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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thursday Night At The Arcade: Deja Vu

In all of my thirty years of living, I have not yet encountered anybody who has been afflicted with the condition known as amnesia.

Or if I have, I clearly don't remember...

When most people hear about amnesia, they automatically think that it's a condition that people on soap operas get, or that it's a medical condition that seems so farfetched that it can't possibly be gotten in real life.

But it can.

Amnesia can come in two recognized forms. There is anterograde amnesia, which is short-term memory loss, and retrograde amnesia, which is the condition that causes people to forget people, places, events, etc.

It's also the name of a forgotten song by Chumbawamba.

There's many ways that a person can be afflicted with amnesia as well. Drugs and alcohol consumption is one way that it could be inflicted (mostly the anterograde variety). Look at all the people who have blacked out after too much booze. It happens all the time.

There is also the science of repressed memories, where a memory might prove to be so traumatic for someone that they forget it even happened. Childhood amnesia is the inability to recall certain events from a person's childhood. Source amnesia occurs when a person can remember a specific piece of information, but is unable to remember where they got the information from in the first place. And lacunar amnesia is the inability to recall a specific event that happened to them in their lives.

Truth be told, almost all of us have been afflicted with some form of amnesia in some point of our lives, and we might not even realize it. In most cases though, this proves to be a mild inconvenience and doesn't affect our lives at all.

But what happens if you end up, say, waking up in a bathroom stall with a head wound and a gun in your pocket? And say you happen to exit said bathroom with a dead body on the second floor and your fingerprints are all over the gun in your pocket.

And you can't remember a thing.

Getting amnesia via a head wound is a definite possibility. It's a condition known as post-traumatic amnesia, and depending on the severity of the blunt force trauma one receives, the memory loss can last from a few hours to having it be permanent.

In the video game that I plan on spotlighting in today's trip to the arcade, we try to help one person suffering from post-traumatic amnesia get his memory (and in the process, his life) back.

In fact, I'll even provide the link to the online version of the game so you can play the game yourself, if you like. Don't you just love Internet technology?

Okay, so now that you have the game in your browser if you've chosen to play it, we can go on.

Right off the bat, you can tell from the title that the game would have something to do with memory, as the phrase 'deja vu' is French for 'already seen'. It's a term that is used to describe the feeling one gets when they cannot remember where they've seen or did something before, but can remember seeing or doing it. In this game, our main character will experience this more times than you could even count.

Picture it. The year is 1941. December 1941 to be exact. It was the month that Pearl Harbor was attacked. It was the month that the first appearance of Archie Andrews graced the pages of Pep Comics #22. It's also the month where the game is set.

And the above situation I described about waking up in a bathroom stall with a head injury and a gun in your pocket? That's the opening scene of the game.

Your name is Theodore 'Ace' Harding...but you don't know that. In fact, you don't know anything about who you are, how you got there, or why you are here in the first place. And as you progress through the game, you do encounter a dead body upstairs, and all evidence points towards YOU as being the guy's killer.

And you have absolutely no idea what the truth is.

So there's your mission. You have to figure out who you are. Then you have to figure out whether you really killed the man upstairs or not. And then you have to find a way to clear your name. But the road to finding the truth is not going to be an easy one. With muggers desperate to steal your money, women hiding handguns in purses, and stumbling onto a kidnapping plot, your search for the truth could cost you dear.

As it so happened, there are several possible endings that can come from this game. You obviously want the best one possible, which is to remember who you are, and clear your name in the process. But one false move, and you could end up sleeping with the fish.

The game Deja Vu first appeared on Macintosh computer systems in 1985, and was ported to several consoles over the next few years, including the Famicon in 1988, the NES in 1990, and the Game Boy Color a few years after that.
The game is your basic point and click venture. You move from screen to screen to search for clues, find the truth behind your unfortunate circumstance, and make your way through the dangerous streets of Chicago. All you have to do is move your arrow cursor to the command you want to do and click on it. If you want to open a door, you click on open and then click on the door. If you want to use some capsules that you found on yourself (because apparently ingesting foreign substances is encouraged in this game), just click on the self button after you click on the capsules in your inventory.

And if you decide to actually punch someone in the face in your travels, you can just click on that hit button, and they'll go down like an inflatable clown doll.

(And, I'll let you know that there are two people in the game that you will have to punch out. One repeatedly. Doesn't that sound like fun?)

But as I said, you really want to make your way through the game as carefully as possible, because one false move can make you lose more than your memory. You can also lose your life. Or get arrested. Neither choice sounds appealing, really.

Therefore, it's important that you keep a close eye on the clues you locate, and that you end up keeping only the ones that will prove your innocence. For if you go to the police with even one piece of incriminating evidence against you, then it is an automatic game over.

Fear not. There are dozens of clues available in the game that will help you remember who you are, as well as the reason why you are in this position in the first place. This is why it becomes so important to look at EVERYTHING in the area that you are in. Filing cabinets, desks, portraits on the walls, even something as simple as a garbage can will help you out. Maybe you'll see yourself in a photo, or maybe you'll find a key that will unlock a door, or maybe you can get an address to a place that you need to go.

(Just make sure you have the loose change to pay a taxi cab before you hail one, or else you could end up on a one-way ticket to jail as a result. You have been warned.)

In all honesty, I really get hooked on games like this one because you never know where you will find your next clue or where the game will take you. You could end up at your own office where you come across an intruder. You may end up looking in the trunk of your car and finding a surprise inside. You may even find yourself in an underground sewer where if you avoid any nasty creatures that live down there, you may find that illegal gambling runs rampant in Chicago!

Okay, enough spoilers. If you read this blog carefully, I've given you some tips as to how to get through the game, should you wish to play it. Just remember a few things. Twenty dollars is expensive in 1941, so you may want to try and protect your wallet from gun-wielding thugs. You may want to find a way to read about popular medicines before attempting to swallow them. You may also want to ditch that gun in your pocket somewhere where people won't be able to find them. I hear that black cars in Chicago have been recalled for faulty ignition switches, so you best not try to start one up. And never...NEVER...take a right turn near the police station. Trust me on that one.

Why? Well...I can't remember. Sorry. You just have to take my word for it.

If you survive, you might even get a chance to play the sequel...

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