Martian Dreams is interesting because often I am not explicitly told to solve particular quests. Rather, someone mentions that something exists somewhere, and then I can go off and fix the problem or what not if I feel like it. The first part of today was spent repairing the power on Mars, and I am shocked by the ineptitude of the explorers who could not figure it out, especially because in the power generation area, there is a robot standing right there who explicitly tells you what to do! I repaired a broken conveyer belt and shoved some coal into a furnace, and now everything works.
Or so I thought. I went aboveground to find a bunch of wires had exploded, and was sort of confused when all of my companions refused to assist me. Sherman is afraid of heights, Nellie Bly doesn't want to do it in skirts, Dibbs has no science training, and Spector tells me he is "not stupid" and "not expendable." The real reason for their reticence was shortly explained because fixing the wires myself provided an in-game cinematic! Obviously I had made a big step towards finishing the game.
Next on the agenda was...Nothing, actually. I now had access to the teleporters, so I finally visited far-away Elysium, where martians had taken over the bodies of an array of humans. From them I learned some details about growing a new martian from one of the handful of live pods in Hellas, a city on the southeast of the map where I previously met a guy named Marcos. So it was off to Hellas again...where I also found a dream machine! I was loathe to go into it without being told to, for fear of corrupting the game, so for awhile I just hunted fruitlessly for the missing seeds, eventually concluding they must be in a room with a rusted door. For want of better to do, I finally went into the dream realm. There I rescued a few historical personages: Lenin (Red guy), Tiffany (glassware guy), George Washington Carver (panut guy), and...What's his name? He wrote the Invisible Man, the one that isn't by Ralph Ellison. I am no good with names.
Anyway, rescuing these guys is one of the most fun parts of Martian Dreams, because each has a unique little quest. Tiffany required me to lead a minotaur into a room to stop him from breaking all of his fine china. For Carver, I had to defend a pod plant from some worms by planting worm-repelling plants that, for the record, did not seem to do jack to repel the worms. My fists served that purpose. (Quick, ID this quote: "Killing worms can be boring.") Finally, Lenin made me distribute a pile of rubles for the common good. He wanted to take the leftover three for "the good of the people," but I burned them to prevent the Commie bastard from taking them. He also wanted a gemstone, but I wasn't sure how to destroy it, so I went ahead and gave it to him. I am tempted to replay that section and see if I can get rid of it without corrupting the guy whose corpse is incorruptible (granted, they cheated) in a glass case in Moscow. Finally, saving guy-who-isn't-Ellison involved navigating a weird maze where all my controls were screwed up-the left arrow took me up, etc. Eventually I had to kill some invisible footprints. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure you could get drunk and have a similar loss of control in Ultima VI...
I also visited a grove full of martians inside the dream world, where I learned about a forzen lab I need to visit, and where I got more details on growing a Martian, and was told to use oil to open that lone inacessible door. Once out, i went ahead and planted the seed, and then I quit, because evidently it takes nine days to grow a martian, and I need to decide on a plan of action to get the canals working and to visit the mysterious polar lab. So, I think the game is nearing it's end--I remember from last time that getting into the Rasputin (you know, weird Russian mystic guy)-controlled city of Argyre led upto the last two quest or so, and it was shortly after that where my game was corrupted, so I'm unsure how much was left.
Now, to reader comments. First, no the surprise is not the SNES version of Ultima VII, though so few people have ever completed that game that I may make it an amusement when the whole process is completed. And no, it's not the Runes of Virtue games--but only because I already said I will be playing them at the appropriate chronological points in the real world, though they do not fit into the canonical Ultima timeline at all.
As for the add-ins for Ultima VII and Serpent Isle, my thinking is this--I will play the game about halfway through normally, and then do the expansion packs. That way I will have a taste of what it was like to, say, keep track of a billion keys in Serpent Isle, or get around without a free ship at the beginning in Ultima VII. They will be installed from the beginning, but I will ignore them until later.
Oh, I also found the book that gives the game it's title, as it contains a poem that wishes its subject good martian dreams.