Hamil: I’m Sorry I’ve Nothing Stronger to Offer You   9 comments

> DRINK WATER
Well, you weren’t all that thirsty, but you take a long drink of water. I’m sorry I’ve nothing stronger to offer you.

I have completed the game, although I did need hints for the last handful of obstacles. My prior posts are needed for this one to make sense.

From Every Game Going.

Previously, I ended on a puzzle I was tantalizingly close to solving, although I had only theorized a connection: a room giving the names of explorers and trying to reach a Snark without being vaporized. The wall messages were randomized and there were eight of them:

Peary
Captain Scott
Columbus
Marco Polo
Peary and Columbus
Peary and Marco Polo
Scott and Columbus
Scott and Marco Polo

Eight possibilities, and eight directions, where four of them list two things: this was listing north, south, east, and west with the combinations being NE/SE/SW/NW. I originally had looked at the letters of the names themselves, but I then realized the explorers were associated with particular directions. North for arctic explorer Peary, south for Scott, west for Columbus, and east for Marco Polo. So that message was just a code for a single direction.

You are in a small room with exits to the southeast and northwest. The whole of one wall is taken up with a large painted mural, which shows the explorations of Peary.

So the description above means: go to the Snark area, take the north direction, then go all the way down.

In the room there is a Snark burbling frumiously to itself. As you approach, it gives you an uffish look and then disappears completely. You are in a large cellar with walls of Lewis coral which has obviously been designed as a home for some exotic beast. There is a narrow exit upwards.
There is a box of sapphires here!

From The Hunting of the Snark.

Speaking of close-to-solving parts, I had last time theorized the piece of wood was a boomerang, but when the response to THROW WOOD was underwhelming I just assumed it wasn’t. I still decided, perhaps, I could attract the attention of a flying jackdaw which held something shiny, maybe it would try to play “chase the stick” or build something out of it (crows are known for using tools like sticks).

You are at the eastern end of the great court.
There is a jackdaw flying around in circles far above you.
Something it is carrying in its beak glisters in the sunlight.
> THROW WOOD
The boomerang catches the jackdaw a passing blow, knocking it to the ground, dead. The weapon itself continues in flight.

Erf. Unexpected violence, but at least that’s resolved.

I poked around with more confidence at the remaining issues. I had a creature (a “baby hexapod”) that was crying for its mama, and pondering my verb list I had gathered, I noticed I hadn’t used FEED yet, so I decided to try it.

> feed creature
The hexapod gobbles up the steak greedily after which it calms down considerably, only occasionally burping and saying “Mama?”

I hadn’t specified the steak, the game did that for me automatically because I was holding it. (Sort of a minor variant of point-and-click adventures having puzzles solved by clicking in the right spot but not knowing beforehand want the action will be. Brief plug for Joey Jones writing about the slow evolution of verb-full to verb-less in Lucasarts games.)

I still needed to find Mama, and I was rather short on places to go. I had, in full:

  • a forest area that caused sleep
  • a cave blocked by undergrowth that a dragon was able to burn, except I couldn’t get by the dragon’s fire after
  • a regular wall of fire
  • a rocky plain where going in direction caused death
  • a pit with a “furry arm” that comes out and kills you if you try to go by
  • a “fish room” with pictures of fish
  • a room full of dust (I thought at the time it might be decoration, although it isn’t)
  • a statue too heavy to move

The only plausible location seemed to be the rocky plain, so I managed to get success on my first try:

You drop the hexapod to the ground. It runs off to the south.
OK.

Following the hexapod leads to the parents:

The baby hexapod runs into the arms of a much larger isomorphic creature, obviously its parent. In a similar high-pitched voice this creature squeaks “We thank you for seeing our little Alpha Centauri home safely to us. Pray accept this reward – such baubles are of no interest to us but we understand that they are highly regarded by humanoids.” She then drops a string of pearls at your feet and the two of them disappear down a hole in the ground, which at once closes after them.
You are on the rocky plain.
There is a string of pearls here!

Again, another very self-contained puzzle. So self-contained, that the overall game meta structure was starting to look like this:

This doesn’t hold completely — the vampire had documents which led to the vault, for instance, and the egg/dragon setup has a second part to completely solve the puzzle — but the generally flat structure made still made me suspicious about one item in particular, a bottle with a djinn.

> OPEN BOTTLE
A huge djinn appears from the bottle with a WHOOSH. He says sonorously “Many thanks, oh effulgent one! I will help thee if it be in my power.” He then vanishes and reappears after a short while, saying “I have done thee service to the best of my powers, oh lustrous one! Farewell!” The djinn then vanishes for good.

I had been trying in various places to use the djinn in the bottle as the solution to a puzzle, but maybe the djinn doesn’t really do anything at all other than provide the bottle it was in! Thinking in those terms, I burned the djinn somewhere random (I did mark my save game with an X as a branch in reality in case this was wrong) and then used the bottle to scoop up some water. This is sufficient to defuse both the dragon and the wall of fire. (ADD: Paul points out in the comments that the djinn moves the tapestry from the start of the game to the vault. I didn’t even notice that! I will gladly still take a right solve for wrong reasons.)

You are in the forest. There are paths to the west, northwest and southwest. To the east is the entrance to the cave. There seems to have been a fairly large fire here recently.
There is a baby dragon here, breathing fire towards you.
> THROW WATER
You throw the water at the baby dragon, whose flames are thoroughly quenched. It gives you a reproachful look and then flies off into the distance.

The wall of fire quenching led to a jeweled helmet (another treasure) and getting past the dragon led to a cave with a first folio of Shakespeare (yet another treasure) and nothing else. The flat structure arises again.

This left me rather stuck. I really didn’t have anything for the statue, but I could try the creature in the pit some more.

As you reach the edge of the pit a large furry arm reaches out and pulls you into the murky depths. There are horrendous sounds of snarling and your body is wrenched to pieces and then eaten.

I was able to throw it things and have them get eaten, so I strongly suspected I needed to poison it somehow, but I didn’t find anything on the map that remotely seemed like poison. I’m still honestly a touch puzzled here — did I miss a clue? — but the key was the room of “dust” which I guess is something a bit stronger:

You are in a small chamber the floor of which is covered by a thick layer of white dust. There are exits to the west and southeast.

You can poison something (I tried the bird I had killed earlier with the boomerang) and toss it in.

You throw the jackdaw into the pit.
There are sounds of roaring and threshing in the pit.
Suddenly there is an almighty screech followed by silence.

This lets you get by and pick up some “dilithium crystals”, another treasure, and yes, another “dead end” in terms of structure.

Going back to my list, this left

  • a forest area that caused sleep
  • a “fish room” with pictures of fish
  • a statue too heavy to move

The forest and statue are connected. Specifically, you’re supposed to eat a piece of cheese that I had been toting around, thinking I’d give it to an animal. Somehow the cheese causes a dream in the sleepy area.

> EAT CHEESE
Well, you weren’t really hungry, but you eat the cheese all the same. Don’t blame me if you get indigestion.
> S
You enter a luxurious grove in which the atmosphere is so heady that you fall asleep almost at once. The cheese you ate so recently gives you terrible nightmares, from which you are glad to awaken. The most vivid one is about a stone statue and a man calling out “NOMET”.

I’ve never had food-induced nightmares before, but I’ve heard it is a Real Thing. What was interesting here is how it played against my adventurer tendency to Avoid Consuming Items — that is, having something disappear by eating it is often the wrong move. Someone less experienced in adventures would be more likely to come across the solve early here.

You can take this word over to the statue — fortunately there were so few puzzles left this seemed like an obvious choice — and speak it, and this will cause the statue to come alive and walk its way over to the vault for you.

Finally, there’s the fish room, which seems to follow no logic at all to this solve, and I just had to have the hints tell me what to do:

You are in a square room whose walls gleam with pictures of fish of every description… turbot, halibut, you name it. A passage leads back to the north.
> OFF
On the western wall the word SWAMP seems to stand out from the surrounding blackness, as though produced by a thousand glow-worms.

I guess this happened in Acheton once — you had to turn the lamp off in a room — but here it really seems completely unclued. Again I wonder if I missed something.

Unfortunately getting SWAMP gets you nowhere, there’s a second trick. SWAMP indicates a magic word, but it is in code: encoded by the same code as THE PASSWORD IS (something) from much earlier.

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
R      I   SEA H  OT  P DW

At least the O’GRAM bit signaled the code being significant, but SWAMP is a word and the “decryption” isn’t:

> OPREH
A concealed exit in the south wall silently slides open.
> S
You are in a small cupboard south of the fish room.
The lost ruby of Hamil is here!

Not a fan. But that’s the last of the treasures, so it’s on to the endgame, which is one turn exactly.

You are in the vault.
There is an elegantly carved boomerang here!
There is an antique silver goblet here!
There is a richly bejewelled helmet here!
There is an enormous tapestry here!
There is a diamond ring here!
The ancient crown of the Kings of Hamil is here!
There is a platinum bust of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle here!
There is a string of pearls here!
There is a box of sapphires here!
There is a first folio of Shakespeare here!
There is a huge marble statue by Michaelangelo here!
The lost ruby of Hamil is here!
There is an oil painting by Van Gogh here!
There are some emeralds here!
There are some priceless dilithium crystals here!
There is a golden crozier here!

Suddenly a narrow crack in the wall begins to widen. You rush for it and manage to squeeze through, leaving your possessions behind in the vault, before it closes again. On looking at your new surroundings, you find that…

You are in the departure lounge for Valhalla, a spacious room filled with riches of every kind. There are a dozen dancing maidens standing in one corner of the room, looking expectantly at you. Heavenly sounds fill the air. On the wall there are three notices, which read ZPNT NAM TPMHA SAYMAL? ZPNT ZNL TPM WPANLM? and ZPNT HL TPM LMT, LSATMY?

The encrypted messages (same system as before) are asking

WHAT ARE THEIR ORDERS
WHAT WAS THE PHRASE
WHAT IS THE SET, SORTED

and I sort of had to right idea and set to work trying to anagram the letters R I SEA H OT P DW. I had reached 299/300 points by now so I was past my patience point. It is possible if I hadn’t been anxious I might have realized on my own there was an alternate perspective: to list out the plaintext letters and write what the corresponding encrypted letters are (rather than the other way around).

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
N  YM  PH     SW ALT  Z

So to win you have to type NYMPHS WALTZ.

> NYMPHS WALTZ
The nymphs burst into a round of applause, a hidden orchestra plays the Blue Danube, and you waltz the night away. After this you all embark on the ship for Valhalla and set sail, watched by a cheering crowd of hobgoblins, orcs, hexapods and many other exotic beings.

You scored 300 points out of a maximum of 300.
Perhaps you really are quite clever. Well done!

This game was fascinating as a sort of mini-version of all the evil Phoenix games that had come before. Simplified in structure, condensed in size, smoothed out in difficulty, with a few rough edges (like the fish room, which I still don’t understand) remaining.

I can’t say I “immersed myself” in a world the same I did with, say, Deadline. The narrative is clearly not the point; attacking this was definitely more akin to tackling a puzzle from a magazine or newspaper which happened to give feedback to actions. This clearly fed to something in the British taste because these games allegedly sold quite well for their time, and we have, of course, a plentitude more to look forward to.

I can say while this certainly didn’t have the ambition of the prior games, even given the “don’t stay in the same room or you’ll die by aardvark” timer, it was in its own way the most pleasing.

(Incidentally, I did finally find a safe zone — you can hang out at the fountain at the court as long as you want without getting killed. Makes a decent base for storing objects so you can sort through inventory and think without getting gutted.)

Posted April 19, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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9 responses to “Hamil: I’m Sorry I’ve Nothing Stronger to Offer You

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  1. The djinn does do something useful. He transports the tapestry from the window room to the vault.

  2. Cheese, in particular, causing nightmares is an old and widespread myth, showcased in Windsor McKay’s pre-“Little Nemo” comic, “Dream of the Rarebit Fiend.” For example: https://i.pinimg.com/736x/fa/1d/bc/fa1dbc2241d89ce3be15df7ce55b3e98–winsor-mccay-ohio.jpg

  3. LEWIS CORAL

    did they just

    Did I miss it, or am I thinking of the wrong game, but what became of SHAKE?

  4. I want to ask about the illustrations you used in the articles. I don’t know if I missed something but I’m curious about the first one, the blank sea chart in the very first article.

    • That’s straight from Hunting of the Snark. I used the scans from this link. It’s from near the start of Fit the Second.

      He had bought a large map representing the sea,

      Without the least vestige of land:

      And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be

      A map they could all understand.

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