Sunday, 18 June 2017

Hook - Island of Misfit Boys

Written by Joe Pranevich



Welcome back! Last week, our lawyer-turned-hero had two of his teeth pulled, drugged a pirate with cocoa, and stole pirate clothes all to gain access to the famous Jolly Roger, Captain Hook’s ship, to rescue his kids. Making it there wasn’t enough: Hook easily defeated me but Tinkerbell argued that she could get me into fighting shape in three days. Hook let me go so he could have more of a challenge but still forced me to walk the plank. It’s been a fun adventure so far, but I am curious where this will go next.

As I was playing and working on this post, I also tucked into Peter and Wendy, the original Peter Pan novel from 1911. (The play came first but it was modified many times in its theatrical run.) Honestly, I do not think it will help much and puts me in a strange position where I am catching the obscure references to the original book but have no idea of even the big connections to the Hook film. Depending on how things go, I will try to either watch Disney’s animated Peter Pan or Hook for next week’s post. My first observation: this book is much darker than I expected, very focused on topics like death, memory, and the role of parents. It’s a fun read, but somehow I didn’t expect a book that would make me think so much. More on that in a bit. For now, I think I have to help Mr. Banning to stop drowning…
All the places we’ll get to explore?

I start this week standing on the bottom of the lagoon next to a giant plug and a large shell. A few mermaids are nearby but they won’t talk to me, or perhaps they cannot because we’re all under water. How isn’t Peter drowning anyway? The mermaids point off into the distance but I’m stuck on this screen. I click around for a few moments to discover a conch shell in the giant one; I can “hear the ocean” in it-- not quite a trick since I’m standing in it-- but I pocket it anyway. What I initially interpret as a plug turns out to be a pulley system with something wedged in it. I can use my stick (previously used to get the pirate jacket off the line) and can remove the obstruction. That allows me to climb into the shell and take it as an elevator up onto a cliff (or a tree?) overlooking Neverland. It’s quite a view from the top! It’s one of the most memorable sequences of the game so far and I hope the map (with a skull cave, giant waterfall, and forests) suggests places that we’ll go later in the game.


North, west, south, west… right?

I didn’t notice at first, but I am alone: Tinkerbell was left back on the Jolly Roger. Without her, I won’t have anyone to ask for hints, but perhaps this means that the training wheels are off and I’m in the main part of the game. Somehow I come off of the elevated section into a dark forest with confusing signs, mushrooms, and the occasionally spooky tree. I pass through a few screens before I realize what it is: a maze. Not a huge one, but I have to map it out to make sure that I do not miss any exits or items. I’m sure there are lots of games where you wander through a forest, but I’m strangely reminded of the Quest for Glory I remake here. I double-check and the art style isn’t quite the same; I assume that one spooky forest just naturally looks like another.


Not even the size of the Hundred Acre Wood. 


The secret entrance to Konohagakure?

I explore the whole of the forest and find the entrance to the Lost Boys hideout but surprisingly nothing else: no hidden items, nooks with obscure characters, or anything. I see more than a few trees with faces on them (that I cannot talk to), rock slides, mushrooms I cannot pick, and more but there appears to be nothing I can do with any of them. The Lost Boys lair turns out to be in the far north of the woods with two possible paths there. As we approach a particularly large tree, we are suddenly snagged by a rope-trap. Just when we think all is lost, Tinkerbell reappears! She releases us from the trap and reveals that we will have to convince the Lost Boys that I am Peter Pan. The tree opens up and I can enter the boys’ hidden village.


 
Invisible food?

Just inside the entrance is the dining room where a number of the Lost Boys are eating an invisible meal. The assembled boys include (from left to right), Thudbutt, “Don’t Ask”, “Too Small”, “Latch Boy”, and Pockets. Rufio, their leader, sits at the head of the table. I remember Thudbutt and Rufio from the film but am unsure about the others. Unlike back at the pirate village, I can learn their names by looking at them. I chat up the kids but other than asking them to help me get into shape, there isn’t too much to say. With Rufio, in contrast, most of my dialog options are insults. I can call him a “juvenile delinquent”, for example, or an “undersized grease monkey”. Peter needs to work on his put downs! I’m not sure if this is an oblique reference to the Monkey Island series or something from the movie but for now the insults appear pointless. There are three exits from the dining room: “Lost Boys Workshop”, “Round Pond”, or “Sling Shot”, roughly left-to-right. I start to explore from the left. Meanwhile, Tinkerbell seems to have flown off again. I won’t be able to go to her for hints in the same way that I did at the pirate village.


The world’s lamest archery range.

Inside the workshop, I meet up with an unnamed Lost Boy who is working on an egg launcher for the upcoming battle with Hook. The pirates will be using guns and swords but sure, an egg cannon seems like a good idea. He offers me some elastic if I will fetch some eggs for him. I make a note of it and run down the rest of our conversation options. He tells me that I can get fairy dust from Tinkerbell and that I can get wood for a bow in the “Four Seasons”. My old pan pipes are up on the wall and the boy explains that they are used for target practice. Apparently, none of the boys have very good aim… My guess is that I will need to create a bow to knock them down using the wood and elastic. I also find a suction cup arrow I can pick up on the table, reinforcing that conclusion. The pan pipes are from the original stories; Peter played them at the foot of Wendy’s bed when she was asleep.


Cue up the fitness montage!

Just to the west of the workshop is the “Jogging Area”, something like a Lost Boys fitness club. Pockets is here, but the game won’t let me talk to him. (Instead giving me the error, “How can I talk to that?” when I try to. That just seems rude.) Despite being called a jogging area, there is nowhere here that I can run, but I can use an exercise bike and lift weights. Neither of those seem to accomplish anything except trigger little animations. There are two more exits from here, the “Four Seasons” and the “Avenger”. I take the latter.


Have you ever had shawarma?

The Avenger turns out to be a small ship, not very seaworthy but in Neverland the power of pretend is a powerful thing. Peter did not have a boat in the original stories, at least until the end when he had captured the Jolly Roger for himself and sailed it to London, but the “avenger” was the title that Peter took on for himself when he rescued Wendy and the Lost Boys at the conclusion of the book. There’s a bit of fishing net that I can pick up and a bell that I can’t seem to ring. A second dock here cries out for another ship to be moored at later in the game. There’s no other exits from here so my next stop is the “Four Seasons”.


I was hoping for violin music. Anyone else?

In what I think of as the far north of the Lost Boys’ complex is the “Four Seasons”. That turns out to be a long hallway of a room where, naturally enough, different parts have different weather from winter in the far west to autumn in the east. In the “spring” section of the room, I find a chicken but there is no obvious way to relieve her of an egg. I am also able to collect some dead wood and pick some flowers. I assume this area was also created for the movie because no such place existed in the original novel.


This looks safe...

With those four rooms explored, I have covered the western half of the village. I cross the dining hall and discover the “slingshot”, a practice area for teaching Lost Boys to fly. The slingshot is broken, but that’s not too bad because the Lost Boy here (named “Ace”, not one of the ones eating dinner) says that I’ll need to practice jumping off the cliff first. Oh, boy! Ace tells me that I can fix the slingshot with some elastic and that Rufio will train me in sword fighting. Now that I know what I need the elastic for, I need to hunt down a way to claim an egg!


The script called for a cliff, but this is the best they could do.

The “cliff” is just off to the right and isn’t very high at all with a convenient pile of mud to land in to break my fall. In my first attempt, I don’t even start to fly. From the stories, I know that fairy dust is the missing ingredient. Where is Tinkerbell hiding? Thudbutt waits at the bottom of the cliff to remind me that I also need happy thoughts to fly. We get a nice little animation when we jump and land in the puddle and after a few tries Thudbutt tells me that I’m ready to try the slingshot. I am going to need to figure out the chicken sooner rather than later. Incidentally, there’s a tiny art-bug here: Ace tells me that the Lost Boy in the workshop is “Don’t Ask”, except Mr. Ask at the dinner table looks completely different.


There you are!

The final area in the far east of the Lost Boys compound is the Round Pond, a place so important that the music changes when I arrive. Tinkerbell is there and tells me that I will need to collect some of my old belongings to help me remember my time as Peter Pan. That must be why I need to grab my pan pipes! I experiment a bit and find that I can give Tinkerbell the flowers that I picked in exchange for a thimble. A thimble! In the original novel, Peter thought of thimbles as kisses, they are a token of affection. This might be the one that Wendy gave him at the beginning of the book. I can also pick up a “sturdy branch” here which looks better than the “dead wood” I collected already. I run back to check, but even with the thimble, I can’t seem to fly. How can I get fairy dust?

With every location explored, I turn to trying random things in random places. I quickly work out that I can pull a piece of string out of the fishing net that I found to create a bow using the sturdy branch. With that, I am able to shoot down my pan pipes. That is two objects from my past! But I try flying again and it still doesn’t work.


What are you, chicken? 

My next break is that I discover that I can blow into the conch shell to make a noise to scare the chicken! I can grab her eggs while she’s flying. The hint before that I could hear the ocean in the shell doesn’t seem to have played a part here. I trade the eggs for the elastic and use that to repair the slingshot. I still cannot fly, but this time when I talk to Thudbutt at the bottom of the cliff, he hands me a set of Tootles’s marbles. He was one of the original Lost Boys but did not have marbles in the book; I assume that was added for the movie. That is three memory items. What else am I missing?


“Dead dog’s nose” was the secret word!

I try talking to everyone again and discover that I have picked up (somehow) a bunch of new insults for Rufio. I run through the whole list and suddenly food appears on the table. Why? I have no idea! It may have something to do with my telling Rufio to suck on a dead dog’s nose. We get a brief animation of a food fight but it doesn’t give me any items or clues. I’m still stuck so I explore everything over again and this time I get conked on the head when I head back to the Round Pond. (At least, I think that’s what happened. Something that looked like a baseball or snowball flew towards Peter and then he seemed to fly across the pond to the tree on the other side. The animation didn’t make much sense.)


A fixer-upper. 

The tree turns out to be Peter and the gang’s original hideout, long-since destroyed by Captain Hook. This much at least is consistent with the story: the entry into the Lost Boys lair was through a specially-sized hole in a tree, one for each Lost Boy. This meant that no one except the Lost Boys and Tinkerbell could access their home. Unfortunately, one of the lost boys widened his entryway and Hook was able to use it to gain access to poison Peter. My assumption is that this is the now-widened tree which Peter can use to access as an adult. Or more likely I am over-thinking this.

As I explore this room, Peter remembers more and more: the beds where Michael and John slept (John actually slept in a basket…), the chair where Wendy would sit and tell stories, and the fireplace where Peter would stand and play the pipes. Tinkerbell hands Peter his teddy bear, Taddy (not from the original book), and he suddenly remembers his mother. This sets off a series of cut scenes explaining Peter’s origin:


Big Ben is three miles from Kensington Garden...

Peter remembers being a young boy in a pram (stroller for us Americans) with his parents talking about how he would grow up and eventually go to nice schools. Peter suddenly realized his own mortality and decided he didn’t want to grow up. He tossed and turned in the stroller until the brakes came loose and the stroller rolled down towards Round Pond. That pond is in Kensington Gardens, just as in the original Peter Pan stories, but unlike the picture above it is miles away from Big Ben… Peter claims that he eventually returned but his parents had forgotten about him. The game doesn’t make it clear, but the book suggests that Peter had been in Neverland for years before returning to his parents. There was another boy in his bed when he arrived and he concluded that he had been forgotten about. Peter then traveled to other windows and met other children. That’s how he found Wendy and had his adventures with her.


This would have been a great scene if they had remembered to hire an artist.


Kids are awesome.


I feel this way, too.

After he dropped Wendy and that first generation of Lost Boys in London, he went back to see her many times but she kept getting older. Wendy then had children and eventually grandchildren of her own. The last time Peter visited, he met Moira, her granddaughter, and he finally decided to grow up. Peter eventually married Moira and they had kids, Jack and Maggie. Peter realizes that his family is his happy thought and suddenly he can fly again!


I found the Master Sword!

Peter soars up out of the tree and lands back in the dining room, now dressed in classic green tights. Instead of getting trained by Rufio, the latter immediately re-accepts Peter as his leader and hands off his sword. Peter flies away to combat Captain Hook, but we will leave that for next time.

Time played: 1 hr 40 min
Total time: 7 hr 45 min

Inventory: Letter, Phone, Checkbook, Pole, Anchor & Rope, Magnet, Alarm Clock, Conch Shell, Dead Wood, Thimble, Bow, Teddy Bear



Original illustration of the mermaids in their lagoon.

Before closing out this week, I have to admit that I did myself no favors by reading Peter and Wendy. Knowledge of the book helped a bit to fill in some of the plot gaps left by the too-sparse text of the game, but none of the puzzles were simplified. That is probably a good thing, especially as not all players would have been familiar with the book, but now I have dozens of questions I wouldn’t have had before. I’m going to have to watch the Hook movie to figure it out, something I hope to do soon. For one thing, neither Tinkerbell nor Captain Hook survive to the end of the book and here they are in the purported sequel. A brief sequence is included where he meets Wendy’s granddaughter, but there was nothing to imply that he decided to stay in London. It’s clear that his experience with Wendy left him changed: the book’s Peter Pan is eternally living in the present, unable to make long term memories. When Lost Boys (or faeries or anyone else) die, they are immediately forgotten. Peter has to be constantly reminded who Wendy is in the beginning of the book because his memory of her keeps slipping out of his head. By the end of the story, Peter not only remembers her but remembers her forever, returning again and again to London to visit. There’s a sliver there that the movie might take off from, but I’ll have to watch it to find out how they approach it. Thematically, this works in the context of the game because Peter’s memories are a critical part of the plot.

Looking back over the scenes in the last segment, I appreciate a number of little references a bit more but I am uncertain whether to credit the game or the film with them. The opening scene with the stuffed crocodile is excellent, suggesting that Hook didn’t die in his final (off screen) battle with the crocodile. (Peter and Hook dueled with swords on the deck of the Jolly Roger but Hook was kicked overboard into the mouth of the waiting beast.) There was no pirate town in Neverland, but it seems reasonable that one could develop within a few years after Hook “won”. None of the pirate characters other than Hook seem to be from the book; the closest they come is Mrs. Smeedle, the washer-woman, whose name sounds like Mr. Smee, the bosun. He survived the events of the book (one of the few pirates to do so) but probably didn’t become a washer-woman.

With that, I am going to end for this week. Next week, we’ll see what happens when a newly reinvigorated Peter Pan returns to Pirate Town.

10 comments:

  1. Unlucky decision to finish the session at that moment

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    1. Yeah, I realized that later but it still seemed like the right place to stop so I kept it in. Next week will have the final game segment and the rating since the last part was so short. I was surprised by what they did with the ending but we can talk about that when we get there next week. (The game was shorter than I thought. I figured I was about halfway.)

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    2. Yeah, it must be one of the shortest adventure games ever. At least, I can't remember another short one from those years.

      The mechanic of jumping off the cliff 3 times, got me stuck back in the day. They had already used the same one with using the rope 3 times in the main square to jump to the other side

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    3. If you had to do either the cliff or the rope three times, I completely missed it. I know I did both multiple times during my explorations but did not catch on if there was a minimum number of times.

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    4. I hate puzzles like that. Over the years I've failed enough of those purely because I reload a lot and if trying once doesn't give me some kind of indication that I need more practice I'll give up and look for another way to solve the puzzle.

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  2. The "dead dog's nose" moment is straight out of the movie, but the game seems to have missed its point. The issue for Peter in that scene is that the Lost boys are all eating imaginary food, and he can't bring himself to "pretend." Eventually he does so by pretending to throw the invisible food at Rufio with the dead dog's nose insult. When he does that, suddenly food appears everywhere - thanks to the power of make-believe.

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  3. Smee is a big part in the movie Hook, played by Bob Hoskins, as Hook's right-hand man.

    A key element of the movie that the game misses (probably unavoidably) is all of the scenes following Hook. While Peter is off trying to recover his past, Hook is trying to convince Peter's kids to love *Hook* rather than Peter. The daughter isn't interested but the son, who was deeply dissatisfied with Peter, clearly is. This sets up a key point of dramatic tension - even if Peter recovers his past, will he ever recover the love of his son?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I've now watched "Hook" and written a mini-review with details like these that I'm adding to the next post.

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  4. Pram, short for "perambulator," meaning to walk around. Same as "stroller."

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  5. Q: "How can I get fairy dust?"

    A: Tinkerbell and a mortar and pestle?

    Yeah I know. I'm a cruel bastard for thinking that.

    I know I'm late to the party, but did anyone else think that Peter's pre-Pan portrait looks like a young Woody Allen?

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