November Eve

Author
tseng
Released
June 30, 1999
Genre
Adventure, RPG
Company
None
Size
173.3 KB
Boards
138 / 144
Rating
2.92 / 5.00

Closer Look: November Eve (Files B and C)

By: Dr. Dos
Date: Dec. 31, 2019
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November Eve

By: tseng
Released: June 06, 1999
Download | Play Online | View Files

Well past the eve of November, it's time to wrap up November Eve, Tseng's cutscene saturated conversion/parody of Squaresoft's Parasite Eve made for ZZT starring characters from the Gem Hunter universe.

When we last left off, Steve had mutated a police dog and used it to attack the Puerto del Agua police department. Kim defeated the doberman and rescued a few trapped survivors of the assault. Then, in this game with ten thousand characters, a few more showed up, vowing to put aside differences between hero and villain until this Steve thing can be resolved. It was revealed that Steve was seen at a nearby hospital, which becomes the next objective.

Needless to say, you probably should read the Closer Look on File A if you haven't.

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As this is a game already in progress, the second file requires the player to provide a password before they're allowed to play. Rather than a menu, we get this art board with the various villains. There's Sephy Lee Roth, Master Walnut, Steve, Aric, and Espionage.

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It's traditional to use some form of password for multi-file games despite how simple it is to edit the games and bypass this. November Eve is well past the era in which people bothered with locks, so it's just a minor deterrent really. For some games, items and stats may be transferred between files with more complex passwords, but here Tseng just gives you a big list with one correct choice. If you remember, the last file loaded up Kim with a bunch of healing items and special types of ammo. All of it is erased, with the exception of her keeping her Sonic Hanson Blaster. I like that the list of possible passwords is just a bunch of video games.

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And so, we begin the fourth day of the xamboxumbadria crisis.

And you better believe the first thing that happens after the formalities of a password screen and chapter update is a cutscene. You better not be surprised in the least that there's a new character introduced as well. Tseng, as if almost realizing that this isn't tenable, quickly shuffles away several of the characters to deal with this newest crisis. The navy is going to be getting involved, which isn't result in anything more than some burned up pilots crashing their planes. The need to warn the navy that their plan is going to backfire horribly is important, as is the need to keep an eye out on the giant slime of former Novemberists, but I love that these situations are just coming up now. I am really amused that Gem Hunter tagged along with the group to investigate the hospital despite refusing to go in. What exactly did he plan to do at the hospital without going inside?

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Fortunately, the second file does give the player control a lot sooner than the first file. Alas, while the police station had that one single moment where Kim had to do some fighting outside of the game's RPG engine, that was the one and only time. The second file has a lot of dungeons, but it's all wandering empty boards finding the way to progress to the boss fight. The hospital has mostly been cleared out thanks to the evacuation order, though judging by the burnt body behind the desk in the lobby, a few had to stay behind. Tyrone helpfully gates progress by blocking a hallway, just like Nacut in the police station earlier, meaning the only way to proceed is to call an elevator.

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Checkov's elevator is fired almost immediately with Steve mysteriously breaking the wires and sending the elevator plummeting to the basement. This is one of the poorer cutscenes in November Eve where the only thing that happens is the cables are erased. Without anything moving in the background, there's no real illusion of falling here, just Kim saying "Ouch" and commenting that she needs to get up from the basement.

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Tseng is true to the original and Kim doesn't escape the basement by taking the stairs. Instead she has to collect some fuses to restore the power and get up by taking the other still functioning elevator. It's a good thing Steve doesn't do anything about that one. This segment feels more like something out of Resident Evil than anything, with a few keys and fuses to collect that all twinkle before turning invisible. It's not a bad mechanic, but with no danger of zombies or the random encounters of Parasite Eve, it's about as mundane as flipping a circuit breaker in your own home.

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Getting keys and fuses makes for a lot to collect on one board. The only real reward for the player is some "continious" ammo in the chest.

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Having to run around the board like this isn't a lot of fun. Eventually with her arms full of fuses, Kim can repair the power.

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The elevator as the player gets to use it is at least nicer. The yellow doors animate opening and closing as you travel between floors, which does a much better job conveying travel in an elevator than Tseng's efforts at depicting falling in one. Despite six floors being shown on the controls, Kim can only choose to visit from three of them. There's no in-game reason for this. Only three floors are listed and Kim doesn't have any reason to know she'd need to go to any floors in particular.

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The already limited number of floors becomes an ever stranger idea when on the third floor there are no doors or anything to interact with except for Espionage. He could have been placed anywhere else and shaved off a board.

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Espionage guides Kim to the roof and gives her the key she'll need to get up there. He also does a little foreshadowing as to what the next boss is going to be.

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The sixth floor that leads up to the roof is extremely garish looking. There was very much a rejection of bright colors once STK's extended palette became the norm in ZZT. Honestly it would look fine, if not "realistic" if this board was just all out cyan. It's the bizarre shading Tseng does by just smattering grays throughout that make it look just awful to me.

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This is a somewhat confusing board as well since all this decoration on the side goes unexplained. It looks like there's a big switch, but it has no text when touched. There's also the Φ object which can be pushed aside when touched, letting Kim inside, again, with no explanation as to what Kim's interacting with. The first door out is opened with the blue key from Espionage, and the second one opens when the red switch on the wall is touched. There's no feedback for anything here and this board feels really strange because of it.

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There is one last room to explore before heading up to the roof. It's a good old fashioned ZZT storage room complete with boulders as boxes. It's mandatory to head in here as there is a key to obtain that's in behind the scroll, forcing the player to open it and get some more plot information.

Scroll
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
KIM: What's this?

Hospital Record        -           5-3-95
Fired two members of the staff for giving
out HLA lists. They also conducted
twisted experiements involving Xamboxumb-
-adria and they might endanger the lives
of all Hoodians, but what do we care?
Hospital Record       -            2-7-99
Brought in one Bobbery Smithson, who had
eaten a contaminated Gordita at a Taco
Doberman, today. Knowing our previous
records with Gorditas, he'll probably
transform into a mutant that'll kill us
all, but what do we care?

KIM: ...Wow. These guys are morons.
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

This handy little record reveals a few things at least. Herc and Atom were former employees fired for breaking patient confidentiality and also horrific experiments. Nobody particularly cares though, so a few years later when Bobbery Smithson eats his gordita, everything goes as expected. I'm not entirely sure how this all ties together since Bobbery becomes Steve years after the scientists at the museum were fired from their hospital gig.

Dang that was six boards in a row without being stuck in a corner reading flashing text. No wonder I liked the hospital segment even if nothing really happened in it. It looks like the navy's plan couldn't be prevented and a squadron of fighters approach the city and the "Statue of Idiocy". This won't end well. No really, it doesn't end well. The jets are set to endlessly move west and eventually hit some walls. That's what I get for lingering to see what would happen if I waited.

Despite there being no mention as to what happened after their first encounter with Kim, Lemmer and Scissorman return to try again, managing to be two of the few ZZTers in November Eve that manage to not die on their first appearance.

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This fight manages to be one of the better ones, with the only real issue being that it goes on for so long. These two really need to have their health halved. Like before, Kim's first action should be to switch to the Hanson Blaster.

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But what makes this fight work is that there are a variety of attacks that make it so no location is actually safe. For once Kim has to dodge.

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Because the game doesn't tell you when Kim gains a new skill, I only just realized I had access to a defensive barrier ability and an offensive "electro bullet". It's a new attack, so I wanted to see if it was worthwhile.

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This is the cruelest joke.

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I don't think the previous fights had these acknowledgments of victory and listing of rewards? They do a lot to make the transition from the battle engine to regular ZZT be a lot smoother.

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This time it's clear that Lemmer and Scissor are okay, but not for long. The fear that a bunch of jets would come crashing into the city are about to become justified. Kim quickly makes her exit via a window washer's platform leaving the two behind to meet their demise.

The next cutscene is split into three panels similar to the one in the previous file with the combination police car/hospital/police station. Here though, one of the panels is just grayed out which makes this second instance of the combined cutscene technique not quite as impressive. First entering the board, you might suppose that you're looking at the hospital on the left with a giant hole in it from a jet crashing through it. This is quickly disproven once the explosion happens on the roof like Steve planned.

TYRONE: Yo, Kim! You okay?

KIM: I'm... fine. I barely got out of that
explosion in time.

ESPIONAGE: Man... what a mess.

KIM: I think Steve got away.

#play tx222

ESPIONAGE: Cubed?
ESPIONAGE: Oh, shit.
ESPIONAGE: Okay. I'll tell them.

ESPIONAGE: Bad news. Cubed and the others
lost the slime. It went back into Puerto.

KIM: And Steve got away.

#play tx222

ESPIONAGE: Now what?
ESPIONAGE: Yeah?
ESPIONAGE: You're shitting me.
ESPIONAGE: Okay.

ESPIONAGE: That was Dr. Erd. He has some
rather... interesting information. You
know the two guys who work at the museum?

KIM: ...Dr. Hercules and Dr. Atom?

TYRONE: Those bastards?

ESPIONAGE: Well, according to Dr. Erd,
some of his informants said that Bobbery
Smithson was seen going to the Museum. At
late hours.

KIM: You mean... those two were in on this
the whole time?

ESPIONAGE: Yes. Exactly.

TYRONE: God damn. I knew there was
something strange about those two...

I don't think the heroes here got anything out of this hospital trip. The only new information inside was learning about the fired employees, but Herc and Atom are revealed as in fact being involved in this whole situation via a phone-call regardless, so there's no need to put the pieces together. Lemmer and Skullie are definitely dead though, so at least Kim doesn't need to worry about them showing up again.

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ESPIONAGE: Oh my god! They killed Keno
and Kudo!

KIM: ...And BlueMagus.

TYRONE: Fucking bastards.

KIM: ...Uh... we'd better go. We need some
rest before we make our next move.

ESPIONAGE: I hear that.

Oh yeah, there were three people standing not far from Kim, Tyrone, and Espionage this whole time. This includes Keno and Kudo who already died in the first file's attack on the police station, and Interactive Fantasies member BlueMagus who gets probably the least the attention of all the IF crew. The first file's police station attack also had Kim commenting on how the gore looked like something out of an Anthony Testa game. BlueMagus is Testa and now I wish Tseng had found a way to include him there instead of here. What goes oddly unmentioned though, is that the object that falls and kills the three on the right is Chuck, who was the pilot of the crashed jet. It happens so fast that I assumed it was just some falling debris until I was looking at a list of the objects on the board and saw Chuck's name there.

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This one may be the silliest named day of them all.

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But it's also where Tseng finally mixes things up a little. Suddenly you're taken a map of Puerto del Agua and can freely explore areas of the city. Parasite Eve introduces its map of Manhattan far earlier than this and lets you backtrack to previously explored areas to fight more random encounters or look for items that might not have been discovered in earlier visits. In November Eve, you don't do any of that so it's kind of surprising when this map suddenly appears so far into the game. There are six locations to visit, and the interface is pretty bad for selecting one. Two sets of arrows are used to cycle through the locations. There's no text to tell you where a passage is going to take you, forcing you to rely on the graphics to make some educated guesses. Blue: Puerto del Agua Police Department
Green: Warehouse
Cyan: Museum
Red: Subway
Purple: Bobtown
Yellow: Unused! The object's name implies this is "The Building", but that's a special bonus location for the third file only.

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Checking out the police station first, it's clear that there's been a lot of cleaning done, with a few of the boys in blue still working on getting things back to normal. The main section of the station doesn't have much of interest. You can listen to Qwerty and Poiuy grumble about having to clean up the place, the captain laughing at them finally being useful, or speak with Nacut who mentions that Voice wants to speak with Kim.

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Qwerty's little mop is amazing.

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The basement is looking a lot nicer. Voice is back behind the weapons counter despite having been fired, but I guess Kim was the only real witness to that.

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This might not be a Gem Hunter game, but that doesn't meant there can't be a side-quest to collect some gems. There are only ten to collect which is far fewer than the actual Gem Hunter games require collecting, and the reward is the most powerful weapon in the game.

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Going back to the world map and deciding to check out the subway next, my plans are quickly stopped as a key is required.

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There aren't really any leads. Kim can just check out a random warehouse.

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The warehouse is very un-warehouse-like in that it has a bridge running across it on the second floor and the crates are very round or perhaps not even crates at all.

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Tseng uses transporters with matching foreground and background colors to let Kim cross underneath. I always like games that do this sort of layering.

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This is a terrible warehouse and a worse dungeon. Tseng will do a far better looking staircase later on. This one does very little to make it look as if Kim is moving upwards. Climbing the stairs, and crossing the bridge leads to...

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I don't know what it is, but it's kind of cool looking at least.

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Unfortunately cool looks can't save it from the awful decision to gate things off here at the end of the warehouse rather than the beginning. My reward for exploring six boards by selecting the warehouse from the world map is having to traverse them all backwards, get a rope at the PDAPD, and then do it again.

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If you think I didn't just cheat my way to skip several empty boards you're sorely mistaken.

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The one good thing to come of all this is that I figured I'd ask the chief for a rope, and wasn't sure if I should touch the desk or the chief object. Touching the desk gave me the first of the game's hidden gems.

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There's a small white circle by the kennel in the basement that just so happens to be a rope. On my first visit I ignored it and assumed was supposed to be a food bowl.

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ANYWAY.

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The actual end of the warehouse is a fight with Interactive Fantasies member Dexter.

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It's a contender for the best fight in the entire game though. The arena he's fought in is extremely confined and has ricochets that ensure that Kim has to outrun bullets from Dexter's attacks until she can get to a safe recess. These two safe zone routinely block off making it so Kim has to move quickly in order to dodge. It's actually a little frantic!

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Of course, it ain't perfect.

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Dexter actually does go out with some dialog and gives Kim another gem. Since this boss is optional, it is possible to falsify Tseng's claim that every IF member dies in November Eve.

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Like the warehouse, "Bobtown" is pretty weird looking as well.

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I absolutely used the file viewer's ability to search ZZT-OOP and find the gems. I've played enough of Tseng's games to realize that there's no way you'll find them all on your own without touching basically every single tile in the game. You can definitely do a good "find the hidden items" mechanic, it's just Tseng does not know how to make it fun to search them out.

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There's not much to the town part of Bobtown. Instead just another mysterious hole (albeit one that doesn't require a rope), and Reno standing over it assessing the situation

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At least by finding out the slime went underground there's actually a lead on something important.

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S e c o n d. S e w e r. L e v e l.

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This one is framed as a maze, but the already obvious answer of following the slime residue is explicitly stated. Kim just follows along the obvious path and will make it through after a few short boards.

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Tseng does something smart here with this row of transporters, using them as a way to indicate to the player that they're reached the end of the maze. The slime trial still leads this way so I don't know how necessary it really was, but it does mean the player is aware that they're making a commitment by going this way.

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The sewer leads to a far cleaner looking waterway, and for a game whose graphics I find mostly forgettable, this board looks really nice. It does a good job of conveying height in the upper and lower levels, as well as a sense of depth as crossing the brown walkway leads into the foreground of the scene. Plus the little pipes down below have animated water pouring out of them.

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At the edge of the board is a chest containing one of the few gems that isn't obscured. Progress is being made here.

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The next board still conveys height on the walkway with the linewall pillars, though it's a far simpler board overall.

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At the other end is this tiny building with a lone button to press.

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Kim has found the slime and it's stuck. So she... lets it out? This also brings up some more of-the-era ZZTer terminology with "nmioaw", or "not meant in any obscene way". It comes up plenty in late 90s ZZT games but died off well before "OHH DEAR". Also using it just because of the word "pumps" seems a little extreme. Maybe talk about suction or something before worrying about sounding sexual. I'm also realizing a good rule for when "nmiaow" is appropriate would be any situation in which somebody might follow up a sentence with "That's what she said". Another phrase I haven't heard in years now.

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On the other side of the walkway is a (now?) drained river which lets Kim cross. I guess she had to free the slime to drain this water, but I feel like jumping right to releasing the giant monster without even trying to find an alternate route may have been a little too hasty. Also one of the two gray rocks in the middle has a gem hidden inside. Obviously.

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To leave the board, Kim needs to follow this narrow path that I'm not sure if it's meant to be a vent or what exactly.

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But it connects with the subway that couldn't be explored. Is this a wall Kim's climbing down or is she climbing up off the tracks once she arrives on this board? We'll never know.

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nmiaow.

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