Litil Divil: The Terrible Trampoline

I’ve finally reached the trampoline room.

I haven’t gotten through it yet, but it really does seem likely to be the last challenge in the whole game, apart from the customary unvarying end-of-level fight. By numbers, it should be. But also, the architecture leading up to it seems suitably climactic. The meandering tunnels narrow to a focused point, and the final approach is a straightaway coupled with a serpentine path filled with gold — not a maze to get lost in, but one to get rich in. If you can spare the time, anyway — this is far enough from the save room that just getting there leaves you low on health.

The interior of the room is just as I remember. We stand on the ribcage of a huge skeletal demon. The room’s only other feature is a small round trampoline. If you walk into the trampoline, you just kind of trip and fall over and flip the trampoline in the air briefly. If you press one of the action buttons just before walking into the trampoline, the exact same thing happens. But I remember seeking help back in the day, and being told that this was basically the right approach, that it’s tricky to pull off but you should be able to jump onto the trampoline with the right timing. But once I was able to play with it again, I quickly convinced myself that this is malarkey. There had to be some secret, something I wasn’t doing. But what?

I’m not too proud to seek help again. Alarmingly, when I searched for “litil divil trampoline”, two of my own blog posts were in the first page of results, a good sign of a game too obscure for me to hope for much help. But there was, at least, a two-post thread on the GOG forums that seemed to give an answer: you have to start in a specific place, down along the spine as far as you can go, and hold down the primary action button (the Z key) to break into a run. Now, I’m fairly sure that I had tried each of these two things individually, not just to no success but to no apparent effect at all. Does Z only make you run if you’re in the right place, and aimed in the right direction? That seems like bad puzzle design to me. There have been other puzzles with location-specific actions, and sometimes they’ve been excessively difficult because the area where the action can be performed is smaller than it should be, but this one seems particularly egregious.

I’m reminded a little of an experience I had in Final Doom, a level pack for Doom II. This has a bit in an early level where you’re on a ledge above a lava moat, and the only way to get past the lava is to run off the ledge by holding down the shift key. When I played this, I didn’t know that running was an option — perhaps I had forgotten about it, or perhaps I had simply managed to get through the entirety of Doom and Doom II without ever knowing you could run. I mean, as far as I’m aware, there had never before been a place where running is absolutely necessary, the way it was here. At any rate, I was stuck, and wound up looking for hints. The hints I found simply said to run off the ledge to clear the lava. Not knowing what this really meant, I just tried walking off the ledge and into the lava repeatedly, wondering what I was doing wrong.

Perhaps the first trampoline hint I got back in the day had a similar problem: perhaps it said to run, but didn’t specify how. If so, that’s worse here than in Final Doom. At least there, the controls were documented. The hint’s assumption that players already know how to run was basically reasonable, and I have only myself to blame for my own stupidity.

2 Comments so far

  1. Jacob on 4 Sep 2022

    3hrs 5mins into this video they reach the trampoline room.
    I am guessing but looks like not only do you have to start running at the right spot but also then jump at the right time.

    When I was younger I bought this game and was so disappointed I couldn’t get it to work. I remember forlornly reading through the manual and thinking how good it would me. Now I am glad I never got it working. Looks like an exercise in pettiness and frustration.

  2. Carl Muckenhoupt on 5 Sep 2022

    Yeah, now that I’ve gotten through it, I can attest that it’s absolutely possible to jump too late or too soon. But if you’re not doing the run from the approved spot, you can’t jump at all.

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