Takua the Chronicler's Day Off - Let's Play the Mata Nui Online Game


"One of the finest adventure games ever crafted, second perhaps only to Pajama Sam."
-Wilhelm Richard Wagner

What’s this ‘BIONICLE’ thing?

this basically

BIONICLE (hereafter “Bionicle”) is a franchise about six robots who have magic powers fighting an evil spirit to protect other, smaller robots who don’t have magic powers. The evil spirit is also a robot. Bionicle was created by Lego in 2001 as their first original story-focused product, and was very successful, running for almost 10 years.

What’s this ‘Mata Nui Online Game’ thing?
The Mata Nui Online Game (hereafter “MNOLG”) is a point-and-click Flash adventure game developed by Templar Studios. ‘Mata Nui’ is the island the first few years of the Bionicle storyline take place on, and is also the name of the protector spirit of the island’s inhabitants. It is ‘online’ because you originally played it on Bionicle Dot Com. A ‘game’ is not a sandwich.

The MNOLG came out in 2001, released over the course of the year in nine chapters. With the first chapter being released in January, it was future fans’ first glimpse into the mysterious blend of the natural and mechanical that is the world of Bionicle - the first wave of sets had just come out in Europe, and wouldn’t even be released in North America for several more months. (According to some post on Medium. I don’t know if anything after the em-dash is true.)

If the intricacies of the early cross-media promotion of a 20-year-old action figure line thrill you, check THIS out my dude!

Lego intended to cross-promote Bionicle intensively, and for the most part succeeded: along with the MNOLG there were a handful of minigames on Bionicle.com, a GBA game (Tales of the Tohunga, later renamed Quest for the Toa), a three-issue DC comic series, multiple promotional CDs, six sets released as McDonald’s Happy Meal toys (called the ‘McToran’ by fans after the villagers’ name change), and probably even more crap I don’t know about.

However, the flagship of the 2001 story year was supposed to be BIONICLE: The Legend of Mata Nui. It was meant to be released for PC and GameCube and would have covered the adventures of the six Toa (the heroes that the Bionicle series is theoretically about). However, it was delayed multiple times and in October of 2001 (or sometime thereabouts) it was finally canceled. That, however, is a story for another time, and probably told by another person.

(There are also occasional mumblings about the possibility of there being a Bionicle film in 2001. Details about this film aren’t merely scarce, but nonexistent. I suspect it may have been a false rumor or misinterpretation.)

All that being said, the narrative heavy lifting for Bionicle’s first year was shouldered by a game both about and from the perspective of (in the words of Templar Games’ president Peter Mack) “misfits and comic relief characters that were, at best, footnotes in the style guide.”

And Templar succeeded. People love this game. They adore this game. They are in awe of this game. I am…more reserved, but I do think it’s good. I think a lot of the positive feelings about this game were born out of wandering around in it in utter confusion for hours as kids. Still, I would say it’s without question the best Bionicle game. There’s some good music, evocative ambient sounds, and lush visuals (that still look good because they’re mostly vector graphics that scale indefinitely). In short, it succeeds in drawing the player into a world that neither they nor even the people who inhabit it can fully understand.

Neat I guess. Anything else I should know?

About the LP

I went back and forth about doing a video or screenshot LP for this game. It’s a point-and-click game, so it’s pretty static, but there are a lot of nice subtle background animations, and the game is maybe best-known for its music and ambient sounds. After looking at footage of nothing but waves lapping on a beach while I babbled incoherently for a solid minute about the design philosophy of the ad agency Lego hired, I decided screenshot was the way to go. I did, however, make sure to record those soundscapes.

As for a schedule…updates will probably be a little more frequent than once a week.

Spoiler policy??

I guess you probably shouldn’t spoil things. Except like, in tags or whatever. I dunno. Use your judgment.

Part 1 - The Beach
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Here we go…

Part 1: The Beach (Click to expand)

BGS: The Beach


You wake up on a beach. How did you get here? You don’t know. Where is ‘here’? You don’t know. Who is ‘you’? You don’t know that either.

Before you is a large metal object that looks like it has been washed up from the sea.


Templar Studios did a lot of great work in designing the Mata Nui Online Game, but the image of the canister on the beach wasn’t their invention. An advertising agency called ADVANCE - which I only just now realized is a pun - was responsible for much of Bionicle’s visual design (apart from the sets themselves) throughout its run.

The image is a well-chosen one, and was used throughout Bionicle’s 2001 marketing. The mechanical canister is strikingly out of place on the deserted beach, and its design is simple while also not giving the impression of having been created by humans. The canister is open and footprints lead away; something was in there, but it left? But what was it?

Well…let’s find out.


While most of the MNOLG’s visuals are vector graphics, some - like the beach sand - are not, and end up stretched at modern resolutions. Templar’s skill at working with vector graphics improved over the year, so I think later on they would have drawn the beach with them, and probably had some better-looking waves, too.

BGS: The Beach - Lava Flow


The shore on the right side terminates in a recent lava flow. And barely visible among the clouds of smoke and volcanic ash is…something? Some…one…?

VIDEO: Tahu Arrives (you should probably watch all the videos)


As I’ve said before, the MNOLG was released in chapters. When Chapter 1 launched in January 2001, this lava flow was still active, limiting you to just exploring the beach. And there are several things we haven’t seen, so I’m going to say our path is still blocked and turn around.

BGS: The Beach


Retracing our steps, it seems there was a statue behind us before that we didn’t notice.


It looks strange, but there’s nothing we can do to interact with it.

Now, if you’ve finished the MNOLG before, you know what this statue is for. My question is, did they have that planned from the beginning? Really? Really? Because it’s…it’s pretty goofy.

But let’s keep going.


The left side of the beach ends in a towering cliff, which has an outcropping extending out over the ocean. Waves occasionally break against the base of the outcropping…but not while I was recording.

BGS: The Beach - Cliff


There are two things to see on the cliff. Even from a distance it’s apparent there’s something of interest on the outcropping, but I’d like to look at the other thing first…


It’s…a rock. Well, no. It’s two rocks.



The sheer force of the lens flare causes us to experience a vision.

VIDEO: The Legend of Mata Nui (you should totally watch this)
Legend_MataNui
There are several different depictions of the legend of Mata Nui, and this one is my favorite because it’s all explained without needing to use words. You don’t know the names of the characters, but you understand the flow of the story and what it means, and you can learn who the figures involved are later.

I think in the original MNOLG the legend is the very first thing you see, and visiting these stones on the cliff just let you replay the vision, but I don’t know. That’s not the case in either of the versions of the MNOLG I have access to.

Now, let’s see what else we can see…



Approaching this object at first, it’s not at all clear what it is. Clicking on the green jewel quickly makes it obvious. It’s…

BGM: The Telescope (w/ Ambience) (you should probably listen to this)


A telescope. Oh no the name of the song spoiled it a millionth of a second in advance. This is the first piece of music in the MNOLG outside of a cutscene, and it’s a fan favorite. By itself it’s actually kind of plain, but the breaking waves and especially the cries of the seabirds really elevate it. Feels like I’m playing Antichamber…


If you look around through the telescope a little, you’ll quickly find a red comet, which is creatively called the Red Star. You’ll also notice some of the regular stars are larger and brighter than the rest. Could they be constellations?

Yes. They are.

And if you examine the base of the telescope - especially if you have a little Bionicle knowledge - you might be able to figure out what they’re for.


The base of the telescope has ten constellations on it (or are they asterisms?), and below each one is a picture. Each constellation has one red jewel in it. You can easily surmise that, since that red comet is, well, a comet, it moves in the sky. At different times, the Red Star will be in different constellations. The picture below each constellation depicts a prophecy of future events. When the Red Star becomes part of a given constellation, the associated prophecy is about to come to pass.

Or something like that.


The first image is that canister we saw on the beach, while the second is Tahu and the third is Gali. Some of the images after that though, I’m…not sure what they’re supposed to represent. Either they’re very vague, the story changed during development, or both.

I do know what that last picture is of, though…

BGS: The Beach - Cliff


One thing that I can’t decide if it’s haunting and cool or just a goof is that, if you turn around from the telescope and look around…



…we’re apparently in a featureless expanse of mist.


False alarm.

Hm. Well, it’s been like 10 minutes. I bet that lava on the other end of the beach has cooled by now. That seems scientific.

BGS: The Beach - Lava Flow


Well, there are still thick clouds of volcanic smoke doubtless hot enough to melt flesh with a touch, but otherwise it seems safe to cross.

BGS: Ta-Wahi Fires


Phew! Welcome to Chapter 2. It’s toasty over here. But you know, there’s something kind of comfortable about it, too.

Those who have played the MNOLG before may feel I’ve cut something out of this image, but I have no idea what they’re talking about. Anyway, it looks like there might be some kind of woods or something up ahead. That sounds pleasant. Let’s check it out.

BGM/BGS: Charred Forest (you should probably listen to this)


Oh.


Welcome to the Charred Forest, AKA the Lost Woods. Each screen in the Charred Forest has a handful of identical paths. To navigate, you make a mark on the tree next to the path you’re going down, so you know which ways you’ve tried and which you haven’t. Or you could just do what I do and click around randomly.

Despite having a weird gimmick, you never need to go into the Charred Forest. Though actually you don’t need to look at pretty much anything I’ve looked at in this update.

After several hours minutes of wandering through these dead woods, we come upon…


Uh. This…individual. He walks left. Slowly. When he’s done walking left, he turns around and walks right. Slowly. When he’s done walking right, he turns around and, yes, walks left.


He’s Kapura.

KapuraPortrait2 “Are you the Makuta?”

Uh… Oh! We get to talk now. Whoever ‘we’ are.

TakuaPortrait5 "What is the Makuta?


KapuraPortrait2 “That is good. Jala says I have to be careful of the Makuta when I am in the forest. He says the Makuta is everywhere. He means Rahi. Monsters. Things you can see. But I know the Makuta is here now, in these burnt trees, and in the dead soil. All of these things were destroyed by the Makuta, but the Makuta never left them. That is how he becomes strong. That is what the Makuta does. He destroys things.”

Whenever I read that line of “That is what the Makuta does. He destroys things.” then I involuntarily think of that one polemic Penny Arcade strip where Penny Arcademan or whatever his name is says “The only thing I know about you is that you destroy things.”

More importantly, if you know nothing about Bionicle, you can connect the Makuta to the black stone from the vision on the cliff. The story is piecing itself together.

KapuraPortrait2
“I think the forest looks very beautiful this way too. And when it burned, you could see all the fires perform their Great Takara all the way to the sea, and it was very beautiful.”

Neat. So, um…

TakuaPortrait5 “What are you doing?”

KapuraPortrait2 “I am practicing.”

Memetic line. At least for me it was.

KapuraPortrait2 “Vakama says that even though I am slow, I may be faster than all the others, and travel very far. He says I must practice. Jala says I am being silly. I practice often.”

I see. Well, I don’t see, but let’s say that I do see. Oh, maybe this guy knows…

TakuaPortrait5 “Where am I?”

KapuraPortrait2 “You are where you are. If I practice, I can be where I am not. I think I can feel it. It is hot here where I am, but where I am not is cold, and I think I can feel it. I must practice more.”

I like how this guy answers your questions, but not like…the questions you ask. Asking what the Makuta is tells you where you are, and asking where you are tells you what he’s doing.

KapuraPortrait2 “The island has many places to visit. I want to see all of them. But the others do not like to travel. Mata Nui is very big.”

Well, I guess he does tell us where we are. We’re on Mata Nui.

KapuraPortrait2 “Vakama says that in the beginning of time, Mata Nui fell from the sky, and landed here. The Makuta came after him and made him fall asleep, and sent his monsters out across the world to control it, and destroy its beautiful things, and to make the Tohunga [Matoran] his slaves. Vakama has told us to wait for more creatures to fall from the sky, who will save us. I think one of them landed on the beach. I saw it fall, when I was practicing before.”

I like Kapura. He’s weird, and he feels laconic even though he has a lot of dialogue. As you might guess from how out there he is, Templar intended him to be the first character you talk to, though he’s entirely optional. Also…


If you wait a while he farts fire sometimes. Really.

Well, let’s be on our way.


Oh no, I forgot to ask Kapura if he knows the way out! Back to wandering…


Huh? A sign. Waves? Waves… Oh, that must be the beach! I’ve found the exit! We’re saved!

BGS: The Beach - Lava Flow


Ah, fresh air and sunlight!

There’s actually someone on the beach now. Well, they’ve always been there, I’ve just made sure not to look at them, because originally they didn’t appear until Chapter 3. There are some more things that could be done in Chapter 2, but I’m doing things in a slightly odd order and I’d actually like to do that stuff a little later.

So next time, we’ll see…

BGS: The Beach


Just who’s arrived, and what they want.

Screenshot LPs are harder than I expected…

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I remember as a kid this adventure game alone got me hooked on Bionicle… which really didn’t last past the third arc. But man, I played the heck out of this.

Was there a second adventure game? I vaguely recall one but hitting a roadblock or not liking it for some reason.

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last time we inhaled volcanic fumes and met a tiny red person who walked slowly and also saw a blue person. this time we dive deeper into the mystery

Part 2: Attack on Ga-Koro (Click to expand)

BGS: The Beach


Okay so somebody’s waving at us. Let’s see what they want.

TakuaPortrait5 “Who are you?”

Not the most tactful response but it’s the first option on the list.


MakuPortrait2 “It’s a great village of many Tohunga, and our leader is the Turaga Nokama. I fear much of it has been destroyed by now!”

TakuaPortrait5 “What happened?”


Ah-ha! As we will later learn, there was only one monster. We’re onto this broad! Doubt! Objection!

Oh yeah, Maku is a girl. The blue Bionicles are the girl ones. To paraphrase Sans Undertale, “Girl toys are pink. So imagine a blue pink toy instead.”

MakuPortrait2 “Nokama and the others barricaded themselves into a hut to hide, but the Rahi broke the pump and the hut sank beneath the waves!”

It went a little something like this…

VIDEO: Tarakava Attack Cutscene1-2

If you really don't want to watch the video for some reason, open this

BGM: Ga-Koro



ME: Fearful Event


Er, sorry to interrupt you Maku, but does it suddenly feel…warmer to you?

If you didn’t notice - and based on my understanding of human attention it’s likely you didn’t - compare this screencap with the one above it and you’ll see we’ve changed environs. I don’t know if this is a common bug or not, but in both the versions of the MNOLG I have, Maku pulls this teleportation trick after the Tarakava Attack video.

I have no idea why or how this happens, because it’s not like there’s a later scene where Maku is supposed to be here. Where is ‘here’? Let’s just turn around and take a look…


Welcome to Po-Wahi, the great desert.

This isn’t game-breaking or even game-damaging; Maku is still there when you turn back around and her dialogue is unaltered. This isn’t even a sequence break exactly. In the complete MNOLG (or more precisely, in a different version of the complete MNOLG than the one I’m playing), you can technically do the villages in almost any order, as there’s an alternate route to Po-Wahi which wasn’t originally available (I’ll show you in a later update).

Sorry Maku, you were saying something. Something about your people being in danger and there being no time?


MakuPortrait2 “I will try to find Gali. If the Rahi are near the village, she is the only one who can defeat them. She’s on a great quest and may be very far away.”

Not sure who Gali is, but she sounds important.

MakuPortrait2 “The only way to get to Ga-Koro from here is by sea, so you must take my boat, and I will search for the Toa on foot. Good luck! And tell Nokama I am safe!”

And with that, we’re off!

VIDEO: Boat to Ga-Koro Boat_Ga2

ME: Ga-Koro Sting


Hm. Doesn’t look too bad from here. Guess we’d better take a look around.

BGS: Ga-Wahi - Falls


The gate into the village is closed. The sign above it says “Ga Koro” in the Matoran alphabet (which is just a cipher for English, as you might expect). Before we try to figure out how to get in, let’s take a quick look at one other thing.


Turning around from the gate brings you to Naho Falls. The statue is of the Kaukau, the Mask of Water Breathing, which is Gali’s mask.

Enough sightseeing though, we’ve got a vaguely defined job to do. Let’s take another look at that gate.


So, we could clearly swim around this. Hell, we could probably just like, WADE around it. But as a video game hero, we have the compulsive urge to solve any puzzle we come across.

There’s a good chance just glancing at the screencap was enough for you to figure out what the puzzle is. On the left is a heavy stone weight, on the right is a seashell dish, and on the ground are some pebbles of varying sizes. This is a scale, and we need to fill the dish so the two sides are balanced. On top of the gate, just below the sign, is a sort of dial. When the two blue dots line up, the sides are balanced.

There’s one big pebble, three medium pebbles, and four small ones. Let’s fill 'er up.



One big and three mediums is just a little too much. Remove one medium, replace it with two smalls, and…



You may be wondering if the puzzles in this game stay this easy. The answer is…yes.

BGS: Ruined Ga-Koro



Okay, this…this doesn’t look great. I can only wonder what’s on fire. The navigation here is a little odd. There’s nothing to do on this screen - getting over to those ruined huts would requiring wading through multiple inches of water, and we ain’t about that. Turning around here will actually take you to a new screen.


This appears to be the village square and, like all squares whether village, town, or city, it is round. There are a couple things we could check from here, but I think I’ll try the hut straight in front of us first.

BGS: Ga-Koro - Diving Pool Hut


On the wall is…something. I’ll look at it later. Something about that pool…compels me. I can hear it…a sweet melody, calling…calling to…me…

BGM: Underwater (w/ ambience) (you should probably listen to this)
Underwater1
Wading through shallow water is a no-no, but diving headfirst into the blue and not coming up for air is A-OK for us. But hey, that music sure is nice. There are a total of four underwater screens, so let’s swim around a little.


I think the big fish with the red fins are Ruki, but BioSector01 doesn’t list Ruki as appearing in the MNOLG so <shrug emoji that doesn’t display properly>.

The tiny fish are fish. Anyway, I can see a sunken hut over there, so we should probably take a look. Peek in the window and…


There are people in there! People…Tohunga…Matoran…whatever they’re called. They’re in there! Apparently protected by…glass? Or maybe there’s like a giant air bubble held together by surface tension? That sounds scientific. We can’t talk to them like this, but at least we know they’re alive. Until they run out of air, anyway. Wait…air?

Shit, I need that!

BGS: Ruined Ga-Koro


Phew. Okay, I think I saw a path leading to the left from here. Let’s check that way next.


Ooh, a machine. I love machines. They usually have buttons you can press.


Just as predicted. *BOOP*


You can’t tell because there’s no motion blur, but pressing the button makes the left gear spin. Nothing else happens. I guess it’s broken.

Do you hear something?


Is there something sticking out of the water on the left? It looks like it might be bamboo or something.

BGS: Ga-Koro - Breathing Tube


TakuaPortrait5 “Maku sent me to rescue you!”


NokamaUnknownPortrait3 “We are trapped here underwater! The door is stuck and we can’t open it! If the village pumps are repaired, the hut will rise to the surface, and we can escape. The Rahi smashed them and pieces fell into the water. If you can find the missing piece and put it back in the pump machine, it will float us back up! I left a Lightstone in my hut. It might help you see underwater. Please hurry!”

There seems to be repeated confusion in this chapter about whether things are singular or plural. It’s like one of my Japanese animes!

But we just got told about free stuff, and as a video game hero we cannot pass up the opportunity to take something that belongs to somebody else. But first, let’s go back to that hut with the diving pool.

BGS: Ga-Koro - Diving Pool Hut



You got the Backpack!

Not only does this handy sack carry all your stuff, but it also puts a little tab in the corner of the screen, uglifying all your screencaps from now on!

I’ve mentioned there being multiple versions of this game before. I believe the version I’m playing now is from 2003. There was another version released in 2006, and in that you start with the backpack and lightstone. When I originally played, I recall having the backpack from the beginning, but not the lightstone, but that may just be the Mandela Effect. There are some other differences between versions, but I’ll bring them up later.

Now for the lightstone…

BGS: Ruined Ga-Koro


The hut on the left - the only place we haven’t been to yet - is Nokama’s.



Yoink.


Now. We have a gear to find. Or is it a cog?

BGM: Underwater (w/ ambience)
Underwater1

Exactly what to do next is a little vague. Let’s put our thinking caps on. We’re looking for a gear. And looking at this screencap…some of those patches of vegetation (or are they starfish?) look kind of like gears.

What we need to do is shine the lightstone on that vegetation - the gear, being metal, will sparkle.

The location of the gear is random - there are, I think, five possible locations. In my case, it happened to be here…


Can you see it? The gear actually looks a little different from the surrounding vegetation. You don’t need to use the lightstone to find it. However, the gear doesn’t spawn until you have the lightstone in your inventory, so you need to do that much.


There it is!

Now we can go fix the pump.

BGS: Ruined Ga-Koro



Slap the gear in place and…


*BOOP*


The pump starts pumping. We did it! We saved the day!

VIDEO: We Didn’t Quite Save the DayCutscene2-5 (you should probably watch this)

I do have a decent amount of commentary so I guess you can read this


The hut rises from beneath the waves and the villagers emerge.


I never noticed before, but the four villagers here behind Nokama are all wearing Kakama. They’re copy-pastes not just of each other, but of the person Nokama was talking to in the Tarakava Attack movie. And are also in the exact same ‘surprised’ pose. The MNOLG, especially in the early chapters, is a ~little~ rough around the edges.

But they’ve got good reason to be surprised.

BGM: Gali VS Tarakava (you should probably listen to this)


It’s boss time!

This is the monster that attacked the village before. It’s a Tarakava, which the lore assures me is a lizard. A really big lizard.


A really big lizard with BOXING GLOVES FOR HANDS.

How does a Tarakava type with boxing gloves on? It doesn’t. It’s an animal. Ya weirdo.

Oh, right. We were about to get punched by a 20-foot-tall death monster. When suddenly…


Toa-hero out of fucking nowhere!


Looks like Maku managed to find Gali. Which technically means she was way more helpful than we were. And now Gali and the Tarakava have a boxing match.


I’m not kidding.


But pretty soon Gali decides boxing 10x above her weight class isn’t a good idea. And also punching with hooks for hands is hard.


She jumps onto a hut, does a cool flip I didn’t take a screencap of…


…and lands on its back.



The Tarakava flips out and tries to get her off by diving into the water. By the way, instead of legs, Tarakava have tank treads. I think most of the 2001 Rahi had treads for locomotion. Bionicle was an offshoot of Technic, so I think it’s a holdover from that.


The pair struggle beneath the waves for several seconds. And then…


Oh, shit.

See, this is why you never send a blue to do a red’s job.

ME: Fearful Event


Wait. My non-fatal-conflict-resolution-for-the-purposes-of-a-children’s-franchise sense is tingling…


The Tarakava falls to the side, revealing that Gali has removed its infected mask.

Various other characters explain aspects of this. But in short, Makuta can infect the masks of Rahi (and others), bringing them under his control.

BGM: Ga-Koro (w/ Ambience)


And just like that, Ga-Koro is back to normal, more or less. Gali has disappeared back into Bionicle’s 2001 story bible.


Okay let’s be real here we didn’t do anything. But since I’m not being rewarded for my deeds, I guess there’s nothing wrong with a little stolen valor.

Pretty much every person with a speech bubble has at least two things to say.




Alright, let’s go talk to Nokama. In video games you’re alway supposed to talk to the mayor, and that’s pretty much what she is.



Most of the Turaga bow respectfully when you mouse over them.

By the way, I didn’t point it out before this point, but in Ga-Koro they apparently use bio-luminescent jellyfish for illumination. We could probably just have taken one of those instead of Nokama’s lightstone. Which we are not giving back, obviously.


NokamaPortrait2 “Your eyes are filled with questions about the mysteries of Mata Nui, my friend. Giving you some of the answers you seek is small payment for your deeds, but I offer you what knowledge I can. Our astrologer has seen great changes in the skies, and has read the dark future of Mata Nui. The Toa have come and begun their mighty quest to save us from the Makuta. And yet here, in the midst of this upheaval, are you, a brave wanderer in this dangerous land. How may I help you?”

Well, the pressing question I have is…

TakuaPortrait5 “Who am I?”


NokamaPortrait2 “The Tohunga have forgotten their civilization. Even the Turaga do not have record of all that has come before. But the ocean remembers. Like history, the water holds many secrets in its forbidden depths. It surrounds Mata Nui, and covers it; it watches the island as it sleeps, and remembers. It caught the Toa gently when they descended, and delivered them to us. You are an absolute in these uncertain time. Your past is forgotten, and your future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer.”

Well that was rambling and incoherent, but I guess it sounded nice. And how does my identity being unknown make me an absolute? Doesn’t that make me the opposite of an absolute? Like, a variable, even?

TakuaPortrait5 “Who is Gali?”


NokamaPortrait2 "Gali is the protector of the sea, and of the lakes and rivers that feed it. Her Mask of Power lets her breathe freely beneath the waves.

And it’s translucent. You forgot to mention that. It’s a decent selling point.

TakuaPortrait5 “What of Maku?”

NokamaPortrait2 “Maku often sneaks out of the village to spy on Huki, the Koli champion. She tells me she is just practicing her boating, but I know the truth. And it is far too dangerous for her to be outside the village now. For her own safety I will forbid her to go, even though her wandering saved us this time.”

‘That thing I thought was a bad thing turned out to be a good thing, but I still think it’s a bad thing’ is definitely peak something.

NokamaPortrait2 “If, in your travels to Po-Koro, you should meet Huki, tell him she is safe. He may have heard of the attack and will be worried.”

Well, that’s all from Nokama. My keen intuition tells me that Po-Koro might be our next destination. Or maybe not.

Nokama mentioned an astrologer. Let’s go find her and tell her she’s a fraud and astrology is fake.

Wait I just remembered, Bionicle is a fantasy world. Astrology is real here. Well, let’s talk to her anyway. Prior to the rescue, there was a hut in the village square that was closed and we couldn’t enter, but it’s open now. That’s where the astrologer lives.


She has no name in this game, but in the MNOLG II is semi-canonically given the name Nixie.

There’s a celestial diagram on the leaf above her head, and the text there labels the center sphere “Mata Nui”.


Nixie isn’t big on talking.

TakuaPortrait5 “Who are you?”

NixiePortrait2 “I am the astrologer. I watch the stars, and the water.”

TakuaPortrait5 “What are you doing?”

NixiePortrait2 “I am charting changes in the skies. Many important things are happening around Mata Nui, and many more will happen. I use the telescope on the cliff. It tells what will happen, and when.”

TakuaPortrait5 “How do I use the telescope?”

If I hadn’t already explained it, Nixie is who would explain how to interpret the telescope.

NixiePortrait2 “It’s very simple. Around the base of the telescope are pictures. They are constellations, patterns of stars in the night sky, and markings that show the prophecies of legends. Each picture has a red star in it. When the Red Star reaches a certain place in the heavens, it means something important will happen here on Mata Nui: one of the prophecies. When you look through the telescope, you will see many stars, and one of them is the Red Star. Look at the constellations near the Red Star. They will look like the ones in the pictures. When the Red Star is exactly where it is shown in one of the pictures, then a prophecy may come true. If something changes in the sky, it is my job to change the pictures, so that I can better see the future. Even though we Tohunga remember the prophecies, nothing is certain… the future can change. If you can read the numbers in the telescope, it is even easier to tell the future.”

I’m not sure exactly what the last statement means. There are numbers (in Bionicle writing) both when looking through the telescope and inscribed on the telescope’s base. The ones in the telescope are constantly changing, so I think the numbers may indicate the date that the next chapter is scheduled to be released, but I haven’t heard anything about that, nor have I translated the numbers myself to check.

There’s still more to see in Ga-Koro. One thing many people likely missed is seeing what’s going on at the hut we raised out of the water.


Inside is…


…the Tarakava. Yes, Templar didn’t forget about it. Here’s what this villager has to say.

Tarakava5


There’s a certain other character I could have met earlier but skipped who speculates that Rahi might be controlled like this. But I guess in Ga-Koro they know about infected masks already.

If you’ll recall from much earlier in this update, there was a part of the village that was inaccessible because it was obstructed by a few inches of water. Let’s see what’s happening over there.


Well, it’s not on fire anymore, so that’s good. The hut on the left here is Maku’s. I actually completely forgot about it when I did my initial recording, so I had to come back and do it later.



Riveting.

Going further into this section of the village brings us to…


This Under Construction sign, which was popular on Bionicle fansites. Or at least, one Bionicle fansite. And also this person with a boat.


Next time, our journey of self-discovery continues…

Mailbag Corner:

The Mata Nui Online Game II: The Final Chronicle was a thing that existed. It was significantly more ambitious than the first game, though I don’t think it was any longer, but it’s not something people care much about. I never got past the first area myself. It has both story and gameplay problems, but the big issue with it was that it’s really buggy. I have a vivid memory of walking along the beach and then, after a screen transition, arriving in a white void I couldn’t escape.

On the story front, I think Templar Studios tried to invest the narrative of a degree of thematic/character resonance, but the MNOLG1 was about exploring an island you know nothing about during a time of crisis, while the MNOLG II is about traveling an island you know everything about during peacetime. The potential for compelling narrative is limited.

I’m pretty sure I played this game after it was completed, because I do not remember it being separated into chapters… and I don’t think I ever figured out the Charred Forest. Good thing there’s an alternate path!

And yeah, MNOLG2 was super buggy. I think there was just a point where the game consistently crashed/warped me to the void, right around where you were supposed to play whatever the village’s sport was.

Got a few little things today.

1. Switching versions

First, I’ve mentioned before that there’s more than one version of the MNOLG. I’ve been using the 2003 version (at least, I think that’s when it was released), but I’ve had issues with recording it, so I’ve switched to the 2006 version. One advantage of the 2006 version is that it can be fullscreened, but I shrink my screencaps so much after recording I’m not sure if that makes a difference. Let me know if you notice one. Anyway, here are the version differences I know of:

  • 2006 version starts with backpack and lightstone (so you can do the villages in almost any order)
  • 2006 version replaces ‘Tohunga’ (the name for the villagers) with ‘Matoran’, as per the settlement between Lego and the Maori people
  • 2006 version has some minor errors, like omitting the cutscene on the beach with Tahu glancing over his shoulder at the player, and the bridge to Ta-Koro (you’ll see this soon) already being up
  • 2006 version I think is missing some optional late-game text
  • I think the 2006 version may have some other odd glitches, though it may also fix some from the 2003 version
  • 2003 version has an autosave. 2006 version instead has a chapter select, letting you jump to any chapter from the beginning
  • 2006 version has awful ugly buttons at the bottom of the screen that explain the controls, toggle language to Deutsche, or return to chapter select, which I will need to crop out of every screencap
2. Some concept art

Templar Games, as they are now known, has a Tumblr they use very rarely, and occasionally put out posts with concept art and information about the development of the MNOLG. And by ‘occasionally’, I mean they started in 2011 and still aren’t done. These posts are old enough that in several of them the images are broken. But here’s some concept art from the beach I found interesting (you can read the whole post here).


Most of the sketches are the same as the final version, just…sketchier. But there are some slight differences. Here on the cliff, you can see the outcropping the telescope is on was originally connected to the main part of the cliff by a wooden rope bridge. The telescope also has some differences.


This version of the telescope is straightforwardly recognizable as a telescope. There’s also another concept…


This is inspired by like, Mayan observatories, I think. My guess for why they went with the telescope that they did is so the technology looks nothing like anything built by humans, regardless of culture.


There’s also a sketch where the star charts are on the ceiling like a sort of planetarium instead of carved into the telescope’s base. It’s a good image but personally I like the open-air feel of the final version better.

And finally the update itself. I originally intended to combine this and the next update, but this one turned out a little bigger than I expected so I decided it worked better on its own.

Last time we were told we should totally go to Po-Koro and also something bad might be happening in Po-Koro and hmmm. I wonder where we’ll be going today?

Part 2.5: Fires of Ta-Koro (Click to expand)


‘Ta-Wahi’. Have we been there yet? Yes, we have. The beach and Charred Forest are both part of Ta-Wahi.


The cutscene for taking the boat to Ta-Wahi instead shows you taking the boat AWAY from Ta-Wahi. Or at least it did for me. In both versions. I remember being frequently confused by navigation in this game as a kid and I’m starting to figure out why. Regardless, I know the proper cutscene exists because it’s right here, even though the uploader mislabeled it.

The boat drops us off back at the beach, and heading right returns us to the lava-y part of Ta-Wahi.

BGS: Ta-Wahi Fires


Last time we explored the Charred Forest. But what if I told you that cameras could…pan?


Yes, if we’d just turned our head slightly to the right, we would’ve noticed the GIANT VOLCANO FORTRESS over thataway. That’s Ta-Koro. There’s also an exit from the Charred Forest letting out in front of Ta-Koro’s gates.


As is already evident, Ta-Koro is significantly more built up than Ga-Koro (though in game terms there’s a lot less to do).

Ta-Koro was added to the MNOLG in February, while Ga-Koro was added in March. I put off visiting Ta-Koro earlier for a couple reasons, though in hindsight I’m not sure it was the better presentation. Probably doesn’t matter either way, though.

First, like I said, Ta-Koro is bigger than Ga-Koro, so I liked the visual progression better. Second, I liked the progression of going from a lonely beach to an abandoned town better than going from the beach to a town full of people. And third and least importantly, a lot of people (like me) who played the MNOLG after it was finished miss Ta-Koro the first time, because Maku on the beach is a more obvious prompt.

All that said, let’s chat with these guards.


Thanks. Before heading through the gate, if you look to the right there’s a set of stairs.


Following them leads to…


A machine, guarded by another Ta-Matoran. If you talk to him, he tells you that “Only Guards may pass”. The machine is a cablecar, leading to…well, you’ll see eventually. The stairs on the left you can’t interact with.

There’s nothing else to do here, so let’s finally go to Ta-Koro.

Through the gate is…

BGS: Ta-Koro


I would say “Welcome to Ta-Koro” but there appears to be a giant lake of lava in the way. Hm…


‘Winch room’? Well, there’s a little doorway in the side of the gate. Maybe the winch room is through there.


Inside is a guy looking over a big museum diorama of Mata Nui. He stands on his tiptoes to look at it which is totes adorbs. The winch room is on the right, but let’s talk to him first.


This is what he would say if you visited him at the expected time. Since we’ve already helped out Ga-Koro, he instead says…


JalaPortrait2 “But take care. My scouts have reported a build up in Rahi and I fear a massive counter-offensive. There are never enough good warriors to send against the Rahi. You look stout, traveler…you should consider a career in the Guard.”

TakuaPortrait4 “Who are you?”


JalaPortrait2 “I lost a lot of good warriors that day. Then Tahu arrived, and now we know why the Rahi are on the move. Vakama says he’ll save us, but I don’t see the point in putting ALL our hope in him. You can never have too much security.”

Ah, so he’s a villain (he isn’t).

TakuaPortrait4 “What is Ta-Koro?”


JalaPortrait2 “Most of the people in Ta-Koro farm the lava fields to the north, beneath the Mangai. Many are surfers, riding the lava rapids for sport. Our people are the most courageous warriors in all of Mata Nui, and we are not afraid to challenge the Makuta’s beasts if we must…”

JalaPortrait2 “But we cannot confront the enemy alone, and I do not have faith in the other cities of Mata Nui. If they do not join with us in the defense, we will all perish, Toa or not!”

TakuaPortrait4 “What is a Rahi?”


JalaPortrait2 “In recent times they have become bolder, and have forced us back to here. Ta-Koro used to reach all the way to the coast; the Charred Jungle used to be a green, peaceful place, but in the fury of our battles it was burnt. But we are Ta-Koro Matoran, and we will not surrender. And now Tahu, the great fire-spirit, has come to lead us against them.”

JalaPortrait2 “They can attack at any time, although always when it is least expected. That is why we must always be on guard. I have studied them extensively… it is possible that they once were normal creatures, like the others that inhabit Mata Nui, until the Makuta turned them… although I am not certain of this.”

JalaPortrait2 “If it is true, there may be another way to fight them. Until then we must patrol our stockades and our trenches day and night, and keep the guard-fires burning.”

Jala is the one who’s supposed to tell you what Rahi are, and hint about the infected masks. But Ga-Koro just knows about them already.

That’s everything we can learn from him, so we move on to the winch room so we can get into Ta-Koro.


Pull the lever and…

VIDEO: Raising the Bridge
I added the music and slowed the animation. Otherwise it takes like, two seconds.


The image of the blocks of stone raising from the lava is an iconic Bionicle concept, which is probably why it’s kept in BIONICLE: Mask of Light. Not sure why the bridge doesn’t melt when it’s under the lava though.

Let’s head inside.


I think Ta-Koro is the only village with no musical theme at all, so um…I dunno here’s Lethal Laval Land from SM64.

Despite its apparent size, there isn’t much to do in Ta-Koro. For example, you can see on the left there’s a line of Matoran - they’re doing a dance, but you can’t interact with them. There are a couple of people to talk to though.




Oops. Left my cursor in that screencap.

Over on the right is someone else.




Wow, I guess I was bad at keeping my cursor out of the way this session. Well, anyway, none of the screencaps I talk have a good shot of this, but you can see the silhouette of a spear of one of the members of the Guard in the background. He’s patrolling somewhere behind Ta-Koro.

In the middle of the screen you can see the mouth of a tunnel. It looks like a gate leading further into the city, but it isn’t. This one screen is actually all of Ta-Koro. We’ll see where that tunnel leads in a few updates.

I didn’t get a screencap of the exterior because apparently I just didn’t give a shit and I’m a terrible LPer, but there’s one hut in Ta-Koro we can enter.

BGS: Vakama’s Hut


In Ga-Koro we met Turaga Nokama; the elder of Ta-Koro is Vakama.


VakamaPortrait2 “But in this, our first hour of hope, you may find the villagers’ patience to be greater than usual. Yes, there is hope in Ta-Koro. Tahu is here. It was Jala who found him. He caught him in a trap intended for a Rahi. It was almost the end of my brave Captain, and of his famous Guard!”

VIDEO: Tahu in the ForestCutscene6

Screencap Edition

BGS: Charred Forest



Jala hides behind a fallen tree, preparing to ambush their target.

Cutscene3


In Alastair Swinnerton’s story bible for Bionicle it says, “Kapura has a habit of coughing and farting flameballs which often tries Vakama’s patience and is a constant irritation to the studious Ahi.” Scholars, so far as I know, have yet to determine who ‘Ahi’ is.


I believe all high art does need at least some fart, poop, or dick jokes so the MNOLG is just paying its dues.

BGM: Suspense 1


Unidentified individual out of fucking nowhere!



Sticks shoot out of the ground and make a cage around him. A trick that I think only works in cartoons.

BGM: Suspense 2


The sound effect for Tahu’s sword activating is called ‘flameon.swf’. If you wanted to know.

BGM: Big Drums



The Guard charges, but…

ME: Vakama’s Arrival



Vakama appears. I guess he was chilling nearby or something.

BGM: Mata Nui Theme





Templar really liked ending with fading to just the glowing eyes, because they do it like 3-4 times in this game.

BGS: Vakama’s Hut

Well, we finally found somebody who recognizes us.

TakuaPortrait4 “How do you know me?”

Uh…yes? Unfortunately, the game doesn’t let us say as much.

TakuaPortrait4 “Who is Tahu?”


VakamaPortrait2 “The Legends prophesy six heroes descend from the heavens to Mata Nui, and of them Tahu is the fiercest. But his passage to Mata Nui has left him… uncertain. He has needed help to understand his long-awaited quest. I have told Tahu all I know of the Legends of Mata Nui, and of the Masks of Power. I have done all I can. Now it is up to him to adventure into the wilderness, and find a way to defeat the Makuta.”

Props for being able to work in ‘prophesy’ with an ‘s’. Last on the list of questions…

TakuaPortrait4 “Who are you?”

Vakama12
VakamaPortrait2 “Surely you still have the Board that I gave you, for that was a special gift. Lava Surfing is a difficult skill, and no Matoran other than those that dwell in Ta-Koro have knowledge of it. It would be a pity if you have forgotten it entirely.”

Board? Nope. Don’t have that. Oh well.

Most of the time, when you say “Goodbye” to somebody they just say “Goodbye” back, or something similar. Jala says “May Tahu protect you, traveler”, for example. Vakama says something more unusual…


Who or what he’s referring to is never stated. The most probable - or at least the most satisfying - theory is that he’s referring to the Seventh Toa.

I haven’t said as much (or maybe I did at some point but forgot), but the protagonist of the Mata Nui Online Game is Takua. This isn’t clarified until very late in the game. Since Takua will become the Seventh Toa when he puts on the Mask of Light, there’s a pleasing irony to Vakama preparing for the coming of the person he’s already talking to.

I do, however, think it’s also possible that Vakama is referring to the Bohrok. The only reason I think that is that the MNOLG contains repeated foreshadowing for the 2002 storyline, very subtle foreshadowing for plot points not unveiled until 2009, and no foreshadowing of any other story years. So it would be odd if there were a lone reference to 2003’s story.

Anyway, that’s all for Ta-Koro. Next time…


The road not taken.

Mailbag Corner

I didn’t play it until it was completed either. They weren’t like, narrative chapters. You’d just do stuff and then not be able to progress any further. Like, at first there was just the beach, and there was no way to leave. Then in February you could reach the Charred Forest and Ta-Koro. Then in March Maku was on the beach. Then in April the boat in Ga-Koro could take you to Po-Koro. Or something like that.

1 Like

Alright, it doesn’t make sense with the implication that we did something that got us exiled but I think I remember one of the GBA Bionicle games being a prequel to the adventure game and ending with Takua on the beach with amnesia.

last time we went to a volcano and did nothing of consequence. THIS TIME…


Ah.

If Bionicle was still running today and/or was owned by Disney, there would be at least one high-profile thinkpiece about how the Mata Nui Online Game is mOrE rElEvAnT tHaN eVeR. Anyway.

Part 3: Plague in Po-Koro (Click to expand)


This time we go where we’re obviously supposed to go.

VIDEO: Boat to Po-Wahi
Boat0

I just spent like 10 minutes checking if the geography in this shot is correct (it is, except I think Mt. Ihu is too far east (I don’t mind it looks good there)).

BGS: Po-Wahi


Welcome back to Po-Wahi, the great desert. This is where the game glitched us to when talking to Maku. And if I’d turned the camera a little to the left, you would’ve seen this…


It’s…a souvenir shop. On the stand are figurines of Gali and the Tarakava (news travels fast I guess), and…us, I guess. You might think the rock on the far left is a sign, but it’s actually a product. It says “My friend went to Po-Wahi and all I got is this lousy rock”.


GiftShop_Portrait2 “Sorry. Don’t get too many travelers around Po-Wahi these days. What can I do for you? Need a boat? Information? Or a souvenir, maybe?”

TakuaPortrait5 “What is Po-Wahi?”

GiftShop_Portrait2 “Po-Wahi is… well, there’s not much to it, really, mostly sand…lots of sand But there are the canyons, which are real pretty to look at, if the sun or the Rahi don’t get you first… and the Path of Prophecies, which the ancient carvers made.”

In the Bohrok animations, it was stated that a Matoran named Hafu carved the Path of Prophecies. But since it’s canonically the case that no one’s been ‘born’ or (I think) died since the Matoran arrived on Mata Nui, I guess he’d still qualify as an ancient carver.

GiftShop_Portrait2 “Po-Koro’s a decent place, too, and don’t miss the games. Most everyone around Mata Nui turns up to see a Koli match, when they’re on. Haven’t been too many visitors lately, though.”

TakuaPortrait5 “Goodbye.”

GiftShop_Portrait2 “Stay outta the sun!”

I do wish this guy had some important, or at least useful, or at least…informative information.

We continue on, which leads to a fairly minor presentation issue I have with the MNOLG.


What is the point of this screen? Well, the point is to click forward so you can…


See this signpost from a distance, so you can click forward and…


See it up close. And because of how the MNOLG is designed, being viewed from a first-person perspective, there’s a separate ‘nothing’ screen for facing the other direction. That’s nearly double the number of backgrounds that need to be drawn, to the end of giving the player a clumsier experience. I do think this game benefits from being in first-person, but smarter design and more carefully chosen scenes would have been beneficial.

Anyway, we’re looking at signpost at a crossroads.
LEFT: “Po-Koro” / RIGHT: “Quarry”

I don’t see any pressing need to visit a quarry, so left it is.



My complaint isn’t that this takes too much time. My complaint is…why did someone draw this?

BGS: Po-Wahi - Hafu’s Hammer


Continuing on, there’s somebody working on the side of the road, hammering at one of the signs. His name is Hafu.


its a sign dude


He actually has a lot of lines. Including the next one, which is both my favorite and the most helpful.


It’s my right. And I am right. Your right would be the road I’m on ya doofus.


LEFT: Onu-Wahi / RIGHT: Po-Koro

I wonder where we’ll be going next?

BGS: Po-Wahi


Head right, and you can see some kind of sculpture in the distance.


This is the Path of Prophecies, leading up to the gates of Po-Koro. Not sure what’s so prophetic about a bunch of Matoran heads. Since Matoran die enter a comatose state without their masks, this is basically a line of skulls.

You can see two pinnacles of rock rising above the gate, with a boulder suspended between. I assume the boulder is dropped to block the gate in case of attack.

BGM: Po-Koro (w/ Ambience) (you should probably listen to this)


It’s lively enough, but something feels…not quite right.

PoKoro5_2
On the left are two Matoran bartering. The open hut belongs to Po-Koro’s Turaga, Onewa (not to be confused with Onua, Toa of Earth).


On the right is a market stall selling, uh…boulders? The signs say “COMETS” and “Make me an offer”. Let’s talk to the vendor.


AhkmouPortrait2 "Our Comet balls are the best in Mata Nui. Everyone wants one! Don’t be the only Matoran in Po-Koro without a Comet!

TakuaPortrait5 “What is a Koli ball?”

AhkmouPortrait2 “Why, Koli balls are for playing Koli, of course. You’d want a Comet – our most popular model. Trading for two Husi Pecking Birds, or the equivalent.”

Sounds fun. Maybe? I don’t actually know what Koli is.

TakuaPortrait5 “How do I buy a Koli ball?”

AhkmouPortrait2 “We trade here, like in the rest of the bazaar. If you’ve got something worth trading, I’ll give you a Koli ball for it!”

There was probably supposed to be a minigame or trading quest at some point, but we won’t be doing any trading during our time in Po-Koro. I feel like you should at least be able to pull out your lightstone and he’d tell you that isn’t enough, but no.

Let’s go further into the village. Maybe somebody can tell us what Koli is.

BGM: Po-Koro (no ambience)


In the rear of the village is a Koli stadium. There’s one Matoran kicking a ball around by himself.


PlayerPortrait2 "I sure could use some more teammates to play with. All the others have gone home. They’re not feeling well. Not even Huki can play anymore. And I just got a new Comet! Traded two Husi for it. Hup! Hup! Hup!

TakuaPortrait5 “What is Koli?”

PlayerPortrait2 “What is Koli? You must not be from around here! Koli is the greatest sport on Mata Nui. It’s incredibly simple, but takes much more skill than the sports they play in other villages! Koli is played in a Koli field. You’re standing in the biggest one in Po-Wahi, but they don’t have to be as fancy as this. All you need is four goals, set up on each side of a square. There are four players. Each of the goals has a Matoran to guard it. To win, you have to kick Koli balls – like this one – into any of the other three goals, while at the same time stopping other players from getting their balls into your goal. That’s it!”

TakuaPortrait5 “Who is Huki?”

PlayerPortrait2 “Who is Huki! Why, only the greatest Koli player, ever. At least… he was. He fell ill a little while ago, and I haven’t seen him around much. He lives just on the other side of the Koli field.”

We can also ask questions about stuff we already know.

TakuaPortrait5 “What is a Comet?”

PlayerPortrait2 “A Comet is the best kind of Koli ball you can get. Everyone is getting one of these now. They’re perfectly balanced, so it’s very hard to miss, and when you kick them, they fly as fast as a comet! They only started trading them recently at the bazaar. I don’t know where they get them, but whoever carved them is truly a master.”

Neat. Bye!

You don’t sound so good, dude. Anyway, if we turn around, we can see the stands.


Over on the left is a hut. Probably Huki’s.

BGM: Po-Koro - Huki’s Hut


That looks…pretty bad.

TakuaPortrait5 “Who are you?”

InfectedHukiPortrait2 “I am… Huki…”

TakuaPortrait5 “Why are you sick?”

InfectedHukiPortrait2 “I don’t know… I have been here for – how many days? I’m not sure anymore… I used to know… You must go. I feel… strange. No one must come here, especially Maku. Do not tell her I am ill, it will worry her… she must not see me like this, she must not…”

Gonna just…back out slowly. Don’t want any, um, flies…on me.

Enough wandering around. Let’s talk to the Turaga. He should be doing something about this.

BGM: Po-Koro (with ambience)


I already said this is Onewa’s hut, but it’s also the only other one you can visit, so…process of elimination.

BGM: Po-Koro (no ambience)


Vakama was meditating in front of a fire, and Nokama was…honestly I’m not sure what she was doing. Onewa is at work hammering a block of stone.


OnewaPortrait2 "You have come at an unhappy time in Po-Koro, I fear. I am about to announce to my people th enews that the next Koli match will have to be cancelled. I do not think even the great Pohatu could play Koli at a time like this.

TakuaPortrait5 “Who are you?”

OnewaPortrait2 “I am Onewa, Turaga of the village of Po-Koro. The Matoran here are master carvers, and their work is the envy of all Mata Nui. But today I am not carving works of art. Instead, I am fashioning beds. I am struggling to bring comfort to the sick people of this village, but it is a fleeting solace. We know nothing of this illness, how long it might last, or where it comes from. Left unattended, I fear the Madness…”

TakuaPortrait5 “Why are you canceling the Koli match?”

OnewaPortrait2 “A dark plague has corrupted my people and my village. Though many still stay at their work, and visit the bazaar, and play Koli, they have blinded themselves to the truth, and put strength and duty before fear.”

‘Putting strength and duty before fear’ isn’t how I would describe it. Oh, we’re talking about your disease. Right, sorry.

OnewaPortrait2 "Huki, our greatest Koli champion, was one of the first to fall ill. He has become weakened, and cannot move from his bed. I fear that soon we will see in him the beginnings of the Madness, the same diabolical force that grips the wild Rahi when their masks become infected.

It’s kinda out of place to ask this question now, but it’s on the list soooo…

TakuaPortrait5 “Who is Pohatu?”

OnewaPortrait2 “Pohatu is the Toa of the Po-Koro Matoran. His great strength can fell mountains, and the Kanohi Kakama gives him speed greater than any creature on Mata Nui. The irony is that Pohatu’s strength and speed cannot help us. An enemy that can neither be seen, nor felt plagues us. Vakama, of Ta-Koro, has sent some of his Guard to assist us, but they will not enter the village for fear of falling prey to this disease. Instead, they are combing the hills in search of Pohatu, who is on a grave quest for the Masks of Power. But without knowing even where this illness comes from, there is little anyone can do… even the great Pohatu.”

This chapter encapsulates well the story challenge that Templar had in writing the MNOLG. How do you write around the Toa? The Po-Koro chapter has a simple answer - make the enemy being something you can’t ‘fight’.

As often happens in this game, what to do next is unclear. In fact, it commits a severe gaming sin: the solution is to backtrack for no reason. Specifically, go back to the Koli field.


The Matoran kicking the ball around is now gone. To be clear, there’s no esoteric trigger to make this happen. Talking to him once and then changing screens causes him to leave. But he left his Koli ball behind. We can’t trade for a ball, but maybe we can steal one…

VIDEO: The Comet

It's 15 seconds and basically a static shot

ME: Darkness



Aw gross it’s got slime on it!


I like our amnesiac hero took one look at this and said, “Yep. Got yourself a regular Taint of the Makuta right there. A real humdinger, that is.” I guess nobody else noticed their soccer balls were corrupted with dark corruption.

Well, let’s show it to Onewa.

BGM: Po-Koro (no ambience)


OnewaPortrait2 “Hm. But not just any Koli ball; this is the special kind that is being traded at the bazaar, and which has become very popular. Thank you, adventurer, for showing this to me. You are as noble as your reputation, and resourceful.”

I literally picked up a soccer ball off the ground and handed it to you dude.


OnewaPortrait2 "However, this is a vital clue. I know that a merchant in the bazaar sells these balls – you must find out from him where these balls come from. But take care. If he is somehow involved in this plot, then he will not want you to find out. The evil that visited Ga-Koro across the waves has come, it seems, to our ocean of sand. I fear the shadow of Makuta has been cast across Po-Koro. I know the source of this evil must be found or all may be lost. If Vakama’s Guard can find the Toa, I will suggest to Pohatu that he seek you out, and together I hope you can do what is necessary. Would that the sick did not need me, or I would come to assist you on your quest.

OnewaPortrait2 “I wish you the speed of Pohatu, adventurer.”

(That’s his goodbye line.)

Like Onewa advised, let’s go talk to the merchant again.

BGM: Po-Koro (with ambience)


In the background you can see a hut with an ‘X’ on the door. Huki’s hut has the same mark. It indicates the homes of villagers who have become sick.

TakuaPortrait5 “Where do you get your Koli balls?”

Damn, he outfoxed us. By, um…refusing to answer the question.

Once again, it’s not really clear what to do next. And once again, the answer is theft.


Next to the market stall is…something. Let’s take it. With his skilled appraiser’s eye, our hero will no doubt immediately be able to identify it.


Or not.

Now, there’s a small chance that, if you were playing the game yourself, you could immediately look at this Object and identify what it’s for. You may remember, but I haven’t explored every possible place yet. On my way here, I passed paths to the Quarry and to Onu-Wahi. Now, Onu-Wahi is the next area, and I know Templar doesn’t hate me and my family, so the solution can’t be there. So that leaves the quarry.

BGS: Po-Wahi - Hafu’s Hammer


its a sign dude


its…a sign, dude


He says this line no matter which way you’re coming from. Because of his position, Po-Koro will always be either on our right (like before) or his right (like now). It’s a cute little meta-ish joke.

Left path is the one we want.

BGS: Po-Wahi


Right takes us back to the boat. Left to the quarry.

BGS: Po-Wahi - Quarry Entrance


The Mata Nui Online Game has some gorgeous backgrounds.


The Quarry has the regular Po-Wahi BGS but the Quarry Entrance BGS is spooky and cool so I’m sticking with it. Anyway, this is the quarry. There are carvings of the masks of the six Toa, though you can only see four in the screencap.


Here are…


…the other two.

You can look at each one close up, and if you do you’ll see the mouth of each statue has a plus-shaped hole, like it could fit the rod-shaped portion of our Object. Our Object has a flame design on it, so it fits into Tahu’s statue. However, the symbol on the Quarry Key (as it’s called on BS01) is random. I think there may be issues with the seed, because I tend to get the same symbol multiple playthroughs in a row, but that could be a coincidence.

The guide for the MNOLG on Speedrun.com (yes, people speedrun the MNOLG) has a chart identifying which symbol goes to which Toa, so I didn’t have to make one myself:


Welp. In we go.

BGM: Quarry Underground


More music that only plays for one screen. In we go. Again.

VIDEO: Nui-Jaga Nest
Underground3

Screencap version

BGM: Quarry Underground


At the bottom of the tunnel is a cave with a heap of Koli balls in it. The balls have the same swooshy slime on them so you know they’re bad.

BGM: Makuta Theme


On the wall is an infected mask. Presumably its influence is somehow spreading to the Comet Koli balls. On the floor…


Is a giant scorpion. Not something we can deal with.

BGM: Quarry Underground

But you know who can?


THIS GUY!!!




God FUCKING damnit!

BGM: Pohatu VS Nui-Jaga


BGM: Pohatu VS Nui-Jaga (you should probably listen to this)


That’s right, it’s minigame time!

The objective is to destroy all the gross pillars by kicking Koli balls into them. I guess the pillars are holding the cave up. Each pillar takes three hits to destroy, and the Nui-Jaga will try to block your shots. This minigame is tricky only in that there’s an aspect of play that isn’t obvious.


If you just click where you want to to shoot, your shot will be slow and there’s a 99% chance the Nui-Jaga will block it in time.


What you want to do is hold the mouse button down. This will make Pohatu draw his foot back and kick the ball extra hard when you release it.


Unless the Nui-Jaga is very close to your target, it won’t be able to block in time. This minigame is still on the tedious side, since there are nine pillars you have to knock down. That’s at least 27 shots you have to make.

Now, there’s some dialogue I’d thought I’d missed later on in this chapter, so I ended up playing through twice. That taught me about how the sequence triggers in this chapter work.

The Quarry Key is next to the merchant’s stall from the beginning, and you can take it at any time. So you can take the key, go to the quarry, open the underground entrance, and go in all without even knowing about the plague or Comets or anything. If you do, the Nui-Jaga will appear, but Pohatu will not. In a regular game this would be a special game over, but since the MNOLG doesn’t have game overs it just stands there threateningly. For Pohatu to appear, he needs to have been told to look for you, which means you need to have shown the Infected Koli Ball to Onewa.

Speaking of the Infected Koli Ball, I’ve had the guy who has the ball disappear without talking to him, which would shave like 10 seconds off a speedrun, but I don’t know how to force it to happen.

Anyway, two minutes of mashing left click later…

VIDEO: The Final Shot
Underground21

Screenshot version

BGM: Pohatu VS Nui-Jaga





He shoots…


…he breaks the last pillar I already broke in the minigame!


The Nui-Jaga retreats, dooming itself either to be crushed or to die a slow death, trapped beneath the rubble. What with the cave collapsing and all.



Pohatu lumbers up the stairs, presumably with us in tow. There are apparently a lot more stairs on the way up than the way down. Which is pretty typical, now that I think about it.


BOOM Mask of Speed

BGS: Po-Wahi



Cool shot.


PohatuPortrait2 “That was an infected mask, set beside the Koli balls… But who left it there, and placed the balls beside it? Though Po-Koro will be safe now, we have uncovered an even greater mystery. I fear the Makuta’s influence may extend beyond the Rahi, now… I will take this news back to Po-Koro, and help them carry the infected Koli balls into the sea. My Mask of Power will let me get to the village quickly enough, I think, to save even Huki. You are a cunning ally, friend, and brave. I hope that we shall meet again, someday.”


And with that, he ambles off into the sunset. Sunrise? What time is it?

Okay, we did it! We saved the day! And this time it was actually mostly because of us!

Returning to Po-Koro, some things have changed…

BGM: Po-Koro (w/ ambience)
The creepy music has not.


The merchant is gone, leaving behind a sign saying he’s “Gone fishing”. He never reappears.

Not in this game, anyway. Apparently he’s in the MNOLG II and is reformed, but he’s actually something of an ascended extra, being made into an actual set and playing a major-ish role in the 2004 storyline (which is a flashback). His name is Ahkmou, and is one of the Matoran who know the locations of the six Great Disks. There’s this whole deal that doesn’t really go anywhere about one of the six Matoran being a traitor and uh…it’s him. Obviously. The early half of the 2004 storyline was intriguing in concept but there wasn’t much to it in the actual telling. One of the Bionicle novels (I think Time Trap) has a scene that explains how Ahkmou started working with Makuta. And he’s briefly mentioned in some of the online serials in like 2009.

BGM: Po-Koro (no ambience)


Down at the Koli field, folks are playing Koli. As one would expect.


The Matoran in the stands say like, sports things.





I’m familiar with it being a good day to die. But I’m not aware of any other breeds of good day.


Huki is making a speedy recovery, like a character at the end of a story that no longer requires him.


The trophy behind him has “MVP” engraved in it. Based on the trailers on the VHS copy of Bionicle: Mask of Light I owned, I believe that stands for “Most Valuable Primate”.

Last on the list, let’s check in on Turaga Onewa.


OnewaPortrait2 “Pohatu has told me of all your adventures. We, like the Ga-Koro Matoran, will long honor your deeds. Nokama was right when she said you would be witness to many important things transpiring throughout our land. She asked me to watch you, and tell her if I also feel this.”


He gives us…a chisel.

This is a completely optional stop. In fact, I think I always forgot about it when playing as a kid. If you are going to do it, it makes more sense to wait, because we’re going to have another, mandatory, errand in Ga-Koro not too long from now. But I’m going to do it now, for a couple reasons.

BGM: Ga-Koro


One of them is that I forgot to read the poster in Maku’s hut. “To Maku. With lots of love. HUKI”

Maku actually has no new dialogue. She’s still worried about Huki.


Over to Nokama.


Show her the chisel and…


She will give you the Book of Chronicles.

Or the Episode Book.


It lets you replay any of the cutscenes you’ve seen so far in the game. Convenient in 2001, but less so with YouTube.


Chronicler.

We might not have a name, but we have an identity.

Next time, we head into the tunnels of Onu-Koro.

Mailbag Corner:

Yes, it was called Tales of the Tohunga (later Quest for the Toa), though I think on the box and cartridge it just said BIONICLE with no subtitle. My friend owned it when I was a kid and I played some, but never beat it myself. The MNOLG is theoretically a sequel to that. According to BioSector01, Takua George our hero was banished from Ta-Koro (right before the events of Quest for the Toa) because of his poor work ethic, which seems…harsh.

This is probably the part of the game I remember the most. I always thought it had a pretty good tone. While it is backtracking, I do appreciate the moment where the active Matoran is suddenly gone. It’s fairly ominous for what amounts to an ancient evil sneezing on piles of soccer balls so they can be sold to local players so they get sick.

My bad, I only barely remembered the GBA game when I was nostalgically reminiscing about the first years of Bionicle and wasn’t sure how much of your commentary was actual questioning the amnesia thing vs. commentary about how it’s a little odd the online game just doesn’t have an answer about the amnesia.

Also I think even as a kid I thought that GBA game kinda blew.


Last time we heard rumor of trouble in Po-Koro and arrived just in time to thwart a terrible crisis. This time we plunge deep beneath the black earth to render assistance with some public works projects.

Part 4: Mines of Onu-Koro (Click to expand)

BGS: Po-Wahi - Hafu’s Hammer


Since we’re done in Po-Koro, and arbitrarily earned our identity as the Chronicler, let’s take the road to Onu-Koro.


Last time I said that the developers position Hafu in each screen so that the road to Po-Koro is always either on his right or on yours. That was a filthy lie I spewed, and I apologize for it.

BGS: Po-Wahi


As you follow the path, the environment starts to shift.


This is one of the only places in the game where the developers had to depict the boundary where one of Mata Nui’s environments transitions into another. It helps that Onu-Wahi isn’t that different from Po-Wahi. Onu-Koro and the caves and tunnels around it are all underground, while the surface is I think just supposed to be a wasteland where nobody lives and nothing happens. Which seems like it lacks both elegance and economy to me, but then I don’t make the big bucks.


I can see the entrance to a tunnel…a Matoran, and…something.


The tunnel sign says “Onu-Po-Koro”, while the sign on the left says “Taxi Crabs”.


Hello, sir. Could you tell me about, um…‘taxi crabs’?


TaxiPortrait2 “I heard there’s another Ussal race coming up. Make sure you catch it if you’re in town.”

TakuaPortrait4 “Who is Puku?”


While I don’t think they ever play a major role in the story, Ussal crabs are a good part of Bionicle lore because they’re crabs and the Matoran ride them and that’s cool.

Puku on the other hand is a recurring character. At some point she stops being a taxi crab and Takua becomes her owner. The 2003 Takua set includes Puku Pewku, and she’s his ride during Bionicle: Mask of Light.

TakuaPortrait4 “What race?”


So, I went to BioSector01 to look up Puku and see if there’s anything about when Takua got her. That’s when I discovered that this taxi guy actually has a name.

In 2001, Bionicle Dot Com listed a couple Matoran from each village on its character pages. Other than them, the villagers in the MNOLG don’t have names. Some got backfilled in the MNOLG II, like the astrologer being named Nixie. Ahkmou got retroactively named in 2003. This guy was retconned into name-havery in 2009.

The Midak Skyblasters were weapons used by the Toa in 2008, and in the novel in which they debuted, the Toa decide to name them that because of a Matoran Pohatu knew (and Lewa always wanted to call something a ‘skyblaster’). A fan on BZPower - which was and I think still is the premier Bionicle fansite - suggested the taxi crab guy should be that Matoran. And thus, this guy’s name is Midak.

Lore, eh?

Oh, we still have one last question to ask this guy Midak.

TakuaPortrait4 “What is Onu-Koro?”

How informative.

Unlike FFX, riding ze crab is entirely optional. It’s not even more convenient; there are no side-passages or places to get lost or anything like that. And the MNOLG speedrunning community (which I remind you is a thing that exists) has recently determined that the cutscene for going by crab takes slightly longer than walking on a modern computer.

But we’ll ride Puku for the sake of, um, authenticity or something.

BGS: Onu-Wahi Tunnels


Since Ussal crabs are, you know, crabs, they walk sideways.

BGM: Onu-Koro (you probably should NOT listen to this)


Welcome to Onu-Koro, the great undercity of Mata Nui. Apparently there’s somebody off-screen playing a vuvuzela or something, but we never meet them. This guard doesn’t say anything, but he’ll salute if you click on him. The hut on the left is an Ussal crab stable.

BGM: Onu-Koro - Ussalry Stables


Inside is a Matoran polishing a crab with some “Ussal Wax”.


OnepuPortrait2 “Try to stay out of the way, Traveler. We’re organizing a patrol. With all the lights out in Onu-Koro, the Rahi have stapped up their raids. Take care when traveling in the deep mines and tunnels–the Kofo-Jaga can appear at any time. Battling them takes special skill.”

We’re going to be hearing a lot about Kofo-Jaga from this guy and some others in this chapter. Kofo-Jaga…do not appear in this chapter, or in any part of the game for that matter. The Onu-Koro chapter was larger and more ambitious in the planning stages than previous ones, but to quote classic science fiction film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Templar Studios choked on their ambition, resulting in a chapter that’s very nearly plotless.

Anyway. Interrogation time.

TakuaPortrait4 “Who are you?”

TakuaPortrait4 “What are Kofo-Jaga?”


Onepu8
Is this that capitalism thing I’ve heard so much about?

TakuaPortrait4 “How do I battle the Kofo-Jaga?”

Okay dude peace out.

BGM: Onu-Koro


If you turn around from here, you can see what I believe is more cut content.


This is the market. Onu-Koro is apparently the main place where trade between villages happens.




Like the bazaar in Po-Koro, you can’t buy or trade anything.


This image shows the three places we still have to visit. On the right is the hut of Whenua, the Turaga of Onu-Koro. The archway with three lights above it leads to a highway (lowway?) system to some other villages. On the far left is another torch - that’s another archway, leading to Onu-Koro’s Great Mine. We’ll be doing things roughly from right to left.


Whenua is in the middle of a meeting with three Matoran. This is I think the largest set of dialogue in the entire game, consisting of more than 45 text boxes. There are actually three different conversations going on…somehow at the same time I guess. Because they’re so long, I’m going to put them in details tags.

Conversation #1: Captain (Matoran on the left)


This mysterious rock layer is actually foreshadowing for later events in the Bionicle storyline. In the original plan these revelations were I think supposed to come in 2004, but because of Bionicle’s success they were pushed all the way back to 2009.

Conversation #2: Foreman (Matoran in the middle)


It took me a minute to figure out what Whenua means here, because it sounds like he’s referring to a flood of rainwater or somethine like that, which he isn’t.

Conversation #3: Guildmaster (Matoran on the right)

Phew, that’s all done.

This is a pretty typical ‘people-coming-to-leader-with-problems’ scenario in a story. Whenua is supposed to appear unduly put-upon, but he really comes across as, at best, indecisive. Like…the Foreman and the Guildmaster want the same thing. And the Captain’s problem is that they can’t mine right now. In other words, the Captain and Guildmaster have too many workers, and the Foreman has too few. I think this might have been a puzzle in Cluefinders: 3rd Grade Adventures…

Moving on.


The sign over the tunnel says “Onu-Ta-Le-Koro”. My keen deductive reasoning skills lead me to conclude that this connects with Ta-Koro and Le-Koro. The map on the right is labeled “Onu-Ta-Le-Koro Subtransect” (which is a real word but according to Wiktionary isn’t being used correctly). Apparently going straight leads to some wavy lines, while going left leads to a Rupee and a fire.

BGS: Onu-Wahi Tunnels


This is what traveling between areas in Onu-Wahi looks like.


Lots of this.


Wait why’s there like a leaf on the side?

One thing I do like about moving through the tunnels is that when you approach a landmark, because it’s dark, you can’t see what you’re approaching until you get there, but each landmark in the tunnels is lit by a different number of lights so you know you’re about to reach ‘something’. It’s not a maze, but if it were it would be a much more effective realization of the Charred Forest from Ta-Wahi.


One light is for the highway crossroads. Left leads to Ta-Koro, right to Le-Koro. We’ve been to Ta-Koro already, so let’s go right.


Three lights. Is it a three-eyed Octorok?

BGM: Onu-Wahi - Digsite


No, it’s the digsite for the Le-Koro Highway. Or at least, there are some Matoran holding protest signs. “No one see… No one dig.” and “You can’t dig what you can’t see”. There is, however, one guy in the background who’s crossed the picket line.

BGM: Onu-Wahi - Digsite (Taipu’s Pickaxe)

TakuaPortrait4 “Why are you digging?”

TakuaPortrait4 “What is Le-Koro?”

TakuaPortrait4 “Who is Onepu?”


That sounds more in character for a Matoran named Nuparu who is introduced in 2002.

That’s all there is to see here, so let’s try the Ta-Koro tunnel. I think the map said there were some rupees that way.

BGS: Onu-Wahi Tunnels


I guess I didn’t get a screencap of it, but two lights is this side-tunnel. Inside is…

BGS: Onu-Wahi - Lava Tunnel


A very toasty roadblock.


It’s still underground so isn’t it technically still magma?


If there’s anybody who would know how to deal with a lava flood, it would be Ta-Matoran. So let’s pay another visit to Ta-Koro.

BGS: Onu-Wahi Tunnels

BGS: Ta-Koro


Here we are. We’ve reached Ta-Koro from the other direction. Ta-Koro, Ga-Koro, Po-Koro, and Onu-Koro make one big loop.

If you F L A S H B A C K to our conversation with Vakama, he mentioned that he’d given us a lava surfboard, though we seem to have lost track of it. There’s a Matoran in Ta-Koro who wanders around with a surfboard under his arm. This is not a challenging puzzle.


Another case solved, until the next case that is unsolved.


These signs are the same as those in Onu-Koro, just with ‘Ta’ first.

BGS: Onu-Wahi - Lava Tunnel


Back at the flooded tunnel…


We pull out our lava surfboard and, utilizing muscle memory, effortlessly surf across.

BGM: Crisis City


You ever notice how the rising scales from Crisis City are unabashedly copied from Bowser’s Road from SM64? Actually that’s not fair - I don’t know if it was abashed or not. Whatever ‘abashed’ means.

BGS: Onu-Wahi - Lava Tunnel


On the other side is something even more dreadful than a flood of lava.


One of these puzzles.

Each of these nine switches can be turned on and off by pressing them, but flipping a switch also flips all the switches horizontally and vertically adjacent to it. The goal is to light them all. Which switches are lit is randomly determined when you start the puzzle.


I’m not good at puzzles in general and used to be particularly flummoxed by this kind. Luckily, the guide for speedrunning the MNOLG on Speedrun Dot Com explains how to brute force it. If you, like me, didn’t know this, here’s how you do it: (if a given doesn’t apply, skip it)

  1. Start at the top row. Are there any unlit switches there? If yes, press the switches below them in the middle row.
  2. Now the middle row. If there are unlit switches there, press the switches below them in the bottom row.
  3. Now the bottom row. If there are unlit switches there, press the switches above them in the middle row.
  4. Back to the middle row. If there are unlit switches, press the switches above them in the top row.
  5. Go back to step 1 and repeat. The puzzle will eventually solve itself!


Like…


…so.

VIDEO: Fixing the Lava PumpLavaTunnel14

BGS: Onu-Wahi - Lava Tunnel (Cooled)


And just like that, everything’s fixed.


Apparently lava cools very quickly.


The door on the right is now unlocked, so we can see what it is we’ve helped with.


This tunnel includes what is either a minor bug or a little Easter egg. If you look up…


There’s a hidden sign, in English instead of the Matoran alphabet.

BGM: Lightstone Cavern (w/ ambience) (you should probably listen to this)


Ohhhhh, that wasn’t a picture of a Rupee it was a lightstone! Silly me.

Lightstones illuminate the tunnels better than torches and don’t attract Kofo-Jaga. The Onu-Matoran can work on the Le-Koro highway much faster and more safely now.

As for the cavern itself, there’s nothing to do here other than admire the ambiance.

We’re now done in Onu-Koro…sort of. Were we to return to the Le-Koro highway digsite, we would be able to proceed to Le-Koro, which is the next chapter. However, there is one more thing we can do in Onu-Koro, and doing it is necessary to access the village after Le-Koro, despite having nothing to do with said village.

BGS: Onu-Koro


We’ve yet to visit the Great Mine.


It says ‘Great Mine’.

BGS: Onu-Wahi Tunnels


In this passage there’s a Matoran trying to get an Ussal to haul a cart of rubble.


but its too heavy lol


On the left is a lift, while further forward is a Matoran we can talk to.


If you look up from here…


You can see how big the mineshaft is. There’s lots of little animations here you can’t appreciate in screencap form.

Anyway. This guy.


Oh yes, I almost forgot. This guy has a minor bug.


These are Onepu’s lines.

TakuaPortrait4 “Who are you?”


There’s no explanation in this game as to what protodermis is. While this is eventually clarified, I still don’t know what the Matoran here use it for or how they’re even able to mine it.

TakuaPortrait4 “What rock layer?”


Whoever wrote this guy’s dialogue; loves semicolons.

TakuaPortrait4 “What word from Whenua?”

All stuff we already know. Let’s take the elevator.


*elevator noises*


This is the bottom of the mine shaft. It’s the mysterious rock layer they can’t break through.


There’s some kind of structure on the floor, and as reports have claimed, a pickaxe and drill both sit broken next to it.


This is what it looks like. The drill has evaporated between screens.

TakuaPortrait4 “I know an astrologer!”

This guy has some other dialogue, but it’s all stuff we’ve heard at least once before already.

We now need to take this to Nixie in Ga-Koro. You can return to Ga-Koro either via Po-Koro or Ta-Koro. I think Ta-Koro might be faster.


But here’s a nice screen of the tunnel exit into Po-Wahi. Midak the taxi crab guy is right outside.

BGM: Ga-Koro


However you get there, we need to give Nixie the LETTER TO THE ASTROLOGER.


yes how could we possibly do that lol

Back to the Great Mine!

BGS: Onu-Wahi Tunnels


She said there’s an indicator at 4 o’clock, but I don’t see anything special about 4 o’clock on here.

Oh, the symbols around the exterior are numbers, indicating clock times, except that apparently the day on this sundial has eighteen periods with ‘1’ at the top, instead of twelve periods with ‘12’ at the top.


oh ffs you people who has the amnesia here you or me?


We’ll stick the gnomon into the middle of the sundial…


And…nothing happens. Oh right, we need to fake sunlight. Hmmmm…maybe if we go back to the market and buy a torch?


Or just use the lightstone.


We need to position the lightstone so the shadow falls on the 4 o’clock mark.


If you hold it there for a couple seconds, the circular symbol on the 4 o’clock period starts to glow. (This circular symbol is I think the symbol used to represent the Makoki stones, which don’t really appear in any Bionicle media because they were supposed to appear in BIONICLE: Legend of Mata Nui.)


Then video game things happen.

Sundial17


Oh my. Some poorly rendered stairs. If we descend…

BGM: A Strange Discovery (this is the Lightstone Cavern without the mining sounds)


…we go to…this place. It seems quite dramatic and important, but it’s a complete dead end. There’s a gold Mask of Shielding, but it’s not…like we don’t go bring this to Tahu. It’s not an actual gold mask.

Despite being mandatory to proceed I think this room was originally meant to be optional. I’m a little fuzzy on this, but apparently in 2001 there was a contest you could enter, in which you had to find gold masks in various Bionicle media, decode the Matoran letters next to those masks (in this case the word is “Rahi”), and mail the words into the contest. I think a gold mask made of actual gold was one of the prizes.


I do like this shot.

BGS: Onu-Wahi Tunnels


Okay, now we’re really done in Onu-Koro.

Well.

BGM: Onu-Koro


Now that we’ve solved everyone’s problems for them, the Matoran bothering Whenua are gone. (They disappear as their related issues are solved, so once you reopen access to the Lightstone Cavern the Foreman and Guildmaster leave, and the Captain goes once you open the sundial. I’m not sure how opening the sundial into a dead end room helps them but whatever.)

He…doesn’t have anything interesting to say.

TakuaPortrait4 “Who are you?”

TakuaPortrait4 “What is Onu-Koro?”

TakuaPortrait4 “Who is Onua?”


Whenua hasn’t mentioned Onua to us directly, though others have brought him up in passing. When I said there’s cut content in the Onu-Koro chapter, there’s clearly a lot that was cut, because Onua himself doesn’t even appear.

Anyway bye I’m gonna see about going somewhere that isn’t suffocating darkness. Maybe like a tropical jungle or something.

BGM: Onu-Wahi - Digsite


With the lightstones restored, the Matoran are back at work on the tunnel to Le-Koro.

BGM: Onu-Wahi - Digsite (Taipu’s Pickaxe)


Taipu is now joined by a Matoran on an Ussal crab.


The crab apparently has like circular saw/drill things for claws. Unless that’s some kind of separate machinery. It looks like it might be.


Talk to Taipu again and then say goodbye and he’ll go into mining overdrive.

VIDEO: Le-Wahi Discovered
Cutscene5

Screencap Edition


\tiny ‘tink’ sound*

ME: Le-Wahi Discovered

A little short on animation. I also think the detour back to Ga-Koro to visit the astrologer works against the mood of the moment. But anyway…


Next time, we explore treebright Le-Koro.

Mailbag Corner:

It definitely has great atmosphere. And it wasn’t until this playthrough that I realized how…dumb this evil plan is. The Matoran get sick from using the Comet balls, but once the Comets are thrown away they get better. So you need to be constantly exposed to them. But once you’re sick and bedridden you’re not using your Comet anymore…

I liked it quite a bit when I played it as a kid, actually, but I got stuck in like the third area. I played it more recently and…yeah, it’s not great.

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One thing I appreciate as an Adult going back and looking at a game for Children is how much they tried to make sure machinery still looked like things you could build out of Lego Technic pieces. That plus making sure every character and creature that had a set looks like that set make it seem more unafraid of the source material. Now that I look back on things I wonder if that was one of my problems with the Mask of Light movie, that they made everything look like it stepped off of Beast Machines instead of being a clear animated Lego set.

Today is Bionicle Day! It’s true, it’s 810NICLE Day. This is a thing fans decided. And in honor of this wonderful day, I have a special announcement! I’m going to, um, gradually go through previous updates and like, fix typos and stuff. :partying_face:

Well, Mask of Light looks pretty awful. Maybe that’s unfair, because figuratively every animated thing not made in Japan looks bad, and it’s just a matter of degree, but still. On a technical level it’s fine, considering it’s a direct-to-DVD movie from 2003, but the designs just suck.

But two of the most important people on the Bionicle team, Bob Thompson and Christian Faber, were closely involved with designing the movie, so clearly that was how they thought it should look. Personally, I don’t see why you’d see a bunch of toys carefully designed so kids would think they were as cool as possible and want to buy them, and say “Well clearly this has to go”.

Before moving on to the next update, I have a little ~bonus content~. There’s a post on Templar Games’ Tumblr here on the absent content in the Onu-Koro chapter (it has minor spoilers for events in this update). The images are broken, but the salient point is that there was supposed to be some kind of minigame in which the Chronicler battled the Kofo-Jaga, ending with him being rescued or aided by Onua. The loss of the minigame resulted in Onua’s absence from his own chapter. As I’d thought, you were originally supposed to be able to trade with the Matoran at the market (specifically for disks to fight the scorpions with). However, there were various other details as well.

Regaining access to the Lightstone Cavern was supposed to lead to the tunnels being better lit (they were supposed to be dimly lit with torches rather than just being dark). Onu-Wahi was apparently meant to be significantly larger, with several aboveground roads with differing terrain. And rather than just going to the market in Onu-Koro, traders were planned to be scattered on various roads throughout the area. Oh, and the Kofo-Jaga (fire scorpions) were originally going to be ‘wolf rats’.

Anyway, on to today’s update…


I think this is a fan favorite along with Po-Koro. It’s certainly one of my favorite parts of the game.

Part 5: Deliverance of Le-Koro (Click to expand)


Last time, Taipu (and company) completed the Le-Koro highway, emerging into the dizzying sunlight of a tropical jungle.

BGM: A Walk in the Jungle (w/ ambience)
I used to think this song sucked, but it’s actually just really long (for a piece of soundtrack music) and gradually shifts from being both boring and unfitting to pretty cool.


TaipuPortrait2 “Onepu was right. It is so beautiful here. Whenua said I should make camp when we break through, but I want to go see Le-Koro and the tree-Matoran…”


On my playthrough right before I started the LP, I discovered to my surprise that this is NOT a But Thou Must. You can say no, and Taipu will just sorta hang out by the tunnel and be sad for the rest of the chapter.


We don’t want Taipu to be sad, do we? Of course not. So let’s say we’ll take him. Even though we don’t know the way.


Text bubbles frequently have the wrong depth in edge cases in this game, like this vine that doesn’t show up until you turn all the way to the left.


Probably in the village. Matoran usually don’t wander around outside. Only a couple of idiots would walk around in unfamiliar terrain with no way to defend themselves. It’s dangerous in the jungle, you know.


Taipu hops up on a big rock and seems to have spotted something.


Hey Taipu there’s something–


THERE’S SOMETHING BEHIND–!


…you.


okay maybe we should have left him behind

Well, he said he saw Le-Koro, so it must be close. Maybe they can help.


A path of lily pads leads toward a giant tree.


At the base of the tree is an elevator made of plant matter.


Operating the elevator is something of a non-puzzle. I don’t know if they’re supposed to represent buttons you press or if you’re sliding them up like shifting gears on a car, but regardless clicking one of the yellow beads slides it from the bottom of the symbol to the top. Click all three and the elevator will ascend.

BGS: Jungle Ambience
(The previous music continues to play in Le-Koro, I just thought having no music fit the mood better)


The village looks to be empty, at least at first glance. Not to ruin the mood, but there’s something very wrong about this bridge. Whenever you enter any screen that has the bridge in it, the bridge will initially be out of position, and then jump to the correct position.

Like this




The (round) village square is deserted, but there’s a flute lying on the ground.


Looking elsewhere, you can see a yellow kite flying on the right-hand portion of the village. But again, no people. Let’s take a look at that flute.


On examining it, you can see there’s a sort of blue box on the end. This device is called a Flutesong.


Clicking the flutesong causes a series of finger-holes to light up. Copy the sequence and you’ll play a song, like a tedious Ocarina of Time. This causes something to happen…

VIDEO: Le-Koro RevealedCutscene1-1

Screencap Edition








Here’s our cool boy, Kongu.




Here’s our less cool boy, Tamaru.


Le-Koronan Gothic

There’s actually an Easter egg in this cutscene which was only recently discovered (I feel like I’d heard of it before, so maybe it was rediscovered).


If you click the masks of the three background Matoran in order from right to left…


They’ll rate Tamaru’s landing like Olympic judges. Each has a fifty-fifty chance of holding up either a zero or a one (in Matoran writing). If you want to trigger this yourself, the third Matoran doesn’t enter the screen until the cutscene is almost over, so your timing is tight. You don’t need to wait for him though; just click the two on the right before he shows up, then click him once he appears.


Nobody but Kongu and Tamaru say anything. Let’s start with Tamaru.


This is how Le-Matoran talk. The MNOLG goes pretty heavy on it; subsequent tellings have just had them occasionally combine words instead of dropping articles and direct objects like they’re on fire.

TakuaPortrait4 “Who are you?”


Not so sure about ‘highfly Vinesman’…

TakuaPortrait4 “What attack?”

TakuaPortrait4 “What are Rama?”


Tamaru explains the situation; Kongu is more about telling you about the characters you can purchase.

TakuaPortrait4 “Who are you?”

TakuaPortrait4 “Who is Matau?”

TakuaPortrait4 “Who is Lewa?”

It’s question three, Takua. The Toa is always question three.

TakuaPortrait4 “Goodbye.”

The next sequence trigger, like happens repeatedly in the MNOLG, isn’t difficult but it is odd. You need to go…


…to the right. This normally leads to the platform with the kite on it I showed earlier, but this time it triggers a cutscene.

VIDEO: Rama SwarmCutscene2-3

Screencap Version

BGM: Rama Swarm


Doesn’t look like a big deal to me.


Oh, that can’t be good.


Oh crap! Rama-swarm!


I said that already Kongu.


Scramble what? You mean like, run?


Is…is that an air-horn?


Le-Koro’s Kewa Force takes to the sky!


And here’s a big one. I wonder which one WE’RE going to ride?

BGS: Jungle Ambience


The birds the other Matoran are riding are Kewa, while the big one Kongu is on is called a Kahu. In the mood to be confused? Due to name changes following the Maori lawsuit, both types of bird were renamed the Gukko, with the differences being chalked up to being different breeds. Eventually it was decided that Gukko is indeed the species name, but the two subspecies should still be called Kewa and Kahu - just not copyrighted.


The kite has been changed from yellow to red. Presumably they fly different kites to signal different levels of alertness.


What’s that? Did you just say “Traveler, do you want to play a minigame?” Hell yeah I do!

What follows is one of the great moments of cinema history.

VIDEO: The Kahu Soars into Battle (you should probably watch this)
Cutscene3-3

SCREENCAP VERSION

BGM: Battle in the Skies - 1st Movement (Takeoff) (you should definitely listen to this)


What’s this music?


Sir, what are you doing?


Sir? Sir? Is this an extended parody?


Sir this is a bird, not an airplane why are you even–


Sir this bird is NOT airworthy it has holes in it.


No.


No. No.


YES YES YES IT HAS ENERGY WINGS

The battle for Le-Koro begins.

You might be asking yourself, was that Ride of the Valkyries? Yes. Yes it was.

Did you think that was a JOKE? Did you think my evocation of this prestigious 19th-century composer mere JAPERY!? Nay! I planned it ALL!

BGM: Battle in the Skies - 2nd Movement (Jungle)


Welcome to the Mata Nui Online Game’s second major minigame. The objective is to throw discs at the Nui-Rama as they pass by. Some will ignore you, but some will approach and claw at the Kahu you’re riding. The Kahu can take three hits (in this screencap, it’s already taken one). If it gets clawed a fourth time…

VIDEO: Kahu Injured GameOver2

Screencap Edition


*literal airplane noises*


You’re then returned to Le-Koro and can try again from the beginning.

BGM: Battle in the Skies - 2nd Movement (Jungle)


Now, this minigame has some issues. Not all of them work against you. For example, in this screencap, this Nui-Rama clawed at me but didn’t do any damage for some reason.

BGM: Battle in the Skies - 3rd Movement (Clouds)


After a minute or two, Kongu ascends into the clouds.

The big problem with this minigame, making it almost unplayable on modern computers, is that everything just moves too fast. The Nui-Rama zip around the screen too quickly for you to hit reliably, dodging in and giving hits before you can react.


I believe the accepted method to deal with Flash games that run too fast is to use Cheat Engine. I didn’t do that. Instead I revved up Dolphin and ran Mario Kart Wii in the background to eat up resources and slow down the game. It…did the job, but the framerate isn’t exactly buttery smooth.

There’s one other thing about this minigame, which is another issue with it in your favor.


Note the position of my cursor in this screencap. All the Nui-Rama that attack you follow the exact same movement pattern. They will appear in the middle-left of the screen, move to the middle-right (where my cursor is), and finally move to the bottom-left of the screen and claw at you. Your best chance to hit the Nui-Rama is when it’s here, in the second position. Just leave your cursor here and click when it approaches. If you wait until it’s closer, it’ll likely hit you before you hit it. If you try to hit it from the first position, it’s definitely a smaller target and I think it might be programmed to dodge from there.

Anyway, we were in the clouds.


After a little while, Kongu will dive again.


While flying through the clouds, the Nui-Rama attack pattern is different. I’m not sure where you want to aim then. I think it may be the exact middle of the screen.

BGM: Battle in the Skies - 2nd Movement (Jungle)


In listening to the Battle in the Skies music closely for the first time, I’ve realized it’s actually a pretty complex piece of adaptive music. The actual execution is choppy (this game is full of clicks from audio cutting in or looping poorly), but the bones are there. What I’ve split up into ‘movements’ are really one contiguous(-sounding) song. It also has more moving parts than it appears to have; a slightly different set of tracks plays when flying through the clouds and flying above them. The modifications to the song made to suit the scenery are well chosen.

BGM: Battle in the Skies - 4th Movement (Hive Approach)


After a little while, Kongu plunges below the forest canopy.


The minigame is secretly over at this point. None of the Rama flying by will attack you.

Since I mentioned adaptive music, about a year ago I was looking through Game Maker (Studio 1.4) and I discovered it has support for adaptive music. That is, you can create groups of audio files that, when played, the system will ensure are synced up with sample-perfect precision.

That was when I realized I…couldn’t really think of anything I’d want to use adaptive music for. This minigame sort of singlehandedly re-convinced me that adaptive music could be interesting.


Kongu we’re…REALLY close. We’re not like…flying into the Nui-Rama hive, are we?


We’re flying into the Nui-Rama hive.

These orange Rama will divebomb you on an unfamiliar trajectory, often in pairs. But I promised you the minigame was over, and I didn’t lie. They just…don’t do damage for some reason. I’m not complaining.


Finally we reach the summit.

VIDEO: Into the Great Hive (there’s actually a difference between this cutscene and my recorded footage so be sure to check the Screencap Edition for some EXCLUSIVE BONUS CONTENT)
Cutscene4-1

Screencap Edition

BGM: None


Kongu sends his Kahu into a badass bird of prey dive.

ME: Hive Entry


The hive is just as big on the inside.


On the floor are the silhouettes of some Matoran.


If and only if you took Taipu with you to Le-Koro, he’ll be here, halfheartedly swinging his pick. Actually the MNOLG is pretty buggy so he probably shows up here sometimes even if you didn’t bring him.


A glowing blue bug shows up near him…


And gives him a comedic electric shock for his indolence.


The shocking will continue until morale improves.


Resuming our universally scheduled programming, nearby…


Is Turaga Matau.


Kongu flies into the chamber.


Something flashes past, too fast to see.

ME: Shock!


Whatever it is, it strikes and injures the Kahu.


Crash landing.

BGS: Hive (Matoran’s Pick)


Well, we made it to the Nui-Rama hive. But I don’t think this quite qualifies as a rescue. The Matoran have apparently been captured by the Nui-Rama in order to, um…work. Since they’re five times bigger and have giant claws, I’d expect the Rama would be better suited to do it themselves.

According to the treatment on Templar’s blog, the original plan seems to have been that the Matoran were captured to be food for the Nui-Ramas’ larvae. I imagine their Lego liaison disapproved of that idea.


On the right side of the room, one of the Le-Matoran (and Taipu) are caring for the njured bird. Nearby, Matau and Kongu are deep in conversation. The only person we can talk to is Matau.


MatauPortrait2 “Keep your voice down, traveler, and sing as you work. And hope Lewa comes to save us.”

TakuaPortrait4 “Who are you?”

Our hero has a one-track mind.

TakuaPortrait4 “Will Lewa come to save us?”

Sure, Onua was a no-show, but otherwise the Toa have been pretty reliable at arriving conveniently in moments of crisis.


I don’t like where this sentence is going…


The sequence triggers in the MNOLG remain obtuse as ever. To proceed, you need to click on this hole in the far wall.

VIDEO: The Fight in the Hive (you should definitely watch this)
Ultimate29

Screencap Edition

BGM: Infected


Someone steps into view. Somebody green. With an axe.


Oh. It’s Lewa.




There’s a cool effect of something swirling through the glow of Lewa’s eyes.


Behind him hovers a huge, wasp-like creature. This is a Nui-Kopen (which can be made by combining the two Nui-Rama that make up the 2001 Nui-Rama set).


The Le-Matoran are understandably agitated by the sight of their protector corrupted by Makuta.

Ultimate10
The Nui-Kopen holds Lewa’s original mask in its claws.


Suddenly, the ground starts to shake.


Something erupts from the ground.


Could it be…?



“Kept you waiting, huh?”

BGM: The Fight in the Hive (you should definitely listen to this)


“The Fight in the Hive” is the first of several remixes of a piece of Bionicle-related music just called “The Bionicle Music” by a guy named Paul Hardcastle. It totally slaps and is pretty much synonymous with Bionicle from 2001 through 2004.

(The original song may actually have a different name; there are several Hardcastle made and I don’t know which is technically the original. The copyright claim on this song for example says the song’s name is “Killing Machines”, but I know there are other similar songs called “Bionicle Age” and “Obey the Force”.)


Enough babbling about music, Lewa immediately goes on the attack.



For the first time in the MNOLG, we see a Toa change masks. Onua switches his Mask of Strength (Pakari) out for a Mask of Shielding (Hau).


He’s surrounded by a protective barrier. I just noticed the designs on the Hau’s barrier are the same as on the sundial back in the Great Mine. There’s no meaning to that; it’s just an efficient reuse of assets.


Lewa bounces off the shield and crashes into the far wall.


The glow in his eyes briefly alters.




The moment passes.



They battle in silhouette for a little while. This circumvents the Lego marketing team’s concerns about violence while also being much easier to animate.


It ends with Onua smashing into a wall this time.


One of those blue bugs from before shows up.


Onua switches to the Mask of Telekinesis (I had to look it up, but it’s called the Matatu).


He makes small rocks float off the ground and launches them at Lewa.


Lewa easily deflects them…


But fails to react to the much larger, glowing object that was thrown at the same time.


It knocks his infected mask off.





Freed from Makuta’s control, Lewa slaps his original mask back on.


Said original mask if the Miru, the Mask of Levitation.


Which he uses to get onto the Nui-Kopen.


He switches to the Mask of Mind Control (which because it’s a Noble Mask I again had to look up; it’s called the Komau)…