Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Game 32: Neuromancer - Yakuza Bliss

Tricky Journal Entry 12: "Today didn't go quite the way I'd expected it to. I had a bunch of cash, but I found myself wishing those Rastafarian guys would speak proper English on Zion! I managed to connect with one of them through the use of dub music, but had no such luck with his friend Maelcum while he transported me to Freeside. Speaking of Freeside, my confidence that I was going to be able to force my way into Bank Gemeinschaft turned out to be unfounded, as the codeword I'd been certain would work, didn't! All is not lost though, as I did figure out how to get into the Tozoku base, and it's there that I found Comlink 6.0. This little find led to quite a bit of cash, which I'm hoping will finally allow me to buy a cyberspace compatible deck. Everyone else seems to have one these days. Why can't I?!"


So, what will I spend Akira O'Brien's paycheck on?

It should be clear by now that Neuromancer is not a perfect game. I won’t have any shortage of things to complain about when I finally get to posting a Final Rating post. However, there’s no denying that making progress in the game comes with a real sense of achievement. I’ve surfing cyberspace now, and boy did I have to work for it! Perhaps there were quicker ways to get there, but I feel like I’ve arrived fairly well equipped to continue my progression forward. I’m getting ahead of myself though, so let’s go back to where I finished my last post. I’d just gotten my hands on $10K by hacking into the Hosaka base, listing myself as an employee, then rocking up to their facility and picking up my weekly pay. This was a huge win, but it wasn’t enough to get me into cyberspace for two reasons. 1. I now had $11051, and even the cheapest cyberspace compatible decks cost around $20000. 2. The manual mentions that you can only get to cyberspace by using Comlink 6.0, which had so far avoided me. I’ve learnt to never look a gift horse in the mouth though, so I pushed ahead with my newly earned funds.


Not very professional to leave the front desk unattended!

Once I’d collected my cash from Hosaka, there didn’t appear to be anything else I could do there. Now that I was free to roam the High-Tech zone as an employee, I paid a visit to the other companies located there. I already knew that Hitachi Bio was bad news (the whole lung thing), so I instead entered Musabori. There was a cyberspace jack on the wall, but apart from that there was nothing to see or do. I couldn’t go anywhere else beyond the front desk, and there were no employees to talk to. Fuji Electric was exactly the same, making me think that either these companies were only there for cyberspace access or their purpose just hadn’t arisen yet. I’d been very interested to see where the entrance at the base of the screen would lead, since there was no logo to be seen. I’d had suspicions that it might be Sense/Net, which Lupus had tried to sell me a security card for, and that turned out to be correct. “Lobby of the Sense/Net headquarters building. There is a Librarian computer terminal on one wall. The security scanner activates at your arrival.” A message emanated from the scanner: “You have 30 seconds to produce your security pass. Failure to comply will result in your removal.”


Removal from the room or removal from this life?

I rushed off to see Lupus, stopping in at Finn’s to purchase the ICE Breaking skill chip (I was determined to implant all ten chips listed in the manual). Once I was back in the Panther Moderns base, I purchased the Evasion skill chip and the Sense/Net Security Pass from Lupus, and then made my way back to the High-Tech Zone. I was down to around $4000 at this point and figured I was going to have to restart at some point and play through in a very specific way if I was going to be able to afford a cyberspace-compatible deck. However, I wanted to find out what this Sense/Net thing was all about before I considered starting again. When the Librarian asked me for my pass, I used the “give” action to use it on the computer. “Clearance approved. You now have limited access to the Librarian. Please enter the identity number of the ROM Construct you require from the Sense/Net library vault.” Huh? I wracked my brain, but couldn’t remember discovering any ROM Construct identity number anywhere in the game. I knew from the manual that a ROM Construct would allow me to utilise the personality, responses, knowledge and memories of another human, but I didn’t understand how that might be useful or whose Construct I might want to use. I had noticed that the Zen skill chip description in the manual mentions that Dixie Flatline was a Zen master, so perhaps I’m to look out for the identity number of Dixie? Maybe I’d already come across it and not noticed?


Um...THX1138? What about HAL9000?

Since spending all my cash on the security card hadn’t really helped me with my cause at this stage, I restored my game back to just collecting my pay at Hosaka, then made my way to the Spaceport. Now that I had the Musicianship skill and the codeword for Bank Gemeinschaft, it was time to travel to Zion and Freeside respectively. I bought a ticket to Zion for $500 and travelled to see the Rastafarian old man. As soon as I arrived I used the Musicianship skill, and was given the option between playing dub, jazz, new wave or classical. I chose dub, since the guy seemed so obsessed with it. “Righteous dub, mon! You ver’ good. Maelcum will help you reach Freeside on his tug, Garvey.” Maelcum? Really? That’s awfully close to being inappropriate, particularly when the guy has a “tug”, but anyway. I was a bit disappointed that winning over the Zion leader was only going to result in me being taken to Freeside. I could have bought a ticket there directly for $1000, which would have been $500 less than it cost for the Zion ticket and the Musicianship chip. There must be another reason to go down this path, and I figured it had to have something to do with Maelcum. I appeared on his ship: “Aboard the Marcus Garvey, an ancient space tug piloted by Maelcum. The walls are covered with Rastafarian symbols. The ship creaks when Maelcum punches in a navigational burn.”


Did you just call me Garvey?

Maelcum spoke to me in the same ridiculous way that the leader did: “Maelcum a rude boy an’ a righteous tugpilot, mon. I an’ I come a spacedock soon.” I had a bunch of different dialogue options that I could use during the trip, including: 1. “How long will it be before we arrive?” 2. “What do you know about Freeside, man?” 3. “Can you help me on Freeside, Maelcum?” 4. “Have you got a jack I can use, man?” and 5. “I don’t understand a word you’ve said. I feel like I need a Rasta Language skill chip.” I asked Maelcum how long it would take to reach Freeside, to which he said “Don’ be long now, m’ seh dat. Time, it be time, ya know wha mean? Dread at control, mon.” No, I can’t say I did know what he meant! I asked him about Freeside, to which he responded with “Freeside be a Babylon port, mon. Lots of banks there, ya know?” No shit Maelcum! I hoped that asking him to help me on Freeside might bear fruit, but he responded with “You listen, Babylon mon. I a warrior. But this no m’ fight, no Zion fight. Babylon eatin’ i’self, ya know?” This wasn’t going very well, but I pushed ahead regardless, asking Maelcum whether or not the Marcus Garvey had a jack I could use: “Sorry, mon. Jack burned out when th’ Case-mon here awhile back.” Case-mon??!! Who or what the hell is that? The final dialogue option seemed to sum up the way I was feeling, so I told Maelcum how I felt about his Rasta language. “Don’ ‘stan’ you, mon, but we mus’ move by Jah love, each one.”


Don' 'stan' you eith'r, mon, but don' think be my 'ssue, mon.

I asked Maelcum about every topic that I could think of, including Zion, Freeside, Maelcum, bank, cyberspace, software, skill chip etc. etc., but he didn’t have anything useful to say. Eventually we reached the destination, and it was clear to me that I’d missed something either on Zion or on the ship. Perhaps it would become clearer later what it was. I’d been to Freeside previously of course, and checked out the three main areas. I wasn’t convinced that I could do anything further in the Bank of Berne or at the Tessier-Ashpool bust in Villa Straylight, so I made my way to Bank Gemeinschaft to try out the codeword I’d received from The Chairman on the Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority board. As you would know from my last post, I was very confident that I had the solution, so was shocked when entering “agabatur” as the codeword was met with “Security code is incorrect. Try again if you made a mistake.” This really set me back!!! Not only had my trip to Zion resulted in nothing, now what I’d assumed would be the key to me gaining the money I needed for a new deck had fallen flat too! I remembered that a message from Chipdancer to Don Quixote on the same board had said “If you’re serious about hitting Bank Gemeinschaft again, EINHOVEN should make it easier”, but using “einhoven” as the code didn’t work either.


Yes! Finally I've cracked into the...what?....WHAT!!!??? What do you mean incorrect?!

After three failed attempts (my third attempt included at least three strong swear words), I was killed by the security system and forced to restore my game. I considered restarting at this point, but spent the next half an hour going through every screenshot I’d taken since first starting Neuromancer, looking for anything I hadn’t followed up on or anything that now clicked when it hadn’t previously. One thing did! While looking through my shots from the Hosaka Corporation base, I noticed the line “Tozoku are YAKUZA, pure and simple.” It stood out to me that the word yakuza was in capital letters, which is the way link codes are generally represented in the game. So while I’d first just thought the capitals were used to emphasise E.D. Cooper’s hatred of his competitor, I now opened up my Gaijin and tried entering “yakuza” as a link code. It worked!!!!!! I used my Scout 1.0 software to find that there were two access levels to the base, and then used my Sequencer 1.0 software to find that the first level password was YAK. There were three menu items available inside, being 1. Order Status, 2. Specials Available and 3. Software Library. As usual, I started from the top.


Surely cowboys connecting from the Cheap Hotel get a discount...right?

The Order Status section reported the location of two cargo ships, named the Star of Iowa and the Popul Vox, that are bringing mutton, Johnson sweaters and a full cargo hold full of pre-Columbian artwork to Tozoku. It mentioned that some of the artwork had been damaged “because of shifting during a typhoon”, but I couldn’t see how any of this information was relevant. The Specials Available section was no more useful, listing the artwork as on special due to the damage and suggesting “many of the pieces are hollow and make for a perfect place to hide valuables.” I really hoped that the Software Library would have something damn important in it and I wasn’t let down! The library contained Blowtorch 1.0 and Decoder 1.0, both of which I previously would have had to buy from Finn, along with a copy of Comlink 6.0!!! This was massive! It meant I could finally access cyberspace, at least I would be able to once I had my hands on a compatible deck. It also meant I could go back to the Hosaka base and upload version 6.0. This got me $7500, taking my total back up to over $14000. It still wasn’t enough, but I figured if I restarted and played through as tightly as I could, it probably would be.


Someone needs to tell Hosaka about torrenting.

Before I did that though, there was one further thing I wanted to check out. To this point I’d not been able to access either the Bank of Zurich base or the NASA base, as Comlink 5.0 had been incompatible with both links. Surely I’d be able to with Comlink 6.0! I tried Bank Zurich, using link code BOZOBANK, and got in! There was only one access level too, so I was going to see all there was to see. Strangely, there was no password for the base, and I found myself staring at five menu options. 1. Open an Account, 2. Current Rates, 3. Of Interest, 4. Message Base, and 5. Account Operations. I tried to open an account, but discovered that the minimum amount I needed to upload was $1000. I wasn’t sure why I would want an account when I already had somewhere to deposit my money, so didn’t go ahead. The Current Rates were similar to what I’d seen on other bank bases, and didn’t really tell me anything of value. The Of Interest section talked about Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting, which had apparently gone up for auction at Christies in London. The Bank of Zurich acted for a potential buyer, but dropped out when the price reached 2.5 billion credits (it ended up selling for a record 5.6 billion!). The winning buyer sold a third world country to be able to afford the painting.


I'd sure feel safe if my cash was held in a bank with no online password

The section finished by reporting that Bank of Berne has had money chiselled from accounts by Cyberspace Cowboys. Bank Zurich’s security specialist Roger Trinculo was quoted as saying “that couldn’t happen here. Things are too tightly controlled at BZO.” That seemed unlikely given there was no password to access their base! There were three messages on the Message Base, and the first one was from Matt Shaw to me. “There’s definitely some strange things going on in the matrix that’s for certain. I’ve not heard from Distress Damsel or the Sumdiv Kid lately. Have you? It’s really strange not to have them out here messing around.” I hadn’t heard from either of them (although I recognised the name Sumdiv Kid), so this message didn’t really give me anything. The other two messages were a conversation between Phillip d’Argent to Thomas Cole at Graceland Foundation. Phillip informed Thomas that he’d taken steps to squash an “unauthorized cloning attempt”, but recommended he “reinforce the concrete over the grave and add cyberhounds to patrol at night to prevent another attempt at resurrection”. If I'm not mistaken, the grave in question held none other than Elvis Presley! Thomas responded by stating that they have an excellent security man named Roger Kaliban, and that they would remain on the lookout for “any strangeness that occurs in our accounts”.


I wouldn't think the Rastafarians would have much interest in The King

This was all very cryptic (excuse the pun), and I couldn’t see how any of it would be important. I therefore moved onto the final section of the base, being the Account Operations section. When I tried to view it I was informed that “You must have an account first.” I really wanted to know what would be there if I did, so I went back to the Open an Account section and uploaded the $1000 required. “Thank you for joining our bank. Your account number is 712345450134.” I was then given access to my account in the Account Operations section, with the standard Download Credits and Upload Credits options you would expect. I assume I will be able to use my account number for something later in the game, but for now I could see no benefit in opening an account. This post is getting a little long, so I might finish up here and start a new one to describe my cyberspace experiences. I thought I’d reach that stage in this post, but I’ve fallen just short. It shouldn’t take long for me to get the next post up though, as I’m very keen to push ahead and finish the game as soon as I can. It won’t be long now, at least that’s what I keep telling myself!


Why do I feel like this money might not remain in my account for long

Session Time: 1 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 30 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!

24 comments:

  1. Case (-mon) is the cowboy from the book, the main character.

    Looking forward to cyberspace!

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    1. Aha! That makes sense. It's not great that they put small snippets from the book into the game without any explanation. Fans of the book would no doubt appreciate them, but they're downright confusing for those of us that haven't read it.

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    2. Yeah, even though I've read the book I'd almost prefered if they didn't as well. The game and the book are set in the same universe, but the stories are mutually exclusive of eachother. Things you do in the game would be impossible if the book took place there, and if the book took place in the game it wouldn't work either.

      So incorporating things from the book in the game is just confusing because you know it could never happen.

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    3. So that's what's happening here! You're not playing the story at all, you're just some random cowboy exploring the world-building. I wish I'd known that at the beginning and not gotten my hopes up. :P

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  2. It feels like with each new post, there's a part of me that is glad I never managed to find my way past the barrier of starting up in this game. My head's aching just a little reading about it!

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  3. Congratulations on getting to cyberspace! It will be a completely different game after this (all downhill from my perspective).

    In case you never need to return to these during the rest of the game, here’s two mysteries solved:
    1) EINHOVEN: Pbhyq vg or rapelcgrq?
    2) Zion: Lbh cebonoyl arire nfxrq gur zna ba Mvba nobhg onaxf (fcrpvsvpnyyl, bar onax gung'f orra crfgrevat lbh).

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  4. As this game's resident champion (relatively speaking), I have been biting my tongue for a million posts now, because I am fairly sure I would let a spoiler slip somehow.

    But I'm getting a lot of joy out of following your progress! It's fun in two ways. The first is to know you are right on the cusp of discovery somewhere, and to anticipate that. The second is to recognize in your struggles the same ones I had as a kid playing through this. If you think it's obtuse now, imagine being 10 years old and fighting through it.

    Interestingly, I found the Rasta guy perfectly intelligible. Either I've had a lot more contact with Rastas and perhaps reggae in general, or it's a cultural thing. It doesn't hurt that I just saw a documentary on Bob Marley, hahaha. Turns out that Rastafarians use "I and I" instead of "we," which will explain a little piece of dialog you encountered.

    Ilmari is right in that the game changes dramatically once in cyberspace, and (I believe) he is also right that it's a lesser game from that point onward - and a shorter one!

    Looking forward to your next post. This has been a really pleasant trip down memory lane for me - thanks for that.

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    1. Comments like this one make it all worth while. Thanks Joseph!

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  5. I'm finally caught up! I did it at the expense of my own blog, but I'm caught up!

    I um, got distracted a lot. Also I'm working full time now, and out several nights a week. Expect to see me around a bit
    less.

    Also: have you considered software that takes a screenshot of the game ever X seconds or minutes? There is quite a bit of it out there, a lot of it free, and it might save you some time vs hand saving images.

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    1. I know you've mentioned this a couple of times and it is a good idea. Given how specific the screenshots need to be to capture all dialogue, I'm not sure I could trust it unless it was taking a shot every two or three seconds!

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    2. You can set that up if you want. It would just save you some time taking each one I think.

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    3. I'd think the time saved on taking screenshots would be less than the time needed to go through them all afterwards. Instead of making sure to take screenshots of just new information and places, you'd end up with countless duplicates of the same image over and over again. With the added possibility of still missing information if you're too quick on moving forwards.

      Imagine going through them for information when you have 4000 of them, most being from repeatedly playing through the opening sequence. :p

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    4. Fair point. Have you considered using Infranview and its various view folder modes to help you sort through them?

      The other idea would be as a backup in case you miss anything.

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  6. Full Throttle might be coming for Steam/GOG: http://www.flesheatingzipper.com/gaming/2013/06/rumor-full-throttle-perhaps-other-lucasarts-classics-coming-soon-to-gogsteam/

    Just a rumor, but still...

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    Replies
    1. That would be fantastic, so many good adventure games are just sitting there, begging to be let out of limbo.

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    2. Oh I so hope so. I remember I loved Full Throttle but don't remember anything about it

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  7. Whereas what I'd deem to be probably the first of the kickstarted remake/sequels/spiritual successors etc are now out. Leisure suit Larry 1 is a very strange game to have achievements for....

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  8. http://www.gog.com/gamecard/leisure_suit_larry_reloaded

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  9. GOG Sale: Telltale Adventures (Tales of Monkey Island, Episodic Sam & Max, and Back to the Future The Game): http://www.gog.com/news/nodrm_summer_day_11_telltale_adventures_85_off_and_bullfrog_classics_75_off

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  10. Jack Keane 2: The Fire Within is released on Steam as of today, and it's on sale for 20% off (23.99 instead of 29.99) until July 5th.

    http://store.steampowered.com/app/236970/

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    1. And it's on GoG too, same sale price, if you prefer them over Steam.

      http://www.gog.com/gamecard/jack_keane_2_the_fire_within

      Delete
  11. A bit offtopic, but if any of our aussie friends wants to meet with Ron Gilbert, apparently there is a Double Fine BBQ in Melbourne on the 20th. More details here:

    http://grumpygamer.com/4040516

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  12. Actually there is a password for Bank Zurich but it is not a common type of security. I mean even though using Sequencer 1.0 displays “no password” you are unable to access the database by typing it or ignoring the pass. Suffice to say access to this database is limited to using Sequencer or via cyberspace.

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