Asylum II: The Lair of the Master Mystic   11 comments

I’ve reached the ending, and if you’ve arrived here from elsewhere you should read the previous posts on this game first.

Last time I left off being sent to find a kill the Master Mystic and bring back proof of his defeat. (Spoiler: he does not get “defeated”, exactly.) I received an ivory key and found a heptagon of doors to explore.

The heptagon included:

1. A “fix-it man” that quickly throws me out

2. An entomologist

3. A philosopher who wants a book of law

4. A “bored” terrorist who is in the same room as a vending machine

5. An exterminator; the game specifically says you need to TIPTOE to go inside, otherwise he throws you out

You can unlock other doors, but unlike Asylum 1, there isn’t a high density where you have to check over each and every one; there’s signals once you are outside each door that it goes somewhere, like “you smell bug spray” for the exterminator.

After a quick-runthrough of the encounters above I decided to go back to the original hexagon and check for more exits. There were three on the “outside ring” that were unlockable with the ivory key.

The heptagon, via Magic Chris.

Two of them led to a short passage which links directly with the heptagon (it is shown in the map above). Each of the short passages includes an extra passage; when entering, I saw rats in hallways but shortly after died from rat poisoning via the exterminator I had met earlier.

The third led to a brand-new area which took a while to map.

Part of the trouble were “revolving doors” (which I’ve depicted on the map as barrels in the corners). When stepping in any of the adjacent squares, you get spun around rapidly with the screen flashing before getting flung in some nearby direction. I suspected something useful in the 3 by 3 gap of my map. I tried spinning around quite a few times before concluding this was a trap of some sort that needed to be evaded with a new item from elsewhere or I needed an alternate route to get in.

The spinning is out of your control once entering a revolving spot. I would show the animation but there’s also a lot of blinking.

The other parts of trouble are another teleport (from northwest to southeast, at least how I have my map oriented) and a very random area marked “BEWARE THESE HALLS” which is nearly impossible to map (the only reason to go in is to pick up a knife, which I’ll discuss more of shortly).

Once I had the issues above settled I had, newly found, a knife, a rope, a banana peel (which you slip and fall on when you first encounter it), and a rat suit. Unable to be picked up was an electric catapult, which you can try to ride by sitting and pushing a button.

I discovered a few things messing around with the items:

a.) if you examine the banana peel you find a caterpillar (yes, that goes to the entomologist)

b.) if you drop the peel and walk around and step on it a second time you get approached by a lawyer who tells you that you should sue and gives you a law book (yes, that goes to the philosopher)

c.) if you STAB ME WITH KNIFE you find out it is a trick knife

The last one was an absolutely random find: I was messing around with the fact ME was on the vocabulary list and trying to ATTACK ME WITH BANANA PEEL and finding out that this makes you considered violent so you get warped to electro-shock therapy and then the starting cell (this is useful for fast travel). So I tried STAB ME WITH KNIFE as well:

This was immediately after an electro-shock treatment, which I guess didn’t work.

Going back to that list in order: the entomologist eyes your catepillar as you walk in:

In “thanks” he parades his trained army ants, which then proceed to eat you.

The philosopher is a little more peaceful: he takes the law book and leaves you a “nirvana scroll” in trade.

I guess legalese has this effect on people.

For the knife, I was truly, horribly, stuck, and needed help from Will Moczarski, who explained that I needed to go over to the bored terrorist and do a repeat performance of the stab-self-with-knife scene.

Ugh. Even thinking in a cartoon-y, stereotypical sense, I’m not sure what about this would impressive to a terrorist. This has my vote for worst puzzle in the game.

This leaves behind a vending machine, wherein you can insert a coin.

If you attempt to insert a coin the game states “Broken! Please tell the author of Asylum II immediately!” This might normally be a problem except I already met the author of Asylum II.

Back at the maze area with the revolving doors, there’s also two rooms with people: a “picnicker” who throws you out shortly after you enter, and William Denman. And yes, you can refer to Denman as INMATE:

He goes off to fix the machine and then disappears from the game.

Heading back to the machine and inserting a coin in the now-functioning machine, I got a bomb. Let’s take a solve-it-yourself moment, since everything you need to solve the puzzle is in this post: do you know where the bomb goes?

Remember that attempting to use the catapult results in your splatting into the ceiling. But what if there was no ceiling?



Now you can safely use the catapult. I’m unclear why the landing is safe (you don’t have a bean bag or whatnot breaking your fall) but nevertheless, this causes you to land in that 3 by 3 area from earlier inside the spinning doors. There you can find a jar. I quite quickly realized the jar’s usefulness:

I had a suspicion that ants + picnic would make an interesting combo, and the game provides another “you’re the axe murderer this time” moment.

This leaves a lunch, which is … a curious trade for a human life. (To be fair, given the meta-aspect of the programmer being in the game, the chicken suit scene, the rocket belt, etc., I don’t think we are supposed to read into this any kind of cruelty. It’s more like the inmates are all actors in a play where you just need to find the right bits to move the script forward.)

Here I was fairly stuck except for one thing: I could go back to the plastic surgeon, who asked if I wanted yet another new face; I said YES and gave over a coin (you can give “coins” plural which hands them all over, which is a mistake) giving me the face of Captain James T. Kirk.

Well then. That didn’t help me with my lingering last dilemma, which was the rat poison. I did realize the exterminator that I could TIPTOE to had to be the one dispensing the poison, so he needed to be eliminated, but my various stratagems were failing. After fiddling around with all the items I had I finally … looked up a hint to realize I needed to use the rope. TIE INMATE WITH ROPE:

OK, fine. This one was actually logical.

Now that he was tied up, I could enter the rat area in peace, which led to a new short map. I needed to take my rat suit with me and WEAR SUIT upon seeing rats in order to live in peace.

I didn’t find much, other than a machine I remember being the Time Machine from Asylum 1 (which seems to be just filler graphics here), a locked door I couldn’t get through but which turned out to be important, and Dr. McCoy himself from Star Trek.

The “transporter” is broken and needs fixing. There was still a “fix-it man” that I hadn’t made any headway with, so I toted the transporter over and … still found myself getting thrown out. Hmm.

It turns out you can have the plastic surgeon do his work again, and it works. I’ll just give this as a sequence of pictures. I had the lunch already in hand. Maybe you can have it make sense. Is there some Duran Duran reference I’m missing?

The inmate fixes the transporter once the lunch is delivered. Pressing the button on the transporter tells you

OK…. nothing apparent happens.

Huh. I was ready for suffering a lot more frustrating when my finger slipped and I tried to walk into a wall, which normally displays SPLAT! (Remember movement is by arrow keys in this game.) I instead walked straight through the wall. Interesting!

There was only one locked door of interest left in the game, back in the rat maze, so I tried the pass-through trick there:

This doesn’t kill you but rather literally restarts the game from the start as you’ve been sent back in time. Oops.

Given there was no time to react it clearly was some sort of “held condition” in order to enter without being time-nuked, but what? Items didn’t help, but there was one other thing I could change:

If you try to do this again, it rotates back to Hitchcock, then Kirk.

Not clear what would happen, I went through the door to the Mystic again, who says something about “I see a rat, but don’t smell one!” This is while wearing the rat suit, so you need to drop it off first:

You also need the nirvana scroll here, which is fortunately not too hard to realize given we’re nearly out of items to try solving puzzles with and the design clearly intended to be “tight” and have everything get used:

He then says “I see the light!” and disappears, leaving behind a dragon ring, also providing a hint to look under your desk. Yes, we were supposed to “kill” him, but the ring works fine. However, if you just make a beeline for the Doctor Exit with ring in hand it doesn’t end well:

Long, long, back, I had found a picture under the desk (because I obsessively checked under every desk and bed the entire game, given what happened with Asylum 1) but hadn’t been able to get it. I assumed some secret button would activate the access, but no, it’s just parser frustration. So frustrating I had to check Will Moczarski’s post; you must type GET PICTURE UNDER DESK exactly with that syntax. Argh! The game had been so good about avoiding parser annoyances like Asylum 1 only to have a trip-up at the end.

Picture in hand I took it over to the surgeon and showed it off, who used it as a reference to reconstruct the player character’s original face. Then I was able to exit with the ring:

I was then told “Stay healthy! We will need you very soon!” followed by:

Considering the whole series (keeping in mind Frank Corr wrote the first one solo and co-wrote the other two):

Deathmaze 5000: still the tightest “plot” but with a few terrible puzzles like the “turn, turn, turn” one; the red herrings hurt rather than help in the end, and there’s “magic physics” to contend with not in the other games

Labyrinth: a much more diffuse layout which feels less like a story arc, but with puzzles fair enough the genuinely can all be solved without hints

Asylum 1: weird, curious, sprawling, and requiring tons of patience; I think the big change between 1 and 2 is less of a need to exhaustively test keys, plus it has some large-ness for its own sake

Asylum 2: only two large maps so it feels much more in control than Asylum 1 in terms of the player experience; you don’t need to prod through each and every room to find what’s important.

This feels like a natural learning curve; not exactly “getting better and better” but trying a new thing then realizing the flaw with that element and fixing it in the next version. It would be nice to see where this journey goes next, but unfortunately, this marks the end of William Denman’s adventure games, unless you count the ports from TRS-80 to other systems. Will Moczarski has more detail and screenshots if you’d like to see more about what they’re like.

Oddly, this is not the end of the line for first-person adventure games in 1982, but unlike Asylum (which got reasonably famous with its ports), the game I will be playing in the future is known by almost nobody at all. (It is for Apple II and I am not referring to The Prisoner 2; it is far enough away that’s all I will say at the moment.)

Posted April 9, 2023 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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11 responses to “Asylum II: The Lair of the Master Mystic

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  1. addendum: somehow Will got into the jar section by gunning through revolving doors and landing there. In his post he didn’t know what the catapult is for. I have no idea how. I tried going through doors for a very, very, long time with no luck — maybe an emulator or software version difference? Or it is one of those 2% chances?

    • I remember distinctly that I was unable to get the catapult to work properly, and I must have come up with a very similar, maybe even the same sequence of inputs you used. I did get it to work in the C64 version after checking a walkthrough (I played the ports of the game after having finished the TRS-80 version on my own) and the recommended parser input appears to be the same. This smells like a bug to me. I can’t be bothered to try the revolving doors again (I don’t know if I still have my save states but I don’t think I do) but I remember passing through them a lot of times because I was trying to map the area thoroughly by recording the sequence and then pausing every screen to make sense of the movement of the revolving doors. This was especially tricky because you get thrown from one revolving door into another quite frequently which makes you lose track almost right away. If I remember correctly it was possible to move a little while being pushed around, altering the flow ever so slightly, resulting in different outcomes that could be influenced by the player just a little bit (influenced but not controlled, mind you). I’d turn the video into a gif to document my brute-force method for you but I don’t have it anymore. I also seem to remember that I had to consult a walkthrough for the C64 version because that method didn’t work in that one but it’s just as possible that I couldn’t be bothered to work my way through the doors again and wanted to know if the catapult could be used the way I thought it might be.

      • I wasn’t able to do any movement while flying around, so I’m guessing that was the difference. That could easily be an emulator or even computer framerate thing.

  2. Congratulations! “Emmit” is not a Duran Duran reference but a misspelling of “Emmett” which is a reference to the Andy Griffith Show. At least that’s what I think it is.

  3. That was a fun ride, well done.

    Roughly how far through the 1982 adventures are we? Comparing it to the 1981 list, I assume there is a long way to go.

    • about a quarter

      it’s not something I get all that anxious about until it gets close to finish, then I feel the suffering of not being quite done yet

      right now there’s enough choices and stuff I’m very much looking forward to I feel like I’ve got just as much to explore and do as I would if 1983 had opened up already

  4. I had never heard of “entymology” (only entomology and etymology) so I had to look it up. I like the definition of it found in The Urban Dictionary – the study of words that bug you.

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