Litil Divil: The Bull

I found the save room in maze 5! It turns out to not far from the entrance. I think my first attempt at mapping the level covered every branch of the early part of the maze except the one leading to the save room. Ah well. At least I have it now, and being able to bank my progress in clearing challenges has accelerated things. Still no sign of the trampoline room, my white whale from olden days, though. And I’ve been through enough challenges that, if the patterns of the earlier levels still hold, I only have two remaining, one of which will be a combat arena. Maybe the trampoline room will turn out to be the very last one.

For once, the challenges I’ve been encountering have been ones I recognize — “Hey, it’s the plant room!” I say to myself, or “Oh, wow, the mechanical bull challenge. I haven’t thought about that in ages.” That mechanical bull gave me some difficulty, though — just because I recognize the problem doesn’t mean I remember the solution. Basically, it bucks and spins and you’re expected to react with the up and down buttons. A sort of bar graph made of in-game horseshoes heats up, shoe by shoe, as you fail, but cools down if you do things right. There have been other reaction mini-games like this — in particular, the arena room in level 4 is themed as a tennis match, where you’re served four types of balls and have to lunge in the correct direction with the arrow keys to hit them back. The thing that makes the mechanical bull so much harder is the lack of feedback: your button presses have no effect on Mutt’s actions, and that makes it difficult to tell if you’re doing things right. Even if you know what button to press, are you supposed to hold it down, or tap it with the right timing, or what? Eventually I realized that it wasn’t penalizing me for incorrect button presses, just for the absence of the right ones — and if Mutt isn’t playing any animations, there’s no dead time where my presses don’t register. So I could pass the challenge by just jiggling both the up and down buttons all the time, regardless of what happens.

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