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<   No. 1771   2007-12-02   >

Comic #1771

1 {scene: The Vatican Library. The Joneses are tied up on chairs and the Nazis and Dr Smith have left.}
1 Monty: Grrr... Dr Smith, the traitorous rat!
1 Prof. Jones: Rat?
2 Monty: You want me to use a stronger word, dad?
2 Prof. Jones: No... a rat could gnaw through these ropes...
3 Monty: This isn't the time or place for ridiculous wishful thinking!
3 Minnesota Jones: Actually, it's the perfect time for it.
4 Minnesota Jones: And we're in the Vatican, so it's certainly the place for it.
4 Prof. Jones: If only I'd thrown a boot at that cat earlier...

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King's Quest is a series of popular computer adventure/puzzle games. These games all shared the feature that you often came across objects that seem useless or pointless, but which you turn out to need later in the game in order to solve some puzzle and progress further. But if by the time you reach the puzzle where you need the objects, and you haven't grabbed them earlier, it's too late, and there is no way to continue.

In King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!, at one point a rat runs across the screen, followed by a cat. If you haven't played the game before, it seems like a simple amusing diversion, of no import.

Later on in the game, you inevitably get captured. You get tied up with rope. And there's no way out. You have nothing in your inventory that can help you. There is nothing from earlier in the game that you can have taken that will help you.

The only thing that can help you is a rat gnawing through your ropes. But if the cat caught that rat earlier, no rat will ever show up.

What you had to do was pick up an old boot that was in the room* and throw it at the cat when it was chasing the rat, so that the rat escaped.

But you never learn that until you're tied up and wondering how on earth to escape.

I used to hate games like that.

* Actually, as pointed out by a reader, the boot was not merely in the room. It was in a nearby desert, in a direction away from the rest of the main plot, so you'd either have to know where it was to begin with or explore screen by screen until you died of thirst several times. And people used to play these games for fun, believe it or not.

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