Saturday, 18 September 2021

Missed Classic: Alice in Wonderland - Turning into Malice

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

It's been a while. I mean, this wasn't exactly a long hiatus, especially for this blog at this point...but it wasn't a worthy one. I have no real excuse. It's one thing if the game was bad, but it's not really. I could handle a bad adventure game, I don't have a problem with that, outside of extraordinary player hatred on the game's part. I just can't motivate myself to play a mediocre adventure game attached to a bad platformer. Mediocre platformers aren't my cup of tea, especially ones where the only challenge is around jumping. I like my platformers with big guns and big guns. Unfortunately I do not think that this will continue my trend of playing the rare adventure games involving machine guns and dumdum bullets.

I think that's the answer to any question regarding this game

To the game, I didn't figure out that riddle. If it's important, it's important, if it isn't, it isn't. Continuing right, I meet the Cheshire Cat again. Nothing new, but he does tell me I can use a whisker to save a baby. That's...informative and very subtle foreshadowing. The next room over has Alice's doppelganger, the secretary, say I need to enter a building to save a baby from jumping. The baby? The duchess that tries to find morals in every tale. Nothing seems to do anything with her. Maybe, I can't access a specific area since I have no way of reaching it. I do find an ancient muffin. This isn't as random as it sounds.

What's in the box? I think you know the answer to that question!

Outside I don't find much more, but I would like to point out that swimming is just so slow. Water causes basically a dead stop. The right eventually comes to a dead end by a town hall. I do get a memo by arguing with a card, a bureaucracy joke. Which raises questions if this actually is for children. It's possible, but boring adult topics just bore children. The answer to where to go next is in a fireplace. I missed it because I have to jump, walking goes below it. This is a one-way path, because a flying bug is blocking a vital path. I'm glad I'm not making a map anymore, because this is just a mess of bizarre one-way pathways. Writing down what time characters appear is only relevant if you tick a character off.


Well, it ain't over til its over

To the left, an empty tea party, with more cakes and elixirs. Between the mushrooms and these, I have more than enough for any purpose. I get where they were coming from, but this is REALLY generous. The furthest point has another doppelganger of Alice, a royal painter. She won't let me pass because I'm in her light and she wants 3 items beginning with M. At least someone remembered they were supposed to be making puzzles. I figure out that the muffin and the memo are things she wants, but mushrooms don't work and I haven't a clue on anything else.

Straight from the entrance though, is a house. From here there are a few differing paths, the first time I've been offered anything like that. Its the March Hare's house, and he's only concerned that he doesn't have a wife. Or he might not, I ticked him off. What is of deep concern, is a rat, though not in my path, he steals items. So far going by Plotkin's Cruelty Scale, we've been teetering on between Polite and Nasty, but I think this puts it firmly in Tough.

It's deja vu all over again

The path I take leads me to a pier, and it's here where the game really seems to open up. Plenty of paths opening up. There's the Cheshire Cat again, and another rabbit. I suspect these might be recurring events thanks to the game's limited amount of space for graphics. Oh, and another rat. The game has it set up so I can get past him, but not return without losing something. Not happening yet. There's nothing else here so its to the other door.

You can learn a lot by observing, for instance, the designer of this room is insane


I like the background is drawn, it implies there's a lot more there than there really is

The other door leads to a mirror with static on it. Aha! I think, this must be the looking glass. It's not, but I don't realize that until later. It leads to "Blenheim Palace", which is an actual place you could visit if you wanted to. I don't know if it's related to Alice, but I do know that if it resembles anything like its depiction in-game it's probably not a worthy vacation destination, because the area outside the doorway is long and windy garden maze. There is good news...sort of. Another rabbit tells me that the Queen is on the cricket ground and wants to see me. Try as I might to strike up a conversation with this hare, and that's all he says.

Can I axe you a question first?

Going further down, this time without a way back up, I meet another reused character, but the cards have an excuse. He's got nothing interesting to say. To the left is a jail. I think there might be the option later to get stuck in it, but escape via shrinking Alice. On the other end the Queen of Hearts, though that could just be an assumption. Ha, like this game is going to be subtle like that. She is eager to have people's head's cut off. What am I supposed to do? Well, the card mentioned she wants teapots, and I have teapots. With three of them she goes off to the Mad Hatter. I wonder if this banner is supposed to be the answer to the caterpillar's riddle? No matter, we'll find out.

Curiously, another card tells me that I should be looking for another looking glass, a true one, especially if it's near 12. Right, this game is timed. I keep forgetting.

I never said half the things I said

Oh, gees, there's the cat again. I really could just take screenshots of this cat and the rabbits and call it a day. The trick with the looking glass doesn't seem to be coming up yet, instead the door under the cat takes me back to the top of the garden. I guess I should go to the tea party then. Along the way, I talk to the March Hare again, angering him and getting a whisker. I wonder what that does? And...there's nothing at the tea party...so I'm stymied. Wait, the whisker is supposed to be used on the edge of a platform...and it extends the platform basically. This means I can go back some places now. Huzzah.

You can hear a lot by listening

That means returning to the duchess who likes morals where there are none, to save a baby who is definitely going to fall any second now. The game doesn't really show it, but it does mention that the baby is hideous, has the pallor of a slug's belly, and is trying to hit me with his rattle. I try to take the baby, as one is wont to do when there are no real consequences for one's actions, and it turns into a hog and leaves, but I get his rattle. All of this is communicated via text, by the way. Do I give this to the doppelganger? No, I haven't any idea. Since I've exhausted everything else, that means the place beyond the rat.

Alice is a bishop, which is very unusual for the age and her age

This leads me to a museum. Where there's a gryphon. He doesn't tell me anything, nor is there anything I can pick up here. There is this chessboard. At first I thought it was hiding something, like there's a secret passage here. No...no, just a board, one I can climb. The right is a wall, though you can't tell that. Which means I have to give the rattle to someone, if it were a puzzle item I could use it. After about half the cast, I figure I might as well just see if it's in a walkthrough. No, the rattle is for later. Which means...I have no idea what's going on. So...where now? It's clear nothing that I have or can use is usable right now. I guess the only option is to go back, and go through every old dialog hoping to find a clue that actually helps me.

Puns aside, I'd rather have a campaign hat

It's a bit before I reach a location where the White Rabbit was. He's not here. What if he had something important to say? So I reload an earlier save, and no, he has nothing to say, he's just got Alice confused with his secretary...I forgotten that plot's logic by now. But that does make me think I should read dialog straight from the start. And wouldn't you know it, the White Rabbit on the second screen says this. Remember that riddle the caterpillar said? That's the answer. I didn't write that down, because I assumed it was meaningless. I don't feel like I was bested here, I feel like I was cheated. There's not much point in whining about it though, there's still untold hours of...let's say fun, left.

Less a mad hatter, and more a dancing bear

The caterpillar tells me I need to be a giant to enter the chessboard, in the museum I found later, so I can meet the Hatter. What does the Hatter have to say? Nothing, really, but he gives me a top hat. Thanks game, I wanted to be reminded of that. A curious control issue, since I have to manually scroll through my list of items in order to give someone something, if I accidentally scroll past one, say if one has many items, I have to scroll all the way back around. Anyway, from here there's a surprisingly big area to explore, except that one path leads to my dear friend, the cat. Actually, two paths, going to the left leads outside, and going left or right leads to the cat and a wall. There's not much point to it though.

A nice attempt at scenery, but ultimately hollow

There is one path forward from there...to a courtroom. The rabbit, I think i'ts the rabbit and not hare, angry at me for missing my own trial. How thoughtful of him. Apparently I'm just in time to see the Red Queen sentence me.

Guy has reach, at least

And inside the courtroom is the executioner...who can send Alice to jail. No joke, I wanted into him expecting him to just knock me out, and I genuinely thought I had bit it. Think you can jump over him, since there are platforms there? Nope. He still sends me to jail. A different one than the previous one on the cricket grounds. A less effective one in fact. Alice can just straight out of that, into the Queen of Hearts. This is some interesting dialog, at first it seems like she says nothing, but it turns out her statement to kneel is something I have to do. Then the usual "off with her head". But I then she asks a riddle that a previous prisoner asked. This is one I can actually answer.

[You're born with it. It always goes away when you stand up but always comes back when you sit down.

It's a lap.

A bit too easy, but whatever. Now I can pass the executioner. There's a subtle joke about there being no judge or jury. I also get to see the Hatter again, who thinks he's Sherlock Holmes and I'm Moriarty, though he misspelled it. Something of interest though, I didn't actually get anything out of this whatsoever. I could have left without going through this section, hopefully there's some boon to this though. Anyway, the top hat causes Alice to fly a little to the left or right and up, mostly up. Alice falls when she reaches the top of the screen that she can't go through normally, but otherwise the sky is the limit. Though being me, and being a bit tired of this game by now, I tried to bypass the pigeon, and nope, got knocked out even if I was above him.

Still, this opens up some interesting options, and some cruel ones. What if I have to go back up to the first meeting with the Cheshire Cat or something? I definitely don't trust the game to not pull something like that at this point. I have to find that third M object, and I have to find a lullaby, but who knows where either of those things are at this point. I'm still 3 days in, but if the character sheet the game comes with is accurate, I still haven't met most of the cast. If nothing else its big.

This Session: 3 hours 50 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 50 minutes

Inventory: Parasol, cake, elixir, yellow mushroom, purple mushroom, seashell, fan, ancient muffin, memo, whisker, top hat

Song: Crinkle, Crinkle

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!

8 comments:

  1. Don't feel too bad for the long hiatus! We've been waiting for the next post on "Wonderland" (1990) for the last five years. ;)

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    1. Yes, but the issue with Wonderland is that the Mad Welshman is now the Missing Welshman, whereas I'm here, I'd just prefer not to be playing the game I chose. :C

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  2. It seems the worst part is you don't know if you can trust the game or not. You could be stuck, you couldn't be stuck, but with the more brutal games you would at least have known that by now.

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    1. Someone wise once said "If you're going to hurt me, hurt me, don't threaten me and then be my friend." As I write this I've finished the game, and the riddles in this game are cruel in their implementation. I think I'd prefer playing something like Armed and Delirious over this, precisely because of this.

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  3. In one of the books (either “Wonderland” or “Looking Glass”) Carroll mentions that Alice often pretends to be two people. That is where the doppelg√§nger comes from. Also in the book, I believe that the White Rabbit thinks Alice is Mary Ann.

    You won the game!

    See, it wasn’t so bad. We got this and “Below the Root” from some sort of subscription service called “Mighty Micro” or some such. We got “Oregon Trail” and “The Seven Cities of Gold” from the same service, before my parents cancelled the subscription.

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    1. We had an Apple IIc though, with a joystick, so it may have been easier to play.

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    2. That could be it, just the doppelganger reoccurring like the Cat or others do.

      Also, I have no idea if the Apple II version was better on period hardware, but briefly checking it out, and it seems like that would have been a much better choice for playing through, since it doesn't have the horrendous load times this version had. Parts of my complaints definitely fall victim to the C64 version's unique issues.

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  4. This was one of the first games I bought as a kid when we got the 1541 drive for my C64. I spent long afternoons fussing around in it. To a 10 year old in 1987 this was heaven though.

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