Friday, May 23, 2014

Bringing back the ad in adventure (2): Captain Gysi und das Raumschiff Bonn

Captain Gysi und das Raumschiff Bonn - IBM PC (1997)

Oh, my! Has it really almost been a year since I've posted the first episode? Well, circumstances have prevented me from continuing with these for much too long, but I actually played this game back around the time when I wrote about Das Erbe, so my memory might be a bit hazy about specifics this time, sorry about that.

We're getting political this time! This was actually the adventure that brought me to covering advertisement games - last year we had elections in Germany, and leading up to them, Captain Gysi's face could be seen in the streets quite a lot (there, I missed my chance to be topical for once), which reminded me of his game, and in search for it I stumbled upon the fantastic Werbespiel-Archiv site, where I got this and other games.

The game was commissioneed by the German PDS (Party of Democratic Socialists), and Gregor Gysi was their top candidate at the time. In the intro, Commander Kohl (chancellor at the time) has steered the space ship Bonn dangerously close to a black hole. His course of action? Landing the ship on an asteroid, putting everyone in stasis and waiting until the problem solves itself (a criticism often put up by the left against the real Helmut Kohl in his later years as chancellor in the '90s). So it's up to Captain Gysi to set a new course for the spaceship! Yes, subtlety is not this game's strength, but at least it's funny.

In the stasis room, he meets Kinkelstein, a small walking rock with a hat, who blindly follows whoever's in charge (he's based on Klaus Kinkel, whose party, the FDP had served as coalition partner to both left and right governments in the decades prior) and thus becomes Gysi's companion and manages his inventory.

After getting out of the stasis room by fishing a key out of the commander's suit and unlocking the door, Captain Gysi steps into the elevator room. The game now suddenly gets really hard because of a bug: It's necessary to go down the corridoor to the right, but something's wrong with the hotspot - it's almost impossible to find, especially if you don't know that you need to go there.

This leads into the Merkelarium, where he meets the Commander's servant and his main antagonist, a recorder flute. This may seem random and nonsensical, but behind that lies sharp political commentary: Before the unification, Merkel (who as you've probably heard made quite a career a few years later) used to be a member of the East German CDU, whose old members were referred to as Blockflöten (of course a play on the Bloc, but the word actually means recorder flute). Merkel had distanced herself publicly from that old-DDR faction, but the implication here is that she might not have been as far removed from them as she claimed.

After dealing with the flute through some clever rhetoric (the dialogs run automatically), Gysi can get the commander's coat, which is enough to fool his unflexible guard bot Blümel (CDU politician Norbert Blüm).

Most of the puzzles rely on silly puns to (German) political jargon. Here is a tax hole blocking your way, but Captain Gysi can fill it with a tax coin he found earlier.

I'm blanking on who this guy might be, although a bit he reminds me of East Germany's General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party, Erich Honecker. But who knows...

On the bridge we meet the flute again, and a reserve brain in the back. But we send her away in a bubble and can move freely around the bridge.

But we need the Master Key Card to change the course!

This is the arsenal. It's not possible to take any of the space suits, but Captain Gysi pockets the 1000 ton bomb (of course) and the Napoleon hat.

This is (then) SPD politician Oscar LaFontaine. (Whose name is French for "the fountain". Blunt? Yes.)

Gysi doesn't want to walk past because he doesn't want to get wet, but he can put a napoleon head he just found on him to make him shrink.

With the "Social Hammock" (another political term describing the state's wellfare support of supposedly unproductive individuals) we can get up the broken stairs to the computer room. The animation of the Kinkelstein growing wings and flying along is pretty neat.

If my remember correctly, the frog is actually not a politician, but TV personality/producer Alfred Biolek, who's in this game just because the last part of his name sounds like "lick" in German, so Gysi can give him a lollipop to lick and turn him back into a human, because he's blocking the data highway by sitting on a cable. Makes sense, doesn't it?

The flute is also there again to annoy us, but she can be easily flung off screen using a rubber paragraph (actually a term for a piece of legislation whose vague phrasing is open to very differing interpretation) and a portable fan to cut it.

That gives access to the computer, but I completely forgot what I did there. I do remember, though, that it was full of useless, time-wasting options.

For some reason there is a machine that turns everything that falls through it red. Gysi's uniform goes back to normal after a short while, but he can also throw in this sock, which is needed later.

In the gunnery station, Gysi at first claims he's a pacifist and won't touch it, but once certain criteria are met...

... the view switches to a mini game where the player has to shoot invading ears(!) by clicking on them. WTactualF!?

Somehow all of this gives access to the commander's safe and a key card (don't remember the specifics of this, sorry).

Inside the off-limits area we find two more conservative politicians as statues who keep arguing about nonsense. They have laser eyes, but since they're statues they can't actually turn their heads, so we only have to take out the left one, CDU politician Theo Waigel, famous for his bushy eyebrows, by...

... putting the red sock on his head. This grants us the master keycard, and now we can finally go to the bridge and set a new course.

But not before dealing with the brain and the flute one last time. The brain shouts at the socialist Gysi: "Go to the other side (implied: if you don't like the status quo here)!" The captain's answer: "That's not possible anymore." (Since East Germany was a thing of the past.)

Taking them out is easy: Just open the battery lit on the flute (what does a flute need a battery for?), take out the battery and watch it fall and crush the brain.

Setting course to Galaxis Futura... which is actually the title of the sequel, which boasted high res graphics and speech!

The game once again can be found at the Werbespiel-Archiv. I might yet cover the sequel eventually, but if you don't want to wait another year for me to get to it, you can try it yourself here.


  1. Dude, that's not a flute, it's a dildo.

  2. Anon bursts out what we were all thinking...

    Man, I knew adventure games were really popular in Germany compared to elsewhere, but I didn't know they were so popular that a mainstream (?) political party would try to create one!

    And over here in the 90s we got cereal FPSes and constant moral panics from Washington.

  3. "moral panics from Washington"

    We had and have them too in Germany as well. Probably more than in Washington..