Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Let’s Play Sphinx #7: Pokemon Sphinx/Mummy Version

            Ancient legends tell of a treasure, lost to the annals of time. They tell of a sacred text that was buried beneath the sands for untold generations. Some weeks ago, our world’s top archeologists unearthed these very ancient texts. They marveled at them, estimating that they’re surely dating back to thousands of years ago, at least! They carefully placed them in an exhibit at a local museum, and news spread and eventually reached the papers. Some days after, a young man was browsing through the newspaper when an article caught his eye. “Oh”, he said, “they’ve found the Sphinx Let’s Play series. I should really consider updating that again.”

Hey! Do you get it?! Do you get the joke?! Do you get that the joke is that I haven’t updated in a long period of time?! Huh?! Do you?!

            So yes, we’re back to adventuring in the land of ancient Egyptian laser beams once more. When last we left off, our hero Sphinx had just received the Wings of Iblis, an artifact that allowed him to double jump. Earlier on we had tried to get into Anubis’ lair only to discover that the ledge to reach it was slightly higher than we could jump. You don’t have to be very intelligent or good at solving puzzles to figure that one out. If only I had some manner of image or snappy in-joke with which to describe that sensation in visual short hand. Does anyone else feel like I’m forgetting something? Oh well…

            Anyway, we return to the entrance to Anubis’ place and make use of our slightly higher jump to get up on the ledge. It’s too bad Sphinx can’t move certain types of boxes, or this would’ve been a lot quicker. When I get inside, there’s an absolutely massive chamber in front of me. It stretches as far as the eye can see on both sides. There doesn’t even seem to be anything to fill the space either, just some platforms above a huge drop. Apparently Anubis subscribes to the fashionable ‘nigh-bottomless pit’ style of interior decorating.

“Pits with visible bottoms are so yesterday! Nothing entertains house guests like the threat of severely broken limbs and/or death!”

Heading forward, I travel across a wood bridge to central area with a pedestal and two fire armadillos. The pedestal has a hole shaped like an ankh key. I recall that at the other end of the bridge where I came in there were a couple wood boxes, and it’s not like I have any other leads. So I tediously lure the armadillos back over the curiously fireproof wooden bridge to the boxes. When the boxes are burnt they reveal, who would’ve guessed, an ankh key. Back across the bridge I insert the key, activating an elevator up to a central area. There’s a stone bridge to go forward but it’s un-extended.

Behind me there’s another Simon Syndicated Security Solutions Statue, and completing it opens a door to a room with a chest. Inside is the Hero’s Bow Blowpipe, which serves as a ranged weapon aimed in first person.  There’s also a lever in the room that extends the stone bridge forward slightly. Back outside there are some targets in the distance that I can hit with my blowpipe. So let me tell you about these targets…

            The targets in Sphinx are typical bulls-eye style ones that trigger various things when hit with a projectile. The problem lies in the fact that these targets are mostly red colored. You know what else is red colored? Your aiming reticle. Furthermore, said reticle gets smaller when aimed at things far away, and in some cases, like this first one, the targets are pretty far away. So you’ve got a tiny red target you must aim at with a tiny red reticle in low-definition. It’s never a distraction for more than a second or two, but it’s an annoying thing that’s easily fixed.

This is the only image I could find containing the targets on short notice. I’d apologize for how small they are, but I’d rather pretend I don’t know what irony is.

Using my new blowpipe I hit a target on the opposite side of a pit, which triggers a moving platform. When the platform reaches me I board and hit the target again for it to bring me to the other side. There are some enemies to fight here, and after I defeat them I encounter a locked door. There’s a switch that opens the door, but when I step off of it the door locks again. Hm…I remember seeing a statue I could pick up back in the center area where I rode the elevator up.

I go and get the statue in the center and ferry it over to the switch. There are two reasons this is annoying. The first is that you can’t jump with the statue, only throw it a set distance away. If it’s too close to the edge of the platform when it moves it’ll fall off and respawn where it started, forcing you to do things over. The second problem is it involves hitting those tiny targets over and over. When I go through the locked door, I’m one short fight away from another lever, which moves the stone bridge a bit more.

Being a master of Really Obvious Pattern Recognition, I rinse and repeat the whole moving-platform-fight-switch thing on the other side of the room, extending the bridge to its full length. However, something gives me pause during one of those aforementioned fights. One of the enemies I fight here is a cat-person. Really? This is the lair of Anubis. Y’know, the one with the head of a dog?

Although given that everyone seems to be part animal in this universe that might not be such a big deal. Maybe he just makes racist jokes a bit too loudly while s/he’s near or refuses to give promotions until their union starts acting up.

So I use the extended stone bridge to head into the next room. There a statue of Anubis tells me to step above a giant pit of lava as a test of faith, and when I do I’m supported by a magic invisible floor. For some reason, this is all done in cutscene, kind of defeating the point of a test of faith. At any rate, Anubis next tells me to go back and capture some fire armadillos as my next test, an arbitrary challenge no doubt only there to give me a tutorial on the monster catching device he gives me.

Here we enter Pokemon: Sphinx/Mummy version, wherein we use our newfound Capture Beetles to capture 3 of the infinitely respawning fire armadillos in the lobby. You have to weaken them until they’re low enough health that they start sparkling, and then release one of your limited supply of Pokeballs Capture Beetles. Controlling it with the C-Stick, you guide it into the weakened monster and bam, monster captured. It’s a bit fiddly considering the monsters don’t stop moving and the C-stick still controls the camera, but it’s still fairly simple once you get the hang of it. Really, a child could do it. We return to Anubis and he praises us for our task, mentioning that Horus couldn’t do it.

Oh that’s what I was forgetting earlier!

I guess Horus was more of a Digimon kid himself. Anubis then rewards me with 2 gems that can be used to free a couple people in the Cursed Palace. So, what, we’re just going to settle for two? Isn’t this guy the evil dick who cursed them in the first place? Ah well, I suppose it makes sense that we comply, it’s not like we even know where the physical version of Anubis is. So, all done for now, we promptly leave Anubis’ place.

As we walk outside we see our old buddy Horus again. Oh boy, I can’t wait to hear him whine and…complement our bravery and compassion? That’s right, Horus is actually acting positive towards you this time, which instantly makes me suspicious. He says we’ve proven ourselves his equal and wants to offer us a gift. Specifically, the Dark Stone of Invisibility. Hm…my suspicion continues, because it has dark in the friggin’ name, but still, I’m sure we’ll need invisibility to progress regardless. Horus apologizes for his past arrogance and leaves, so even though I think I’ll pay for it later I suppose I have no choice but to take the-

Mystic Monkey Magician teleports right next to me, in person no less, and immediately says it’s a trap. Wow, the writers really left us hanging there, huh? It seems that the Dark Stone of Invisibility has a side effect. That side effect being instant motherfucking death. Yeah, you’d think that would diminish it’s usability a bit. Not sure why they’d even bother making the invisibility part work if it’s just a trap to kill suckers. How can anyone even tell it works? Does it turn the corpse invisible? If that’s the case, then how do you know that they died while invisible? And how does anyone use it more than once?

“Mwahaha, now that my nefarious murder is complete, I need only retrieve the stone from the corpse. Now there should be an invisible body around here somewhere…wait…fuck.”

Admittedly we only have Triple M’s word on the whole dying thing, but even though it would be silly to do everything he says in real life this is a video game so we know he’s correct and trustworthy because he’s the all-knowing good magician. Well…and the alternative is trusting Horus. Man of Magical Monkeys then realizes that the Mummy could use the stone without danger. Convenient! He then cautions not to trust Horus in the future, as if we needed him to, mentioning that his survival in Uruk might not be just good fortune…(so…he’s evil, in case that wasn’t clear).

I then head back to the Cursed Palace, where the first person I release is a book writer, who last remembers coming here to write the pharaoh’s biography. Before he heads back to his home in Abydos, he decides to reward me with a book. The Book of the Dead. Okay, hold on what? I had completely forgotten that was a thing, but that’s not the issue here. Didn’t we think Anubis had info on this, and it was just kinda’ dropped? And I don’t care if this dude’s a writer, that’s no excuse for him to be carrying the freakin’ Book of the Dead around with him. What, did he keep it on his person for some light reading? And what was the point of arbitrarily making the book another requirement if some guy just was going to give it to us along the way anyway? Argh!

I bet this guy keeps the Necronomicon in his back pocket when he’s looking for something upbeat to read.

The other person I free at the palace is a farmer. When I go outside he meets up with his brother who was hanging by the entrance, but sadly they can’t get to their farm due to those Eyes of Ra posts. Unsure of what to do, I decide to stop before doing anything else and hit some targets nearby with my new blowpipe. Doing so rewards me with a gold ankh piece, four of which will give me another unit of life. Sound familiar?

Well back on task, I need to destroy those laser death posts, so I decide to examine them up close. Or I would, except that these are the lazy-design style teleportation lasers that screen transition me all the way back to the docks when I’m hit by them, lest I get the wrong idea. However, I discover that my shield can deflect these lasers. So I get up close enough to confirm my suspicions that yes, the bottom of the posts are cracked.

Given that my new items are the blowpipe and capture beetles, I think I know what to do. (I give the blowpipe a shot just for giggles, but of course it doesn’t do anything). I fly over to the other side of the area with the eagles, and find the hole that expels exploding animals. I capture a whole bunch and use them to destroy the Ra posts, catching some extra while I’m here realizing that they’re basically the bombs of this game.

I almost feel bad that using these irritating critters as ammunition slaughters them by the dozen. Almost.

When I walk back over to the farmer brothers, they thank me for removing the posts and say to visit them at their farm for a reward. That is, the farm I was visible from here that’s only like a 30 second walk. I feel we could have cut out the middle man here, but whatever. I head over to the farm. At the farm the two brothers decide to give me my reward. It’s something they reportedly just found while farming. Something…vase-shaped.

You have got to be shitting me.

But no, it really is another Canopic Vase. Random farmers just happened to have accidentally found a rare artifact that contains part of the dead prince’s soul. This is a stupid contrivance that is also dumb, but oh well, life moves on. Especially for the Prince/Mummy, as Bas-ket chooses this moment to pop in and ferry the vase and Dark Stone of Invisibility to Castle Uruk. To find out what whacky adventures occur there next, be sure to tune in for the upcoming installment next week fortnight month unspecified amount of time!

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