Part 10: Wherein Things Go SouthChapter 6: Wherein Things Go South
Last time, we had a surreal experience at the waterfalls at the Ends of the Earth. After witnessing a series of bizarre visions, Malcolm somehow ended up... here: the Fish Court.
You bad little merman! Do not go so far away!
Irritated by a missing attendant, the queen pushes a button and he appears. Malcolm is still unconscious. Clicking anywhere on the screen wakes him up.
She's always wanted a human.
Who the heck are you? Where the heck am I? And what am I doing here?
All reasonable questions. You can sort of see the golden collar in the screenshots, and you might have noticed the errant merman was also wearing one, as is the one in the back.
Good morning. At last! I am glad to see you awake.
I don't have time to play games.
Oh, yes you will.
Do we have to sing now?
I am flattered, of course, but I'll have to be leaving now.
You have no choice. You will come when I call. But now, I must take my nap.
Well, the plot sure is taking a strange turn. It seems that Malcolm fell off the ends of the earth, but instead of ending up... wherever he was supposed to end up, he landed here: Limbo. Which is ruled by a fish. After hearing the queen's little speech, Malcolm automatically exits to the right.
Fine with me. At this point, Malcolm's overall goals are kind of fuzzy. The invasion of Kyrandia didn't go so well, but I suppose there's nothing stopping him from trying again. Our more immediate goal is more obvious: get the heck out of Limbo and back to Kyrandia.
Limbo is a pretty strange place, overall. There are some more fish in the background, and a conspicuous key just sitting on the ground.
Could still come in handy, I suppose.
They seem to be supporting some kind of structure. There's nothing particularly interesting left on this screen, so let's leave. We can go bottom left back to the court, or top left or right into new territory. I'm going with top left for now.
It's a school of fish. Heh.
As soon as you enter this screen, there's a weird ringing noise.
Uh, oh. I think you're in trouble here, pal!
Our adventuring was rudely interrupted, and we were literally dragged by our collar back to the fish court. What gives, queen?
Truly the game of royalty. I guess that explains the massive board there.
And, since I am the Queen, I will go first.
The queen takes several seconds to make her move.
Seriously, several seconds.
That's... certainly a unique opening move, not to mention a unique board piece. As you might know, tic-tac-toe is a solved game with perfect information and optimum play always results in a tie. I guess we'll play along anyway. Clicking any square on the board will cause a blue merman to park himself on it.
The queen, as it turns out, is not particularly good at tic-tac-toe. Should be easy enough to beat her, then!
Surely she'll block the win, though.
Awesome, we won. Now, let's get out of here and go look f--
Boy, you are lucky! Let us play again.
If we want to get out of here, we have to throw the game. The queen always makes the worst possible move, which means you have to actively try to lose the game. Calling this a puzzle is a bit generous, but it possible to get blocked into having to win.
You did win that one.
It's not hard to do, though. However, we're still not free to leave. We can click on other things, but trying to leave the same way we did last time doesn't work. Looks like we've got to chat some more with the queen.
To tell the truth, I let you win.
Harsh, but true.
What did you say? Am I the best?
You're an idiot. I had to work hard just to let you win.
It's not enough to throw the game; after doing so, we have to set our gauge to "Lying" before talking to the queen.
Tell me, am I the best player you have ever met?
Without a doubt. Your skill is frightening!
What did you say? Am I the best?
You're a genius. I could never imagine those moves you make!
The second half of that line is true, at least.
Maybe we'll play again later. Ta, ta.
We're free to go. Before we leave, though, let's have a closer look at the board.
Oh, the 90s. We still love you and your sense of high-tech, even 20 years later. Trivia: I first played this on a 66 MHz 486DX. Pentium CPUs were new and pricy at the time.
And where are the virtual reality headgear sets?
This one's especially funny, since we're finally getting around to actually making high quality VR headsets happen now. They used to be a thing back then, although they weren't nearly as good. The 90s was a strange time in a lot of ways.
After playing tic-tac-toe, we get dumped back here again. Let's try Perch University again.
Ooh, I know!
Okay, no sudden collar-related obstacles this time. The school is pretty boring, though.
The teacher will randomly ask questions of the students. Answers are never forthcoming. We can try to steal that nice, shiny apple of his though...
But first, we need to cause a distraction. We can do that by using the jester's staff on one of the fish on the left there.
Let's liven this class up a little.
With the teacher distracted, we can snag his apple. Not that we had any real reason to, but what adventure game protagonist is above random petty larceny?
We do get some Fruit Points for doing it. Okay, let's continue exploring. There's another room to the left.
Well, that's new. Looks like a waterslide or aqueduct of some kind, and a clown being launched out of a cannon to the left there.
That was excellent!
I wonder where that clown ended up. Could it be a way out of here?
Oh, boy, we're back in court again. This sure has no potential for getting real old real fast.
Yep. BIG trouble. Hmm. Maybe you could distract her... you know... romantically.
One more round of horrible tic-tac-toe and lying to the queen's face later, and we're free to go again. But before we do, there's one more thing to do here. We should have a chat with that merman in the back. He seems to know something about what's going on here.
How do I get out of here?
There must be something we could do. Let's scare her or something.
It would take a miracle. The only thing she was ever afraid of was her father.
Well, we still need to find a way to get rid of this stupid collar, but getting her to stop yanking us back and forth would be a good start.
How do we get her father back?
Maybe his ghost could scare her.
Well, it's worked for us in the past. Where are we going to get some orchids down here, though? Either way, since we're free to go, let's continue on to the place with that cannon and see what the deal is with that.
You must be new. This is Limbo here. It's not Heaven, and it's not, you know, down there. But we do give people rides to the Underworld.
A cataract is a waterfall, which I suppose makes sense given the overall look of the place. Now, the Underworld doesn't sound like the best place in the world to go from here, but at least it's not Limbo.
With our gauge still set to Lying, perhaps we can convince this guy to give us a ride.
Sorry, that's not in the manual. For first time riders, the charge is five coins. Repeat rides cost ten coins.
I'm not sure why anyone would end up wanting to be shot into hell twice, but whatever. It sounds like we have a goal to work towards: if we can find some cash, we might be able to pay this guy off and get out of here. But where are we going to find some coins? Let's check out the last location we haven't visited yet, two rooms right of the court.
Another garbage dump. Great.
Son of a bitch.
Once again we throw the game, and hurry on out of there. Maybe now we can explore the dump in peace.
My name's Malcolm. Who are you?
You smell familiar. I'm Buddy, the blind batfish.
I suppose it makes sense that a lot of trash falls off the ends of the earth and ends up here. There's another one of those aqueducts up there leading down into the trash dump.
That's me. Better give me your payment.
Okay, here you go.
Having the gauge set to Lying really pays off. Two coins sounds like a great start towards the five we need to use the cannon. Maybe we can gouge him out of some more.
Any chance you'd make an advance payment?
Well, no. But here's some free advice: Don't come around so often!
There is an item on this screen. Do you see it?
Right here. Unfortunately, it's just a crappy old sock. It's junk, actually. Junk spawns randomly now and then all over the place. Say, didn't that fish say he buys old junk?
Great, okay. Three socks translates into one coin. Nine socks should be enough to get us out of here, and there are other kinds of junk that can appear as well. In fact, there's a trash dump right there. Maybe we can just...
Not that easy, unfortunately.
Well, that's all of Limbo we can access right now. It's a strange and disturbing place, made worse by the queen's insistence that we keep playing tic-tac-toe with her. At least we have a plan for getting out of here. All we need is three more coins. We'll start working on that next time.