Scorpion's Tale #5 (Starcross)
Feature by Scorpia
Computer Gaming World Volume 4 Number 2 (April 1984)
Ah, glad to see you drop in again! This time, we're off on a hi-tech adventure, far away from deep and dank dungeons. So, fasten your seatbelt, and we'll liftoff to Starcross!
First, you're going to be needing the map that came with the game. The location of the alien ship changes from game to game, and without the map, you won't be able to figure out what the proper coordinates are for getting to it. So, make sure you don't lose that map!
There isn't too much to do while you're on your way through space to the mystery ship, so you might just as well enjoy the descriptions as you fly along. Eventually, you will be captured by the ship, and that's where the game really begins. Leaving your own vessel, you will find yourself just outside the Red Airlock. Getting it open is the first puzzle of the game.
The solution to it is really simple. Careful examination of the sculpture, along with a little thought about your origins, should get the airlock open pretty quickly. This will also provide you with the first of the twelve rods you will be collecting throughout the game.
Once past the airlock, you will find yourself in a truly alien world. Much will be incomprehensible at the start (and perhaps for much of the game, if not all of it!), so the best thing to do at this point is just save the game, then wander around for awhile, mapping as you go. Once you have a fair idea of the layout of the ship, and where you can find certain objects, you're ready to play the game in earnest.
Now, as you went around the ship, you probably found yourself running across various strange creatures (and even one familiar one .... don't go walking around in the dark!!). All of them, in one way or another, will be useful to you; the trick, as always, is finding the right way of dealing with them.
For example, there are the rat-ants. Not terribly intelligent, but they do know how to protect their nest ... and the red rod that's stuck in it. The answer to this problem is one that you wouldn't ordinarily associate with an Infocom game, and is the least satisfying of all the solutions in the game. But you do need that red rod for something, so it's best to get it now.
Once you have that, you might also want to pay a visit to the spider who lives behind the blue airlock. Unlike the rat-ants, he is quite intelligent, and even friendly. He has something for you, IF you have something for him. Remember that he's bored; what might you have with you that could keep him happily occupied for awhile?
Well, by now you have several rods, and you're probably wondering what, if anything, to do with them. Don't worry, they all have a purpose. What you need to do now is pay a visit to the Grasslands. Explore around there, and you should find a hatch without too much trouble. Once you open it and go inside, you'll probably get an idea or two about the uses of the rods. A little knowledge of chemistry is helpful here, but not absolutely necessary. Trial and error works pretty well, too. Remember to take with you anything you might find here.
Ok, now you need to make your way to the Yellow Airlock; beyond it will be another rod. You may find that the door is a bit harder to open than the others were, but don't let that stop you! There is also a basket inside the door; make sure you pick that up, because it will come in very handy!
Then it's off to the lab in the Blue Hall, where you will find a mysterious silver sphere, and some strange controls. A little messing around shows you that you can make the sphere larger or smaller by twisting a dial; when you do that, a blue rod is revealed inside the sphere! Alas, you can't just pull it out.
Looking around, you see a red disk and a green disk. Pick them up, because they are needed here, and in some other circumstances as well. It will take a little experimenting on your part to figure out what the disks do, and quite a bit more to see how they should be used in this situation. I'll just tell you that neither disk should be put on the sphere, and that you shouldn't forget what you found in the Yellow Airlock.
After getting the blue rod (and making sure you have the disks with you!), head along to the Computer Room. Investigation of the computer should reveal to you what needs to be done pretty easily, and now you have a gold rod to add to your collection. Don't worry about all the fancy displays here; once you have the gold rod, you've done everything necessary in this room.
While you've been moving around, you may have noticed a little mechanical"mouse" that collects trash. This machine is quite important; it will help you to obtain another rod. It isn't necessary to follow it around, however; just be a litterbug. When the item you dropped has disappeared, you'll know the mouse has been by. Of course, you *do* have to drop the right item (does that have you going in circles?).
Right about now, it's time to pay your respects to the Weasels. Make your way to their village, and wait until the chief appears. He will be anxious to trade with you; feel free to give him what he wants ... just make sure that you get what you need, so be assertive!
When you have that, hang around. There is something else the chief can do for you, so don't let him out of your sight. Eventually, you will see why that is necessary, when you reach the Green Airlock. This is a tricky spot, in more ways than one. Make sure you check out everything in the area; you should be leaving with a couple of extra items. Speaking of leaving, you can't just walk out the way you came in; try doing that, and you'll find yourself in a whole lot of trouble! There is, of course, another way out....
Once you've figured out what that is, you'll want to go to the Observatory. Here, you'll need to look around very carefully indeed; pay close attention to the room description and your inventory. Don't leave empty-handed.
Which reminds me, somewhere along the way, you should be sure to pick up the raygun from the Weapons Deck. It will come in very handy, in more ways than one. Now it's time to look at those mysterious bubbles in the Grasslands.
Getting to the first one should present no problem at all; getting in should be equally easy. What's that? You say you don't have a silver rod? Sure you do, you just don't realize it yet! Its location will become obvious after the great shake-out; just think about that for awhile.
Now, the other bubble is a slightly different matter. You can't just walk over to it, or climb up to it. However, as you might have suspected, there is a way to get there. If you recall your physics, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Once you arrive at and enter the other bubble, you will find a use for all the remaining rods. Here you are on your own, as what needs to be done can be determined only by trial and error (although again, if you know some physics, part of this will be easier). But, when you figure out the exact sequence of moves, you will bring the game to a triumphant conclusion!
Well, that seems to be about it for "Starcross". Next time, we'll talk about a game that is much different and full of magical happenings: Enchanter. 'Till then, happy adventuring!
* * * NOTE! * * *
Just after the February issue went to press, I was notified that my mailbox place would be closing at the end of January. They continued to hold mail for current customers until about mid-February; after that, all mail was returned to sender. Since CGW was already printed, there was no way to get a notice in about the change. My apologies to any of you who had letters returned because of this problem. Of course, I have a new mailbox, and you can now write to me at the following address: Scorpia, 207 E. 85th S1. Suite 240 New York, NY 10028. I would also like to remind correspondents that, if you want a personal reply, you MUST include a self-addressed, STAMPED envelope (however, this does not apply to readers living in foreign countries where American stamps are unavailable)!
For those of you who are online, I can be reached on the Source at ST1030, and on CompuServe on page GAM-310.
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