Recap of Things Missed:
It’s been a few months since we published our last
entry, and much has happened in
the world in that time. We’ve had a few holidays, entered a
new year, and our most recent opponent flew out of New Hamster to join
FOX News as a contributor. Needless to say, life’s been busy.
But, we’ve endured, we gathered all the junk we needed to
turn the Hippie Van into a Hippie Tank, and now it’s time for
us to break into prison.
But before we do that, we must backtrack a little.
Lost Journal Alert:
Our tangles with the government never cease, and though everything
we’re about to write is true, there is much that we fear we
cannot disclose for now. Someday, we hope we can tell the whole story
as it happened. For now, the government and corporate America
don’t want anyone to know of this place, so we must keep the
details to a minimum.
While we were busy hunting down the 20 items we needed to retrofit the
Hippie Van, we developed a mysterious need for munchies and we found
ourselves compelled to snack on some Whoppers at the New Hamster Burger
King. And what we found in the ball pit was six o’clock
newsworthy. Buried beneath those balls were terrible things, such as
ketchup packets, moldy chicken nuggets, and a strange portal to another
What we discovered in that other land may require another journal once
our governmental limitations are lifted (or, after we finish Chapter
6), but for the sake of explaining our absence we thought that we
should record some of the things we found in the hidden land of the
First off, the Burger King was a nice guy. He was happy to lift the
restrictions off the entrance to the Creepy Pine Forest when we told
him that five girls who called themselves “The
Swarm,” were looking to take over his kingdom and were
plotting their attack from the tower in the Creepy Pine Forest.
But getting to him took some clever navigation, because his kingdom and
his castle were huge. After all the walking around we did in New
Hamster, one would think that the secret land that hid beneath it, or
beside it, or wherever it fit in the space-time continuum, would
require less travel out of us. But no. We still had a lot of walking, a
lot of talking, and a lot of stalking to do. Those Swarm girls were up
to something dastardly, and we had to stop them with whatever we could.
They had mastered the four elements of the Burger Kingdom: cheese,
bread, meat, and sauce, and all we had with us were the powers of Taco
Bell. It seemed unfair on paper, but according to the movie Demolition
Man, we still had a chance to come out on top.
So, we set out through the Cheese Mines and the Creepy Pines Forest to
unravel The Swarm’s stinky little plot, and to restore order
to the kingdom of burgers and fries for the great and powerful Burger
But that is where we must leave our journeys in the Burger Kingdom for
now. Teenage girls are watching us, and nothing good can come from that.
Until the day comes that we can revisit this place, we must continue
with travels already known.
Chapter 5: “Breaking the
Now, the trip from New Hamster to Pukadonna Federal Penitentiary was a
short and easy drive, until the F-15’s descended from the sky
and attacked. Fortunately, Señor Rialgo was handy with the
rocket launcher and, despite the danger of firing a loaded explosive
from a lightweight Hippie Battle Van, he kept us out of imminent harm.
Likewise, Señor Death was handy with the machine gun and
stopped the guards from thwarting our journey (Schnee and El Garbanzo
When we finally broke through the barrier and reached the
penitentiary’s front gates, Señor Rialgo was more
than happy to send in a rocket with a message attached, saying, Hola,
governmental gringos. We’ve come here to party
. And party
did. Five guards jumped out from behind the hole we created and
launched an attack like everything we’ve faced before.
Needless to say, we slapped them a bit, stole some of their keys, and
made our way inside the main building. The theme from Duke Nukem
our vigilante backs.
The guard at the front desk, however, did not oppose us. He
wasn’t that helpful, either, but he didn’t try to
fight. Despite the rubble a few feet from his desk, he seemed content
with our presence there. El Garbanzo didn’t question his
indifference, so we continued on, wandering the cellblock, looking for
We did face opposition in the corridors, not only from dutiful guards,
but from inmates, as well. And we understood some of the opposition;
clearly, the guards were paid minimum wage to stand in our way, and for
that we didn’t argue. But the inmates? We thought for sure
that they would be on our side. Here we were, four loco fighters
raising hell against their captors, and they tried to stop us? The only
explanation we had was that maybe they didn’t like our kind.
This theory persisted when we stole cell keys from the guards we
battled and used them to open cell doors. The inmates inside, now free,
still wanted to fight us. Them, and their possessed toilets. As it
seemed, we were in for some trouble this day.
As we moved around the square-shaped cellblocks, passing through
kitchens, buying bread and water from the nice guards, and eluding the
dreaded beast known as “Bubba Hornet,” we robbed
guards, unlocked gates, raided cabinets, slept in beds, and fought
those ungrateful prisoners we freed, hoping that sooner or later we
would find what we came here looking for: El Garbanzo’s
father. This was, after all, his last-known whereabouts.
We took the stairs behind the main control room to the roof of the
prison, hoping to find answers up there. What we found instead was a
guard shack with outdated armor and a couple police officers warning us
to look both ways before crossing the road. Upon careful examination of
our surroundings, we had no idea which road they were talking about, or
if they were even psychologically licensed to wear a badge. We returned
to the control room disappointed.
Our journey brought us outside to the prison yard, where we encountered
basketball players, former Mighty Racist Border Patrol officers, and
deposed members of the gangs in Wrongside and New Hamster respectively.
Most of them weren’t helpful, but they weren’t
revenge-driven, either, so we respected their uselessness.
At the foot of the maximum-security wing in the heart of the prison
yard, we had to introspect about our current circumstance. It seemed
that after all this time fighting for Mexican justice we became too
strong for our enemies. They could no longer provide us with the
protection we needed to make our opposition against them easier. From
here on out, it just seemed like we were grinding for nothing.
But we pressed on.
Into the maximum-security wing.
Where we faced murderers and rapists of an extreme nature.
Psychopaths like Jackson and The Smoker. Villains like the elusive, but
secretly captured, Osama bin Laden. Yes, we unlocked their gates and
fought them all, hoping to find answers, but also wanting a fair
fisticuffs challenge. In the end, what we got were a handful of scars
and a hockey mask.
And still no answers.
With the maximum-security wing emptied and ready for a new batch of bad
guys, we continued upward, on to the top floor, realizing quickly that
we had nowhere else to go. And it was there that someone could finally
give us an answer, some clue to the whereabouts of El
Yes, it was El Garbanzo’s father who gave us the clue.
But, his identity was not the only thing he shared with us. He told us
what the government had planned. He told us why Mexicans were being
kidnapped. As it turned out, they were instrumental to the
government’s next big weapon.
But alas, that was all he could tell us before our plan to break him
out was discovered.
To the sound of the dreaded imperial theme from Star Wars
, a new
player showed his face in that moment, and that new player brought with
him a corporate villain who threatened to shut down our escape. That
corporate villain was none other than Captain Racist.
Or the hooded version of Ansem the Wise.
...or, the clone of Ansem the Wise, as it seemed that the real Ansem
the Wise was killed in an explosion two years earlier.
It didn’t really matter who he was, because we defeated him
like we did everyone else who stood in our way. And then we escaped. Or
tried. Apparently, our actions went noticed (where our violent break-in
to the prison did not), and every guard in the complex came looking for
us. With a long walk back, we dodged guards as best as we could until
we returned to our van with Señor Garbanzo in tow, and
prepared for a safe drive to Alaska.
And as conflicts predicted, we were met with an even greater
opposition: the shotgun-wielding Vice President.
Alas, we were facing the greatest opposition of our lives so far. And
the outlook was grim—this was, after all, a man who had no
problem shooting his friends—what chance did a group of
Mexican outlaws stand?
But a hero intervened on our behalf. A hero for whom we helped first
back in New Hamster.
We shuddered to think what would’ve happened had we not
helped him earlier. It was possible that we were facing a world of hurt.
When the dust finally settled, and we could finally put our prison
experience behind us, we boarded the van and prepared for our final
I’ll come right out and say that Chapter 5 of
cool, didn’t quite
capture me the way that the earlier chapters did. This is to say
nothing of the quality, of course, but that time poses a hazard to
interest. Where I was eager to play through Chapters 3 and 4 upon their
release, I found that I was able to delay playing Chapter 5 for several
weeks. I know that part of this has to do with my understanding of the
design. Chapter 4 was a lot of fun for me because it involved immense
exploration, offered a design that forced me to make careful decisions
about where I went and when, thanks to the challenge, and gave me a
reason to stay with it for hours (which having to locate 20 items
throughout a massive play area will do that). Chapter 5
didn’t offer this. Instead, it brought me back to the short,
straightforward approach that Chapter 3 provided. It was relevant to
the story, yes, but it wasn’t the highlight of the game so
And that brings up an interesting question. Does time between releases
have an effect on player interest?
Despite Dark Blubber’s warning that Chapter 3 would be short
compared to Chapter 2, I was still looking forward to it, because I was
getting sucked into the gameplay, and in some sense, the story. I saw
the haunted house on the hill and wondered, “What could our
heroes possibly have go wrong in there?” So, when Chapter 3
was finally released last summer, I was ready to play it.
And Dark Blubber was right. It was short.
But I still played through it. And thanks to the
closed-gate/holes-in-floor design, I still thought it was a challenge.
And, yes, I enjoyed it.
Fast-forward six months later, and I found that my eagerness to play
had waned. Was it because I didn’t think Chapter 5 would
offer a challenge? On the contrary, I thought it would offer the
biggest challenge so far—it was, after all, about breaking
into a prison. And I expected it to come with all the design gems that
the first four chapters provided, along with the usual, if not edgy
even for an OHR game, humor. No, I think it had to do with the fact
that I had already spent 12 hours playing it, and then had to wait
three months to check out the next short chapter. Yes, I was looking
forward to the next release. But I also felt like I could wait to see
Now, keep in mind that I played Chapter 4 a couple months before the
rest of the community had the pleasure. My impression, therefore, might
be slightly different than the majority of people reading this. For
everyone else, Chapter 4 and 5 is a package deal, and the experience
may be different. I still thought Chapter 4 was a lot of fun.
Going back to Chapter 5’s design, I’ll give Dark
Blubber the benefit of the doubt. How can a prison really cater to the
same intricate design that a place like New Hamster would offer? You
have cellblocks, you have a prison yard, and you have a
maximum-security wing. Along the way you’ll find a lunchroom.
What more could a prison offer? Besides the infrastructure, I mean
(boiler room, shower room, escape tunnels, etc.). More areas would
encourage greater exploration and puzzle strategy, as would checkpoints
throughout the prison, but I can see why Dark Blubber would want to
just get on with the story. If patterns hold, then Chapter 6 (an
even-numbered chapter, as well as the final chapter) will likely be the
most intricate of all the chapters, and I’d imagine
he’d want to save the greatest thunder for that. For that
reason, I couldn’t expect Chapter 5 to steal the show.
But, if he were to redesign the place for future players, I would
advise considering a few more designer obstacles, like wing divisions,
a dungeon a la Hannibal Lecter’s holding cell from The
Silence of the Lambs
, the aforementioned escape tunnels, and so
on—anything that would require the hunting and finding of
more keys and switches. That would at least lessen the monotony of
battle grinding or running. Right now, the only thing resembling
strategy in the prison is the need to steal cell keys from the guards
you fight. Without that, this level would be a pure battle-fest, and I
think we’re too far into the game to find satisfaction in
I also think the rewards for unlocking cells are too minimal to make
opening them worth it. Most of the inmates we
“free” only want to fight, which really
doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Of the ones who just want
to talk, they really only want to shoot the breeze. While I like
shooting the breeze with people along the way, I don’t like
eating up resources just to have the same effect. I’d rather
they at least give me something in return for my trouble. On a similar
note, I feel cheated when I open a cell to find that there’s
nothing inside. I think every unlockable door should lead to something
beneficial, even if it’s just to a taco. As of now, there are
only a handful of cells worth unlocking on the main floor, and even
they are pretty inconsequential. At least the maximum-security floor
gives us some boss battles to enjoy.
On its own, Chapter 5 is okay. It starts with an awesome break-in
sequence and ends with a revelation, and from a story perspective, it
gets the job done. But following Chapter 4, it feels malnourished, and
I get the feeling that it’s designed only to further the
plot, and not to immerse the player into the game.
I also think that the multiple-release idea is becoming a bad one. I
notice that anticipation for a lot of games drops after the second
release. Could it be that we forget what happened after too long and we
don’t remember why we should care for these characters? Has
the appeal just died? Did something new and cooler get released
recently? Or is time merely a bubble that can only be affected when
released during a certain window? Despite Wandering Hamster’s
multiple updates in the last decade, have we anticipated the next
release any less than we had in the past? Back in the day, a new
version came out every few months (just like
Okédoké). And I remember not caring as much about
it then. Now, we get an update of Wandering Hamster and all of a sudden
the community’s abuzz with cheer. Are we happy because
it’s that great of a game? Or are we happy because
we’ve been waiting for many years to play the next chapter?
For me, my anticipation came with the wait. It also came with a tease.
I’m still waiting for Havoc’s first appearance. I
think it also helped that Wandering Hamster is a marquee game for the
community, one that everybody knows and wants to see concluded.
Okédoké hasn’t given me the time or the
tease to anticipate the next chapter. And its market appeal is still
below classic. If Dark Blubber had waited several years to release
Chapter 3 instead of several weeks, would the anticipation be as hot?
If he had drawn a fifth set of hero graphics and left it in the editor,
would I still be waiting for that hero’s first appearance? I
can’t say for sure, but I do know that having to wait three
months for Chapter 5 kind of left me stale.
I suppose the question is something that should be saved for another
In the meantime, I encourage you, the player, to play this game if you
want to know what a fun RPG looks like. However, the ending is so close
now that it would make sense to wait until Dark Blubber deems it
complete before picking it up (if you haven’t already). While
the story was different last summer when we only had two chapters
available, I don’t think the anticipation will last if you
play it now and then wait for the final chapter. And I double this
conviction when you consider how often Dark Blubber goes back and
revises old chapters. Unlike some designers around here, Dark Blubber
takes his criticisms seriously and will go back and update old areas
that everyone has already played, just to make sure that future players
will have an enjoyable experience. I’m willing to bet that
after this review, Pukadonna Federal Penitentiary will get a few more
hall gates, switches, and relevant cells (and maybe new side areas like
boiler rooms and tunnels) for the next release, and that the majority
of those new areas will never be seen by those who have already played
through the chapter. So, my advice again is to wait until the game is
finished before you play through it. Chances are, you’ll miss
something awesome if you don’t.
Stay tuned for the final journal/review, which should come soon. Thanks
for sticking with it so far. I know it’s becoming like a
book. I’ll be sure to do a legitimate review for the Burger
Kingdom section once it’s officially released. So far, I
think it’s fair to say that the Burger Kingdom is easily one
of the largest hidden areas of any OHR game. It’s actually
the size of most OHR games. But that’s something
I’ll discuss more about in the future.