I'm That Guy!

I am replaying Suikoden 2 at the moment, a game I last played back in something like 2001. I'm now playing it on PSN, purchasing it for something like $5.

 Funnily enough though, I actually owned the game back in 2001! The actual CD! FFVII basically took over my life when I was 11 years old and after completing it, and becoming obsessed with it, I started looking through my back copies of the Official Playstation Magazine to try and find some games that were like it in some way, part of this genre called "RPG" which I had never even known to have existed previously (I'm not sure I can be blamed for this either, because in the UK we hardly received any RPGs for consoles).

I made it my mission to check out the used sections of Electronic Boutique and the other second hand games shops near me (which included a shop called a record shop called Bebop and another which I think was called Games Express in Sutton, surrey).

 On one fateful day, I found it, Suikoden II, as I flicked through the boxes in Games Express. From what I remember, I think I payed an insignificant amount for the game, I certain don't remember having the save and go back, I'm guessing it must have been about £10. I took it home, I played the game through and I had a great time with it, it isn't too tricky and I completed it, getting the 'bad ending' the only ending I knew of at the time. And then I took it in a second hand game shop and sold it.

 I'm that guy! I had Suikoden II, now worth £150 on EBAY, and at points in the past worth even more. I have almost no recollection of exactly what I traded it in for. Sometimes I like to tell people I traded it in part exchange for Chrono Cross.... but I don't know for certain if that is true. I know I definitely got CC pretty soon after Suikoden II, but I don't know... another memory says I traded it in for Ergheiz (now worth as much as Suikoden II on EBAY! A game which I also traded in!), or possibly it was Destrega or Street Fighter Alpha 3. The thing I do remember though is that I was surprised at how much the store gave me for Suikoden II, I think it was £15 or something, more than I paid for it to begin with.... I think they got the recommended price out of a book.

 Anyway, I'm that guy, the guy that traded a super rare and expensive game in for almost nothing. But in all things Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever. Games are there for fun and recreation, and if we are really lucky, we can find something good and true and beautiful in them which can lead us to praise Him and bless Him and love Him more. Games aren't my life, my life is hid with Christ in God.

 I played a lot of great games back in the day, I owned and played almost every PS1 RPG released in the UK, and now I own Suikoden II once again on PSN, in all honesty I have no regrets that I sold it, but it makes a fun story. I am going to write a review on Suikoden II soon. There is a lot in this beautiful game which is genuinely inspirational and supportive of the truths of our holy faith.


The Dread Rocket Raticate

Mount Moon is an interesting place. Located in northern Kanto, it's notable not only for its wealth of Pokémon Fossils, but also its extraordinary rate of meteorites per year. I spoke with Gym Leader Brock about it before leaving Pewter City and learned that it was somewhat a rite of passage for Pokémon trainers heading out from western Kanto to the eastern plains. There were certainly easier ways to get to Cerulean City and Saffron City, but Brock assured me that if I was serious about Pokémon training, Mount Moon was the best way to go.
Mount Moon is an arduous climb and littered with numerous interlocking caves that weave beneath the peak. It was not for the faint of heart, but it would be a chance to bond with my Pokémon in the wilderness. I used some of the winnings I earned at Brock's gym to stock up on food, potions, and a handful of Pokéballs before setting out down Route 3 toward the famous landmark mountain.
Along Route 3, I battled a very enthusiastic Shorts Appreciation Fan Club. Delightful young trainers eager to challenge Brock and head off on their own through Mount Moon, but mainly obsessed with shorts. It was along this route and among these youngsters that I first heard the name Team Rocket whispered. According to these young campers and hikers, Team Rocket had set up an operation of sorts at Mount Moon and their presence there was deterring a lot of trainers from passing through.
Back then, Team Rocket was an organization to be feared. They had a lot of influence over everyday life in Kanto, and very few people had the courage to stand up to them. However, as a newcomer to the Kanto region, I was truly clueless at the time. I could see that the kids were unsettled by the thought of Rocket grunts lurking in the caves of Mount Moon, but I was incapable of understanding what this threat meant to them, or what it would come to mean to me. I pressed onward down Route 3 hoping to reach the base camp and Pokémon Center at the foot of Mount Moon before nightfall.
Along the way, I managed to catch a Spearow who I gladly added to the team. I named him Shakespear. Shakespear would come to serve me well inside the dark tunnels of Mount Moon. He needed some training before we entered, so I set to work using the base camp as our new base of operations. Shakespear proved to be a formidable bird and was not unlike Kiwi in his ability to grow quickly adept at fighting and training.
While we were training in the shadow of Mount Moon, Lucky developed a powerful psychic attack that had the potential to inflict confusion upon his opponents, and I noticed Nibbles able to inject a bit of poison from the tip of his horn with some regularity. I was certainly impressed in the team's progress. It was time to start our trek through the underbelly of Mount Moon.

The Zubat was one of the easier Pokémon to sketch,
due largely in part to their huge colony within Mt. Moon.
They don't write this on any of the brochures that I saw, but Mount Moon is absolutely infested with Zubat. You can't go three feet without being assailed by another Zubat, and so naturally the next great addition to Team Fox was a Zubat named Vesper. As I'm sure you can imagine, if you are at all familiar with Zubat, Vesper was a bit of a nightmare to train. That might actually be an understatement.
As we methodically made our way through Mount Moon, I was determined to get Vesper up to par with my other traveling companions. He would often open up a battle with other Zubat, or with the occasional trainer we found along those winding paths, only to be replaced with Shakespear who was an absolute terror in those tunnels.
Shakespear earned his place on my team as the number one Zubat deterrent on Mount Moon. He could out-perform them at every turn, pecking them out of the sky and sending a message that we were not to be trifled with by other Zubat. Those other Zubat did not get that message, however, and continued to plague us the entire time.
Among the outer caves of Mount Moon, I ran into a wide variety of trainers. As Brock had mentioned, it truly did seem as a thoroughfare for aspiring trainers to test their resolve against both the forces of nature and each other. In this particular case, Mount Moon served to test young trainers against a never ending onslaught of territorial Zubat. There were young boys and girls, among them a bug catching kid who wandered too far from Viridian Forest, I presume. I passed and challenged the occasional hiker and a science enthusiast. None posed much of a problem for my team and the pain of losing Rascal felt like it was passing somewhat.

In the heart of Mount Moon, I finally encountered members of Team Rocket. As I approached in the darkness, I heard them talking. Another young trainer had passed through quite recently and dealt them a severe Pokémon beating that still had them upset. Instead of keeping him out of their operation, he had apparently just blown straight through them and their Pokémon without hesitation. When they saw me lurking in the darkness, eavesdropping on their conversation, well they decided to take out their frustrations on me.
Although most of them were weakened by this previous trainer to a point where they couldn't even muster a Pokémon to participate, there was one trainer in that dark tunnel I will never forget. He was the champion of their little operation under Mount Moon, and he would make me pay for wandering where I wasn't wanted. He only had one Pokémon to face my five, but it was enough. I was lucky he didn't have any more.

This Rocket Grunt had an absurdly powerful Raticate, an evolution of my previous Pokémon, Rascal. I knew I had to be careful and so I threw out Lucky to face him. Lucky had recently learned to harness particles on its wings into powerful toxins, and so I had Lucky blow a debilitating sleep powder onto the Dread Rocket Raticate as I would come to call it. As expected, the Raticate dozed off gently and opened itself up to tormenting psychic attacks from Lucky.
What I did not expect was its incredible resilience to Lucky's powerful psychic ability. This ability had taken down numerous thick skinned Geodude along the tunnels of Mount Moon, but the Raticate was formidable. I could tell it was almost defeated, but just as Lucky was going to incapacitate it, Dread Rocket Raticate woke up. It quickly evaded the next attempt to spread a sleep powder. Then it bit down and it bit down hard on Lucky. It was a blow so devastating that Lucky was indeed lucky to not pass out from the strain. I had to switch.
I took a moment to collect myself with all the other Rocket grunts gathered around to cheer on their formidable leader and his terrible Raticate. I knew his Raticate was on the verge of defeat. It would only take one more solid hit to knock it out of the fight and claim a victory. Vesper was still useless. Kiwi and Shakespear were valid candidates, because of their speed and agility. But of all my Pokémon, Nibbles had the most solid defense with his very thick hide, so I felt if any of them were going to survive that devastating hyper fang it would be Nibbles.
Sadly, I was wrong. Nibbles came out of his Pokéball twitching his long ears and ready to face any challenge. Nibbles didn't even have the chance to see what hit him. That damned Raticate bit down on Nibbles head so hard that he was done in seconds. There was no time for Nibbles to react. His fight was over before it had even begun. I let out a loud wail that echoed through the caverns beneath Mount Moon, but that exclamation of shock and disbelief was drowned out by the numerous members of Team Rocket whooping and hollering at their leader's small victory.
It would be short lived. Kiwi came out and could sense my distress. He launched a brutal quick attack on the Dread Rocket Raticate and ended the fight in a single decisive blow. Team Rocket was not amused, but they were out of Pokémon and wouldn't dare lay a hand on me with my trained Pokémon at my side ready to defend me.
I carefully excused myself from whatever nefarious plot they were hatching in that large cavern. They allowed me to pass on my way without any more provocation. They probably said a bunch of intimidating junk that those gangster types like to say, but honestly my heart was sunken deep into the ground. I wouldn't have heard anything they said. Although probably meaningless to them, I had failed Nibbles and now we would part ways forever.
Speaking honestly, I had high hopes for Nibbles. He was so small and weak when we met, but he had the heart of a champion. I thought Nibbles would be with me on Victory Road, facing down the Elite Four and the Indigo Champion. I thought we would take on the world together, but these foul Team Rocket hooligans put an abrupt end to that fantasy.
I nursed Nibbles back to good health in some quiet corner of Mount Moon and spent our last remaining moments together just appreciating the company. Much like with Rascal, I tried to explain to Nibbles why it was important to me that he lived out the rest of his life here on Mount Moon (and I could truly think of no better place for him) and why I would have to press on without him. I shed a few tears and gave Nibbles a careful hug, avoiding his poisonous horn. He seemed to understand and with a final look at me, he scampered off into the darkness.
I soldiered on for Rascal and Nibbles. I pressed on to Cerulean.

Current Team:
Attacks in Blue are recently learned.

Getting A Bit Of Everything In Guild Ball: The Union

Tuesday night is our game night out at Top Deck Games (aka Card Titan online if you're into Magic the Gathering) and last night was the first time I've been able to make one in a while. 

It was also the first night in a long time where I was able to get two whole games in, and it ended up being two Guild Ball games for me as the other Warmachine players had already paired off when I was done my first match. 

I decided I wanted to play more of my newly fleshed out Union as I'm probably most excited about playing them.  I figured I'd post about why I'm personally excited about them given my history and what I feel makes them strong. Please keep in mind, I'm no expert at the game so this is more of a layman's perspective. 

Why I'm Excited About Union

I can't talk about what makes me excited to play Union without talking about my previous teams in Guild Ball.  I started the game playing Brewers, and then picked up Engineers because well, I like beer, and I'm an Engineer.  

Brewers, especially when I picked them up, were more of a fighting team, and Engineers once they got reworked were more of a goal scoring team, so they'd make excellent compliments to each other, or so I thought.  Both teams also generally rely on a single captain more than the other. Brewers generally want to be playing Tapper and Engineers generally want to play Ballista. 

What I've found from playing both teams is that it's like playing the two extremes of the game. It's not quite as opposite as playing Butchers and Fishermen, but it's close enough to feel limiting.

Union by contrast can more easily play what the developers call a balanced game, looking to get 2 goals and 2 take-outs to get the 12 points to win the game.   This is probably why I'm more excited to play Blackheart as my Union captain compared to playing what most people consider to be the stronger Veteran Rage as my captain, though I do enjoy playing both. 

My First Dream Team

I wanted to make a team that had as much 2" Melee as possible while also being balanced.  Back in June of last year, it appeared that Union had a good 6 player lineup for this:

Blackheart, Strongbox, Harry, Mist, Benediction, Gutter

Then in July the nerfs came for Harry which toned the team's damage output way down, but I still feel as though these 6 players can make for a hell of a team. 

Blackheart can still score from very far away, using all kinds of dodge shenanigans to get in range for his 6" kick to nail a goal, quite likely at Tap-In range.  He also has Butchery which can give you +1 to damage results against the model hit, and with all non-mascots having 2" melee, it's not hard to stack crowd out's on the player you've hit with Butchery.  Strongbox add's +1 TAC in a 4" aura, which again can allow someone like Gutter to get in and do a massive amount of damage, but nearly anyone on the team can be made to hit hard enough to be a problem with that kind of setup. 

And then there's Mist. He's got to be one of my favorite models coming from playing Brewers and Engineers. Now that Slothecian models have been released, he gets a free 2" dodge if he's within 6" of Grace or Benediction. He has Acrobatics, so he's got a guaranteed 2" dodge.  He has 2" Melee which is fantastic on a striker, and he's got dodges for days.  A turn 1 goal with him when you're receiving is extremely easy to bang in, and with him kicking off it's not impossible to get in that scenario either if your opponent isn't very careful about it. 

The Extended Roster

Blackheart wasn't my first Union captain, that went to Veteran Rage, since I could buy him and Strongbox cheaply in a blister and I already had all the other models necessary to make a team with him at the time (a friend had given me an extra Mist model he had as payment for splitting a pizza on game night – damn Guild Ball is a cheap game to get into).  This gave me a 6 man of:

V. Rage, Strongbox, Avarice & Greed, Gutter, Mist, Harry

This team was far better before Harry and Avarice & Greed were nerfed, but now that I've fleshed out the guild there's a lot of flexibility on how you can build a solid Vet Rage team.

My 10 player lineup is now:

Blackheart, Vet Rage, Strongbox, Avarice & Greed, Gutter, Mist, Harry, Grace, Benediction, Decimate

As of last night, I tried out the following team for Rage and it worked well into Engineers:

Vet Rage, Strongbox, Mist, Gutter, Decimate, Grace

With this, I have three models with 3 dice kicks, and two models with an 8" kick.  While it seems like a lower Influence team at only generating 11 influence, it gets 2 influence for free to fuel Grace every turn.  This allows her to give a "free" Quick Foot to extend Rage's personal threat or to make Mist go even further to score a goal. 

Since it's a Vet Rage team, few people want to fight into it and so go for goals, allowing me to easily get snap back goals with Mist or if I'm receiving, get a very easy turn 1 goal with Mist.  Getting an early goal is a big deal for the team since the extra goal Influence goes a long way to helping Rage do what he wants to do.

It's hard to understate how deadly the team can be with Rage's Heroic or Legendary play and Strongbox's 4" Aura.  Last night I had a setup where Colossus (DEF 2, ARM 2, Tough Hide) was crowded out by Mist, Grace, and Strongbox. Rage popped his Legendary play and then charged in for free with Furious. On the wrap I got a Knockdown and did 4 damage.  I then spent 4 Influence on Red Fury, not making Rage attack, but making Strongbox, the friggin Turtle attack.  

The amount of damage it does in this situation is outrageous: 2 Base Attack, +1 from Shelling Out Aura, 3 Crowd Outs, +1 from Legendary Play, +1 dice from a DEF 2 model being knocked down is 8 total Dice for TAC and +1 to all damage results.  Since Strongbox only has a 2 deep playbook, he is able to wrap many times. Even with Tough Hide taking damage off of each result, I was still regularly pulling 5-6 damage per attack after Tough Hide. With 4 Red Fury attacks I easily took down one of the biggest models in the game with a little turtle.  He's like an honorary Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, I should try and paint a mask around his face.

Strengths and Weaknesses

One final thing that Union has over my other teams is that with my lineup I really can pick either Blackheart or Vet Rage and play two very different games, which is something relatively rare in Guild Ball. 

This isn't to say that the team is nothing but a power house, I actually lack a significant amount of resiliency that I normally have with a lot of Tough Hide models.  As it is a lot of my models are either 4/1 or 3/2, which is possibly better than average, but once they get knocked down or debuffed they will take a lot of damage very quickly.  So far my games with them have been good, but I intend to play a lot more with the team.

The only thing is…I really want to play more with my Engineers and even my Brewers since it feels like so much has changed in the game since I last played.  I'm definitely riding high on Guild Ball in general right now and it feels pretty good.


Shadow Of The Comet – A Friendly Little Town

Written by limbeck

So, here I am, in my not so austere room, getting to grips with the controls of the game. I can move with the arrow buttons, but only on four directions, which seems fair. Sometimes, though, you jump to the next screen by stepping at the wrong point.

Walking around the room, I notice that, as I pass close to an item, a line from my face to that object appears. Handy. I welcomed it with satisfaction at first, but I may reconsider, as it misled me into thinking that it works with all items. More on that later.

Look at my lasersight!

Fortunately, the all-keyboard interface is intuitive and not hard to grasp. You press O for objects in your inventory, U for using an item, G for getting. Even if you haven't read the manual, you get the hang of it quickly. And that's really it.

So, once I have perfected my baby steps, I explore the room and pick up whatever I can, which is BOLESKINE's diary and a telegram from my provisioners. Reading the diary gives me my first clue: a 12-year-old boy had served BOLESKINE as a guide, so there is a chance he is still alive and can point me to the precise spot in the forest. Other than that, BOLESKINE clearly had a poor grasp of astronomy, not recognising the familiar constellations and just randomly inventing new ones.

The telegram was more annoying, because it said that I have to find my own photographic plates. This is critical to my mission, as Mr GRIFFITH really expects "spectacular photographs". I hope this backwater town has a hardware store or something.

Request refund / STOP / Want speak to manager / STOP

Now that I have my first tasks, I am ready to head out to the outside world. First step is to head out of my room. I then explore the areas of the Doctor's house that are available to me and notice some really impressive paintings around. The Doctor is not at home, so it is time to explore the town proper.

The immediate neighbours are an old barn-looking house with a bench and a locked door to the east, a forest without a guide to the west and a fancy house, also locked, to the south. The house to the south turns out to be the Mayor's.

It's good to be the Kin.. erm, Mayor

To the south and west of the Doctor's house is the Pharmacy / GP's office / hospital of the town. I see a guy with a white robe going in, so I decide to follow. Inside, I just catch a glimpse of him getting into his office, so I try to go in myself only to be stopped by a very unhelpful nurse, who is also the daughter of the busy doctor.

South of the pharmacy is the main square, which we briefly saw in our carriage trip. When I first visit, an old lady, Ms PICOTT is sitting alone, but says nothing of importance, so I leave.

One should never presume

Heading west, I arrive at the impressive (according to the description) Town Hall. The clerk in it is, as expected, unhelpful and does not let me see the Mayor, who is only accepting visitors for a few hours each week and only by appointment. I am starting to get really annoyed now. Why does nobody want to get out of their way just to indulge me? I am a visitor in their town after all. They should show some hospitality!

But I brought the forms for the animal census, and these fine leather jackets.

I decide to continue being nosy and I try the other door on the Town Hall building. Inside, it looks like a museum, with several exhibits from exotic lands. This is where I realised that my lasersight does not identify all the items that I can examine or interact with in a location. Instead, when I am close to something that looks interesting, I need to press L to examine it. So, before I continued, I went to all the other locations I had visited and furiously examined everything, but I mainly got background information.

A few minutes later, I am back at the museum, where I discover a lost page from BOLESKINE's diary. It describes how the stars are really a pistol rifle shot away and closes with a quote from J.Keats: "Truth sleeps beneath appearance". The remaining art is just flavour text, or so it seems for the moment.

Some of Parker's lines have these "good lord" and "Oh my", I suspect for added Englishness.

So, I continue into the door I can see to the north and into the Archives, where I meet the Master of Archives himself. He introduces himself as Tobias JUGG and he is the first person that seems genuinely excited to talk to me. Of course, true to the character of this little town, he already knows who I am. I ignore that and try to get in his good books, which I succeed by striking a conversation and proving my own love for books, by correctly recognising Shakespeare's quote. I leave him for now and head to a nearby table, where a I search through a ledger and note down three names of men who were 12 years old when Boleskine visited. The names are Curtis HAMBLETON, William COLDSTONE and Thomas GREENWOOD.

Looking over my shoulder, JUGG confirms that all three of them are alive and gives me directions to their houses. I speak to him a bit more, engineering my responses so that they appeal to his love of literature and history. He appreciates that and invites me to his house for a chat later. He also says that he has a large library on local legends, which the locals believed in until recently. After that, he heads out and I leave the Archives.

I continue wandering the town and revisit some of the areas I was before. I notice that there is a couple sitting outside of the house to the east of Dr COBBLES house, which I now know belongs to one of the three people I am looking for. However, Mr GREENWOOD is deaf, mute and blind from an accident during his birth. This makes it very hard for him to be the one I am looking for. The other half of the couple is Miss PICOTT, whom we met earlier. She maintains her unhelpfulness and we move on.

Fortunately for you, he cannot see that smirk when you say that.

Some more wandering later, I arrive outside of the Dead Horse Inn, a name that seems oddly suitable to this town. Outside is Jed DONAHUE, who also knows who I am. News travel quickly in this part of the world. Not that they have to travel too far. Jed was complaining about..., but he didn't offer anything else other than some more background. Inside the tavern, there is even more unhelpfulness. A group of card players in one table does not want to be disturbed, but is gossiping about RENATO, apparently a misled youth who doesn't know better. The bartender is ruder than average and does not open up even after I pay an extortionist's fee of $1 for his watered-down beer.

Dealing with customers: How not to

My little trek around the village then brings me to the post office. As I walk in, I see a map of the area and I hear some heavy object being rolled above. The lady behind the counter mentions that the DONAHUE boy (I presume Jed's son) is sick and that she really has a lot of work to do. Clearly, she is only bothered by me and not by all the clatter right above her head. I leave.

Yes, like rearrange those mail sacks by the wall

Eager for some intelligent conversation, I head to JUGG's house. At the entrance hall wall hangs a rifle, which, upon closer examination, turns out to be Lord BOLESKINE's own rifle. I wonder how it ended up at the doctor's house. However, despite his invitation earlier, Mr JUGG does not have any more insights to offer so I leave him alone.

Anyway, I keep exploring dutifully and I finally find the town's general store. I enter from the south and I see the proprietor, Mr MYERS, dealing with a client. A hooded figure who apparently is in the business of direct parcels. He has left one with Mr MYERS, who informs him that another one he sent to some Mrs GUILDCHRIST was delivered successfully. I don't know who that lady is, but I know the name the wooded figure goes by. HAMBLETON. To be fair, I was a bit careless at the time and I did not remember that HAMBLETON was one of the three people I was looking for. Anyway, the figure walks out, either on a limp or quirky animation, and I can speak to the shop owner.

Maybe townsfolk go to the general store for their mail because the post office is always "too busy"

I go directly to the point and ask for photosensitive plates, which he delivers with delight. Not only that, but he suggests trying them out first and, if they are not good any more, he will reimburse me. Now, that's what I call good customer service.

Dealing with customers: How to

Loaded with my new plates, I head out from the north door and arrive at the square again. Heading west a few screens, I end up at the abandoned fishery that HAMBLETON lives in. Before getting in, I pick up a rope ladder, because who knows when I will need to go down a cave or something.

Inside, the place is a proper mess. My delicate British nostrils cannot stand the stench, but I persist nonetheless. The fishery has absolutely nothing of value, but I discover a loose floorboard used to hide moonshine and an old man sleeping on a pallet in a corner. As I creepily watch him sleep, I notice that his fingers are webbed, like a frog's. I feel fascinated, and a bit lightheaded, but I compose myself and decide to speak to the old man.


Curtis HAMBLETON tells me that he indeed took Lord BOLESKINE in the forest, at a place with a cross. On the third day, BOLESKINE was painting / sketching when he saw a "thing". I also learn of another name: WILBUR. He is HAMBLETON's brother and probably very important. He apparently cursed CURTIS who ended up living in these squalid conditions. WILBUR is still alive as well and he says that in 3 days the comet will come back, and the THING as well. That's just superstition, right?

After this conversation, poor Curtis goes back to sleep and I am left to think of my next steps, now that I have my plates and a potential guide that does not want to be a guide. I must also note that the Mr HAMBLETON I saw at the general store is most likely Wilbur, Curtis' brother and he seems to hold some position of power in Illsmouth. I smell a cult, built on superstition and the old legends.

But we'll have to find these out next time. I did not make much progress in the game, but I enjoyed walking around the town and familiarising myself with the locations. The outline of the city is logical and I never really felt lost, except for the time in the forest, which I assume was intentional. So far, the game does well in letting me play the stranger moving into a small, closed society, which doesn't really like having anybody poking into its secrets. It may seem stereotypical, but it works. In the next post, I will try to get into that spot in the forest and get some photos taken.

Some other interesting locations that will probably become important later:
  • N. TYLER's house is to the north of the pharmacy. It smells nicely of hot soup, but of course it is locked. Suspicious little town.
  • There is a well that is standing on its own, but I cannot interact with it at the moment.
  • The way to the port in which I arrived, is blocked by two burly guys.
  • The cemetary is a blast of fun, according to JUGG.
  • In the house south of Mr JUGG's, I see somebody going in and moving on the top floor, snooping at me from the window. Yet, when I knocked, nobody replied.
  • There is also an abandoned mansion, with nothing to do.

END notes – CD ROM version

Somehow, addition of mouse control makes the game more frustrating. You do not click where you want to go and let the character find his way there. Instead, you hold down the left button and the character moves in the direction the mouse is with respect to him, but again only in the four main directions. You cannot mouse over items either, which makes me wonder why they bothered at all with adding mouse, other than to not seem backward. Outdoors, there is an option to go to a location using the map.

Time played: 1:30
Sanity lost: 1 (from seeing HAMBLETON's webbed fingers)


Missed Classic: Trinity - Won! (And Final Rating)

Written by Joe Pranevich

We finally made it to the end of Trinity, but the ending was a lot longer than I expected. The trip through New Mexico is the longest sequence in the game and it's a lot of fun, even if I bit off more than I could chew for one week. As such, this post is more-than-double-length but even that seems insufficient: this game rewards exploration and introspection in a way that few games have. A few years ago, I stumbled on the term "first-person thinker (in contrast with "third-person shooter") to describe adventure games. That label doesn't fit many games as well as it fits Trinity; I have spent many sleepless nights recently thinking about this game and what it means. That is high praise!

I am getting ahead of myself. Where we left off last time, I explored six of the seven mushroom realms spread across our sundial "wabe". This included an amazing magnet-assisted trip through space in a soap bubble, as well as a less-than-spectacular bout of trial and error where I killed a lizard in a number of incorrect ways. Last week ended with my discovery that the two gems (the ruby from the beginning of the game and an emerald from the end) could be used to create a pair of magical speed boots. With those, I am finally able to explore the Trinity site in the desert, the last of the seven realms at the dawn of the nuclear age. Something has caused the "primitive" first atom bomb to vaporize New Mexico. I need to find out what it is.

The base of the tower at Trinity, with the "gadget" (bomb) being loaded into place. 

Woosh! It's just text, but there is something visceral about careening around the desert at superhuman speed. Previous times that I had come here, the game would end in just a few turns as simply walking from place to place took more time than we had left. I did not write much about my failed attempts to explore, but it feels good that we're able to do it for real now. Super boots make all the difference!

Traveling with the boots is fun, but there are some drawbacks that I discover quickly. The desert acts a bit like a maze. As long as you follow the roads, you can explore pretty well. Once we step off the roads however, the monotony of the desert means that we can speed right past a road that we were looking for without seeing it. This means that going northeast into the desert and then west doesn't actually have you always notice a north road in the middle. Mapping becomes a pain, but fortunately it's not that hard to work out a path and keep to it. The other thing to bring up immediately is that this exploration involved a lot of reloading. Even with speed boots, there isn't enough time to explore well and I had to reload frequently just to take stock of the place. Everything is more difficult than my narration will suggest, but in the interests of brevity we'll just take that as a given and move on.

The included map is helpful, but not so helpful that I didn't have to draw my own. 

The Lay of the Land

Looking at the map of the Trinity site, we immediately identify a few areas to explore. Obviously, the McDonald Ranch will be key given that we even have a breakout map, but there are many other potentially important areas in the vicinity. Near the tower is a spot just to the west labeled "Jumbo" and an impact crater to the southeast. Going further afield, we have a northwest road leading to "Able", a southwest road leading to "Pittsburgh", and a south road leading to "Baker". I'm curious as to why we have "Pittsburgh" instead of "Charlie", but as a native son of the Steel City, I will not complain much! To the southeast, not on a road, is the ranch. A final arrow to "Socorro" is off from a secondary road to the west, running parallel to the one leading to Able. I plan to explore the labeled locations first, before scouring the desert for more hidden gems.

Since it is nearby, I head to "Jumbo" first. That contains a suspended barrel that looks like a cold capsule:

Why would anyone hang a giant barrel in the middle of nowhere like this? There doesn't seem to be any openings, windows, or markings of any kind; as far as you can tell, the thing is utterly useless.

This is obviously our character's voice; Moriarty would have known that this useless thing was an abandoned plutonium reclamation system that would allow the fuel to be recovered in the event that the bomb was a dud. I have no idea how it would have worked and I cannot see anything that I can do with it.

The bomb crater to the southeast is similarly boring, at least for now. That was created when with traditional explosives during a "rehearsal" of the nuclear blast. There's nothing in the crater, but perhaps I can hide in it or something down the road.

A real map of the Trinity site. Moriarty may have based his map on one like this.

Able and Baker

I explore south first to discover "Baker", an open shelter with a number of guards. When I arrive, I immediately (and automatically) hide behind a shed so that the guards do not see me. A general steps out of the shelter and asks one of the jeep drivers to take him back to Base Camp, far to the south. The guard/driver is relieved to not be anywhere near the coming fireball and takes him immediately. Another guard, half asleep on his feet, arrives to take his place. Can I sneak past the guard by helping him sleep? Even with my super speed, I cannot get into the shelter or do much of anything here. Any attempt to leave my hiding place gets me captured and killed. Is this area included because it was there in real life or because there's a puzzle to solve. I do not see any way to get to Base Camp, so I restore back to the tower.

I discover an abandoned jeep on the northern road to "Able" . Someone left in such a hurry that they dropped their wallet on the floor. I peek in to find a black-and-white snapshot of a smiling kid. I would have expected an ID card or something that I could use, but the wallet is otherwise empty. I check out the jeep's radio, but it is bolted to the floor. I must be on the right track because I gain three points just for noticing that it was set to channel 39. Do walkie-talkies from the 1950s work on the same wavelengths as jeep radios from the 1940s? Apparently, yes! When I tune my walkie-talkie to that channel and extend the antenna, I get even more points and can hear the chatter of the various bases talking to each other as they get ready for the countdown. Most of it is Greek to me, but maybe something there is useful.

Even in the 1940s, Pittsburgh wasn't all steel mills and pollution. The Cathedral of Learning towered over the University of Pittsburgh, although it was used as a military barracks during the war.


Southwest of the tower is "Pittsburgh", a military blockhouse and the source of the searchlights that scour the landscape looking for spies and saboteurs. I might be a bit of both. I have been killed more than once by trying to climb back up the tower while the searchlights were on; this may be where I deal with that problem. Although I am told that there are no doors or windows on "this side", there does not seem to be any way to circle around the building to get in. Instead, the only thing that we can interact with here is a giant sleeping German Shepherd. If he's supposed to be a guard dog, he's not doing a tremendously good job.

As I explore, the road runner arrives. Up to this point, he has been following me around the desert at high speed, but every now and then he disappears for a bit and then catches up later. As soon as the bird arrives, it gives me a mischievous look and then jumps on the dog's head! It feels very "cartoonish". The roadrunner nibbles on the fleas behind his ears until he wakes up and flips out. The dog then sees me and tries to attack, but its chain prevents him from ripping me limb from limb. The sound alerts the guards who capture me and I die in the usual way. I feel like this might be a reference to a Looney Tunes cartoon, but if it is I do not get it.

The final place on the map is Socorro, but it too is too far for me to get to. The map not only fails to mention that it is 30 miles away, it also has San Antonio in front of it. Up to this point, the maximum distance that I have been running is around 6 miles, the distance from the tower to each of the sites according to the "real" map that I found. Just for giggles, I calculate that I cover that distance in 2 minutes and 15 seconds of game time for an approximate speed of 150 miles per hour! Math is fun!

That fence is surprisingly unpassable in the game.

A Swim in the Reservoir

Finding the ranch house is easy: although there is no road to it on the Trinity site map, there is a southeast road at the impact crater. I'm not sure if the house is occupied so I explore the outside first. A reservoir and an old windmill are to the east. I climb up the windmill to discover that someone left a pair of binoculars at the top. I do not get a lot of time to think about who might have left them there, because the tower collapses when I attempt to pick them up. Instead of dying, we are plunged into the cold water of the reservoir. All of my stuff sinks to the bottom and that's that. I restore.

Next time around, I drop all of my stuff first. Even though I am lighter, the tower still collapses but at least I didn't lose anything. I swim down to find the lost binoculars, but it is too dark to see. Oh, damn. I left the lantern back in the "wabe" before I started New Mexico so I have to restore all the way back and play this all again. (I have to leave my axe behind this time.) I repeat the process and retrieve the binoculars from the reservoir bottom. Hooray!

I feel good about this for about five seconds because when I get back to my stuff, I discover that the roadrunner ate my bag of crumbs. I've played enough adventure games at this point to suspect that I will need them, but it turns out to be impossible to get the binoculars without losing something. If the bag is left on the ground, the roadrunner eats them. If I take the bag with me, the crumbs dissolve in the water. If I lock the roadrunner up in the birdcage, the lemming runs away. As nice as getting the binoculars is, I restore. I'llI return later.

Someone once loved this house.

Hall of the Mountain King

I explore the house, starting from the screen door at the northwest corner. Inside the spare room is the "map that is included in your Trinity package", which is great but I had not realized that I was not supposed to look at it until now. Oops?

Exploring the house feels like a horror film. The place is abandoned and empty, but signs of a former human life remain. As we walk from room to ruined room, we expect a jump scare at any moment. The bathroom contains only a filthy sink with no tap, let alone running water. The attached bedroom is empty except for a less dirty rectangle on the floor where the mattress had once been. There's a dining room and a kitchen with a discarded knife in a cabinet. Just outside is an "ice house" which I suppose is what passed for a refrigerator in the rural 1900s. Unless I have to keep an ice cream from melting, I don't immediately see anything I can do there.

The final room in the house is the "Assembly Room" with that long awaited jump scare. I'll let Moriarty set the scene for you:

Assembly Room

Whomever used this room was paranoid about dirt. The floor is swept spotless, and the edges of both windows are carefully sealed with tape. A closed front door leads east, and there's an open closet door in the north wall. Other exits lead south and west.

A workbench covered with loose sheets of brown paper runs along the north wall. You see bits of wire and other debris scattered across the paper.

You turn to face an urgent noise behind you. Your heart skips a beat. Two tiny eyes, bright with hunger, black with menace, are glaring at you from only a few feet away.

You hear the noise again. It's like a pebble in an empty can.

The rattlesnake rears its wedge-shaped head. It looks as if it's about to strike!

The roadrunner trots into the room and freezes. Tension mounts as snake and bird study one another, their eyes bright with familiar hatred.

Suddenly, the roadrunner explodes into action! It dances around the snake, fluttering off the walls as it tries to grab the hissing reptile in its beak. But the room isn't big enough to support this style of attack; and after a few very close calls, the roadrunner abandons the fray and retreats with a squall of frustration.

The lemming sees the rattlesnake and begins to tremble.  

Yeah, Mr. Lemming. I don't like snakes either.

Maybe I am thinking too deep about this, but the "bird vs. snake" moment here feels like an homage to the "Hall of the Mountain King" puzzle in the original Colossal Cave. At the end of the introductory area of that game, you hit the first real "magical realism" puzzle where you have to get by a poisonous snake. If you read the help, you know that the bird (which you discovered a handful of rooms prior) didn't like the snake. Dropping it causes an epic combat where the bird is victorious and the snake is driven away. This feels like Moriarty took that idea, wrote it better, and then still had the bird lose. It's a nice touch. I'll need to find another way.

I attack the snake with the knife but fail utterly. It bites me and slithers away. I have only a few minutes to live, which actually may be fine considering that New Mexico will be nuked in a few minutes anyway. Unfortunately, I collapse a turn or two later as the poison floods my system and lay in agony until nuclear armageddon strikes. I restore and try again, but I am not sure which approach I should take:
  • Am I supposed to let the snake bite me and then heal or prevent the poison from killing me in some way?
  • Or, am I supposed to find a different way to drive off or kill it?

The first seems unlikely, but not impossible. I recall that I left a bandage near the beginning of this section so restore back to grab it and play forward. Unfortunately, we cannot make a tourniquet or similar to keep us alive any longer. Let's focus on killing it.

Maybe the knife wasn't the correct approach? I restore back and play it all again to bring the axe with me, but I have no better luck with it or the spade. I try going around the house first and opening the eastern door to give the snake an easy escape route, but that doesn't work either. I get exactly one turn after seeing the snake to do something before he bites me; I need to make it count.

Dasvidania, old friend.

My next approach is to try to get the lemming to do something, but all he does is cower in the cage if the snake is present. If I let him out anywhere else in the house, he will flee out any open door. If I am careful and close every door, he still escapes because he can nose open the screen door in the back. And yet, I am positive that I am on to something precisely because Moriarty has gone to great lengths to script all the different ways that the lemming can flee. It's clever. The break comes when I realize that not only can I use my one turn to flee the rattlesnake by running out of the room, but that I can also use it to quickly hide in the closet and shut the door. Doing so traps me in pitch black, but it buys me time. I use my lantern and see nothing of interest. As soon as I open the door again, the snake strikes.

The solution is slightly evil, but I hit on it quickly. If I release the lemming in the closet, it runs around trapped. If I then open the door, the snake sees him first and strikes, killing my little friend then slithering off to enjoy his meal. As usual, Moriarty makes you feel the death-- I'm not going to forget his description of the little body twitching as the poison takes effect-- but it's done and I can explore the final room in the house. Hidden among the debris and papers on the table is a single screwdriver. As it was one of the ones used to assemble the bomb, it almost certainly is the one that I will need to open it up again. Score! Unfortunately, there is no way back up the tower to experiment as the searchlights now cover it completely and any attempt to climb up is met with an immediate reaction from the guards. I'll have to solve that puzzle before long.

Since I no longer have the lemming in the cage, I can grab the roadrunner and put it inside. That lets me re-do the reservoir segment as well without the bird eating all of my crumbs. I therefore end this sequence with a screwdriver and a pair of binoculars. At this stage, inventory weight is a huge problem as I can only carry exactly what I need and no more. I'm also down to seven minutes left and that isn't enough time. I can barely even get to the dog again, let alone solve whatever puzzles are left. I end up playing it all over again and optimizing my moves every step of the way. With a few tries, I am able to get back to where I am by 5:16 AM (14 minutes left) and I hope that will be enough.

Not the kind of dog that I want to cross.

Stupid Roadrunner Tricks

I return to "Pittsburgh" and take another pass at the moving the search lights. I still do not find any way into the building and while that is a terrible thing for realism, it does focus my problem-solving just on the sleeping canine. I cannot kill it. I discover that if I let the roadrunner taunt the dog as before, but he away before the guards come out, it causes a panic and the search lights are moved momentarily away from the tower. That's progress! Unfortunately, the timing just doesn't work. If I start running immediately back to the tower the moment the roadrunner starts to do his thing, I only get halfway up before the crisis is managed and the lights return, catching me in the act. I'm on the right track, but I don't have the solution yet.

At this point, I am at a loss. I don't believe there is anything left to do at the ranch house or the jeep. I will need to distract the dog or otherwise affect the searchlights at "Pittsburgh". I am uncertain what, if anything, there is to do at "Baker". I already missed the General leaving and may have to restore to follow him somehow or something, but there could be something else.

I give in and take another hint to learn that I completely misjudged a puzzle. At "Baker", I was supposed to notice that we can look inside the compound using the binoculars. Doing that shows us not only some of the men that we overhear on the walkie-talkie, but also a box "similar to the one you saw under the tower" with a silver key. Unfortunately, I cannot find any way to grab the key and I end up taking another hint: we have to ask the roadrunner to get it for us. I would not have considered the bird to be nearly intelligent enough for that. The bit earlier in the game with the dolphin and coconut at least seemed plausible as we see dolphins obeying simple commands at SeaWorld and similar parks, but a roadrunner? Not really. In any event, doing that gets us lots of points. Yay? I feel like I completely dropped the ball on this one.

I race back to the tower and can open the box at the base to reveal a circuit breaker. I flip it and the base goes nuts. They immediately suspect sabotage and scrub the launch, but it doesn't take them long to catch me and the game still ends in a nuclear explosion, just a slightly later one. If I flip the breaker off and then on again, I am rewarded by another point and a brief dialog on the walkie-talkie. What was the point? I have no idea since I didn't gain anything obvious by the exchange.

Classical music swells...

The Final Puzzles

Everything is lining up now, but I realize that I need more time to get back to the tower. I conduct an experiment: I drop the bag of crumbs next to the sleeping dog. If I do so and wait for the roadrunner to show up, he pauses to eat them before torturing the dog! While I am enroute to the tower, he apparently finishes and begins his taunts because we hear the distant sound of barking and see the spotlight move. I can climb up successfully! We made it back to the bomb and it's only 5:23 AM. I have seven minutes to spare to do… something. I'll pause to note that this sequence may pay homage to the 1953 Merrie Melodies short, Zipping Along, or one of the later ones. This is the first time that Wile E. Coyote nearly entrapped his nemesis using a conveniently placed container of free birdseed. Unfortunately, Moriarty does not list Chuck Jones in his extensive bibliography…

Once I get back inside, I open the panel with the screwdriver and peek inside. It's dark and I didn't bring my lantern. I end up restoring back and playing again, this time keeping the lantern in my inventory after the ranch house but discarding the unneeded birdcage. I have the guide on the piece of paper so I cut the detonator wire and that's the wrong one. I die. I restore and cut other wires and still die. I die and die and die. What am I missing?

I take yet another hint to learn that I needed to wait until the final countdown to cut the wire, so as to not give the team enough time to react and call off the launch. I have no idea how I was supposed to infer that. This becomes trickier because the lantern has a limited remaining charge, but I'm used to optimizing at this point. I finally cut the correct wire with the kitchen knife (on my second attempt) and…

You slide the blade of the steak knife under the striped wire and pull back on it as hard as you can. The thick insulation cracks under the strain, stretches, frays and splits...

Snap! A shower of sparks erupts from the enclosure. You lose your balance and fall backwards to the floor.

"X-unit just went out again," shouts a voice.

"Which line is it, Baker?"

"Kid's board says it's the informer. The others look okay. We're lettin' it go, Able. The sequencer's running."

The walkie-talkie hisses quietly.


You turn, but see no one.

"Zero minus fifteen seconds," crackles the walkie-talkie.

"You should be proud of yourself." Where is that voice coming from? "This gadget would've blown New Mexico right off the map if you hadn't stopped it. Imagine the embarrassment."

A burst of static. "Minus ten seconds."

The space around you articulates. It's not as scary the second time.

"Of course, there's the problem of causality," continues the voice. "If Harry doesn't get his A-bomb, the future that created you cannot occur. And you can't sabotage the test if you're never born, can you?"

The walkie-talkie is fading away. "Five seconds. Four."

The voice chuckles amiably. "Not to worry, though. Nature doesn't know the word 'paradox.' Gotta bleed off that quantum steam somehow. Why, I wouldn't be surprised to see a good-sized bang every time they shoot off one of these gizmos. Just enough fireworks to keep the historians happy."

The scene shifts back to Kensington Gardens and it is the beginning of the game again. I explore and it goes almost exactly like before. I buy the crumbs and help the old woman with the umbrella. The game ends with a cute scene: this time, we've made friends with the roadrunner and we are off to find a soccer ball to do it all over again. The end.

I'm frustrated by how many questions were left unanswered, but that may have been the point. Who was that voice in our ear that made "gnomon" puns the whole game? Am I supposed to recognize his "folksy" speech patterns? I have no idea. And if the game is a time loop, how and when do I die so that the next me can find my body in the crypt? So many questions, but it's time for the final rating.

Time played: 6 hr 05 min
Total time: 16 hr 15 min
Score: 100 of 100

So much text until the actual ending.

Final Rating

Since writing the above, I have given a few days for my "victory" to settle in, but I have been unable to stop thinking about this game. Judging by the comments, several of you at least have had the same experience. I am sure that there are hundreds of details that I missed and I almost want to play it over again immediately, but at the same time I don't really want to put myself through that again. I cannot quite articulate how I feel about this game, except to say that it both hurts and feels good at the same time. Take that as you will.

Puzzles and Solvability - This game is nearly a masterclass in puzzle design, with the showpiece puzzles among the best that Infocom has ever done. Puzzle difficulty increases gradually as you exit Kensington Gardens, explore to the various time zones, and finally fight through the timing and "did you bring the right tools?" puzzles of the Trinity site. In the end, I found the final round of puzzles too difficult for me. I absolutely did not understand the "what wire to cut" puzzle while playing the game. Only after reading the hints did I learn that I needed to use the information from when we pulled the breaker to know which wire I was supposed to cut. Even with the crushing difficulty at the end-- I lost track of how many times I had to reload and play everything all over again to bring a different item with me-- this is still one of the greatest set of puzzles I have experienced in a game. My score: 7

My final map of the Trinity site. I never did map all of the desert.

Interface and Inventory - I've commented so many times on the standard Infocom interface that to do so again would be redundant, but of course it is best in class for the era. This the second "Interactive Fiction Plus" title and supports some basic use of color (both for background and text color) as well as the nice jump-quotes that appear at the top of the screen. Those alone do not add up to an extra point so I will go with the Infocom-standard score. My score: 4.

Story and Setting - I'm torn on this one because while the setting is fantastic and the connections between the worlds make a certain internal sense, the story did not stick the landing. Introducing the time loop is fun, but the more you think about it the less sense it makes. How would your actions affect future nuclear bombs? If you are in a time loop forever, how does your dead body end up in the crypt? Still, you cannot but admire the amazing worlds that Moriarty has built. My score: 6.

Sound and Graphics - As you probably expect, we have a zero here. The additional color (which was also present in A Mind Forever Voyaging) doesn't add enough for a point. My score: 0.
Environment and Atmosphere - This is a game that it is hard to stop thinking about. I'm still making new connections in my head days after playing it the last time. The wabe is amazingly designed and each of the other environments are fun and unique. This game also gave me nightmares and that has to count for something. It takes great writing to affect me so much! My score: 8.

Dialog and Acting - Moriarty's text is amazing and the game showcases a couple of great characters. The roadrunner comes alive and the little scratch you give him behind the ears as we (and he) re-enter the time loop brings a smile to my face. The narration over the Trinity segment, which I read dozens of times, still never got old-- in part because it was based on real-life transcripts. I also loved the dolphin, the bubble boy, and so many other little touches. I have no idea who the mystery voice was, but he was well-written with nice colloquial touches that made him seem familiar somehow. The jump quotes were also insightful and well-selected. My score: 7.

Let's add those all up: (7+4+6+0+8+7)/.6 = 53. 

That is an amazing score, beating out The Witness as our top scoring Infocom game! (It has been said that I am a lower scorer than Ilmari; if so, that makes this victory all the more impressive.) This places it in good company with graphics games of the period such as Space Quest I and Kings Quest III. In fact, it is our highest scoring "Missed Classic" so far. If you remove the penalty because the game doesn't have graphics, it would have scored 64 and just missed our top ten. It is absolutely my "favorite" game of the Infocom marathon, even though I hope not to play it again for a long time.

The average guess was 44 so I suspect that most of you felt that I wouldn't like this as much as I did. With a perfect landing, Adam Thornton got the bullseye with his guess of 53 points! Congratulations! CAPs will be distributed with the next mainline game.

Up next for me is still one final Trinity post wrapping up this series as I play Leather Goddesses of Phobos. TBD already covered it for the site so I am playing it only for my own experience, although I may write a bonus post and put it up someplace. As a bit of an homage to Leather Goddesses, I will do a very quick "Missed Classic" in a few weeks about a much less well-written "mature" game before picking up again with Moonmist. I'd really like to knock that out before I play Space Quest V, but we'll see whether the scheduling gods smile down at me. Adios!