So now that I have Comlink 3.0, I assume I can erase 1.0 and 2.0. They're taking up valuable RAM.
A couple of readers have suggested that Neuromancer would at some stage just “click”, and things would start to make a bit more sense. As despondent as my intro sounded, I’m happy to announce that I’ve reached that stage of the game! My wife is currently away, meaning I’ve actually had an opportunity to really get my teeth into it (after putting my daughter to bed of course). Last night I played Neuromancer for two and a half hours straight, and made some really solid progress! It does mean that I’m now well behind on posting, particularly when I note that each post has so far only been covering about 30 minutes of play, but it was something I felt I needed to do if I was going to get my head around all the information I’ve collected, and also to start enjoying the game more. There’s every chance that I’ll be writing up to three posts (possibly more) before I get to play again, but the enthusiasm I’ve gained should help me get them out pretty quickly. My last post ended with me scouring through the Panther Moderns base with my newly downloaded Comlink 3.0. That wasn’t the only base I’d not been able to access with 2.0, so I’ll start this one with my attempts to access the rest.
The Bank of Zurich really needs to learn about backwards compatibility!
Psychoanalysis between a patient and a computer. Scary!
Molly Sample: Someone called Molly is constantly stressed that Yakuza assassins are after her and her boy Johnny after the two of them took one of the assassins out that was trying to retrieve data stored in Johnny’s head for the purpose of bribery. Sigmund’s diagnosis after four visits from Molly was that “the strain of your illegal activities is distorting your view of reality by directing your psychic energies into unhealthy channels, such as paranoia.” Corto Sample: Some crazy guy call Colonel Corto was going on and on about having to testify and “tell them all of about Girling and the others”. None of it made much sense and the diagnosis (by a psychologist named Friedrich) was that Corto was most likely on a bad trip and that “the strain of your activities in Screaming Fist is distorting your view of reality”. I’d heard of Screaming Fist on the Panther Moderns board, where Polychrome mentioned being able to get Easy Rider 1.0 from their base, but otherwise it meant nothing to me. Snowman Sample: This one was more interesting, with Snowman talking about a scary experience he had in the matrix. Something started tailing him while he was “buzzin the green cubes of the Mitsubishi B of A”. He tried to evade it by using Mimic and Probe, but it kept coming! Snowman barely had time to jack out before the thing nailed him, and was certain it was “controlled by some sorta intelligence”. Alfred’s diagnosis was that Snowman should “retire from cyberspace and get a real job”, since “things like that just can’t happen in cyberspace”.
"Pay me more often and I'll regurgitate the same vague diagnosis endlessly"
I didn’t take much from any of that, apart from the fact something weird was going on in cyberspace (which I was already well aware of). On a positive note though, while I was going through my screenshots looking for the Screaming Fist reference, I stumbled across one of the ads I’d received on the bulletin board way back in my first session. I’d mistakenly assumed the Armitage message was nothing more than an advertisement, and now I was wondering about another one. It had read “Need some quick cash? Come and see us at Hitachi Biotech in the high-tech zone of Chiba City. We need volunteers for a simple experiment that won’t require much of your time.” I'd since learnt that the high-tech zone is beyond the blocked off section where a machine was asking me who I worked for, it suddenly dawned on me that the answer to the question might very well be Hitachi Biotech. I quickly made my way back to the barricade and checked out my dialogue options. One of them was “I’m a volunteer for Hitachi Biotech”! I tried saying it, and the machine responded with “You are cleared for limited access. Please proceed directly North to Hitachi Biotech. Be aware that you will not be allowed admittance to any other buildings in this zone.” I was then able to pass the barrier.
I can't understand why I didn't see this option the first time I arrived here. Perhaps I never checked my dialogue options?
I then found myself on a screen with five company entrances. I couldn’t see what company one of them was for since it was at the base of the screen, but the other four were Fuji, Hitachi Biotech, Hosaka and what looked like Husabori. I tried entering all of them, but just as the machine had said, the only one I could get into was Hitachi Biotech. Inside was a woman in a lab coat, who asked me if I was a “volunteer for the lung experiment”. That didn’t sound promising, but my dialogue options left me with little choice apart from saying yes. “Great! We’re currently paying our volunteers $3000 apiece. Wait here and I’ll be back in a few minutes.” I then had the opportunity to walk around the room for a while by myself, yet despite feeling like I was supposed to do something, simply couldn’t. The interface is so limited that there’s no way I could open, pick up or even look at anything. I couldn’t leave either, so I simply had to wait until the woman came back. Perhaps I could use a particular chip while in the room (none of the ones I had seemed likely), but I couldn’t think of what I might achieve. On her return the woman informed me that I would likely feel no pain during the experiment, but that “it’ll hurt like hell” afterwards. She then took my lungs, thanked me, and sent me on my way!
Yes, in the same way Freddy Krueger likes to have fun!
Once outside, I noticed that my constitution had dropped from 2000 to 1850, but I was $3000 richer! A trip to the Body Shop a bit later on would reveal that I would have got $3000 from the guy there for my lungs too, so there must some other reason to do the experiment. Feeling like a really should restore, I decided to try my luck telling the machine that I worked for some of the other companies beyond the barrier. Saying “I work for fuji” resulted in the machine telling me that I wasn’t a listed employee, and once I tried Hosaka it summoned the authorities and I found myself back in court. I restored back to before the horrific experiment and re-entered the Psychologist base. This time I entered my own personal password, which gave me level 2 access to the base. Now I had the opportunity to start my own mindprobe session, and I was informed that the “fee will be based on the severity of your problem”. I was then faced with “Enter your thoughts”, and a blank screen just waiting for me to type something. This took me by surprise, and I had no idea what to type. I also had serious doubts that the game was going to have the intelligence to decipher anything that I might input. I entered my thoughts regardless...
I can add Zenic Reverie to the list now
As you might expect, the diagnosis was fairly vague, telling me that I seem to be concerned with my well-being, that my illegal activities seem to be the source of my stress, and that I should relax and take a vacation. Maybe I’ll find a use for the service later in the game, but for now I decided to move on. I looked over my notes and found one reminding myself to ask Julius Deane about Cryptology and skill chips, since Modern Miles had told the Modern Panthers board that they should. This trip proved profitable, since asking about Cryptology revealed that Julius had an upgrade to version 2 available for sale, and asking about skill chips revealed that he had no less than four available to check out. I hadn’t yet found a use for my Cryptology skill, let alone needed an upgrade, so I hung onto the $2500 he was asking for, at least for now. The four skill chips he had for sale were Bargaining, Psychoanalysis, Phenomenology and Philosophy, with each of them costing $1000. Only one of those skills was listed in the manual, with Bargaining described as: “Used before purchasing things in the Real World, this skill can bring the price down. Most people already know this trick or they have a Bargaining skill chip of their own, so it won’t always work.”
Phenomenology? I really hope I don't need to deal with the philosophical study of subjective experience and consciousness in this game!
Since I’d restored to a save game fairly early on, I had plenty of cash on me, so I thought I’d buy all the chips and see if I could figure out what they did. After implanting them all, I set off to visit one of the computer stores to try out the Bargaining skill. I had screenshots of the original prices, so I was hoping to see a significant difference to justify the $1000 purchase price of the chip. Something interesting happened on the way! I’d walked through a particular screen containing a sign for Chin’s Pawn Shop and a lamppost a few times already, but this time there was a woman there, in a revealing red dress. Her profession was made immediately apparent when she said “Hey, sailor. New in town?” I had a few different dialogue options available to me, including “I’m not a sailor. Do I look like one?”, “Buzz off, sister. Zone’s a close personal friend of mine.” and “Drop dead.” All of these resulted in her telling me to go away and then disappearing, but choosing “Yes, I’m new around here. Why?” at least let me continue the conversation. I recalled that Ratz had told me that one of Lonny Zone’s girls was looking for me way back in the first scene of the game. I figured this must be her!
Tricky really has a way with women!
The woman responded with “You look lost. Something I can do for you?” None of my dialogue options seemed very good to me, being “Got any good software?”. “I doubt it. I’m not lost.” and “I can’t afford your kind of help.” In fact, all of them resulted in her simply going away, usually with a sly remark! However, I was able to ask her about whatever topic I wanted, and also where a particular place is located. Perhaps the hooker is only there to give out information on stuff? Given the connection to Lonny, I asked her whether she knew anything about “Lonny Zone”. She replied with “Lonny was picked up by the feds for tax evasion. He said the wrong thing to the judge and was given the death penalty.” Well that wasn’t what I’d expected! It didn’t look like I was going to find out what my relationship with Lonny was or why “one of his girls” was looking for me. I also asked her about Armitage, since he’d given me $10000 and then never showed up to make me earn it. “I heard they set a trap for him in front of the Matrix Restaurant.” Hmmmm, was I supposed to think that Armitage was just out of the way now, leaving me with the $10K and no consequences? What sort of trap? I asked a bunch of other questions (software, chips, cyberspace etc.), but only got stock answers such as “Yeah, sure. I’ve got a degree in Computer Science and I just work the street for laughs.”
I hope there was a telephone booth there!
I eventually had the opportunity to test out my new Bargaining chip, but sadly it made absolutely no difference to the pricing I was offered in the computer stores. The Gaijin deck was still $3600 in both stores, meaning I really had to question the value of purchasing the chip off Julius. I also tried using it on Julius himself when purchasing the gas mask, but it still cost $300. I also tried using some of the other chips I’d purchased off Julius, including Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, but couldn’t see that they achieved anything. I’m really hoping that at some point I gain the ability to find out what certain skill chips can be used for, since the manual list is by no means exhaustive. For now, I’ll stick to the plan of purchasing only those chips that are described in the manual and that I can find a good use for. That pretty much rules out all four that I purchased during this session. Well, this post is probably long enough now, yet once again I’ve only covered thirty minutes of game time. As soon as I press Post, I intend to begin writing the next one, and will try to push them through as quickly as I can. I want to play the game again, and I expect you guys will tire of this well before I'm done!
If the bargaining chip doesn't let me buy a deck for less, then what good is it?
Session Time: 0 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 00 minutes
Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've 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!