Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Let’s Play Sphinx #3: Back in Action

            When we last left off, we were doing absolutely nothing interesting gameplay wise. Thankfully that’s about to change, as right after the Prince is captured by his brother there’s a transition back to Sphinx, who thankfully was released from the portal gods mouth into some unknown location.

Here’s another picture of the portal god in case you could still sleep at night

Where has Sphinx’s mysterious amulet taken him? What will he do now? Is the Prince really dead? Do we care? Let’s find out!

            So walking forward Sphinx sees the path branch to go both straight and to the right. There’s a strange statue above the door on the right, and when we attempt to walk down that hallway we’re accosted by yet another Ancient Egyptian Laser Beam! Man, I have to say this magical pseudo-Egyptian setting has entirely more lasers than I would have expected. Not that I’m complaining. At any rate, apparently this laser in addition to, y’know, hurting a bit, also has mystical powers of teleportation. It’s evident to me why the game designers did this. Allow me to explain as succinctly as possible:

Game Designer A: Alright, so we need to keep the player from going through this doorway until later. How do we wanna’ do that?
Game Designer B: We should have a statue that shoots lasers!
Game Designer A: It’s always lasers with you, Frank. Seems like overkill to me. Couldn’t we just have a locked door?
Frank: But that’s booooooooriiiiing! Come on!
Game Designer A: Alright, fine, we’ll use your bloody laser. But we can’t just have it kill the player, we have to give them a chance to realize what’s happening.
Frank: Then just have it kill them slowly!
Game Designer A: Well, uh, I guess we could have an unlocked door that they can’t open well being hit or-
Frank: Making a door sounds like far too much work spent on not lasers.
Game Designer A: Oh come on! How are we supposed to keep the player from walking through an open doorway then?
Frank: Well just send ‘em back when they get hit! Throw in a warp-y type sound effect if you’re feeling fancy. Bam, problem solved, now more time can be spent on important things. Like lasers.
Game Designer A: But how are we supposed to have that make sense within the context of-
Frank: Sorry, I can’t hear you over the beckoning of lasers, bye!
*slams door*

The upshot of this is that I can’t go through this doorway at this time, which I probably could’ve said in less convoluted fashion. But ignoring the fact that I apparently don’t know what succinctly means, let’s see what’s in the next room.

It’s not this

When we walk in the door to the next room, we’re treated to a cutscene happening elsewhere, where the Prince’s brother and Captain CNE have the unconscious Prince on an altar where they’re performing some sort of sinister ritual. Nefertiti is also there, but she’s sad, which clearly absolves her of all guilt. Now, I’m fairly certain that it’s supposed to be implied that she’s a captive of these evildoers, but that does make it rather puzzling as to why she’s just standing around unbound. Even if we could assume she’s a captive, I still have a bone to pick with her. If her suspicions that this would happen are what she was going to tell us, then why on earth didn’t she do so sooner? We were completely alone in that courtyard when she told us she’d talk to us later. What possible reason could she have to delay telling us about a potential threat to our life?

            My griping aside, the next room Sphinx enters has a giant pit in the center, and two depressions where some manner of key looks to go. Looks like it’s puzzlin’ time. Climbing up a ledge we see a lever which raises a platform, so we use that mechanism to get the crate up the ledge. Then we can jump on the crate to get to a higher alcove with a key. We then swing on a rope to an opposite ledge and repeat literally the exact same process. With both keys in place, a hanging rope starts moving back and forth over the pit, so we use it to get across. On the other side of the pit is another door, this time protected by an Ancient Egyptian Simon Says Game.

Even ignoring that a security system a child could bypass being a bit of a flaw, and the fact that you’re using ancient magic powers to match colors, has no one around here heard of locked doors?

            So anyway, we enter the next room, which is more of a hallway. There are four hanging switches on the walls, which have previously been shown to be activated by jump attacks. Seems pretty straightforward, but wait! It seems that two of the switches are too high for us to reach, so we’ll have to…oh wait, it turns out when you hit the first two switches a crate drops into the room. Seems this puzzle was Horus-worthy after all.

Let’s see if I can find a way to shoehorn this joke into every single episode

            So hitting all the switches lowers some rope in the previous room. Climbing up this rope we can shimmy along some ledges and hit a lever, which allows us to progress in the hallway we were just in. When we enter the next room after the hallway, we’re given another cutscene of Captain CNE and Bro. Captain CNE can sense…somehow, that there is an intruder in the building. Oh dear, it seems that amulet Sphinx picked up was the almighty Plot Convenience Amulet. Captain CNE calls for the dead to rise, and apparently they found him to be a really convincing guy because when we cut back to Sphinx there are skeleton guards up and about.

            Despite looking cooler and more intimidating than the ribcage spiders we were fighting before, the skeletons are barely any more of a challenge, and using the incredibly sophisticated technique of hitting them over and over they’re all quickly dispatched. Jeez, these guys went down so fast you’d think they were half-dead or something. Anyway, when all the skeletons are gone the room can somehow sense it I guess, because it triggers a bridge extending to the center of the room where a big shiny chest is. Inside the chest we find the Shield of Osiris. Wait, what?

Osiris: “When I die, place my sword to rest just lying around in the dark land of my enemies. My shield shall be placed to rest in a completely different den of my enemies, this time only accessible via teleportation.”

            The questionable location of this thus far unheard of artifact aside, given that this room is a dead end it isn’t too far a stretch of the imagination where to go next. Shield in hand I backtrack to the beginning of the dungeon where the Ancient Egyptian Laser Beam was. Along the way a couple skeletons that used to be decoration turn into the more lethal kind but are easily taken care of. Part way through we see another interlude to the magic ritual that turns the Prince into…wait for it…a mummy! So that’s that mystery solved, although I’m not sure why they couldn’t have just invested in some bandages.

When I get back to the Ancient Egyptian Laser Beam I shield myself from it until it stops firing, and then proceed forward. Or at least I would, were it not for the fact that a skeleton spawns right near the laser. His attempts to hit me keep me from reaching the door in time and I get toasted by the laser. After bopping the skeleton on the head a few times I try to pass the laser again, this time successfully.

            The next room we enter is actually the same room where Captain CNE is performing his magic mumbo-jumbo on the prince, but on a higher up ledge. In fact this is the only entrance to the room, which makes you wonder how the other three got down to the inner part without breaking their shins, or how they plan on getting back up. Anyway, walking to the other side of the room we can see some mystical statue which seems to be the crux of this whole magic ritual, flimsily supported by a single rope. In case it wasn’t obvious, we have to burn cut the rope.

            When we cut the rope, the statue crashes to the floor and its magic malfunctions, sucking up the mummified Prince, his brother, Captain CNE, and several magic urns, then subsequently vanishes. Nefertiti was apparently out of range, and is suddenly accosted by several minions who appear, uh…because magic? After another quick round of pressing the button which hits things, Nefertiti is saved and holographic Monkey Man shows up. The first thing he does is give us a magic ankh that upgrades our health for finishing the dungeon saving the day, though I can’t help but wonder why he didn’t give it to us earlier if he had it the whole time.

“Silence, I am meditating on ways to screw with my apprentice.”

            At any rate, he once again shows completely mastery of the ancient mentor practice of almost saying something important but being vague instead, mentioning that he sensed some sort of dark presence behind this ritual. Nefertiti gives Sphinx an Abydos Amulet she found, and lacking anywhere else to go it looks like it’s our only option. Monkey Man assures us that he will make sure Nefertiti will reach a safe place (somehow) and begs us to be off.

            Join us next time when we make use of this new mystic amulet and find out how the hell Nefertiti escapes whose soul the portal god will take next why Horus is so bad at puzzles where the hell Abydos is.

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