Forbidden City: Stuck   5 comments

Disk for the Macintosh port of Forbidden City, via Mobygames.

Yes, it’s yet another “I didn’t make much progress, but I’m going to try writing anyway” post (a tradition going back to Zork, Philosopher’s Quest and Gargoyle’s Castle). There’s both a walkthrough and hints, but I’ve been resistant because:

a.) I finally got the Futuria file extracted so I can play on a regular Mac emulator (I learned about exciting details like the difference between Apple’s Macintosh File System and Hierarchical File System, experienced the world’s most unhelpful error messages, and finally resolved my issues when I switched to PCE which happened to have the right utilities built in). The amount of effort I put in to get the game to play normally makes me hesitant to just speed through.

…okay, maybe that’s it. A variation on the sunk cost fallacy. The graphics are appealing and the parser doesn’t seem nightmarish (although given the previous game made some awful parser choices, I shouldn’t rely on surface appearances). I suppose I shouldn’t have to excuse patience, which is a … virtue? … but it means a slower blogging schedule.

As usual, I made a full verb list:

Nothing too remarkable to observe but I need to remember USE is in play as sort of a dread wild card (when the game throws in the towel in trying to figure out how to parse an action, USE is the go-to). I also need to keep SMELL in mind, and what’s INVOKE doing there? I think I’ve had that on a grand total of one previous game, the kind of verb like SCRAPE I only leave on the list due to stubbornness. It could be some different verb, but the parser is taking the first four letters, so it has to start INVO. (>INVOICE DRUNK PERSON FOR THE DAMAGES MADE TO THE BAR)

I am stuck with a monorail I can’t move because a voice asks for a coin; I’ve used one to pass through two stops (the second one was underground and dark) but the monorail won’t move any farther without another.

I suppose a reason b.) for being resistant to hints is that the map I’m stuck on is so small. It is possible I missed something earlier, but even including the dark area at the second monorail stop (where I already tried stumbling around, grabbing items off the ground I couldn’t see, etc.) I’m thoroughly scoured everything before this point.

My items available are

Beaker (full of oil): I already used to lubricate a lever in the monorail so it would move, but the beaker can be emptied and filled with another fluid (assuming one comes up).

Green key: Nothing locked yet.

Canister (made of lead) containing a glowing green stone: Radioactive! You die after holding the unshielded stone for enough turns but there isn’t a need I’ve found so far to ditch the container. It is possible the stone is intended as a light source (for the underground area) but I haven’t been able to move the monorail back to it.

Strange Device: Normally glows green, but as noted in the screenshot above, it glows red when radiation is near.

Chemicals: They explode when you MIX them. I haven’t been able to get any other result.

Plastic Rod: “Deadly fumes fill the air” when you BREAK it.

Plastic Card: “Seems to be magnetic.” I’ve tried using it to rescue the coin used earlier to move the monorail to be able to move it again, no luck with any verbs.

Laser Pistol: “There’s a small knob on it and 90 charges.” The knob sets it to overload and explode (you have enough time to drop and run away). You can shoot one of the robots at the construction site but then they all attack and kill you.

I’m still suspicious of the magnetic card, even though I’ve technically run through the entire verb list I’ve made. However, I’m also thinking there might be only one coin; the one I found is described as a “Small Token” as opposed to using some sort of color and COIN works as a synonym; for other items where there are multiples, the parser asks you explicitly to refer to the item by color (that includes, for example, the green key, even though there are no other keys nearby).

If the coin is irretrievable, that leaves either hacking the monorail with some other method, or even just moving on (perhaps at the construction site with the robots). I sincerely doubt the monorail is meant to be ignored now, though, as the “dark area” includes a two-room map; but maybe there’s a loop back to that area?

Going in a “wrong direction” leads to the player character falling and breaking their neck.

I’ve already shown a screenshot of what happens when you try to shoot a robot; if you try to blow them up by setting the laser pistol to explode nothing happens (you can’t throw the pistol at them like with the cube). They’re said to be building a nuclear reactor so possibly the stone will help “make friends” with them — although my efforts towards this so far have been for naught. Still, my intuition tells me the stone is just intended as a light source (meaning the timing of getting sick and dying leads to a timer for how long you can stay in the dark area).

I’m happy to take suggestions if you haven’t played before, but please no outright hints from anyone who has checked the solution (for now).

Posted August 6, 2021 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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5 responses to “Forbidden City: Stuck

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  1. I thick the ‘magnetic’ reference to the plastic card is probably to emphasize that it’s a ‘swipe’ keycard or something similar… then again, with some of the logic in these early games, it might really be a ‘use this card as a magnet’.
  2. What if you blow up the robots at the construction site?

  3. Can you dig the dirt path?

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