Mystery Fun House: Finished!   10 comments

The cover of the Japanese version, via Giant Bomb.

I was very close to the end.

Let’s get the yucky part out of the way first: I was stuck with my last post on what was essentially a guess-the-verb issue, although I think an error in visualization might be more accurate. I mentioned being able to partially open a grate that was still stuck by one bolt. I visualized the grate as being set inside a hole such that any kind of movement would have to be up (PULL GRATE) or down (PUSH GRATE) neither which worked; HIT GRATE also wasn’t very helpful.

Apparently, there was some room to the side: SLIDE GRATE was what worked. Argh!

In any case, entering the hole led to a new area:

At this point, I knew immediately what to do: I have been toting around an explosive device the entire game, and now was its time to shine.

Oops! In my last post I wrote “main problem is it attracts guards, is it possible to muffle the sound?” which was slightly prescient. The solution here was exceedingly simple: close the door leading to the outside before setting off the explosion.

Through the blasted gate is one of my favorite puzzles of any adventure game:

I’m not going to even spoil it here, but instead give two hints. 1.) It uses something that you might normally not think of as a valid puzzle-solving item; recontextualizing assumptions is necessary and 2.) my previous posts about Mystery Fun House contain enough information to figure the puzzle out. Feel free to leave your guesses in the comments.

After the clay pigeon room came the secret lab…

…followed by victory!

Mystery Fun House has pretty solid design compared to other Scott Adams games, although I don’t think it quite reaches the heights of Voodoo Castle or innovation of The Count. Really, the main demerit is my >SLIDE GRATE issue; I was genuinely stuck for a long time and wasted a great deal of effort trying to make progress. It’s strange, in that I’m guessing a lot of players visualized the situation correctly and tried SLIDE GRATE right away, making this an issue that doesn’t even register. Adventure games in a way have a higher hurdle to jump than other genres. Minor glitches in strategy game AI or shooter sprite design can be passed over, but if progress is stuck in an adventure the experience plummets, even (perhaps especially) if it turns out the problem is minor.

I also have mixed feelings about the two locked doors I mentioned in my last post that turned out to be red herrings. One of the doors (the one behind the mirror) you presumably see the other side of in the secret lab, so there’s a nice bit of continuity. On the other hand, I did waste quite a bit of time trying to hack or explode my way through. I’ll consider this aspect a tie. (Disclaimer: I genuinely enjoyed the red herrings in Planetfall and felt like they added enormously to the world-as-world feeling where not every aspect has to be conveniently oriented towards solving a puzzle. However, I know some people dislike red herrings of any sort.)

This really seems to be the first adventure game comedy. It even nails participatory comedy, which is especially difficult in adventure format. Anyone can add a silly item description to a game, which is like telling a joke. Having the player attempt to buy a ticket with a “five dollar bill” that turns out to be a grocery bill makes the player part of the joke.

Oh, and that final puzzle’s solution is also somewhat comedic, but in a sensible way. I guess that’s hint #3.

(Additional bonus reading: Emily Short discusses participatory comedy in the Ryan Veeder game The Statue Got Me High.)

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Posted May 24, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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10 responses to “Mystery Fun House: Finished!

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  1. I seem to recall that ROTATE GRATE works too, so that’s a clue about what you were supposed to be visualizing.

    I’m pretty sure I had to cheat on that puzzle back in the day, and that was before cheating became easy.

  2. Does MOVE GRATE also work? I think the idea is that it’s a grate with bolts in four corners, and all that’s left is one bolt in one corner, so you’re essentially spinning the grate out of your way – rotating it around that one remaining bolt.

    I remember the solution to the clay pigeon room and agree that it’s an excellent puzzle – one that evokes equal parts “that’s really clever” and “oh wow that actually worked” once you get through it.

  3. Take the sign that says “it’s out of order” and leave it in the shooting gallery?

    • Yes!

      • Wow. I feel an equal amount of “that’s really clever” and “oh wow that actually worked.”

        How does it feel to actually implement this? I get the idea that I would not enjoy actually doing this in the game–it seems like it takes a lot of commands (you have to go to three widely separated locations) and the end result is that you don’t get shot. If the exploding bottles in Voodoo Castle are any indication, I’m guessing that it doesn’t actually indicate that you didn’t get shot because of the sign–though by the time you’ve tried that you probably know what works, I guess. Anyhow, elsewhere I’ve complained about IF games with too high a “quotient of (time and effort it takes to implement a prospective solution to a puzzle) divided by (amount of useful feedback you get from failed solutions),” because it discourages experimentation when you have to take twenty minutes to set up your proposed solution and you can’t tell why it didn’t work; but I guess this is endemic to this kind of game if not this era.

        Which is why I love the chance to just post my solution, which takes one comment and gets instant feedback! Cool puzzle and thanks for making it accessible to me.

      • Having virtually complained about this for a while, there’s really a lot of super clever elements of the design. The clay pigeons do an excellent job of communicating why you’re getting shot, the description of the rifle uses its few words effectively to communicate its role, and your description of the permanently locked door that you see from the other side helped clue me in that I had to think about how the rooms related to each other. So that even if the shooting gallery was far away from the clay pigeon room in terms of map distance, it might be physically adjacent through the window, and I had to think about how doing something in one of those rooms might affect the other.

      • It works pretty well in context, because once you realize the right answer it feels almost certain it’s correct, so arranging the parts is just leading to the climax of testing it out. If there were a bunch of potential spots for the sign (or potential signs to use) I could see it being more of a problem.

        (Also, it’s not actually that far a side trip.)

  4. Pingback: Adventure 430: Failure to Visualize | Renga in Blue

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