Discworld 2 Header Image

Today’s header image is taken from the “That’s Death” sequence from Discworld 2

What does an anthropomorphic personification, a vampire with false teeth, a Troll who can discuss the intricacies of protozoa, and a ginger bearded wizard have in common?

no, it’s not what I get up to at a weekend

… or is it?

It’s the sequel to the 1996 Discworld point and click adventure game by Teeny Weeny Games and Perfect Productions.

psst. I’ve written about the first one before, and you can read that here

The Game

Discworld 2: Missing Presummed…!? (also known as Discworld 2: Mortality Bytes in North America) was a PC game developed by Perfect Productions and published by Psygnosis in 1996. It was later ported to Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn in 1997. It is based on the Discworld series of books by Terry Pratchett, and is a direct sequel to Perfect Productions’ previous Discworld game.

yes, I know that there were two games before the Perfect Productions’ one.

Design

Right off the bat, you can tell this game is different to it’s predecessor. Taking a look back at the first game:

Urchin, Connina, Rincewind, and the Tax Collector
From left to right: Urchin, Connina, Rincewind and a Tax Collector

and comparing it to the sequel:

Discworld 2 - Stoning Scene
A blatant rip off of a classic Monty Python scene

It’s immediately obvious that the graphics are not just larger and more colourful, but have a certain cartoony feel to them. This is because the majority of the graphical assets for this game where made by Hanna–Barbera.

yes, that Hanna-Barbera

This is highlighted the most during the introduction sequence.

We see Death picking out the timers for that night’s round, before the scene dissolves to Rincewind and the Librarian stumbling back to the university from a night at the Mended Drum,

or it could have been the Broken Drum. It’s not made clear which

when they notice something strange in a donkey cart park.

In a scene which is a direct parody of Lethal Weapon’s “Grab the Cat” bomb defusing scene, we are treated to multiple close up and wide shots of Rincewind, the Librarian and an Assassin’s bomb (which is attached to the side of a Donkey cart).

Afterwards, we’re treated an amazing animation of a skeleton singing one of the best video game songs written by Eric Idle

of which, there are very few

The whole thing has to be seen to be believed, so I’ll leave an embedded YouTube of it here:

Rincewind quips about the new art style shortly after the explosion with this exchange

Rincewind: Well the animation budget’s increased, at least

Librarian: Oook?

Rincewind: Well of course that’s a good thing. It means they haven’t spent as much on plot, doesn’t it? They’ve probably halved the number of insane object puzzles for a start. Sorry, I mean “clever lateral thinking exercises”, of course.

Librarian: Oook?

Rincewind: Trust me. I’ve been through this sort of thing before.

And that’s within the first 2 minutes of the game.

The look of Discworld 2 is immediately reminiscent of the art style used in both Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace (the art style for those games where created by Don Bluth)

Yes, the Don Bluth of All Dogs Go To Heaven, An American Tale and the Secret of Nimh fame

with a familiar Saturday Morning Cartoon edge to it.

The (basic) Plot

The dead aren’t staying dead. At his funeral service, poor old Windle Poons didn’t shuffle off this mortal coil so much as walk away complaining.

Windle Poons: It’s not like the kind of death you get nowadays

Death has stopped turning up to help the souls of the departed to take their next step.

In the books, Death never kills anyone. He simply severs the person’s soul from their body and tells them which direction to travel in. It’s up to the person and their beliefs to decide where they end up

As such, Ankh-Morpork is starting to fill up with zombies. This isn’t an abnormal occurrence, as there are a fair few zombies walking the streets, and it’s hardly made a dent on the “unique” aroma of the city. But these zombies aren’t the usual Discworld ones,

Discworld zombies are people who have died, but who are too stubborn to accept it

they’re not the Resident Evil type, scary mansion and bad voice acting ones, either.

see what I did there?

These zombies are a direct consequence of  Death has deciding to take a well earned break. It’s up to Rincewind (oh course it is) to convince him to get back to work. Along the way, the clickies

Discworld’s answer to the movies

are invented and exploited,

fans of the series will notice the Moving Pictures plot elements

many fourth wall breaking jokes are told, and Death learns a valuable lesson or two about humanity

and how weird we humans really are

There are even a few points from Lords and Ladies in there, too.

The Characters

As with last time, the protagonist is Rincewind and he is followed around by The Luggage. The UU faculty are in attendance; CMOT Dibbler is selling everything and anything to anyone and everyone; Theda Withel (the Disc’s answer to Marilyn Monroe and Gretta Garbo); Death (obviously); Giamo Casanunda; the Cantin Crew; and Mrs. Cake also appear.

to name just a few

The characters are all voiced by the cast of the previous game, with one exception. Jon Pertwee had passed away before the recording sessions could begin. Although he is missing from the sequel, you can’t tell that the cast where one person down, with everyone putting in stellar performances.

my favourite performance has to be Coffin Henry (one of the Cantin Crew)

Gameplay

It’s pretty much the same as the previous game in the series.

Since it uses, pretty much the same engine, the gameplay is driven by clicking on things to make Rincewind interact with them. He’ll describe the object you’ve clicked on and (most of the time) pass some kind of judgement on it.

The game (again, like the previous one) is story driven and feels like it’s non-linear. It’s actually quite linear, in that you have certain story beats within an act that you have to hit in order to progress, but those beats can be hit in any order.

For example: pretty early in the game you have to collect a bunch of round sticks, mouse blood, glitter dust and some dribbly candles.

which is pretty standard fare for both adventure games and Discworld

You can get these items in any order that you want, but you can’t progress until you have them all.

It can feel a little like an Ace Attorney game at times. By that I mean that you can be clicking around a lot trying to figure out what to do, because some of the puzzles really are head scratchers,

“insane object puzzles” as Rincewind quips in the intro

but once you’ve figured out the solution to one of the puzzles, it stays with you for life. Mainly because it’s then so obvious (because of it’s insanity) that you’ll find it hard to shake.

Easter Eggs

It’s worth noting that Discworld 2 has a pretty famous easter egg which had remained hidden for years.

In the first Discworld game, you could unlock a scene in which Eric Idle (who voices Rincewind) parodies John Cleese’s famous line:

I want to be the first person at a British Memorial service to say F%#k!

by uttering the line:

I want to be the first person in a game to say f%#k

I’ll embed a video here, so that can watch someone unlock this (uncensored) easter egg

Why am I mentioning this in an article about Discworld 2, well because the developers went full circle and referenced it in an incredibly fascinating way.

You’ll remember that the first game has some timey-wimey elements? Well, in the sequel it’s possible to send Rincewind back in time to the beginning of the first game, where he’ll have a silly conversation with his younger self. During the conversation, they actually reference the easter egg from the first game.

Here’s an embedded player with the eater egg included (this one is censored):

The lead developer on the Tinsel engine and program director for Discworld 2 was the person who added these Easter eggs, and explains how they came to be, over on their website: http://trueblueaussie.com/DiscworldEasterEggs.htm

a word of warning: it’s white, yellow and blue text on a black background, so not that easy to read

The above linked page includes a description of both Easter eggs, and it’s worth reading about for the full story.

Legacy

It’s a shame that there were only three Discworld point and click adventure games.

The story goes that Perfect Productions had signed a deal with Psygnosis, during development of the sequel, to produce more games based on the Discworld franchise. The problem was that, part way through development of the sequel, Psygnosis was bought by Sony who immediately cancelled the deal. This was mainly because Perfect Productions had ported a number of Pysgnosis titles to the Sega Saturn, and Sony didn’t want to be funding companies who ported games to their rival’s systems.

It’s a much more involved story than that, and is worth reading up on, so here’s a link to it

Perfect Productions made one final Discworld game (Discworld Noir) before downsizing heavily (to allow unhappy stake holders to leave), and their final game was The Worlds Scariest Car Chases.

The Discworld games where that well received by fans that they have developed a cult-like following. In fact, they’re one of the most wishlisted series of games on Gog.com

to list only a few

Thoughts

I’ve always preferred the sequel to the original. Mainly for it’s graphics and the volume levelled audio,

in my article on the first game, I mentioned that the dialogue wasn’t levelled correctly, so some lines are louder than others.

but also for the intro song (“That’s Death”) which perfectly sets up the tone of the game.

The controls were pretty much the same, so I can’t really compare them on that. The dialogue seemed to flow a little better in the sequel, which made the experience a little more like playing through a Discworld book.

This and Broken Sword 2 where my first console based point and click adventure games. Sure, I’d played point and click games before

Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, and Day of the Tentacle where some of my early favourites

But I think that Discworld 2 will always be at the top of my list of favourite point and click games.


Have you ever played the second Discworld point and click game? Did you ever find the Eater egg? Had you read Pratchett before you played it?

Let us know in the comments, and we’ll keep the conversation going.

Remember: GNU Pratchett

psst, take a look at the HTTP headers for our site, if you know what GNU Pratchett means.

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Jamie is one of the Waffling Taylors. He spends a lot of time blogging about things sometimes related to programming and sometimes not.