The Let's Play Archive

Linda Cube [Linda³]

by ivantod

Part 19: Summer 1991-Spring 1992


            The real Linda³ begins here!
                    -- Not Hidetaka Miyazaki

                                                How do you like them bananas?
                                                               -- Anonymous

Hello again, and welcome back to Linda³! It's time for Scenario C! Let's see what it will bring us!

As always...

...we start from the main menu, which leads into..

...the familiar scenario selection screen.

Of course, today we'll select to start Scenario C, "Astro Ark".

Except... unlike before, this time we get a bit of a curious prompt from the game! I mean, I guess it might be a reasonable question, but the phrasing and tone is a bit... odd. Nonetheless, we HAVE indeed already finished playing scenarios A and B to the end, so it's probably safe to tell the game to "go away" and to let us proceed.

And so we finally get to the usual screen which lists the winning conditions for this particular scenario. That definitely looks a bit more wordy than before!

Well, here goes:
- Capture no less than 100 animal species. At worst 70 species, preferably 90, and you can start bragging about it at 100.
- Take off with the ark.

The phrasing is a bit odd (again), but really anything less than 100 gives you a game over when the time expires, so in the end it's the same as before except this time the limit is not 30 or 50 but 100.

Except... not really.

Turns out, the game is not being entirely truthful here.

Sure you can finish the game if you have 100. But... there is a, let's call it a "true" ending to this scenario in addition to the normal one. You can only see the "true" ending if you collect ALL 120 species. There is no room for error here--things are serious now. But that's ok--I have stated in the introduction that our goal will be to 100% this game, so that's what we'll do. It's definitely somehwat fraught with pitfalls, as there are several "dead man walking" scenarios in which you can accidentally find yourself without realising until it's way too late to do anything about it.

Of course, as you can imagine, considering this requirement, in this scenario we have access to the entire game world, and unlike before, no areas will be blocked off to us.

If you're playing on "hard" difficulty, then there are additional conditions: like in previous scenario, you are again not allowed to use dogs. In addition to that, you are also not allowed to use any equipment (clothes/weapons), and also you are not allowed to leave on the ark before Ken's mum leaves the planet.

That last one ("don't leave before Ken's mum") is kind of not so important if you are collecting all 120 species. The logistics of capturing some of them is such that you anyway can't finish before 1999, so you'll more or less naturally end up leaving after her, without having to make a special effort over it. So this time, as you can see, we're in it for the long haul!

And, yes, indeed, since this scenario pretty much plays out over the entire eight year period, this is the first time we'll be able to see some of the more immediate effects of the passage of time. But more on that later.

One last thing, back in the PC Engine original the total number of species was only 100, so the extra 20 are actually an addition in the remake version.

All right, I think that's enough for an introduction. Let's start playing!

As always, we start with Ken having breakfast with his mum!

You'll be late again, even though our house is just behind the Ranger HQ building! I heard that of all the rangers you're the one most often late! Your dad must be crying in heaven!

Mother! I have something important to tell you!
Huh, what? Why so formal?

Yesterday, and the day before and the day before that... every day, we have bananas for breakfast! Can we not have something else for once?
Because! Bananas are cheap and they have a good amount of nutrients in them!

Like always, the phone rings with it being the commander calling to ask about Ken...

Oh, commander, I'm just an old lady, please don't make fun of me!

She finishes the phone conversation.

Commander says, he wants you to come over to the conference room on the second floor of the Ranger HQ immediately! Come on, hurry up, you can finish eating that banana on the way.

Well, let's be on our way, then.

To start with, we'll stop quickly by this here building, which you might recall is the power station for Hardia.

There's nobody down here, but...

...upstairs there's an old lady.

Under the push of Federation, the colonisation of Neo-Kenya began about 100 years ago. Even though they knew that the Grim Reaper is coming, the Federation who is normally famous for its stinginess, invested a whole load of money into this colony. Why do you think that is?

Well, we know already why, but the characters in the game don't, so she does make a valid point here! You can never get this dialogue if you don't do it now, so that's why we've made a short detour before going to the HQ!

On the way to the HQ we can also, as always, pick up a dog from this girl here whose family is leaving the planet.

Anyway, let's go to in the HQ.

This guy has a curious comment...

When you start getting all kinds of requests from people... it's better not to try to remember them all and their deadlines, but instead just write it down in a notebook.

Going upstairs for the meeting, our colleague has something to say.

Hey, the king of lateness! Would you like a banana? They're particularly yummy!
[ Thank you! ] / Not right now!
When you're done, make sure to put the peel into the rubbish bin because you never know when some idiot could step on it and slip!

Mmhm, I will make sure to do that!

Also, the commander's secretary:

If you want the commander, he's in the conference room. Stop dithering, aren't you late already?

Well, let's head over to the meeting, shall we?

All right, Ken, take your place.

I guess you all know the purpose of this meeting, but I guess it doesn't hurt to recap it briefly?
Yes. / [ No. ]

As always, we're given the choice to either watch or not the cutscene which explains the situation. Since it's the same as before, we'll skip it now.

As usual, there's no choice but to push the button!

Ken, are you sure about this? We don't even know where the ark will go. There's no guarantee you'll survive. Is that really ok?
[ I'm ready. ] / I don't think I can do it.
All right! It's been decided hat Ken will be the male crew member! Everyone should help out Ken to prepare as long as it doesn't interfere with their regular work. Dismissed!

After everybody is gone, we can talk to commander again.

Now head over to the ark and register as the crew member, no take-backsies! Make sure to tell you mum about it too, okay?

Well, with this done, let's make our way out.

This guy has some more dialogue...

Ken! Your precious princess is waiting for you downstairs!

So this time too, Linda doesn't knock Ken out with a stick! So let's head downstairs.

Well, there's Linda and her mum there. Also, it seems that somebody has carelessly dropped a banana peel on the floor. So, uh, let's try to be careful...

...and not step on it.

Ken stepped on a banana peel and fell over at an inconvenient angle.

Through his faded consciousness, he thought he heard the sound of Linda's voice and the church bells at some point...

At some point in time, Ken wakes up in bed, with Linda standing nearby. How much time exactly has passed in the meantime?

I'm the first female member of the field team! Isn't it great that the two of us can work together as a couple?
S-so... please one day soon, regain your ability to walk! According to Dr. Emory, your body is already completely healed, so it's just a matter of mind at this point.

Let's hope that Emory is doing a better job than last time!

Well, I have to go now, but my mum will be here soon, so be nice to her, ok?

Linda starts to leave, but then remembers...

Blink once for "no", twice for "yes"!

It seems Ken also needs to regain his ability to speak, too! Nonetheless, it is us the player who needs to use the O button to blink once or twice, like so:

Just a moment, I will deal with it quickly.

She goes away... us a moment to finally get out of bed!

Ken! This is amazing! This is really amazing! I have to go and tell everyone! But first... 🎔

While that's all going on...

...a person dressed in a Santa suit shows up at the door!

Oh, hey, it's Nek! He walks over to them...

Oh-ho-ho, I didn't realise you're getting all hot and bothered right from the morning! It's too much for a single person like me to bear, you know! Hehe. I'll come back later!
Huh? Brother? You can walk again? That's fantastic! Good job!
This is truly amazing! Now I can breathe a sigh of relief! If you are again able to walk like that... I was afraid that as your older brother I would be forced to assume responsibility and take over for you!
Truly, the prospect of ending up married to this tomboy here scared me to death... She's way too dominant!

No, uh... I came here to talk to the always reliable Linda about something. I, uh... I'm in love with someone!
Finally! You did it! So what do you want to talk about? Ok, ok, I know what it is! She's about to have a baby right? Then, as a man, I will have to tell you to take the full responsibility!
Silly! It's nothing like that! I just... I don't know even how to tell her that.
Ah? Really? I mean... isn't it enough to just kiss her and say "I like you"?
It seems I have come to consult with the least tactful person in the entire universe... This is silly. I'm gonna head home, ok?

As he starts to leave...

He just leaves without saying anything.

Anyway, go get dressed and let's head out!

Indeed we do, but outside, Linda is again approached by Nek!

She's modest and innocent... When she smiles, it's like flowers swaying in the wind.

And he just runs off!

I think we should help him! / Maybe just watch over him and help out if he needs us... / [ Was that my brother just now? ]
That's right! He came forward immediately when he heard on NK News that you were injured! He may not look like that, but he's the heir to the fortune of Green Pharmaceuticals!
He's a very wealthy man! Thanks to him you were able to get the very best treatment possible! Aren't you lucky to have such an amazing brother?

I guess Ken's injury caused them to be reunited?

Also, you might remember that this house that they just came out of is the house where Linda's family used to live before they moved to Minago. It seems that Ken and Linda are living here again. In any case, the location is labeled in game as "The Newlywed House", so...

For now, let's just talk to the guy in white who's been standing there in our yard.

Hey, you look much better... I'm amazed they've been able to renovate this shabby house so nicely.

Well, all right, I guess we should walk over to Ken's house and tell his mum that he's doing better now! But first, let's sit on the swing with Linda, as always!

All right, now let's go inside!

I don't think it's a dream / [ Well, It could be a dream, I guess... ]
Linda, don't worry about anything, but just hit him as hard as you can!

Hmm... Looks like it's not a dream, then.
You'll just make me injured again! / I think I'm starting to see a pattern here... / [ Why is it always me who gets hit? ]
I would expect nothing less from a girl who was able to beat you up ever since you were children! The way you fell over was done with real panache, like a soccer player who is now pretending to be in pain while waiting for the referee's whistle!
By the way, Ken. It's good that you found your brother again! That's the real upside of your injury! And Nek knows the value of human life; otherwise he wouldn't have risked his own life to give you such a large amount of blood transfusion! Thank god you have the best brother in the world!

But... are you not going to fill us in about how is it that Ken even has a lost brother? I mean, you should know something, right? Guess not, huh?

Anyway, as we leave...

Oh, by the way... I'm going on a trip for a while, but don't worry. I don't have any valuables that could be stolen, so you don't have to housesit for me.
I'm just going to visit some people I know... and come back home at some point when I feel like it.

Well, sure, you go on a trip. Anyway, we have animals to be collecting. But don't think I've forgotten you glossing over the whole Nek situation!

Now, it's time to make sure we avoid our first "dead man walking" scenario.

It involves again going to the power station...

...and talking to the elderly couple here.

I don't know if it's true or not, but apparently there's an animal called "aye aye". I've heard it has a mysterious ability... it can change its appearance into that of a human, and it can even speak... If that's true... wouldn't it make it very hard to find it? Anyway, if we notice anything suspicious, we'll contact you, Kenny. Although, don't get your hopes up, to be honest.
I think if it's an animal disguised as a human, it should be really easy to find it! It's the one who will keep dithering even when the Grim Reaper is about to come! I think it must be that guy, your commander Ben! He's a bit suspicious, no?

Huh, ok. Anyway, you actually have plenty of time to come here before it becomes too late, but it's best to do it immediately, so you don't forget.

Having done this, we can now leave. Let's head back over to the HQ.

On the way there, this lady has a bit of a gameplay tip which we already mostly know.

As long as you have the animal in your hands... Whether you catch it yourself or buy it at the store... just do whatever you find easier!

It's true. As long you have the animal, how you obtained it makes no difference. Even if a computer gives it to you from the cryogenic storage!

Now let's go in.

By the way, I almost forgot. How much time exactly has already passed? Opening the menu screen gives us the answer!

Yikes. Here we can see that it's already Spring 1992. So we have lost almost an entire year while Ken was incapacitated. Well, that's not great, but I guess we'll have to manage.

You can see that I also took out all the money from the bank. We'll need it to buy a second dog, but at least this time we don't need a loan since Ken was receiving his salary all this time. Of course we'll also do the money trick a bit and to obtain two swallow cutters, but a bit later. For now, let's head over to this room

We can talk to the person at the computer.

Ken, you found your twin brother! I hear he's a really rich single guy? You will introduce me next time, right?

Also the guy by the stairs...

Never again in my life... Never again in my life, will I see somebody fall so perfectly after stepping on a banana peel!

Oh, shut up!

Let's continue upstairs and talk to Ben.

Ever since that stupid fall, people here have been calling you "the banana boy". You will have to work extra hard to regain your good name, you know!
Good luck...
...banana boy!

Oh, shush!

We'll just go and look at your swimsuit calendar instead!

Huh, this time it's all four ladies: Elizabeth, Ann, Linda and Sachiko. Ok then.

Next, we'll head over here where the ranger housing is... and talk to this person standing here.

Ken, I know you're trying to collect the animals, but you don't really need to worry about doing it in a particular order. If it's a particularly strong animal, or you don't have enough information or there's something else you're not sure about... then just leave it for later.

Sort of yes, but still be careful to not end up caught short on time.

Inside one of the shacks, we can talk to a ranger lady.

When attacking animals, it's usually best to do it from behind as much as possible. Do you think it's cowardly to come from behind?
Well, a bit... / [ Not at all! ]
That's right! It's only natural! I also like to do it "from behind" sometimes! How about you, Linda?

In another of the shacks, there is also a person to talk to.

The Federation wants to reduce the ecological impact here as much as possible... but that's not really going to happen. As you can see, the area around Hardia and Ozport has already become full of pigs!

Next, let's head briefly into the hotel.

To start with, we'll talk to the guy who is standing over there in his room...

The most mysterious thing about this planet are the Beastians. They were the actual people who were already here when the planet was discovered, so I guess like an indigenous people. But we have no idea how their ancestors arrived here. They didn't even know what a car is back then.

Now we proceed upstairs.

Let's start with the ranger standing by the bar...

Huh? I heard you fell down the stairs and died! Are you sure you're not a ghost?
I am a ghost! / [ Can't you see I have legs? ]
Oh, right! Well anyway, just don't tell the commander that I'm slacking off here, ok?

And then there's also this older guy in the corner...

You ever heard of the name "Fang"? He's the leader of all the wild dogs around here, cunning, vicious. Never gets caught and it's the worst thing on all three continents. A few years ago he slaughtered a fmily in Minago... I heard it was really bad.

Well, we might recall at this point about the place we visited in Scenario B, where there was a guard in one of the caves who mentioned that his duty was to watch over the dogs coming from a nearby nest... So, that might be a place to go looking for this "Fang". But we'll see soon enough.

All right, let's leave.

It's time to go and register at the ark, so we'll head out.

But in the entry hallway...

Linda makes a phone call.

Hello, is this Dr. Emory?
It's Linda! Ken can finally walk again! Yes... thank you very much. I really appreciate all the helo you gave us!
By the way... is Miss Sachiko there? Yes, please pass her over.
Miss Sachiko? Hello! Hey, you know Nek already, right? Yes, the guy dressed as Santa. He said he can't sleep becaus his heart aches so much when he thinks about you! Do you see what I mean?
Eh? No... he's not hospitalised. He's not sick, I mean that he likes you a a lot. Do you understand now?
So how about you?
Oh, I see. I see.
Well, say "hi" to your father for me! Bye bye!

Linda comes back to Ken.

Hm? Ken? What kind of complaint do you have now?
You need to be a bit more careful when you do stuff like this! / I'm very impressed by your brilliant skills! / [ What would you have done if it hadn't worked? ]
You know what! There's only a limited time we have left to live in this universe, therefore I'm just going to do whatever comes to my mind. It's a way to enjoy life, ok?
Do you see what I mean?
[ Sure, sure. ] / Not exactly...
I'm not sure you're being entirely honest right now...

While we're here, let's also check out the news bulletin.

N.K. News Bulletin

After choice for the ark crew, tragedy strikes!

Ken Challenger, a member of the Ranger Corps, fell down the stairs immediately after volunteering. Although he survived, he suffered a spinal cord injury, a caved in skull, and many other injuries to his body. It is expected it will take him at least six months to recover.

Well, ok, let's head out.

Obviously, we'll head over into the ark to register first.

There is a person here we can talk to!

You appeared in the newspaper after you slipped on a banana peel! Everybody was laughing so much, they named you "the banana boy"! I think if your father Gene is still somehow alive somewhere, even he'd pretend he doesn't know you at this point!

Whatever, dude.

There's another person in the shack...

What is this all about anyway. Whoever brought this ark here, why did they put it in front of Hardia. I mean it's convenient for you that it's near your house, but... actually, do you think they anticipated that somehow when they landed it here?

That is a very good question... and one we hope we find an answer to!

But, let's head into the ark itself.

Specifically, to this room, where as usual we can register as crew.

Ken Challenger Human ♂ Registered. The ship welcomes you as a crew member and master. Ken, welcome to the ark!


Let's head up to the other floor where the control room is.

Are they... somehow aware about what's been going on in the game so far?

No matter. Here is the control room entrance. It takes a moment to realise it consciously, but... actually neither of our characters are currently in any way incapacitated, so we can just waltz in here whenever we want!

Let's put our hands on the panel on three!
Let's go! One and two and... three!

Of course, we have no animals, so we're not going to be taking off just yet...

...but there's still this chest here in the corner, same as before!

Maybe this time we'll be able to find out what this is for!

But, let's leave it at that for now. Obviously next time we'll start our hunt and all that.

Right now, I have an important thing to tell you. Remember how I kept saying "later, later, later" on so many things?

Well, "later" is now. We have full freedom to explore this entire world and to discover all its mysteries. There will be no plot to push us forward and no cutscenes to distract us either. At this point, this game will be only what WE make of it to be. The world, as they say, is our oyster and it's time to go out and explore EVERYTING and collect ALL animals and solve ALL mysteries of this planet! The moment we've all been waiting for (I hope)!

As a little bit of a historical note, according to Shoji Masuda, the game's designer, this was always the original intention for the game, even back when it was tentatively named "Heavenly Zoo". There was no Linda in it and the only task was to use various game mechanics to explore everything and collect all species in an open world environment. Ultimately, it was decided that while novel, this concept might be a bit of a hard sell, so the character of Linda was added because "games with cute girls in them sell better", and then even two bonus scenarios were added in order to serve as a kind of a tutorial to ease the player into it.

How's that for a twist? It's literally a spoiler to even explain properly the game's structure to a new player!

Also... why two bonuses and not just one? Because adding just one bonus "would be seen as too cheap", apparently, according to Masuda!

Hey, so, I'll see you all back here next time when we start on our proper journey, finally!

Don't forget to eat those nutritious bananas in the meantime!

Today, we have an illustration of Nek and Sachiko, in their PC Engine versions: