The Humans: Glitches

humans-impossibleI’ve just been through level 117 — that is, level 37 of the expansion. Thanks to that Wikipedia article, I had advance warning that this level was bugged and impossible to complete. I didn’t really trust the article, though, and had to give it a try for myself. It is in fact possible to reach the red floor tile on this level — in fact, it’s possible to reach it much more efficiently than the designer probably intended. There’s an obvious route that goes clockwise around the entire level, picking up an extra human and killing a dinosaur along the way, but once you have the rope, you can take a shortcut straight from the start point to the exit. I’ve been encountering a lot of that lately. It doesn’t do much good here, though, because the exit doesn’t work. Even when you have multiple humans standing right on it, the level doesn’t end. So I’ll take what I’ve done as good enough and skip ahead to 118 with the level password.

The reason I didn’t trust Wikipedia on this matter is that I had independently seen someone on a web forum (which I can’t find now) complaining that level 39 of the original levels was impossible, which it wasn’t. It was probably trickier than intended, though. The accusation was that you couldn’t make a particular jump on the loathsome wheel, and indeed I was unable to do so — but with a little luck, I managed to work around it. This is not the only place where wheel jumps seem to be more difficult than intended. I suspect the increased framerate is to blame, but it could just be a glitch.

It wouldn’t be the only one. I’ve repeatedly had trouble riding pterodactyls: a lot of them seem to be flying just a little too low to allow you to step off onto the platform they’re obviously taking you toward. In some cases this may be deliberate: the platform at the end of the pterodactyl’s route is a red herring and you’re really meant to step off and drop onto a different platform in the middle of the route. In other cases that’s definitely not the answer. I’ve found that it’s actually possible to make stacks on the top of a pterodactyl’s back, allowing the guy on top to step off onto a higher platform — it’s a weird thing to do, but when you come down to it, a pterodactyl is just a kind of moving platform in this game. And I’ve seen one level where it seemed to be actually necessary to do this. But the consequences are blatantly bugged: whenever I try to unstack humans on a pterodactyl’s back, they vanish and go somewhere they’re not supposed to be — offscreen somewhere, or in the middle of a wall or something. Often they immediately die, which isn’t so bad: as long as I still have humans in my pool, I’ll just get a new one standing on the last stable ground that the dead guy touched.

The pterodactyl-unstacking bug seems like a serious problem. I don’t see any other mention of it on the web — not that this is an easy title to google for — so it could be specific to fast systems, or to DOSBox. But I can believe that it’s mere carelessness on the part of the developers. If I understand corerctly, the game was developed primarily for the Amiga, so the DOS port may not have received the same attention. But then, the way that so many of the puzzles can be short-circuited suggests a lack of attention in all versions, as does a certain comment found in the startup sequence of the Amiga CD release:

the game to me is fucking crap – and i’m doing humans 2 now as well and guess what???

The thing is, the mistakes that make the game harder and the ones that make it easier kind of cancel out. I’m not exactly playing the game that the designers had in mind, but sometimes it seems like I’m playing a more interesting one.

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