The Humans: The Game That Wouldn’t Die

I started this weekend somewhat over halfway to level 80 in The Humans. New tricks were coming less frequently. The only unknown functionality I discovered lately was that you can change the angle at which you throw something by pressing the left/right buttons between selecting the “Throw” action and actually throwing it. This isn’t mentioned in the manual at all; I checked. But you pretty much have to figure it out on level 51. Aside from that, there was one new non-obvious technique to pick up: getting an entire group of humans down from a platform by using a rope, then building a stack under the guy holding the rope to get him down with everyone else rather than leave him stranded. Intuitively, one thinks of the human-stack as a means of ascending, not descending, so there’s a bit of a mental trap there.

So most of the second forty levels were a straightforward application of techniques already learned, and the only real challenge was in execution — particularly on levels involving the loathsome wheel. So I made good progress, and, as is often the case, the perception that I was close to the end made me redouble my efforts. Even the level passwords started ratchetting up the sense of anticipation as level 80 neared: “getting there”, “now its done”, “im out of here”, to name a few.

And then, after level 80 — a suitably climactic design, using every sprite in the game — just when I was wondering if there was going to be any sort of special victory sequence, something peculiar happened. There was one more level. It had the same password as level 1, so for a moment I thought it was just looping back to the start, like an old coin-op game. But no, it was a new level. A bonus level? Would the game end after this one? I played through it, and found myself on level 82. The game was clearly ending at level 80, but at the same time showed no sign of stopping.

Confused, I turned to the internet. That’s where I had learned there were 80 levels in the first place. The documentation doesn’t say anything about how many levels there are. (The game comes with a nice thick manual, but it’s mostly useless, and consists largely of pseudo-humor about cavemen.) I found the explanation at Wikipedia, of all places. Apparently the CD-ROM version isn’t equivalent to the floppy version after all. It contains both the original Humans and an expansion pack, variously titled The Jurassic Levels or Insult to Injury depending on country, which adds another 80 levels.

And so I end the day as I started it: a little more than halfway through the game as I know it.

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