Celine Kalante (kjorteo) wrote in videogame_tales,
Celine Kalante
kjorteo
videogame_tales

The Dagger of Amon Ra, Part 3: 45 seconds

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In part three of my epic struggle to complete a Sierra game using two walkthroughs, we will hopefully finish with all this pre-museum wandering around the city and finally clear the way to the museum, which I am told is supposed to be the point of this game. Yes, davidn finished the entirety of Hugo 2--all of it--in two posts, but I apparently can't even get to the point where The Dagger of Amon Ra truly starts in under three. Sorry about that.


While speaking with David on IM after my last update, it occurred to me that I have come nowhere close to capturing the full impact of these insufferably long taxi scenes. Foolish me thought that putting this screenshot in literally every time I took the taxi anywhere would be enough to convey it, but ... nothing is enough to convey it. And the worst part is that I can't even link to a video to show just how bad it is, because all the playthroughs I've found are either the CD version (where it apparently dramatically shortens the ride, possibly as its way of apologizing for the voices) or something where they edited down the rides to just the parts where something happens.

I guess you'll just have to take my word for it that between inputting your destination and actually getting out of the cab is an unskippable 45-second song. Yes, I just rode the taxi again just so I could time it. That is the sort of number that doesn't sound big on paper, but try going back to the last entry with a stopwatch nearby, and every time you see this screenshot, stop what you're doing and just stare at it for exactly 45 seconds. You can't read the next line until your 45 seconds are up. No cheating. Go on. Try it.

Anyway! In the last update, we established that the flower shop is a speakeasy in disguise, and then went through a stupid puzzle with several offensive ethnic stereotypes just to get the password to that speakeasy.


Naturally, it is now time to go to Lo Fat's Laundry.


We have the laundry place itself, and we also have some kids playing on the sidewalk outside, right next to what appears to be a staircase to oblivion.


Wait, how on earth did attempting to go into the obviously deadly black hallway of doom not kill me? Since when does Sierra let you off with a warning? Normally, any time Roberta Williams designs something, it's like the point-and-click adventure version of I Wanna Be the Guy. Curiously, this game does do that sometimes, including the fact that everything inside the museum proper is nothing but repeated instances of "I hope you managed to take down every single pixel of evidence on this body the literally one and only chance you will ever have to see it, or the game is now unwinnable" on a timer, yet it turns around and channels downright LucasArts levels of generosity here. How can a Sierra game be occasionally, situationally evil?



Oh. Right.

Well, then.

Where were we?


Right, we were just at the part where we do a quick inventory item trade with these kids. A magnifying glass, that's not going to prove essential later or anything.


What charming young men.

Well, I guess I have to go into Lo Fat's Laundry. Given the level of sensitivity they had with every other ethnicity in the game so far, I'm honestly afraid.



Yeah, all right.

I'm not sure I want to know what his voice sounds like in the CD version. Actually, that brings up a point I wanted to make about all the CD version voices: with the exception of Laura Bow herself (whose Southern Belle accent is easily as strong as anything else in this game is, but the quality of the voice acting is actually passable,) I keep going into these voices expecting a heinous ethnic stereotype that I get distracted and forget about the developer voice aspect. For example, having just played the floppy version before becoming aware that the CD version had voices, I somehow expected at least one of the two Irish cops to be Lieutenant Puffin. Instead, Desk Sergeant O'Flaherty is too poorly acted to come across as anything except accidentally fake-Scottish, and Detective O'Riley sounds like he maybe at least heard the Lieutenant Puffin voice once in passing, but he can't do it because he can't speak quickly enough, go high enough, or emote.

I haven't heard Lo Fat's CD voice yet, but my mental image is General Iroh, and there is absolutely no way this is going to be anywhere near that good. It's probably going to closer to something like Ah Wok with less talent.

Now that the predictions have been made, the answer is....

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA



Sierra, we need to talk. Or, better yet, you need to stop talking. Forever. Please, for the love of God.

I just.

Sierra, why? Why would you do this to us?

All right. I'm all right. It's going to be fine. We can get through this....

Right. Moving on, that last link never happened.



There is a puzzle I forgot to mention, because it involves taking a taxi ride to the Leyendecker museum just to not be able to get in because of it, and I'm really trying to take as few of those as possible. Basically, the museum is closed right now and won't open until later (that happens automatically once I've done everything else I need to do in this chapter,) and formal attire is required. Therefore, (and this will be the first time you hear Kjorteo saying this on this journal,) I need a dress.

The solution to this puzzle has absolutely nothing to do with joining the Salvation Army, by the way. We'll get back to that later, though.

Time to ask Lo Fat about everyone and everything! (Thank God this is the floppy version.)

His thoughts on the Leyendecker Museum:

In an uncharacteristically generous bounty, this question actually gets him to give us three new names for our notebook.


And, as he said, Wolf Heimlich is apparently a security guard at the museum, and Dr. Olympia Myklos and Yvette Delacroix work there in some as-yet unspecified manner. There is also apparently a connection between Heimlich and Dr. Mylkos.

Now that we have more names to ask about, his thoughts on Yvette Delacroix:

Oh, my.

Finally, his thoughts about the burglary:

It's not an actionable clue or anything, but he does raise a fair point. Something to think about, anyway.

Anyway, we're done here. Next stop, the 12th Street Docks.


45 seconds!


The docks consist of one screen, zoomed out and presented in an unusual manner, complete with an off-to-the-side window for Laura to talk to a giant animated Ken doll. You may remember him from the introductory cutscene, in which he was the random dock worker who assisted Dr. Carrington with his dead body trunk, though this is his first appearance in the game proper.

Just speaking to Eric McHandsome at all automatically gives us his name for our notebook, so that's helpful. And speaking of the notebook, it's time to get to questioning.

His thoughts on Dr. Pippin Carter:

Nothing out of character for what we already new about him, but confirmation never hurts, I suppose.

His thoughts on Dr. Archibald Carrington III:

I DON'T KNOW IF YOU NOTICED THIS, BUT THERE IS SOMETHING SUSPICIOUS ABOUT THE CONTENTS OF DR. CARRINGTON'S TRUNK. I CAN FORGIVE YOU FOR HAVING MISSED THE HINTS UP TO THIS POINT; THEY'RE KIND OF SUBTLE.

Anyway, this gives us another notebook name: Countess Waldorf-Carlton. That's two names we've picked up from this conversation, even though both are mysteries at this point; all that we know about the Countess so far is that she picked up Dr. Carrington, and all we know about Biff Dreamboat so far is that he is the son of Zeus. Oh, well. It's a start.

His thoughts on Ziggy:

Geez, even Rather Dashing knows all about that guy. It's not really much of a secret with him, is it?

Asking him about the Leyendecker Museum triggers this exchange:

WAIT, HOLD ON, I WASN'T DONE YET

HEY, BUT

I

AAAAA



I ... guess that's all the information we'll be getting for now?

I reloaded my previous save just so I could ask about everything else, (which meant enduring two more taxi rides all over again, by the way,) and he has absolutely nothing useful to say about anything that I had missed the first time. I sure am glad I went through the trouble to check that! Sigh.

So yeah, I guess we're done here.

Wait, one more thing. Let's look at the inky black void surrounding this scene, since it's the first time I've ever seen a screen framed like that.

... Right, then.


45 seconds, and then we're off to the speakeasy!

It is suddenly night on this screen. That's how you know you're in a shady part of town. This part of town is so shady that it comes with its own source of darkness. We'd better watch out.

Actually, I heard that you can die if you wait on this screen for too long. Naturally, I tested this theory, but nothing happens, at least not on my version. However, if the timer fails, you can apparently trigger the same death by attempting to give your press pass to the speakeasy doorman.


Yep, I'm pretty sure that did it.


Here we go....


That wasn't a mugging! The guy just walked up and stabbed Laura out of absolutely nowhere, without so much as a word spoken, then left without even taking anything. That was a premeditated assassination if ever I've seen one.

Oh, whatever.


Back in the version of the game in which I didn't just do that....


Welcome to the speakeasy! Don't mind the inky black void in the lower left; we haven't constructed that part of the room out of the aether yet. We're renovating, you see. It does give a sort of unique aesthetic that goes well with the TRON ceiling, though, you have to admit.

The music for this place actually loops between about two or three different jaunty tunes meant to relfect the performers in the background, including a truly ridiculous 1920s-style song about marrying an archaeologist that Sierra wrote and composed and performed and everything for this game; it's actually included in the game, vocals and all, even in the floppy version. (To my knowledge, it is the only instance of vocals in the floppy version, excepting random scream effects and such. This is to be considered a mercy, unless you'd rather go back and click on that Lo Fat link again.)

Here, have a listen. See? Even the floppy version got this song. You can tell this is the floppy version, because it uses text boxes instead of an awful voiceover to convey information.


This is obviously Ziggy; everyone in the game seems to know that Ziggy is that guy who hangs out in the speakeasy, and he has a face portrait that betrays his status as an important character. There's a small and very easy puzzle involved in getting him to talk to you, but we'll come back to that in a second.


Maddeningly, you can actually ask the singer questions and it gets as far as pulling up your notebook and letting you pick the topic, but every single question returns the same result of how you can't interrupt her while she's performing. And she never, ever, ever stops performing. And no, I don't think there is a way to make her stop performing just so you can interrogate her. Unless I'm missing something, I think Sierra put the fact that you can almost pretend to ask her questions in the game just to be a cruel tease.


Ouch. Though, admittedly, I can sort of sympathize with the thought of reaching the point of alcohol-fueled depression at this stage of the game, especially if you're playing the CD version.

"Let me just black out tonight, and tomorrow, maybe I won't have to take the taxi...."


Er, anyway, back to Ziggy. Ziggy will not talk unless you correctly identify who sent you. This is a bit tricky, because, well, have we honestly met a single person so far in this entire game who didn't know all about him?

DavidN claims that this is a classic Sierra unwinnable moment; if you mess this up, Ziggy won't talk to you ever again, not even to give you a chance to try again with the correct name. However, I'm going to have to disagree; unless his copy of the game is somehow different from mine, the "?" feature (wherein you ask people about stuff in your notebook) still works, even after giving him the wrong name and having him tell you to go away. He just won't answer anything except asking him about the name that happens to be the correct one, which will get him to open up and answer everything else.

Anyway, if you've forgotten (as it has been a while and there are quite a few people to choose from,) the answer we're looking for is Crodfoller T. Rhubarb.

There we go. Interrogation time!

His thoughts on the Police Station:

Ziggy, everyone knows. Just give it up.

His thoughts on the 12th Street Docks:

...

...Yes.

His thoughts on the Leyendecker Museum:

Well, there's some slightly more useful information, anyway. It fits in with the other tidbits we know so far--that the Dagger was the only item stolen, even though there were other valuable things everywhere, and that there are no prints or signs of a break-in or anything, and that Dr. Carrington seems suspciously unconcerned (and also has a body in his trunk.) There have to be some major twists and turns coming up, because a game like this wouldn't just let us completely solve the case before we even get to the museum or meet any of the suspects, but we at least have something of a lead now.

His thoughts on the Speakeasy:

All right, the game is tempting itself at this point.

Finally,

This adds the name of Rameses Najeer to the notebook. It also introduces us to Mr. Najeer's riddle, which both walkthroughs claim will become important later. It doesn't give us an item or any sort of in-game resource (not even a notebook entry,) though. It's just an advance preview of the question itself. I guess it's just in case the player needs time to think about it, or something?

Who is this Rameses Najeer, anyway? Ziggy, your thoughts?

The museum's accountant, apparently. Interesting! He'll have to have an opinion on the theft of the Dagger, then.

That's about all the information Ziggy has, so it's off to the ... room in the back. The game refers to it as a Women's Lounge. I always thought it was a bathroom. Maybe there's some 1920s slang I'm missing.


There's a rather flirtatious flapper in there, too. Honestly, I'm kind of tempted to go for it just to make this part of the game interesting, but of course we can't have that kind of fun in a non-AO game, so we get But Thou Must Not-ed.


Well, that's something. Now we know the Countess' full name (not that it matters) and the fact that she apparently plays with flappers in establishments like this (which may or may not be important, I can't remember.)

Let's inquire further....

Intriguing. Remember that she picked up Dr. Carrington (and his trunk) when he got off the boat before. Does it mean anything? I guess we'll see...?

That's all for the speakeasy, for now. Let's just hail a cab, and....

Oh my God, a different cab!

This is Sierra's way of making you do the rest of the chapter before you can finish it. If you recall what I said earlier, actually finishing this chapter requires getting a formal dress for the fundraiser at the museum. To get the dress, you need a certain item that can only be found in this cab. This cab will magically replace the usual one once ... you're basically done with the chapter, I guess. I honestly don't know the exact trigger. Is the game looking for everything you can do (get the magnifying glass, trigger the end of the conversation at the docks, get all the notebook keywords) or just certain particular items? Is it possible to finish the chapter without an item or a notebook entry or someting you'll need later? (Probably; this is a Sierra game.)

Unfortunately for you, I am not willing to experiment, because that involves far too many taxi rides for my liking. I just did everything the walkthroughs told me to, and now I've triggered the new cab. Which actions were needed to trigger the cab and which ones were merely needed to keep the game from becoming unwinnable later, I'll leave to your imagination.


Anyway, we have to keep our comments just indignant enough to be catty, but not enough to trigger Laura leaving the taxi in a huff, because, again, we need that item.


The walkthroughs both point out that you have to be careful to NOT choose a destination immediately, and to take advantage of this idling time, but that's not really necessary. Taxi rides take like eight years to complete; you have plenty of time to get the item along the way.


Either way, moving the piles of trash out of the way reveals....


A suspiciously convenient old claim ticket!

Rather than going back to redeem it right away, though, I'm going to use some of my new notebook keywords on some old beginning-of-chapter characters, just to see if I'm missing anything.


Next stop: the Tribune building! (45 seconds)

Crodfoller T. Rhubarb's thoughts on Yvette Delacroix:

I'm beginning to understand what Sierra was going for with Yvette's character.

His thoughts on Hank McHunk:

BUT HE'S SO SPARKLY

Next stop: the Police Station, which mercifully does not require a taxi ride if you're just crossing the street from the Tribune building.

Desk Sergeant O'Flaherty's thoughts on Yvette Delacroix:

Him, too? Honestly.

His thoughts on Countess Lavinia Waldorf-Carlton:

Well, that tells us nothing, but nice of Sierra to go back and include it, I guess.


Anyway, back to Lo Fat's. (45 seconds)


Honestly, the whole joining the Salvation Army thing would have been much less contrived.


Sigh.


Just take the damned dress, Laura.


I forgot to mention this before, but there are two pairs of maps that connect to each other. We already know about the Tribune building/Police Station pair. There is also a link between Lo Fat's Laundry and the Speakeasy. The 12th Street Docks and the Leyendecker Museum exist by themselves, and do not have any links. I hadn't mentioned it before because it hadn't come up; even knowing that Lo Fat's Laundry and the Speakeasy were conected wouldn't have saved me a trip when I had to go from the Laundry to the Docks to the Speakeasy.

However, we are now witnessing the one and only time in this game wherein I am currently at Lo Fat's Laundry and my next stop is the Speakeasy. You are insane if you think I'm taking the taxi one of the very, very few times I don't have to.


Yes, these buildings are directly across the street from one another, even though it's daytime outside of one and nighttime outside the other. Shut up.


Back to the Women's Lounge, where Laura can change into her fancy new two-year-old dress.

Sierra has a strange fixation with assuming that items that exist in rooms relevant to your adventure are the only items that exist anywhere, ever. King's Quest VII had a puzzle wherein the player's character needed to visit the land of dreams, which basically just meant that she needed to fall asleep. She couldn't just crash anywhere, though. There were exactly two beds in the entire game, and one was in an area that had become inaccessible by this point, so you had to do a ton of backtracking just to use the other.

Meanwhile, over in The Dagger of Amon Ra, Laura Bow just made a special trip to the Women's Lounge in the back of a speakeasy just to use the privacy screen to change her clothes. She presumably did this because we hadn't seen any sort of bathroom or anything anywhere else in the game, which obviously means there aren't any. And she can't just go home, because....

Hey, wait a minute, I just realized that Laura is homeless. She got off the train (and had all her luggage stolen,) and walked to the Tribune building, got the job, and the game started. we've been wandering around the city ever since. Where was Laura planning to sleep tonight? Had she thought that far ahead? Was her entire plan "I'll just take the train to New York, get the job, write the story, and finish my quest all in one afternoon, and then take the train back to Saint Louis?"

SIERRA, I THINK I DISCOVERED A HOLE IN THIS NARRATIVE.


Oh, whatever. *Puts on pretty dress*


Complete with new face portrait! Because she doesn't have her hat anymore, presumably.


What? Wait, but ... LAURA! YOU ARE HOMELESS AND YOU HAVE NO BELONGINGS WHATSOEVER! YOU ARE A POOR UNFORTUANTE WHO WOULD NEED THOSE CLOTHES!


The conclusion to this chapter is automatic. Once you leave the speakeasy in your new dress like absolutely nothing is wrong with this plan, Laura automatically calls a taxi and hops in.


Oh my God, she even left her purse behind. Fortunately, her entire inventory at this point is a magnifying glass, a notebook, and an improvised press pass, I guess.

Anyway, off to the museum, and to the end of this chapter, and to no more taxi rides ever again. HOORAY!

This being Sierra, I'm honestly not sure whether they're being sarcastic.


And, because this is a Sierra game, I am saving everything separately just in case, even though I'm still using two walkthroughs. Next time: we'll see if that helps at all!
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