Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gatamari's RPG Escape

Lately, I've become addicted to a new form of online games - the escape room.  Once considered a realm of unsolvable murder rooms, this mystery has now expanded to include trapped people to figure their way out of rooms they've unwittingly found themselves locked inside, and have to figure their way out using extremely obtuse clues lying around the place.  The majority of these are Japanese games, but for the most part, they're fairly straightforward, even though the methods to determine the paths out aren't exactly intuitive.

Like most games, it takes awhile to figure out the rules, and can be tricky for first-timers not already versed in how such things play out.  Here's a few beginner points:

  • Click EVERYWHERE to find elusive items, usually in out-of-the-way places, such as behind paintings, between shelf corners or under the bed.
  • Some pictures may rock if you click their edges.  The trick is to figure out what sequence to click each edge in.
  • Looking left & right may not be your only options - some screens may have it possible to look up at the ceiling, or down at the floor.
  • The usage of certain items may not be obvious at first glance.  You can use a coin to unlock some screws instead of using a screwdriver.
  • Some of the items in your inventory might be rotated around, showing items taped behind them.  Highlight them, then "examine" or "look up close" to see them in detail, then click around.
  • Furthermore, some items can also be combined with others.  Highlight the object as explained above, then use another item, such as a match to light it on fire, or combine it, making two halves into a whole.

For me, the worst kind of escape rooms are those that insist you solve one puzzle at a time in order to solve the others.  Rather than having multiple paths that all eventually run towards the same goal, these force you to go down a very specific way and don't allow other opportunities to experiment with other puzzles when you get stuck.  Not unlike those adventure games where you're required to collect 8 Macguffin items to unlock the boss area.  Somewhat similar are escape-themed games where you're required to find multiple similar objects (puzzle pieces, Escape-Men) to get out, which is essentially a series of checkpoints, since these items are never used on their own for anything else.

Some of the more prolific game producers include TomateaYonashi, and Tesshi-e's Mild "Happy Coin!" Escape.  Particularly notable are Haretoki (Sometimes Sunny) and Kotorinosu, whose rooms are much bigger than they first seem, and very amusing once you get out of them.
All of Tesshi-e's puzzles end with this phrase if you find the coin before leaving.
Open the door, but look around the room for an extra puzzle to be solved.
But so far, the most consistently impressive one has been Gatamari's escape rooms, even though he's only done twenty-five games.  The first five were notoriously difficult, starting off with an Interrogation room, and a Japanese School, both of which required knowing Japanese to solve the puzzles.  To this day, I don't think anyone's been able to solve the first Gatamri escape game.  Things got "slightly" easier with a trial & error key-based game, which would break if you used the wrong key in the wrong holes.  If it weren't for an online tutorial, we wouldn't understand exactly why those particular keys happened to work.  Knowing how to solve a puzzle is one thing.  Knowing why is another.

Other games were particularly tricky, since they were language-extensive, making playing and enjoying them somewhat problematic if you weren't already versed in Japanese.  This included a game room, a gameshow room (with limited times for making mistakes) and a punishment room where you'd get slapped in the butt by Ninjas if you happened to come across anything that sounded like OUT!  (Strike Out, Throw it Out, Time Out, Cut Out, Rub it Out, Put the Fire Out, etc.)  If you found all 12 punishments, you'd get a surprise Bad Ending upon leaving (assuming you'd ever get that far).  The proper course of action would be to intentionally trigger all the Ninjas the first time around, then once you know where they are, you can avoid them next time.

Did I mention the Demon game where our hapless victim finds himself in a mansion where a Demon proceeds to strip him of his clothes?  This one was surprisingly amusing, but also frustrating to navigate through, because oftentimes the puzzles were rather obtuse.  Most escape rooms are content with having somewhere in the realm of 10-20 objects for use, some of which can be reused multiple times in various places.  Gatamari has upwards to 30 to 50 items.
All those empty squares on the right side are to be filled.
Further compounding the difficulty was that there was no online walkthrough in English, and I had to resort to using Google translate for a French forum in order to get some idea of what needed to be done.  For instance, there's a calendar in the bathroom with circled numbers, and a similarly shaped square poster in the bedroom.  You'd expect the numbers to be of great importance in solving the numbered passwords, but they don't turn out be be for that use at all - they're for something else entirely much later.  Also, on the bookshelf are a bunch of books with these titles:

Son / Zone / On / Cent / Oz / Me / Nose / No

The basic assumption is that they'd be part of another password, right?  Nope, wrong again.  They're actually solutions to a miniature crossword puzzle on the back of a hand-held object in your inventory, the answer of which would be:


The actual solution is pushing the particular buttons that spell out a certain word in front.  Another annoying feature is that you'll be carrying around some items for a long time without being able to combine them with others, or knowing their intended use.  One such instance is the Venus Fly Trap, which has to be placed between singing pillars in a hidden compartment.
I've just saved you the trouble of having to take screen captures of each dance.
You still have to insert the correct password though.
But starting with the 6th game, Gatamari started with something quite different - a treasure hunt that would continue from where the last game left off.  The first room would have several puzzles that needed to be solved in order to trigger a single summoned item in order to get through the door to the next room... which is blocked off by another obstacle that needs a specific item not yet in your inventory.  There's a total of seven games in this series, consisting of the following summoners: The Hero, Susano the Monkey, the Samurai, the Decoders, the Archer, the Minotaur, and the Keymaster.

The first several rooms are simple enough, and there are online videos showing you how to bypass them, but the real joy comes out of figuring out the puzzles yourself.  There were some real stumpers involved, since the answers were as far from obvious as possible, and I ran into serious trouble around the fifth (Archer) room, because I couldn't find any helpful information online.  But I preserved, trying multiple combinations not yet figured out yet, and was surprised at how obvious the solution turned out to be.

Some helpful hints if you happen to get stuck:

  • Don't worry about getting the ball up the pipes - find another place where you can use the pipe pieces near the steam vents in the basement.
  • The light switches in the basement won't be of use until you open another door near the end.
  • The clay slab will be useful later.
  • Pay attention to the heights of the Egyptian Kings on the walls.

This isn't the answer - figure it out yourself.
The sixth part with the Minotaur summon was pretty bad enough, but that was nothing compared to the seventh and last part, which had seven rooms with multiple interconnecting puzzles, and it was very easy to get stuck early on.  Having gotten this far, I caved in and checked for online help, and even the experts were stumped.  The forum resulted in an epic thread that lasted three pages (the average is usually 50 comments.  There were 200 comments per page), and only had the walkthrough summarized up near the end.  It took hours of calculating, saving and backtracking, which can be the the most maddening aspect of Escape Games, especially if you can't exactly remember what you did for every item involved.  But it was worth it.

If going through all these games to see their special moves is too intimidating, a much more reasonable task would be to play the Christmas Special where all your special summons are kidnapped by a possessed Rudolph, and you have to go through various puzzles in nine rooms to get them back.  For the most part, you shouldn't have too much trouble, though chances are you'll be stuck at the "Rubik's Cube" Snowman puzzle early on.  The Christmas special also has the bonus feature of multiple endings, depending on which gift you happen to take with you when you get out, or no gift at all.  Be sure to save beforehand so you'll see them all!

I will tell you that the clock answer is 259 though.  (I still don't understand how either)

No comments:

Post a Comment