Scapeghost: The Diary of a Wimpy Cop

Discuss text adventures here! The classics like those from Infocom, Magnetic Scrolls, Adventure International and Level 9 and the ones we're making today.

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bryanb
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Scapeghost: The Diary of a Wimpy Cop

Post by bryanb » Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:05 pm

So I've been playing Level 9's Scapeghost recently. I had never played it before, and I genuinely don't remember Robb writing a review of it for RFTK even though it turns out he actually did. That inaccessible memory might have been in the back of my head when I decided I wasn't going to try to tackle Knight Orc or one of those gnome games again this time around which is what usually happens when I set out to play a Level 9 game. Anyway, part of what makes Scapeghost cool is that it puts you in the role of a ghost (a recently murdered cop) who is trying to simultaneously solve his own murder, get his kidnapped partner rescued, and accomplish the mother of all drug busts. It's a different sort of mystery game for sure, and while I'm still in the decidedly early going as of yet I am fully invested in the mission.

What I'm not invested in is the relative wimpiness of my character. Level 9's view of life after death is decidedly hellish. Ghosts are often trapped near their graves, unable to travel very far from where they are buried, they carry with them all the demons and shortcomings of their past, they are sensitive to bright lights, and they struggle to lift even the smallest of objects. I actually like that Alan Chance starts out weak and you have to build up his ghostly muscles by gradually picking up larger things. What I don't like is that his strength seems to plateau fairly quickly. You try to pick up a wreath and you're told you'll NEVER be able to pick it up. Never is quite a long time when you're talking about eternity, but I suppose I could accept that in the universe of Scapeghost there are certain things ghosts can never do. Perhaps a poltergeist would be needed to pick up any wreaths. But then I happen to walk a few rooms away and run into the ghost of Bert Wilmot who is not only HOLDING a wreath, he is athletically batting away any hand that dares to try to take it from him. Bert Fucking Wilmot. I get that he's a Victorian-looking gentleman who may have been lifting pebbles for centuries to get to where he is today, but I didn't get the option of training for a century so *I* could lift a wreath. Instead, I was told I NEVER could, no matter how hard I tried. This makes me think my character might be a little on the weak side. Perhaps I struggled to lift thistledown even in my mortal life. If only Alan Chance had given the gym more of a chance while he was alive.

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Re: Scapeghost: The Diary of a Wimpy Cop

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey » Wed Sep 04, 2019 7:03 pm

I don't remember Scapeghost at all and I did play it! That is definitely one I need to try again. How is the writing, did it hold up after all these years?
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

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bryanb
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Re: Scapeghost: The Diary of a Wimpy Cop

Post by bryanb » Wed Sep 04, 2019 9:19 pm

Ice Cream Jonsey wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 7:03 pm
I don't remember Scapeghost at all and I did play it! That is definitely one I need to try again. How is the writing, did it hold up after all these years?
The writing's good. It doesn't have quite as much character as Knight Orc, but hey, what does? What it does have is one of the most heartwarming moments in interactive fiction followed by one of the most horrifying. I've never felt more satisfied with myself than at the moment I pulled the wishbone out of the dog's throat (and I really liked how you needed to earn the dog's trust before you could do it!), but I've never felt more upset by a game than I was at the moment where I dropped the wishbone and the dog PICKED IT UP again. WITH HIS MOUTH. That is how dogs usually pick up things, after all. Luckily, the bone didn't get caught in the dog's throat again, but that felt really, really bad when it happened.

I'm at a point in the game where I'm not exactly sure what to do next but I know I'm close. It looks like it takes approximately four ghosts to open a lock so I obviously need to recruit one more ghost to my team. I've been focusing on the Wilmots, but the wreath situation has been a bit harder to resolve than I anticipated. Issues of inventory tend to be quite vexing in Scapeghost. First off, you can only carry one item at a time, and you'll be forced to drop that item if you encounter hoodlums or go into a room that makes you uncomfortable or try to pick up another item. On the other hand, other ghosts are glad to accept everything you give them. This turns out to be a really good way to lose items you might not want to lose. Oh, and did I mention the game makes you type out "inventory" any time you want to see the one item you're carrying? I check my inventory compulsively in adventure games no matter how little I'm carrying so this has been painful. Anyway, I'm pretty sure I've got to do something with the white card in regards to the wreath, but I just don't know what yet because everything I've tried to this point has failed. So I might give up on the Wilmots for a while and try my luck with either Depressed Woman or Blind Woman. I think the key there will be convincing Depressed Woman that ghosts don't get depressed (tough considering Alan Chance is pretty depressed over being murdered and all) and convincing Blind Woman she's not really blind (tough considering Alan Chance cruelly gloats over the fact that there's one ghost currently less capable than he is).

No spoilers, please. I'm planning to use this thread as an occasionally updated journal documenting my game progress until my glorious victory in December 2022.

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Re: Scapeghost: The Diary of a Wimpy Cop

Post by Roody_Yogurt » Mon Oct 21, 2019 2:42 pm

I'm looking forward to more updates in this thread. I have cracked Scapeghost open a few times, but a lack of progress and too many things to check out always stopped me really quick.

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Re: Scapeghost: The Diary of a Wimpy Cop

Post by bryanb » Tue Oct 22, 2019 12:38 pm

Roody_Yogurt wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 2:42 pm
I'm looking forward to more updates in this thread. I have cracked Scapeghost open a few times, but a lack of progress and too many things to check out always stopped me really quick.
I'll definitely be picking it back up after the competition. If all goes well, I might try this journal approach for other games that have either given me trouble in the past or which I just haven't been able to muster enough interest in to actually finish (Andy Phillips' Enemies and Ballyhoo immediately come to mind as possible candidates). By the way, it's great to see you again! I found an old thread on the old Groucho forum where we were both trying to finish some old game, but I think I pretty much had already given up on it before you picked up the mantle. We should definitely give Darknite another try unless you've already finished it in the intervening years.

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Re: Scapeghost: The Diary of a Wimpy Cop

Post by Roody_Yogurt » Tue Oct 22, 2019 1:07 pm

Enemies is a memorable ride, but there were whole sections in the second half of the game that I couldn't imagine getting through without a walkthrough in hand (which I did). I think people stand more of a fighting chance with Phillips' later games (not that I ever got around to playing anything more recent than Heroine's Mantle). Ballyhoo is one of my favorites, but it's true that it can be a bit frustrating when one is stuck.

I had completely forgotten about Darknite's existence so it's pretty safe to say that I never beat it. I'll have to dig it up just to see what memories pop up. I didn't even know the old Groucho forum was still up in some form.

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Re: Scapeghost: The Diary of a Wimpy Cop

Post by bryanb » Tue Oct 22, 2019 10:30 pm

Yeah, Enemies is just straight up hard; sometimes I tell myself all I need to do is devote an entire weekend to trying to solve it, but I'm not sure even that would do it. I wish I could say getting stuck has been what has kept me from finishing Ballyhoo. Unfortunately, the truth is far more sinister and disappointing: I'm just deeply skeptical of all circus-themed entertainment. So what usually happens when I start up Ballyhoo is I wander around for a while and then ask myself, "How good could a freaking circus game possibly be?" Then I quit. I realize my attitude is both unjust and unreasonable, and I truly do want to do better in the future. I'm not sure I'll ever get to the point where I can appreciate Def Leppard's music video for Animal, but Ballyhoo might be a different story, especially if I focus more on the mystery and less on the setting. I'm definitely more motivated to play it after hearing you say it's one of your favorites as I never really considered it to be one of Infocom's classics.

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Re: Scapeghost: The Diary of a Wimpy Cop

Post by Roody_Yogurt » Wed Oct 23, 2019 11:13 pm

I'm sure that it helps that it was one of the first games I legally acquired, and I spent much of my fifth grade trying to beat it (and these things feel much more sinister and meaningful in a fifth grader's imagination). As far as the circus genre goes, I consider myself pro-circus but "Ballyhoo" is probably the only one I've ever liked (I tried hard to get into an AGT (?) game called "Hurry!" (I think) but my interest never lasted more than a room or two). IMO, most impressively, there are moments of parser playfulness that feel ahead of its time to me. When it comes down to it, though, I most fondly remember the satisfaction of making things happen, as it can be a little sparsely implemented here and there. When I covered the game for "Roody's Old-School Transcripts," though, I was surprised when a handful of people told me they also have fond memories for the game as I was under the impression that most people didn't care for it.

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Re: Scapeghost: The Diary of a Wimpy Cop

Post by Jizaboz » Wed Oct 23, 2019 11:27 pm

Ballyhoo is an odd one. Fantastic game on many levels. The first time I played it when I was 14, the mystery and slight horror element really surprised me and sucked me in.

I’ve tried beating it with hints like 3 times and the last attempt was only a few years ago. I had some something stupid on that attempt and broken the game for myself somehow. That sort of thing is much harder to do in Ballyhoo than Hitchhikers Guide but it did happen.

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Re: Scapeghost: The Diary of a Wimpy Cop

Post by Roody_Yogurt » Wed Oct 23, 2019 11:47 pm

Yeah, no, it's definitely possible to screw yourself in that one, even if it tries to be nice about it. There's that part where it tries to save you from making a big mistake and your character has a vision of a burning bridge. As an adult, I know how it was trying to help me. As a kid, I was like, WAIT SO NOW MY CHARACTER IS A PSYCHIC?

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