You mean the key that just fell apart in my hand? Damn it!
Buckle up folks cause this ride’s about to get bumpy. My most recent session of Zak McKracken saw me travelling to just about every single destination in the game, tying up stacks of loose ends on the way. I still haven’t completed the game, but I’m making very steady and exciting progress. My last post described my movements through the great chamber on Mars, which resulted in me finding the two symbols I needed back on Earth, plus it also revealed an important part of the plot, with a message from the Skolarian race of beings being projected for my viewing pleasure. That session ended with me discovering the purpose of the blue crystal (through unfortunate means), and I walked away from the game with quite a few obvious paths ahead of me.
Melissa and Leslie will have to wait here again while Zak and Annie get to work
When I cranked up the game this time, I was a little bit indecisive about which of these paths I should take first. I could go to Mexico City to get the yellow crystal, or to Egypt to enter the Sphinx, or back to Peru to try using the blue crystal on the bird. I chose the first option, and after making my way through the jungle and temple mazes, found myself standing in the statue room containing the piece of crystal. I quickly drew the symbol I’d found on the identical (albeit bigger) statue I came across in the great chamber on Mars, and soon enough had the piece in my possession. I had always assumed that I’d be able to join the two yellow pieces together on the altar at Stonehenge, but I put that to the back of my mind for now. It was time to go to Egypt!
You want me to do what for the crystal? No way man!
Once I was standing in front of the Sphinx, I once again drew the required symbol, with this one being the swirl I’d come across in the map room (also in the great chamber on Mars). Doing so caused a doorway to open up in the Sphinx’s leg, which I eagerly moved through. You’ll never guess what was inside! Actually I’m sure you will, because this game is filled with mazes. This particular maze though was a bitch! At first I tried not mapping it, as I’d been able to get through the majority of mazes without doing so, but I continually found myself back at the beginning again. Eventually I figured out that the symbols above the doors were the key, and after carefully plotting my way so I didn’t keep circling back to my start position, I managed to find the room of interest.
The focus of the room was three buttons surrounded by hieroglyphics. I had horrible flashbacks to the three button puzzle on Mars, and wondered if I was yet again supposed to find the correct combination elsewhere, but a quick attempt made me realise this one was going to be easily solved by trial and error. Unlike on Mars, if I pressed a button here, it stayed pushed in. After I pressed all three buttons in random order, the floor opened up and I was dumped into a dark room with an unseen but deadly creature. I restored, and since a puzzle like this can only have six possible combinations, I set about trying each of them, getting it right on the third attempt. I’d be interested to know if the combination is found anywhere in the game or whether trial and error is the only way?
Uh oh, I think I'm restoring!
Pushing the buttons in the right order opened the wall up, revealing a map of sorts. Zak then commented that the right section was a map of the Martian Face, and that “I should draw a map of this”. Draw of map? I went through my inventory to see what I might be able to draw with and on, and all I could come up with was the yellow crayon and the book or torn wallpaper. I tried to use the crayon on the wallpaper, and was fairly stoked when it worked. What was odd though was that Zak not only drew the Mars map, he also drew his “dream map” beside it. What dream map?! Was there a map in Zak’s dream in the intro the game? I saved my game and started a new one to see if I’d missed something all those days ago.
No map is perfect man. Trust me!
The answer of course is that there is a map in the intro, and it’s the exact map that I found in the great chamber map room, and the one Zak drew with the crayon on the wallpaper. Of course there’s no way that I could have known that the map was important and that I was suppose to draw it, at least there wouldn’t have been if Zak hadn’t told me to as the very first thing he says in the game proper. That’s right, as soon as Zak appeared in his bedroom after the intro he said “I should make a drawing of that map I saw.” You’re probably wondering something along the lines of “Are you a complete idiot Tricky!? How could you not have seen that and drawn the map in the first instance?” Well, I think this is a simple case of what I’m now going to call the “blogger’s curse”.
You really should make sure you have people's attention before you start speaking Zak!
The blogger’s curse occurs because I’m often so focussed on capturing screenshots that I miss, or ignore, what’s actually happening on screen. It’s not normally a big problem for me, because adventure games normally stand still and wait for me to do something. There’s rarely a time when I have to do something quickly while simultaneously needing to capture screenshots for the blog. However, the blogger’s curse really seems to come into play during Zak McKracken for one simple reason. Cut-scenes! I’m sure I could solve the problem if I played around with SCUMMVM settings, but the cut-scenes seem to play through really quickly, giving me very short periods of time to read dialogue, let alone take screenshots.
This map looks just like the one I found in the map room on Mars. Hmmm...
I’ve been forced to replay cut-scenes multiple times just to get the shots I want, and then I’ve got into the habit of reading the screenshots rather than playing through the cut-scene once again. I used this same process to capture the intro of the game and in doing so, I actually didn’t realise that Zak said anything at all after the intro’s completion. I’m putting my lapse of concentration during the blue crystal training down to the blogger’s curse as well, and it makes me wonder what other minor but important detail I may have missed. I’ve now promised myself that I’ll watch the cut-scene all the way through before I even attempt to start getting screenshots. Anyway, now I had a map! What the hell was it for though?
Another day, another strange marking
I spent some time investigating the map on the wall, and found that I could interact with the pyramid, the face, and another set of “strange markings”! The markings had a dotted line to the great chamber, suggesting the place I would need to draw the symbol would be somewhere in there. I “read” the markings and was shown a temple shaped symbol, which I took a screenshot of for later. When I “read” the pyramid (there’s no look verb), I was told that it “looks like there’s a special object inside the Martian Pyramid.” I already figured that was the case, given that the large key that disintegrated would have given me access. Perhaps the third and final crystal is in there!? I couldn’t do anything with the face, so I took my new symbol and went back to the airport.
There better bloody be. I've spent weeks trying to get in there!
While the airport destination did have London on the list, where I intended to take the two crystal pieces, I knew that I was going to need Annie to achieve anything there, as she was the only one that could give the guard the whiskey. The other destination where I thought I could achieve something was Peru, but that wasn’t on the list. Looking at my screenshots, I knew I could get there from San Francisco, so I decided to travel there via Miami. Once in Miami though, I couldn’t help trying to visit the Bermuda Triangle again, just hoping that the plane might now be available for me to get on. Totally unexpectedly, it was!!! It wasn’t a standard type of plane though, as I found myself on a biplane!
If you're going to dare the Bermuda Triangle, make sure you do it in a really old plane.
After a short pilot commentated flight, the plane suddenly disappeared, apparently the latest victim of the Triangle. Next thing I knew the plane, with me on it, was being drawn onto a spaceship! You read that right! It soon became clear that this was a regular occurrence for the pilot, who quickly pressed the correct combination on a panel of coloured squares, then hopped back in his plane to be beamed back down to Earth. I wrote down the combination in case I needed it, and then pressed the button next to the only door out of the room. It opened, and a Caponian came to collect me, and then led me to The King. I immediately remembered that I had my The King Fan Club card in my inventory, and waited to see what was going to happen.
That's one cool spaceship! Kind of retro yet futuristic at the same time!
The King, as you might expect, was a Caponian dressed as Elvis Presley, and he quickly began trying to come up with a suitable chore for his new captive to get to work on. While he was doing so, I noticed the word LOTTO on some sort of metal panel to the right of screen. The King seemed to be coming to a decision about what to do with me, so I gave him the fan club card. Given I was obviously a big fan, he decided to let me go, and sent me away to be transferred back to Earth. That clearly wasn't all I could achieve though, so I restored, and focussed all my attention on the Lotto area while The King made his choice. Opening the panel revealed...tomorrow’s winning lotto numbers!!!
Because The King knows everything
Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders just keeps surprising! I took a screenshot of the numbers, then gave The King my fan club card, eager to get back to San Francisco and purchase a Lotto ticket. I did exactly that, entering 2560 when asked to choose my numbers at Lou’s Loan Shop. I figured I’d have to let some time pass before going back to claim my prize, so I set out for Peru. On arrival, I made my way through the maze to the bird, and laid out the bread crumbs. As soon as it settled down to feed, I used the blue crystal on the bird, gaining control of it in the process. Everything was going to plan, and I used the “Fly to” action to move the bird off to the right of screen. In the distance I could see a “huge carving” in the side of the mountain, so I flew towards it.
The Google Map Anomalies clan would go nuts over this!
I found myself at the head of the carving, with the option of entering either eye. I decided on the right one, within which there was a platform and a candelabra. I didn’t seem to be able to do anything with either, at least not as the bird, with the candelabra being too heavy to pick up and no way of interacting with the platform. I had to restore at this point, as a Caponian came to collect me (Zak), after being alerted to my position through my use of the crystal. Eventually I entered the left eye, where I discovered and picked up a scroll, which I then took back and gave to Zak. Switching to Zak, I quickly left the screen so the alien couldn’t get me, and went back to San Francisco. I had to hope that I would somehow be able to do something with the candelabra later, as I was convinced I could do nothing at this point.
Once in San Francisco, I took the quickest path back to Lou’s Loan Shop, where I was informed of my $10000 lotto win! I should point out that at this stage I was running pretty low on funds. I’d always assumed that I would eventually have to restart and play through more efficiently, but winning the lotto made it entirely possible that I could finish the game without having to do so. For now though, it was time to switch to Annie, and to see whether my intuition about fusing the crystal pieces together at Stonehenge was correct. I gave Annie the whiskey, wire cutters and the two pieces of crystal, and then went to the airport and onto London. I quickly gave the guard the bottle of whiskey, turned off the electricity, used the wire cutters on the fence, and then put the two crystal parts on the altar. Nothing happened!
Awesome! Now I can afford the sewing machine I've always wanted!
I tried “using” the crystal pieces and the altar itself, but I just couldn’t get anything to happen. I’d been so certain that this was the right place to try to do this, and the fact I could put both pieces on the altar in the first almost certainly meant that was correct in some way. I remembered that the witchdoctor in Zaire had asked me to return to him with the yellow crystal, and I suddenly wondered if returning to him with the two parts would be enough for whatever progression was to occur. I restored to a recent save game and took Zak to Zaire with the crystal pieces. When I tried to give them to him he said “First, make this shard whole again. Find the place and words of power.” Words of power!? The scroll!
No-one ever gives a straight answer in the world of adventure games
I restored back to San Francisco after I'd just won the Lotto, then gave Annie the two crystal shards, the wire cutters, the whiskey, and the scroll. When I gave Annie the scroll, she began deciphering the scroll and talked about “words of power”. Clearly this was going to work! Long story short, putting the shards on the altar and then using the scroll caused lightning to strike above the altar. However promising that was, the crystal still wasn’t fused together! At first I thought it was just a positioning thing, and I read the scroll from various screen locations, but eventually I was forced to accept that I needed something else. Suddenly I knew exactly what it would be! The flagpole would conduct the lightning!
That has got to hurt a little bit!
So it was that I restored once again to San Francisco and repeated the whole process, but this time I made Zak give the flagpole to Annie too. Once everything was in position at Stonehenge, I used the flagpole on the altar and felt great satisfaction when Annie stuck it into the slot in the stone. I then read the scroll again, and this time the lightning hit the flagpole, fusing the two crystal pieces together in the process. Job done! So I now have the blue crystal and the yellow crystal, and I have a fairly good idea where the white one will be found. I’m getting pretty excited about reaching the conclusion of this game, and am starting to believe that I can get there without any requests for assistance. Now...it’s time to take the yellow crystal to the witchdoctor in Zaire, to see why he’s so interested in the thing. Wish me luck!
I assume you were wearing rubber soles!
Session Time: 2 hours 00 minutesTotal Time: 10 hours 00 minutes
Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've recently written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!