HELLO AND WELCOME TO THE TWELFTH ISSUE OF THE RIOTOUS
WHERE SONNY BONDS HAS A STARTLING CAREER IN
Fighting crime in the streets of Lytton used to be a mostly
nice & friendly job with just the occasional serious offense that
comes with the territory - or so Jack says. Fact is, he's been
a member of the department much longer than me - I never thought
of my job as merely "nice & friendly". What with dope dealers,
murderers, rapists and other hoodlums on the streets these days
Lytton is no longer a nice quiet town. So it's up to us to keep
it as much of a safe place as is humanly possible.
It was the morning of what might have been just another day in
the field and I was waiting for Dooley's briefing to help me &
the public safely through another day. I went into the locker
room, took my gun and ammo, loaded, took my briefcase and walked
into the briefing room to get the latest news.
Hi everyone to another glorious day in the business of solving
adventures. Not a fantasy or s.f. role-playing simulation this
time, but the latest text/graphics adventure from the guys that
created Leisure Suit Larry,
Police Quest by Sierra-On-Line.
Sonny Bonds is the name of the blue-uniformed police officer
that you're supposed to guide through traffic accidents, arrests,
seductions and many other situations that will prove a definite
health hazard if not properly executed.
Police Quest is a "typical" Sierra game that features a good
deal of variation, a reasonable deal of dry wit (not as much as
Larry but then this is supposed to be a more or less serious
challenge) and all the advantages and disadvantages inherent to
this particular kind of game. You are advised to make a lot of
different save positions and keep them on a (backup) disk because
you may find that a fatal mistake is not always obvious at once;
and when you find out that you made an error two hours of play
before and you don't have a save position prior to that point you
can get very frustrated. Believe me.
This is the 12th ST NEWS Crimson's Column issue and for those
of you interested in other articles in the hints & tips
department (walkthru's they're called nowadays) here's a short
list of my earlier contributions (RP is for role-playing game):
Title Company Type ST NEWS
Sundog FTL SF Solo RP 2.3
Phantasie SSI Fantasy Party RP 2.4
Brataccas Psygnosis SF Solo Arcade RP 2.5
Roadwar 2000 SSI SF "Mad Max" RP 2.6
Barbarian Psygnosis Fantasy Solo Arc. RP 2.7
Leisure Suit Larry Sierra Solo Text/Arcade 2.8
The Bard's Tale Electronic Arts Fantasy Party RP 3.1
Ultima III - Exodus Origin Fantasy Party RP 3.2
Wizard's Crown SSI Fantasy Party RP 3.3
Dungeon Master FTL/Sofware H. Fantasy Party RP 3.4
Obliterator Psygnosis SF Solo Arcade RP 3.5
Police Quest Sierra Solo Text/Arcade 3.6
People so interested are urged to refer to the section of ST
NEWS where the making of back orders is explained.
Now, Sonny Bonds, must you always be late for briefing?
Briefing was short and if it wasn't for the Lytton Tribune and
the other note my time there would have been wasted. So I read
the news, got myself a radio and the keys to my patrol car and
checked a couple of things on the computer. Then,
ready...set...go! checked the car and its contents and boy,
driving sure is a hard thing in Lytton these days.
But as usual I survived and after driving aroun town for a
while looking around a bit I got a call from the station about a
traffic accident. I called in, responded to the news and shortly
arrived at the scene where some silly dude (who later on appeared
to have been shot) had tried to enter a building with a car - and
without bothering about such things as an entrance.
I reported the situation and, while waiting for help, talked
to an anxious looking young man who seemed positive that the
accident was not an accident at all but the result of a brutal
murder. The news he gave me neatly fitted some other scraps of
information but it wasn't enough to build a case on so I waited
for my relieve and subsequently drove to Carol's Coffee Castle
where Steve was waiting for me. Good coffee and an interesting
telephone conversation kept me thinking while I hit the streets
again, ready to write a million tickets.
I hadn't gone two miles when some hot red sports car jumped a
red light and disappeared around a corner.
I followed that car for a long time before finally the driver
realised it wasn't going to work and slowly drove over to the
curb. I took my ticket book and pen, called in, and walked to the
little red car.
And found a spoiled rich girl with the looks and manners of a
20th century Cleopatra. She tried to talk me into something but a
professional man doesn't yield to temptation (aargh!) so I kept
cool and checked her license, wrote a ticket, ignoring all kinds
of abusive language and finally making it back to my own car
where I discovered that I was profusely sweating and had
completely forgotten to sign the ticket and hand it to her. Well,
you can't win 'em all.
After that poor excuse for a policeman's work I decided to
make up for it first chance I got - and that chance came all too
When I entered Carol's I saw some bikes standing in front of
the door and I just knew there was going to be trouble. I talked
to Carol and got invited (instructed is more like it) to ask the
guys to be less liberal in using up her parking space. So I went
next door into Wino Willy's beer joint and was immediately
provoked by some unshaven beer-drinking half-human motorgang
hoodlums but the good use of my nightstick quickly reminded them
of the "force of the law" and with a polite excuse they removed
themselves. And their bikes.
The next chapter in crime-fighting Sonny Bond's short & daring
career was the prolonged pursuit of a very erratically driving
very drunk dude whom I merely had to give a test to convince him
of better places to be than on the street in his own car. I
checked his license and read him his Miranda rights and
witnessed how the jailer shared my opinion and when I left the
drunk in his custody, replaced my gun and went to my car I really
felt like I'd done a good job protecting the public - but much
more was to come.
I called in and realised that now was as good a time as any to
drop a request for promotion to narcotics, so I left a memo in
the basket and did all the things necessary to change clothes and
hit the streets in my Corvette. I was still thinking about the
infamous Gremlin's actions (kind of funny so I didn't even bother
to find out who it was) and made my way to the Blue Room.
Inside, I played some music and drank some wine and listened
to a sad story from Jack and suddenly I didn't feel like dancing
and drinking anymore. Luckily someone reminded me that it was my
turn for late duty so I got out fast and returned to the police
station just in time for another visit to the briefing room where
I located an interesting note and (once outside) also established
that my memo was "under consideration". How nice.
I hit the streets once more and before long I was in pursuit
of that Cadillac - a very dangerous driver and a very hard job
but after many attempts to escape he finally realised he wasn't
going to shake me and parked his car. Seeing that we were
supposed to be dealing with a very dangerous criminal here I
called in and requested backup.
Following the entire procedure and not forgetting to take the
man's weapon from him I booked one Marvin Hoffman but we both
knew that this was not his real name. Found some interesting
things in his car before I brought him to jail on a charge of
Drug Trafficking - hoping he would stay there for an
A message from Morgan (I had been promoted!) convinced me that
an indeterminate time would prove to be no time flat if I didn't
find some way to prove that Hoffman was dangerous and should be
denied bail. I checked some notes and files and found that one
Hoffman was the same as one Jason Taselli (not only the faces
matched but also the tattoo) and quickly went to court where I
boldly asked the clerk to let me in for an emergency.
Judge let me in and gave me a chance to offer her the file and
the poster and explain my case, I told her something about that
flower tattoo and when I left the courtroom I had a no-bail
warrant for Mr. "Hoffman". I went to jail and arrived just in
time to prohibit Taselli's premature release from custody. I
think I made the jailor's day there; he was real friendly to me.
My next operation in the field of narcotic warfare was
breaking up and busting two dudes dealing in the park. With
gorgeous but professional Laura as my backup, and never forget-
ting the correct procedure to follow, we found lots of inter-
esting stuff (not sugar!) and booked both suspects.
After this little success, things rapidly went downhill. First
of all, I got the news that Jack's daughter had died of an
overdose, and another thing was that the guy I'd booked earlier
on, Jason Taselli (alias "Hoffman") had escaped from jail and was
later on found dead in the grove - I had to identify him and once
more saw that tattoo. Then Sweet Cheeks Marie got busted but
Morgan had a good idea and in order to nail the infamous Death
Angel who was responsible for most of the bad news spreading
around town it was suggested I got Marie released from jail - if
she agreed to help the hotel operation, which she did.
The things you have to do to be a narcotics agent; I even had
to bleach my hair. So, after thorough briefing, I left everything
that might give me away in the police station and kept the things
that might come in handy and went on my way to the Place of the
Clue: the Hotel Delphoria.
I got a room there, made some calls and soon found myself
playing poker with two illegal gamblers and - oops! - the Death
Angel himself. He seemed impressed with my play and asked me to
join in for a private game later on; I accepted. But first I got
myself a voice transmitter so as to be able to keep my backups
Later that night I played some more poker, won, and was
invited to join Frank "Death Angel" in his private room. What I
didn't know was that he'd found out my true identity - as I soon
discovered when he aimed a gun at my undervalued hulk. But right
then my backups arrived and in the heat of the firefight the
Death Angel was severely wounded.
Strange, he didn't even try to fly away. Must not have been an
angel after all.
Medals, decorations, praise, and a 97-year no-parole sentence
for Jessie "Death Angel" Bains were the result of my short but
eventful career as Lytton Police Officer. Not bad for a few days'
work; I'll make Captain yet.
Perhaps I'll see you on the team soon.
Okay, Sonny Bonds, well done, but now's the time for some
serious reflection. Those of you who are familiar with Sierra's
line of adventures will know what to expect, but those who are
new to this kind of game should be informed of some of the
peculiarities related to text/graphics arcade adventures.
For one thing, keep in mind that you will be dealing with a
very "modest" and simple parser (the parser being the
programming structure that analyzes typed-in commands), which
means that you can't give complex orders. In fact, many words
that are being used in the descriptions of certain locations are
not recognised by the program - this can be frustrating, but on
the other hand is should be obvious that a word that isn't
recognised is unnecessary to solve a particular situation.
Example: if you type "look table" and the computer responds
with something like "There's an oak table with four chairs next
to it" then it's quite likely that "look chairs" or "examine
chair" will result in "What's a chair?". Illogical but that's the
way it works.
Another feature inherent in these games is the "one solution
only" symptom. Although various commands me be used to the same
effect ("look", "check" and "examine" are the same thing, so are
"take" and "get") each situation needs a particular phrase to
solve. So when you wish to get the drunk into your custody and he
starts giving you a hassle about not having done anything wrong
you need to test his sobriety (or lack of it). If you type "test
man", nothing happens. But "give test" does the job for you -
you'll see that finding the right command can be a bummer.
Last but not least, this kind of game is not logical. A
perfect example: once you've arrested "Hoffman", you can do
everything that's necessary to take him to jail - cuff him, read
his rights, bring him to jail. But when you're at the city jail
and you take off his cuffs he'll shoot you - unless you've taken
his gun away while he was on the ground in the spot where you
arrested him. If you wish to take away his gun ("search man")
outside of the county jail where's there's all the room in world
and nothing to keep you from searching your suspect, the program
says "you should have thought of that when you had him on the
ground". And although a whole parking place is at your disposal,
you can no longer put the man on the floor and get his gun. Which
means that, if you've saved your game after putting the suspect
in your patrol car, you can start all over again. And this, my
friends, is what I truly and positively dislike about any game:
Lack of logic.
And yet, all in all, Police Quest is an o.k. game to play
because there's lots of variation and a good deal of interesting
stuff to do. That, and some witty remarks and situations (big
dude in jail cell: "Hey man, get me outta here, I didn't know
copying disks was illegal!") should keep Sierra fans happy.
Concluding this episode of Crimson's Column I shall once more
inform you that all correspondence including self-adressed
envelopes with return postage can and may be send to
Lucas van den Berg
6511 RL Nijmegen
-- The Netherlands --
Good luck with Police Quest and when you're on the streets,
there's small choice in rotten apples.
The Taming of the Shrew