games.)

    This added a little depth to the game that otherwise wouldn't be there, making it a little longer by not making the items you needed immediately obvious...

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    1. Yeah. The number of unnecessary items/red herringa definitely made the game more challenging. But seeing as most of those had the same generic description as most other items, after a few locations it annoyed me more than intriguing me.

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  6. I agree with Charles in almost everything he said...The change of tone and mood in the game once you reach Machopolis is very strange. Like in the first half they decided to do the Roger Wilco / Larry Laffer rip-off but then a very distopyan, bleak environment gets hold of the game. Nevertheless, its a good game, but not great by any means.
    When i played it in the 90s i never get to Machopolis, this time it was pretty swift and i get to the end pretty fast. And the game ending, come on, too abrupt. In the other hand, the logbook by Meretzky is hilarious. ¿That was his only contribution or he did some lines for the game?

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    1. Yeah, from what I could find out, the logbook was Meretzky's only contribution. And it is hilarious (though I've still only read the first few pages - I'll be reading the rest before my final rating)

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  7. All the dialogs between Rex and the Robo-butler are priceless. It´s a shame that the robot don´t get to be in the game, cause it would be a hell of a comic relief side kick

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