Mummy’s Curse: Lung, Strength, Snake   8 comments

Continuing from last time, the portion inside the pyramid turned out to be relatively straightforward. It’s starts off feeling like it’s going to be a maze in the “you need to drop objects” tradition, but I realized fairly quickly that something else was going on. I had already had a nagging feeling about the image on the back wall where the inscription was…

…so I tried matching it with what I had so far in my map, and found it worked as long as I turned the map upside-down. The small rectangles to the south and east are because going those directions “leaves the pyramid” but drops the player in a pit. (The one to the west is something else, which I’ll show off in a moment.)

What’s canny here is that the way the rooms repeat makes this a little non-obvious — there’s a “blue sky” room, for instance, that shows up at each of the three “entrances” (although remember two are just by death pits)…

…so that on my first foray (admittedly wandering randomly) I got befuddled by assuming there was only one blue-sky room, even though the map is pure N/S/E/W with only “extended connection length” fouling things up and no nonsensical connections; no loops or hidden turns. It is the first adventure game maze I’ve enjoyed in a while. (I think the key move here, in an author-conceptual sense, was to be unafraid to make things easy, and to add just enough of a wrinkle so to avoid the puzzle being simplistic.)

The maze has matches, a flashlight, gold coins, and a “full ewer” (which can serve as a water source and be refilled; there’s a “thirst timer” in this game just like Elephant Graveyard but it is much more generous on number of moves).

The flashlight lets you poke into a dark section the west side of the pyramid, entering from the outside. I expected another large area but instead got a clue.

This turned out to be a helpful clue; HORUS, APEP, AND SMA are the names of the amulets in the game. I had found SMA and tried to use it and it did seem to “activate” but I wasn’t sure what was going on. It turns out in all the cases the amulets simply provide a “persistent effect” that gets applied later and then used up. (Again, I think the authors were really shooting for easier here — a more typical situation from this time period would be to require use of the amulet immediately before an obstacle.) There still was something of a twist to the setup, as it is possible to use the resource in the wrong place. Back to the mountains and the Nile river, I had drowned when I tried to swim across…

…but if you’ve used SMA, you survive (although your possessions are swept away by the water). This originally led me to suspect this simply meant I needed to be unencumbered, but past the river there was another deadly section.

The Mummy’s Tomb (seen above) is just past, but stepping inside you find the air is thin and pass out and die. This is where the SMA effect is needed, so if you use it too early you die right after. So the solution is to find a different route across the Nile. I liked this resource-being-used-up puzzle insofar as a.) the punishment for using the resource came right after, so there wasn’t a long period of walking dead b.) the loss of possessions was another hint maybe something was wrong and c.) it was genuinely pleasurable to hit the solution, as it required insight across time as well as space. (Shades of Hadean Lands, here.) That is, rather than thinking in terms of I-have-object-X-where-does-it-go (which this game does have a lot of) I needed to think more in a story sense about the events that happened.

Speaking of where does object X go, the gold coins go to the merchant selling a shovel and knife I mentioned last time, and fair warning, stereotyping ahead.

There’s some more Fu Machu style dialogue after making a purchase but I’ll spare you that. I’m not sure what Fu Manchu is doing in Egypt.

Relatedly, with the second stereotypical character, Abdul the palace guard from last time, you just get by by using SAY HI.

I came up for this by testing HELP to see what the verb would do and the game told me SAY HI was useful. It also said MAKE was handy, which will be important later.

The only other things in the palace are an empty room with a table (“BROTHER THIS GUY DOESN’T HAVE MUCH OF A PALACE.”) and a passage sealed with dirt and straw I haven’t gotten by yet.

QUICK INTERLUDE ON THE STEREOTYPES

We’ve certainly hit a few before, most egregiously in Earthquake San Francisco 1906, but what I find fascinating is the (relatively) low level of hostility in their use. The SAY HOW from Ghost Town raised my hackles…

I can also see: Indian ghost

>LOOK GHOST
OK
I see
nothing special

>SAY HOW
How?
Geronimo says: “Its easy! Happy Landings!”

…but it was intended as a joke based on Westerns, as opposed to Westerns using the stereotype “straight” giving the damaging impression of indigenous people having simplistic language. Geronimo responds to the joke in English and it could almost be a scene from Little Big Man if the context was tweaked slightly. I still hold it is Not Good, but at least it was trying. It’s a little bit how certain 1990s authors would write “strong women” while not quite shaking off old ways. (Guess the Famous Author: “Slender and barely taller than Mat’s shoulder, at the moment the Wisdom seemed taller than any of them, and it did not matter that she was young and pretty.”)

Getting by the friendly palace guard by just saying hi seems to play on the hostile-Arabian-region stereotype most famously explicated in the original opening song of Disney’s Aladdin. (It had the line “Where they’ll cut off your ears if they don’t like your face”, which was removed in all home-release versions.) Trying to attack him (or anyone else) has the game explain

YOU UNFORTUNATELY ARE THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN BE KILLED

INTERLUDE OFF

Moving on with our bounty from the shop, the shovel can be taken to “something buried in the sand” in the desert to reveal stairs leading to a crypt.

Inside are a number of art pieces, and the HORUS (strength) amulet.

There’s also a “religious altar” next to an ax. You can take incense (laying in the open in the mountains) and light it to open a secret passage with the APEP (snake) amulet.

From here I was a bit stuck but thought back to the hint about needing to make things, and a locked gate in the mountains. I happened to have a stick (again out in the open in the mountains) and thought, well, if I got really lucky, maybe I could just make a key to fit. Lo and behold:

Behind the gate was a forest with some hemp. The hemp could be used to MAKE ROPE, the trees could be cut (with the ax) to get some logs, and the rope and logs combine to MAKE RAFT.

With the power of the raft I was able to go back to the Nile and get across without removing my lung power. Then I could get inside the mummy’s tomb, with SMA saving me:

I’m not sure what to do next. I suspect I need to enter stealthily, but I’m running low on items I haven’t used yet. My inventory is

FULL EWER, FLASHLIGHT, MATCHES, AX, KNIFE, SHOVEL, WOODEN KEY, RAFT

and rather nicely, the game hasn’t shown any kind of inventory limit so the list is everything still available. But I’ve used all of it! (The knife was needed to carve the key.) That doesn’t mean there isn’t re-use, but the only puzzle remaining is the dirt-and-straw filled passage in the palace, and the shovel is being no help there, so perhaps I’m missing a room exit? I also haven’t encountered an opportunity to use the strength or snake abilities.

I still suspect I’m nearing close to the end. The map ended up fairly large but the puzzles have generally gone briskly. There’s been a real sense of being an explorer (as opposed to crawling inch by inch trying to get to the next available part).

Posted September 3, 2021 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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8 responses to “Mummy’s Curse: Lung, Strength, Snake

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  1. This isn’t about this game, but felt it pertained to your interests ;-)

    https://kotaku.com/devs-game-finally-works-after-fixing-40-year-old-typo-1847614103

    -Lucian

    • I’ve been in correspondence with the developer (you’ll notice he dropped a comment recently at this blog) and he links to my web page. I’ll be writing about the game next after Mummy’s Curse (which will be quite soon).

      Neat he showed up in Kotaku! I wonder how it ended up there.

  2. Perhaps the Snake amulet lets you move silently, like a snake?

  3. I simply can’t wait to see how (if?) you sooner the final puzzle. Truly one of the most confusingly obtuse adventure game puzzles ever.

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