Least favourite puzzles.

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Adrian Preston

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Oct 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/24/95
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So. What's good and bad about a puzzle?

My most loathed puzzle of all time is the Trinity puzzle whereby you change
the threading on the gnomon. And because I did not re-read a location
description ONCE, I was stuck on it for FIVE YEARS.


Oooh It makes me mad.
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Christopher E. Forman

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Oct 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/24/95
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: : My most loathed puzzle of all time is the Trinity puzzle whereby you change

: : the threading on the gnomon. And because I did not re-read a location
: : description ONCE, I was stuck on it for FIVE YEARS.

IMHO, the Trinity puzzle isn't unfair -- careful attention to detail is
part of playing I-F. If forcing players to be observant constitutes a
flaw, then "Curses," for example, would be a horrible, horrible game (which
is obviously not true).

: Mine was the infamous baseball diamond puzzle in Zork -- I was
: stuck on it for *years* too before getting fed up and looked at the solution.
: I didn't (and STILL don't) know ANYTHING about baseball, let alone what
: its playing field looks like!

This is quite a bit different, though. The puzzle is not really connected
to the game, and there are only a very few, very obscure clues to the
solution. I ended up looking this one up, too.

The trouble with rating puzzles as "good" or "bad" is that it often seems to
depend on the context (i.e. the game itself). I don't want to avoid specific
spoilers, but many puzzles make sense in one game, while they wouldn't in
another. The riddle in my own PTF (the beta version will be sent to testers
tomorrow, I promise!!!) is this way. It's very strange and obscure, and
the clues to solving it can be easily overlooked. Nonetheless, it's an
important part of the story (it comes into play much later in the series),
so it's necessary to include it, however unfair it may seem. (Believe me,
some of you will HATE us for making you solve it, but that's a risk I'm
willing to take.) Unlike the Zork II baseball puzzle, though, PTF's riddle
is connected to the game -- it plays an important part later on, although
it's not immediately obvious. In such instances, an obscure or slightly
unfair puzzle can be acceptable.
--
C.E. Forman cef...@rs6000.cmp.ilstu.edu
Read the I-F e-zine XYZZYnews, at ftp.gmd.de:/if-archive/magazines/xyzzynews!
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Allen Garvin

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Oct 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/24/95
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Adrian Preston (te_...@kingston.ac.uk) wrote:
> So. What's good and bad about a puzzle?

> My most loathed puzzle of all time is the Trinity puzzle whereby you change


> the threading on the gnomon. And because I did not re-read a location
> description ONCE, I was stuck on it for FIVE YEARS.

Minor spoilers for long-ago games (Suspect, Cutthroats)

Two Infocom games come to mind:
In cutthroats, you had to climb through a window into the office of the guy
that owned some shop. I got stuck there. I don't remember what the right
syntax was, but it wasn't something simple like 'enter window', at least not
in the version I had (I bought every Infocom game as it first came out, and
got all the bugs). This was the only game I ever bought a hintbook for, it
was extremely annoying to find out I had just gotten the syntax wrong.

In suspect, I never could get the final conviction. I played this first on
an Atari 8bit, then on an Amiga, and it took me years to figure out that
when the murderer arrives, you had to 'look at weather' or 'look at sky' and
see that his clothes were wet even though it wasn't raining. After I did
that extremely minor thing, everything worked out fine and I won the game.

Oh, there was also the Hollywood Hijinx opening puzzle, of getting into the
house. I never managed to get into the house, but then the premise of the
game never appealed to me.

It's really annoying to have been stuck on these games, rated 'Standard' when
I solved all the Expert games (Deadline, Starcross, Spellbreaker) without
hints.

Allen Garvin

Sarinee Achavanuntakul

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Oct 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/24/95
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Adrian Preston (te_...@kingston.ac.uk) wrote:
: So. What's good and bad about a puzzle?

: My most loathed puzzle of all time is the Trinity puzzle whereby you change
: the threading on the gnomon. And because I did not re-read a location
: description ONCE, I was stuck on it for FIVE YEARS.

Mine was the infamous baseball diamond puzzle in Zork -- I was

stuck on it for *years* too before getting fed up and looked at the solution.
I didn't (and STILL don't) know ANYTHING about baseball, let alone what
its playing field looks like!

-Sarinee

Adam J. Thornton

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Oct 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/25/95
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In article <46ibm4$n...@mercury.kingston.ac.uk>,

Adrian Preston <te_...@kingston.ac.uk> wrote:
>My most loathed puzzle of all time is the Trinity puzzle whereby you change
>the threading on the gnomon. And because I did not re-read a location
>description ONCE, I was stuck on it for FIVE YEARS.

Oh, fooey. That's a brilliant puzzle. The Klein bottle is pretty obvious.
Unless you're not a math geek. And anyone who was playing Infocom games in
1986 was very likely a math geek.

My _most_ loathed? Interesting question. Probably the Diamond Rooms Maze
in Zork II. Certainly, my most loathed in a _good_ game.

My favorite? Perhaps the Translucent Room Maze in Enchanter.

Adam
--
ad...@phoenix.princeton.edu | Viva HEGGA! | Save the choad! | 64,928 | Fnord
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You can have my PGP passphrase when you pry it from my cold, dead brain.

Lord Elren

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Oct 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/25/95
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I hated the block maze (or whatever it was) in Zork III. This would have
been a good Zork Zero graphical puzzle, but in text it was too hard to
picture where everything was.

Andrew C. Plotkin

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Oct 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/25/95
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te_...@kingston.ac.uk (Adrian Preston) writes:
> So. What's good and bad about a puzzle?
>
> My most loathed puzzle of all time is the Trinity puzzle whereby you change
> the threading on the gnomon. And because I did not re-read a location
> description ONCE, I was stuck on it for FIVE YEARS.

I'm not sure what you mean. Which room description did you not
re-read?

If you failed to notice the north and south exits from the hedge maze,
I don't see what's particularly bad about it. Any puzzle is
impossible if you never notice the door leading to where the solution
is.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."

Adam J. Thornton

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Oct 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/25/95
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In article <46jfcf$6...@mark.ucdavis.edu>,
Dan Zerkle <zer...@cs.ucdavis.edu> wrote:
>Adrian Preston (te_...@kingston.ac.uk) wrote:
>: So. What's good and bad about a puzzle?
>The "maze" in Leather Goddesses. It takes forever and you have to
>keep typing those magic words again and again.... Damn annoying.

I'm sorry.

I lied.

My most loathed puzzle is not the Diamond Room Maze in Zork II.

It is, in fact, the LGOP Maze.

Julian Arnold

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Oct 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/26/95
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Andrew Clover (es...@csv.warwick.ac.uk) wrote:

> Surely the worst game for find-what-the-author's-thinking puzzles like that
> was Robin of Sherwood,
[...]
> Then you had to STRANGLE him. Not KILL him, oh no, that's not specific
> enough. And so the puzzles went on...

Aha! Thank you, I'll try this. 8)
--
Jools Arnold jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk


Giovanni Maga

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Oct 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/26/95
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In article <46mhdq$4...@saffron.csv.warwick.ac.uk>, es...@csv.warwick.ac.uk
(Andrew Clover) wrote:


> Surely the worst game for find-what-the-author's-thinking puzzles like that

> was Robin of Sherwood,(SNIP)

I think the best maze I found was the swamp in DeepSpaceDrifter, because
in order to solve it you had to think carefully and there was a real logic
in it (even if it was hard). I found on the other way quite terrible the
mining maze in Zork I and the maze beyond the volcano in ColossalCave 550
point extended version. In general I hate mazes (the ones in LostAdventure
were quite hard too).
Giovanni.

Darryl....@waterloo.attgis.com

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Oct 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/26/95
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In <46lr00$3...@cnn.Princeton.EDU>, ad...@tucson.princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) writes:
>
>My most loathed puzzle is not the Diamond Room Maze in Zork II.
>
>It is, in fact, the LGOP Maze.
>
>Adam
>--


This is the second person to say that they hated the
LGOP maze. Why was this one so bad? I believe that it was
the only maze puzzle that I have ever seen where they gave you
the map ahead of time.

I didn't really consider this to be a puzzle. I thought that
it was just the copy protection that they tried to make into
a puzzle to make it more interesting.

Darryl


Dan Zerkle

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Oct 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/26/95
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Darryl....@Waterloo.attgis.com wrote:
: This is the second person to say that they hated the
: LGOP maze. Why was this one so bad? I believe that it was
: the only maze puzzle that I have ever seen where they gave you
: the map ahead of time.

Exactly.

* It's boring.

* It doesn't require any creative thought.

* It takes forever.

* You have to keep typing those damn words.

* It's easy to screw up, so you have start from the beginning
(or your last save, anyway).

: I didn't really consider this to be a puzzle.

Exactly. Neither did I.

: I thought that


: it was just the copy protection that they tried to make into
: a puzzle to make it more interesting.

"tried" being the operative word, here. They failed.

--
Dan Zerkle zer...@cs.ucdavis.edu
GCS d(---)(!) p- c++ !l u++ e++(+++) m s++/-- !n h+(--) f g+++(-) w+ t+ r(-) y+
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Christopher E. Forman

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Oct 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/27/95
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Adrian Preston (te_...@kingston.ac.uk) wrote:
: Anyone remember 'The Hulk' in which you started the game tied to a chair,
: and the only command that did anything was 'BITE LIP'? Grrrr.......

This is getting a little off the subject, but I was just wondering what game
is considered the worst, most annoying commercial adventure ever.

For me, it would probably have to be "Psycho," published by Box Office
software and based on (very, VERY loosely based on!) Alfred Hitchcock's
superb thriller.

Actually, on second thought, "Psycho" isn't all that annoying as much as it's
side-splittingly hilarious. This game had to have been the "Detective" of
its time. The story had something to do with your playing a detective (!)
who had to rescue a kidnapped curator from the Bates home. You're familiar
with the two-word parser? "Psycho" used the "one-letter parser." All
commands were entered by hitting a key, and each key (actually, only about
a fifth of them) stood for a command (T=Take, S=Search, etc.)

The game featured atrocious CGA graphics that were bad even for back then.
Your detective's feet moved as he walked (you moved using the arrow keys),
but his arm holding his magnifying glass was always held straight out in
front of him. You could also acquire a gun during the game, which replaced
the magnifying glass. Using that, you could kill the dogs, Norman Bates,
and ghosts (Yes, shooting ghosts. Really. I kid you not.) that appeared
occasionally. If they got you first, you would fall asleep and wake up
later, with lost time.

The puzzles were really lame, and even had bugs in them. In one, you had
to dig in a coal bin for a key, but if you tried it again after you already
found the key, it would appear again (the graphics people must've been lazy)
and you'd get the message "I found more keys just like the one I found
before." (Really. I'm NOT making this up!)

The room descriptions were similarly lame. The game's living room was split
into two halves, and one description read "I found that this is a big living
room," while the other read, "I found that this is the same big room."

I never did finish the game, because evidently there's a bug at the end
when you try to save the curator.

Sorry to waste bandwidth like this, but I just thought those of you who
enjoy bad games for their cult value would get a kick out of it. It's
unbelievable that such a piece of junk ever got boxed and shrink-wrapped
and put on shelves in the first place. If you ever see a copy (I've seen
'em in discount bins for a buck and a half in some Target and Wal-Mart
stores), by all means, pick one up. It's a scream!

That said, what was the worst commercial adventure YOU ever played?

Win Kang

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Oct 28, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/28/95
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My least fav. puzzle was in BattleTech(INFOCOM) where you had to go around thro the maze trying to figure out the right card to put into right machine, etc. which went on forever and the game sorta just ended a little after I figured it out...uggg

Another is Savage Island (Scott Adams) where I can't seem to avoid the hurricaneeverytime, I got swept off by the hurricane and I wasn't even allowed to save the game so i can pick off later...btw, anybody know how I can avoid this?


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Brendon Wyber

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Oct 28, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/28/95
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Giovanni Maga (ma...@vetbio.unizh.ch) wrote:
: Never played LGOP, but I would point to the opposite case: a maze that I
: liked. The swamp one in DeepSpaceDrifter for me was excellent, because you
: had really to THINK in order to solve it and it follows a strict logic (I
: Which mazes did you like more?

Actually I like the Hedge Maze from T-Zero with its random half and half
composite creatures...

--
Be seeing you,

Brendon Wyber Computer Services Centre,
b.w...@csc.canterbury.ac.nz University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

"Ph-nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."

Adam J. Thornton

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Oct 28, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/28/95
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In article <DH27L...@attwat.Waterloo.ATTGIS.COM>,

<Darryl....@Waterloo.attgis.com> wrote:
>In <46lr00$3...@cnn.Princeton.EDU>, ad...@tucson.princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) writes:
>>It is, in fact, the LGOP Maze.
>This is the second person to say that they hated the
>LGOP maze. Why was this one so bad? I believe that it was
>the only maze puzzle that I have ever seen where they gave you
>the map ahead of time.

The copy protection could have been subtle and far less annoying. Even
with the map, having to hop, clap, and kweepa while keeping track of where
you were was _HARD_! It took forever, it took no real skill, and was just
stupid.

Darryl....@waterloo.attgis.com

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Oct 28, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/28/95
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In <46s8uc$n...@cnn.Princeton.EDU>, ad...@flagstaff.princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) writes:
>In article <DH27L...@attwat.Waterloo.ATTGIS.COM>,
> <Darryl....@Waterloo.attgis.com> wrote:
>>In <46lr00$3...@cnn.Princeton.EDU>, ad...@tucson.princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) writes:
>>>It is, in fact, the LGOP Maze.
>>This is the second person to say that they hated the
>>LGOP maze. Why was this one so bad? I believe that it was
>>the only maze puzzle that I have ever seen where they gave you
>>the map ahead of time.
>
>The copy protection could have been subtle and far less annoying. Even
>with the map, having to hop, clap, and kweepa while keeping track of where
>you were was _HARD_! It took forever, it took no real skill, and was just
>stupid.
>
I wrote numbers on a piece of paper and filled in the manditory moves.
I knew that I could safely move on the open spaces. I agree that it
was a little tedious but the not the worst.

I found the maze in Zork I annoying because the thief kept stealing my
stuff and I would lose track of where I was.

I liked the maze in Sorcerer. I haven't played deepspace drifter yet.


Philip Darnowsky

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Oct 29, 1995, 2:00:00 AM10/29/95
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Christopher E. Forman (cef...@rs6000.cmp.ilstu.edu) wrote:

: Adrian Preston (te_...@kingston.ac.uk) wrote:
: : Anyone remember 'The Hulk' in which you started the game tied to a chair,
: : and the only command that did anything was 'BITE LIP'? Grrrr.......

: This is getting a little off the subject, but I was just wondering what game
: is considered the worst, most annoying commercial adventure ever.

: For me, it would probably have to be "Psycho," published by Box Office
: software and based on (very, VERY loosely based on!) Alfred Hitchcock's
: superb thriller.

Thanks a lot...I just had a flashback. I had a copy of Psycho (for the
C-64...anyone remember the C-64?) and it's just as bad as he says.


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Jason Compton

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Oct 30, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/30/95
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Philip Darnowsky (pdar...@rwd.goucher.edu) wrote:
: Thanks a lot...I just had a flashback. I had a copy of Psycho (for the
: C-64...anyone remember the C-64?) and it's just as bad as he says.

Yep. The guys in comp.sys.cbm will eat you up over that one and throw a
20mhz C-64 accelerator at you. :)

--
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Editor-in-Chief, Amiga Report Magazine (708) 741-0689 FAX
The warming sun... ...the cooling rain.
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Juergen Bloss

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Oct 30, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/30/95
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Adrian Preston (te_...@kingston.ac.uk) wrote:
:
: My least favourite example of this was 'Bored of the rings', whereby given
: a Microwave oven and the Ring, the command to finish the adventure was
: 'PUT RING'. Years it took me to figure that one out, and it wasn't helped
: by the fact that typing 'PUT RING IN MICROWAVE' resulted in a 'You can't
: do that.'
:

Reminds me of a game on the C64 named "Aztec Tomb" or something.

You stood on board a boat and had to get off o the island.

It took me quite a while to find a way to leave the boat:
the only command that worked was:
"JUMP OVER" (...board, presumably)

Juergen
---

"Fate protects fools, little children and ships named Enterprise!"

(Cmdr. Riker, "Contagion")

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Oct 31, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/31/95
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Juergen Bloss wrote:

> Reminds me of a game on the C64 named "Aztec Tomb" or something.

Would you believe this game has been ported to the PC? It's at GMD.
Here's the review I gave of it in my Guide to the IF-Archive
(http://www.tiac.net/users/baf/if-guide.html, soon to be updated for
the first time in months):

An early graphic adventure for the C-64, now ported for MS-DOS. Your
goal is to find the Aztec tomb, the contents of which are purportedly
covered in another game. Features crude C-64ish graphics, a minimal
two-word parser, and numerous spelling mistakes. Many objects are hidden
until you issue the appropriate "look" command, which in many cases is
simply "look" but in one annoyingly inconsistent case requires the name
of the room.

--
Carl Muckenhoupt does not speak for Earthweb LLC
b...@tiac.net | ca...@earthweb.com
http://www.tiac.net/users/baf/ | http://www.earthweb.com/
Check out Gamelan, the Java repository: http://www.gamelan.com/

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Oct 31, 1995, 3:00:00 AM10/31/95
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FWIW, "BITE TONGUE" also worked in The Hulk. Perhaps this is something
that people more familiar with the character than myself would have
thought of, but I suspect that later portions of the game would make
even them whip out their favorite hex editors.

Perseid

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Nov 3, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/3/95
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ma...@vetbio.unizh.ch (Giovanni Maga) wrote:

>Which mazes did you like more?

Simple. Never saw one. Mazes always bothered me. They require no
thought, only mindless moving around.

I don't like them, don't code them, and usually don't solve them. If
you include a maze in your game, you had better make it worth solving,
and you had better let me know that before you throw the maze at me.


Perseid

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Nov 3, 1995, 3:00:00 AM11/3/95
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Police Quest I. I know it's not IF, but it still bothered me to no
end.

(Spoilers)

Towards the beginning of the game, you(the cop) get called to this
diner. The owner is complaining that there are a group of motorcycles
parked in front of her diner, yet the drivers of the said bikes went
into the slummy bar next door.

You go into the bar to ask them to move the bikes(writing a ticket
didn't work as I remember), and they promptly decide to beat you up.

Through the whole game, when you go to draw your gun it tells you
that, according to the police rules that you MUST follow, you can only
draw your gun when absolutely necessary. They threaten to beat me. I
can't draw my gun. They get closer. I can't draw my gun. They beat me.
I'm too DEAD to draw my gun.

Now, if a cop walks into a bar(no this isn't a bad joke. <g>), and a
cast of motorcycle thigs threaten to beat you, I think the cop can,
and probably will, draw his gun.

If that's not bad enough, the solution is worse. First thought was to
look inside the car for anything of use. Nothing. So after a few wweks
of wandering, and getting repeadedly beaten, I broke down and looked
at a walkthrough. It told me to go to my car and GET my NIGHTSTICK.
Um...what? I LOOKed inside the car, I SEARCHed the car, I think I even
looked under the car a few times(grin), but it did not say a THING
about any damn nightstick.

I lost a lot of respect for Sierra then, even though I do like their
games(Yes, I do both IF and Sierra. Shoot me)

Another Sierra puzzle. Dagger of Amon Ra. I liked the game. Passed it.
But the very final puzzle bugged me, and I had to get a hint for it,
too. There is a group of Amon Ra worshippers hidden in the basement of
this museum. They are clandestine, and when you stumble upon them,
they want to kill you.

The only way to avoid death is to solve a riddle. It is a two part
riddle, and the first is "WHAT ROOM DO YOU LEAVE WITHOUT ENTERING?"

A riddle. GREAT. I went all over the map of the game, looking for
clues as to the answer. Whether they were there or not I don't know,
but I know I never found them.

Anyway, what room DO you leave without entering? A womb. WHAT?! WTF?!
Since when is a Womb a room? Argh, I was not a happy sierra-player.
Then the second paty just fell into place. "WHAT ROOM DO YOU ENTER
WITHOUT LEAVING?"

Just to ruin your day, I'm not gonna tell you the answer. <grin>


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