Friday 10 April 2020

Eric the Unready – As Happy As A Pig In ... Let's Say... Mud

Written by TBD

Eric the Unready Journal Entry #1: My first real assignment! After defeating the Knight of the Black Pauldron, I was given another important job where I met the most adorable creature I've ever seen - I also met a princess!

Day 1: How do you like them apples?

After the introduction, Eric was given his first quest – to kiss a farmer's daughter who'd been turned into a pig. I immediately get to work, go to the farm and try to kiss the pig. Seemed like an easy job, but the pig fears my tender lips and runs for the privy. Not the most romantic of places, but I won't give up when I've got a job to do, so time to enter the toilet to molest a farm animal.

For my first move I talk to the farmer. Being the first time I spent a lot of time with the Legend parser, I'll describe it a little bit now.

You can click on the words on the left to do things. The word list contains the usual suspects, as well as many less usual verbs - The list changes based on where you are, so most likely used verbs will always be near the top. The manual tells me that I never need to use items below the separator line to proceed, but it might be fun to do so.

Apart from the word lists, you can also click on the picture – for example, I can click on TALK, then click on the farmer in the middle of the picture instead of the word FARMER. It's not something I find overly useful, but it's nice to have the option – I at first thought that might be useful for identifying unknown objects, but it appears that when I click on a verb, all possible objects on the screen or in my inventory are listed. It may still be useful, but my guess is that it's just an alternative for those who prefer their interfaces to be slightly closer to the standard point-and-click interface.

Once I talk to the farmer, I get my first look at the conversation screen. It's pretty self-explanatory.

Bestiality humour

Before entering the privy, I go to the barn, where I take a rope from a peg, then everything the farmer has in his medicine cabinet.

The Hog-Wild is something I'll obviously be using soon.

Having filled my inventory with potentially useful items, I leave the barn and enter the privy – it's your standard outhouse with a hook for paper and a few magazines. The pig is happily rolling around in the muck below.

I take the newspaper, where I can get a short joke summary of my last mission and some funny classifieds

Couldn't the pilgrims have just taken the apples anyway. There was only one tree's worth, after all.

I tie my rope to the privy hook and try unsuccessfully to use the Hog-Wild to get the pig to climb up.

My first death. I always appreciate a game with an UNDO button - it encourages exploration.

I try to get the Hog-Wild to the pig somehow, but every option fails so I go down the rope.

She looks so cute. Who wouldn't want to kiss that pig who seems to be playing in Willy Wonka's chocolate river

I give the Hog-Wild to the pig, who jumps on my leg and stays there. With pig in tow, I climb back up go back to the farmer so he can witness my success and sign my work slip.

Are all of my quests going to involve apples in some way?

I'm sent back to the barn to wash up, where my look and smell scares the cows, causing a stampede and the total destruction of the barn.

As I quickly make my exit and walk home, the royal carriage of Princess Lorealle the Worthy pulls up and she offers me a ride

She's so obviously going to be kidnapped and it'll be up to me to rescue her.

Day 2 - The Barred Bard and the Hard Guard

My first quest done, I wake up in my bed the next morning, having slept in my now rusted armour. Luckily for me, I'd left my armour warranty card on my bed. Unluckily for me, I can't move in my armour so can't take it.

My squire comes in and tells me that the Princess has disappeared and needs rescuing! He takes off my armour for me and I make my way to the rescue mission briefing, taking a newspaper on the way.

I talk to some of the knights before the meeting starts. I get no information, but a heap of jokes. Then I read my paper.

Fake news - we''re only dating.

The shop steward enters the room and, after reminding us that King Fudd will die this Saturday according to a prophecy, gives us some information that suggests a potential motive for the kidnapping.

He then mentions the traditional reward for a princess rescue – half the kingdom and the girl's hand in marriage – and that the knight assigned to the job is... ERIC THE UNREADY!

Is the knight at the top right named ROSS THE THREE-QUARTER HEAD? 

Leaving the union hall I go to the village square and meet a bard. People give him money for jokes or songs, and he obliges, but to hear the Epic of Baldur I'll need to pay a gold coin. Having no money yet, I go to the armoury, where I meet the stereotypical Italian armourer

I'm not sure Giovanni is even Italian. He hasn't said Mamma Mia once, yet.

Giovanni asks me my armour sizes as a form of copy protection. I check the manual and answer him, and he tells me my new suit will be ready in a week (too late to save the kingdom, I think) but he gives me some clothing so I'm not walking around naked for a week.

I hope a thief doesn't pick my pocket with a packet.

The pocket packet contains a bean that works with water. Hoping to trade my magic bean for a cow, I leave. I next visit the feasting hall, where all the other knights are cavorting at the Rhomboid Table. I take some kindling from the fireplace and try to go up the stairs to see the king.

The guard won't let me up the stairs, but does say that if offered him 1 gold piece he'd happily let me up. That's the second thing I can do that costs a gold. Looks like I'll have to make a choice (I hate doing that – especially if I won't find out I bought the wrong thing until much later) but I'll deal with that later on. Now I'll check out the Map feature on the interface.

I like this map, and the little up arrow in the Feasting Hall that shows I can also go up (if the guard lets me through)

To the south of town is a small market containing a torch shop (which Eric had previously burned down) and an ice cream shoppe. I can buy an ice cream for (you guessed it) one gold coin. The Ice Cream Shoppe worker is called Bobbin.

They named this guy purely so they could reference another adventure game. I feel like I should be disappointed, but I actually approve.

I try to take the torch display outside the torch shop, but it won't budge. I feel that with the torch and my kindling I can activate the fireplace in the ice cream shoppe which would melt the ice cream. Why would I want to melt the ice cream? Because it's there and I'm playing an adventure game, of course.

As I try to enter the torch shop, the proprieter obviously sees me and remembers my previous visit.

This game is easier than I thought.

My attempt to melt the ice cream with my torch and kindling is somewhat successful. Bobbin gets warm and gives me his earmuffs. Well, that hadn't given me the melted ice cream I wanted (I thought perhaps I could use that to activate my magic bean) so I left.

Wondering what else I could use as a water substitute rather than melted ice cream, I paused outside the shop and looked at the bleeding obvious that I'd somehow ignored at first.

This is what has always annoyed me about parser games – I know what I want to do, but it takes a while for me to communicate this to the game.

I keep trying things, and quickly find the right syntax to get the job done.

So, you're saying I put the helmet under the water like I tried earlier. Okay, game. That's fine.

I'm sure other things would work, and throw is one of the least likely as it suggests I'm no longer holding the helmet, but I'm not going to harp on it as I now have a hatful of water, just like I wanted.

I go the the courtyard where I'd found a pile of soil under a window (and a satellite dish, of course) and plant and water my presumably magic bean.

Dumbledore was enjoying his peaceful retirement (P.S. I haven't read past the second book – no spoilers please)

The wizard tosses me a gold coin so I can buy him a root beer float, then goes back to watching the game. My beanstalk collapses as I fall down, but I'm sure I'll find another way to get him his prize when I come back.

Before buying the wizard his ice cream drink, I save the game and try using his money elsewhere.

The Epic of Baldur puts people to sleep, but more importantly my gold coin keeps replicating itself, avoiding the potential of dead-ends I'd feared earlier.

I buy the wizard's drink, then quickly go back to his tower while it slowly melts every turn. Without my beanstalk, I wasn't sure how to get it to him.

Either that 'hic' is just a joke about me getting an ant drunk, or it's a clue about some underground locations.

I give my infinite coin to the stair guard so I can see the King and Queen, but he just takes my money, stays at his post and calls me a sucker.

So I come up with a new plan. I wear Bobbin's earmuffs and pay the bard for another ballad. After noticing and being impressed with my earmuff strategy, he tells me that he's always wished to play for the Knights of the Rhomboid table. I offer to bring him to the table, and he follows me. I'm not sure what had previously been stopping the bard from just walking into the feasting hall because there didn't appear to be any obstacle, but I'm not going to care if I'm solving a puzzle, so I let him follow me and he puts all the guards to sleep with his tale while my earmuffs keep me awake.

I walk up the now clear stairs and overhear a conversation between the Queen and Sir Pectoral the Hunk.

It seems the queen had arranged for the biggest idiot in the realm to be given the quest to ensure its failure.

One of my favourite RPG games of all time is also about a Guardian of a Black Gate.

Sir Pectoral mentions that he has organised for a group of soldiers to follow me around and arrange an 'accident' after I leave the village.

With my new knowledge, I go back downstairs where the now awake knights have gotten back to their carousing.

Be excellent to each other.

The bard gives me a commemorative book of the Epic of Baldur. The book contains a coupon, but before I can read it, Bud the Wizard appears and tells us to go to determine by magic who should really be on the quest.

Is this supposed to be the same wizard as before? Because he looks very different.

In a clear twist on the King Arthur legend, we see a banana stuck in a stone. After all the other knights have a go, it's my turn. I use the Tort-Ease muscle relaxant I picked up from the barn earlier and prove my worthiness.

Then Bud appears again, along with all his furnishings - a cute little joke so they don't need to draw a third picture of him. He tells me of the five items I'll need to find to get past the Black Gate, and where I can locate each of them.

So he is supposed to be the same guy. Shame nobody bothered to tell the artist.

He then gives me a magic backpack but doesn't tell me what it does (please be a backpack of infinite carrying so I don't have to deal with inventory management.)

Yoohoo makes me think of a text adventure, but I can't put my finger on the reference, if it is one.

I do the obvious with the banana, and get to my next location (destroying Ulric's House of Torches again along the way)

But wait – I just wanted to fill my banana with water!

I then get a MEANWHILE! Cutscene of the Queen's sister having a conversation with her captive Princess Lorealle.

Now come on, Lorealle. She's your aunt after all. Isn't calling her a WITCH a little harsh?

I retract my objection

The witch goes on to reiterate the Queen's evil plan for people who aren't constantly taking screenshots while they play, then throws Lorealle into the dungeon.

I appreciate the confidence, but why are you sitting exactly the way you did in the carriage ride earlier. It looks weird.

So next time, we'll discover how I go in the Enchanted Forest. I now have a clear idea of my quest. I have to go to five locations and find five items. Then there will be a final location where I'll complete my quest. I like games having a structure - lets me keep track of how I'm advancing. I'm enjoying the game so far - it's funny and simple - perhaps a little too simple if the puzzles don't get a bit harder as we move on, but it's setting a nice relaxed pace at this early point while I get used to it.

Session time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Score: 103 out of 1000
Inventory: a float, coupon, book, Tort-Ease

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


  1. it is a nice start, slow pace, easy puzzles at first to feel comfortable, let's see what happens next. Btw, i pulled the banana without having to drink the Tort-Ease

  2. Since it looks like a relatively easy game and humorous medieval settings are right up my alley I have decided to give it a shot as well. As far as I remember I was also able to pull the banana out without the tort-ease, but cannot say for sure will maybe test it again. The humour in the newspapers have been the best so far but the visual humour not so much yet

  3. No need to drink the Tort-Ease in order to pull the banana... I don't know why you thought that was needed, actually.

    To get the water, I think many instructions worked, but the most common would be the simple "put water in helmet". I am actually surprised that you struggled with the parser since it is very flexible, actually.

    The newspapers are my favourite part of the game! If it's not too much of a burden you should try to showcase a little more of what they say, and more in general all the various events and funny answers from the parser, since most of them are hilarious! (e.g. the part with the old knights and the young knights inside the union hall is very funny).

    Having played it again, I will say that this game is easier than I remembered... I already finished it, even if I didn't remember much of the puzzles from my previous playthrough. I also (at last!) managed to get the last lousy point (which is actually a bonus point) and ended the game with 1001 points out of 1000.

    One way in which the game dumbs down the difficulty is with the backpack that you mentioned: its magic is such that not only it removes all items which are not needed anymore after that day, but if you don't pick up an item that is needed in one of the following days, you will magically find it inside the backpack anyway (kind of a lazy way to avoid dead end situations).

    1. I did find something in it on day 3, will have a look to see if it is indeed something I missed in day 2 (the castle/bard scenario)

    2. Good call, Vetinari - I will try to show more of the game's comedy in future posts. Thanks for the tip.

      And I've already unintentionally made use of that magic backpack. At the start of the Enchanted Forest I still have my Tort-Ease, even though it disappeared when I used it on the banana. Thank you, magic backpack, for not letting me dead-end myself.

  4. Seems I'm the only person who went straight for the Tort-Ease. I assumed there was a puzzle there rather than just a 'having a try' so immediately tried to use the muscle relaxant on the banana, thinking that would loosen it. Hopefully I haven't dead-ended myself by wasting it.

  5. It's really interesting how the same idea can be used in two so different settings and produce so diametrically opposite results, in this game and the first episode of Black Mirror.

  6. I always go with "use [object] on [thingy] as a sort of club to smash my way through the parser (feels like it should always work).

    @Iimbeck (limbeck?) Beautiful comparison, LOLed at that!

  7. I suppose the "Torus Inquirer" is either a 1. Discworld or 2. Ringworld joke...?

    1. Torus is the name of the world where Eric is set.

      I read somewhere that Bob Bates called it this way as a joke referring to the old King's Quests (1 to 3). This is because the screens in those games wrapped around both north to south and east to west, and the only way that should be possible is if the world itself is not shaped as a globe but as a torus.

  8. Beautiful write-up, TBD! As you can see, I’m a bit behind on the most current posts but I’ll be trying to catch up!

    The Yoohoo! reference you mentioned should be in regards to Pirate Adventure, I think.