a rickety bridge of impossible crossing


Here's my best Ancipital score so far:


21% completion and 209,533 points. I have a long way before I have a shot at being the new Supreme Ancipital Galactic Champion, but I've almost doubled my Donkey Kong Jr. score. I'll have to check the exchange rate to see how that compares. It's probably not as impressive, because it turns out Ancipital is still a very hard game even if you know what you're doing.

Honestly, I would've been content to enjoy the game's weirdness and one-of-a-kind aesthetic vicariously like I do with every other Llamasoft game, if I hadn't learned that each of the 100 screens has its own unique help text. It doesn't tell you in-game that you can press H for help, so I would've never known if I hadn't read the manual. That sort of granular hint system is something you just don't get in games, and I think it's worth celebrating.

I was certain that some of the hints would be easter eggs or jokes/references from the author, since some of the screens are straightforward enough that no help is necessary, and my instincts were correct. On one screen, titled "It's a Gas", the Ancipital is flinging £ signs at whatever random object is used as that room's enemy, and if you press H it shows a couple lines from Pink Floyd's Money, which is also the source of the room name.

Here's another one that uses the help screen to display some commentary:


I want to dive in and see all 100 of the help screens, maybe document them for the internet. It's quite possible I would be the first person since Jeff Minter himself to have seen all of them. Well okay, you can probably see them if you dive into the code, but I want the fun and satisfaction of seeing them in context.

I think it's doable with save states. As long as I save my state after every room, and load it if I take an unacceptable amount of damage, I should be able to brute-force it. It still won't be a picnic, but I think it'd be a satisfying goal to complete. I found a map of the game that apparently came with the cassette but wasn't on the Mobygames page --- it shows the general structure, which walls are impassable, which ones require keys, but not where any of the keys or goats are. It has a message from the author suggesting the player add their own notes to the map. I've added the map to the documentation page and I'll print out a copy to assist me in my Ancipital quest.

I wish I could be taking more screenshots, but I'm still using the web-based emulator, which makes it hard to get good ones. There's no dedicated screenshot button, so I have to take an OS-level screenshot. I'm playing fullscreen, which works fine, but it doesn't do nearest-neighbor scaling, so if I take a full screenshot it's going to be blurry and gross. If I take a screenshot of the embedded emulator, I have to manually crop it every time.

I know C64 cores exist for Retroarch --- there are cores for every game console and home computer you could think of --- but since I'm on an Ubuntu-based OS, I can't install cores from within the program as intended, I have to get them from the apt repository, and the selection there is mystifyingly limited:


I don't understand. I went with Mint because it's one of the most popular flavors of the most popular distro. One would think that the version of the OS used by the most people would be especially streamlined and straightforward. Why does every single thing I try to do feel like a weird edge case? Why can't anything just be fucking normal?

Anyway, I also tried VICE, the "Versatile Commodore Emulator", and the linux version doesn't have a UI, so it looks like I'm stuck with the javascript emulator. I'm glad it's there for now, and I look forward to someday going back to an operating system designed for people to use 🦝

#media #tech