The HATPC Tips No One Told You About
When I was a little girl, my computer was so slow that it couldn't handle much of a Shockwave at all. My parents must have been shaken by its slow performance, for they wouldn't allow me to see the one game I'd read about in both Neopedia articles by denying me the tremors the caves needed.
I'd read about the Usul who was pretty much everything an ordinary little girl like me wanted to be, so you can understand how badly I wanted to play this game.
So for years I stuck myself in the cave with other games, hiding and wondering what the game which I was denied looked like.
Fast forward about ten or so years later, after I'd seen other people play it and I was finally able to play it on my own computer. The tutorials were incredibly helpful, the caves themselves action-packed, the setup so challenging—had I not known Hannah and the Pirate Caves had existed for years, I would have sworn it came out only a day ago instead of one day in my childhood.
However, as I beat the game over and over, I noticed a few nuances the developers included that weren't mentioned in the tutorial. While it's certainly an extension of courtesy to provide a tutorial in the first place, these nuances would have been nice to know while playing the game. Regardless, Hannah and the Pirate Caves (HATPC for short) serves as both a thrilling game and a relaxing game, depending on the level, regardless or not of the tutorial's existence. Heck, there's even the option to skip the tutorial completely once you start out.
Thus I give you "The Hannah and the Pirate Cave Tips No One Told You About"... but, in the spirit of Hannah and the Pirate Caves, if you do come across a tip you've read before, you can skip that part of the "tutorial" and go straight to the level that's right for you.
1. The pointy end of the arrow is at the front!
I can't tell you how many times in my youth poor Hannah's been impaled in an attempt to get her treasure all by not understanding this simple concept. In this picture, for example, one can see how approaching the arrow from the front end (yes, even from the top half of the arrow on all sides!) will instantly cause Hannah to lose a life.
But if you approach an arrow from behind OR switch directions immediately upon hitting the arrow crate, no harm by arrows will come to you... or Hannah.
What do I mean by switching directions? I'll give you an example: in one level in particular, there is an arrow facing upward towards the beginning of the level. That crate will shatter and destroy you if you linger above it, but if you hit the right arrow key just after hearing that "twang," Hannah will bounce off of the crate and will land on the platform safely. And yes, it's possible: I've pulled it off:
Give it a try! (And good luck on said level. That's one of the hardest HATPC levels in existence.)
2. Crates are bouncy.
Going off on the last paragraph of tip one, this is a useful tip especially if you're stuck at Level Nine and have no idea how to proceed. In fact, crate bouncing is the only way you can navigate the first half of said level safely. This concept is popular in user caves that are all about precision, and precision is absolutely required to navigate with the crate bounce. One slip in Level Nine, and Hannah will meet her frenemies, the spikes.
3. What doesn't kill you stubs your toes.
If you see a boulder about to come crashing down on Hannah, RUN. But sometimes when you can't, you'll find that the boulder didn't get her, but knocked her back a little bit. I like to think that underneath her furry Usul feet, she has bones of steel that can knock her back with the recoil from the boulders. However, little more than her feet has to be hit by the boulder for this to happen. If she's directly in the path (or close) of a falling boulder, it will not end well.
4. Know your gems.
When I first beat HATPC, I was pleasantly surprised that there was more to the game than I thought—gems! Gems, might I add, worth 5000 points if carried to the end of the level successfully, which is absolutely helpful in the acquisition of the avatar. 150,000 points are needed in order for the player to receive it. All the same, I was stuck on the Tutorial 6 for ages before realizing that there was no gem on that level. I tried crawling through every little space, looking it up on guides others had written (desperate times call for desperate measures after all!), and there was zero record of any gem on that level. Some gems are easy to find, others are not. Either way, they keep the game interesting.
5. Up high, down low...
Yes, Hannah can jump over three metal crates with only one space between the top of the crate and the ceiling. Observe.
Here she is, just before the jump...
To achieve this, one must use the technique I call the Low Jump. It's quite simple in its execution: just hold the down arrow while hitting the spacebar, and hold down the left or right arrow key in whichever direction you her to go while jumping. Granted, it's inefficient in terms of distance, but can get Hannah through a tight squeeze. So keep your mouse off that restart button and try the Low Jump when the situation calls for it!
6. What doesn't kill you makes you richer.
As you, dear player/reader, have discovered, there are several hazards in the pirate caves that Hannah must face in order to get the pirate treasure. Most of the falling kinds are pretty straightforward: boulders, dynamite crates, metal crates—but what about other crates? Falling arrow crates are nearly impossible to break out of as the arrow will go through her, regardless of the direction she moves when the crate is dropped. But regular crates and even gem crates? Perfectly harmless. The latter is a little odd, considering that the hardness of its contents is probably up there with a boulder. Nonetheless, gem and plain crates will cause no harm to come to Hannah. Nor will the tightly sealed, metal-sounding treasure chests. Hannah is immune to damage by treasure, and boy does she take advantage of that.
7. Corner jumping!
Speed caves are the worst—they make you want to scream when you're doing well, they make you want to scream when you're doing badly. It's a Shockwave of adrenaline wrapped in a neat little crate. With speed caves, as may be obvious to many, every. Second. Counts. Even every half-second, quarter-second, picosecond—every bit of time counts. To save a fraction of a second, Hannah has the unique ability to jump out of a crawlspace when she hasn't even fully emerged from it. As shown by this image only her torso and head are sticking out.
She just BARELY made it from this point.
From here, instead of waiting the extra fraction of a second to fully emerge from the crawlspace, she jumps out, which covers distance just as well if not better than plain running. Highly recommended in time squeezes like exploding speed caves or water-filling-up levels.
8. She's not Hannah the Quick for nothing.
I didn't see this on my older computer when I was little, but once I grew older, I discovered that Hannah ran FAST. Very fast. So fast that she just skips over little gaps in wooden platforms. No painstaking single-jump-that-Fyora-forbid-you-mistime-and-she-falls-into-spikes kind of jumps. In other words, "RUN, HANNAH, RUN!"
9. Do not provoke the Mirgles.
This is a big one, particularly in Level Four. If there is a boulder separating Hannah and a Mirgle by ONE spot, don't ram it into him. The creatures that live in the pirate caves have lived in there for so long that they have grown used to the various dangers—as a matter of fact, the danger doesn't seem to affect them in the least. For example, the Pawkeets at one point become submerged in muddy water, yet they swim-fly with perfect ease. But I digress: the Mirgles can tell when they are provoked, and will turn on Hannah if you make her try to roll a boulder into a Mirgle, or any other creature for that matter. Just roll the boulder far enough to contain the rogue petpet, and Hannah will be okay.
(TIPS 10 THROUGH 14 APPLY TO HANNAH UNDERWATER)
10. Hannah is slender.
Use that fact to your advantage! Hannah's skinny little body can squeeze through narrow cave tunnels, sometimes faster than crawling. Underwater environments are timed, so saving even a pinch of a second can mean the difference between success and starting the level over/ending the game. Sometimes this trick works, allowing Hannah to glide freely through the tunnel, but sometimes she 'sticks' to the surface of the overhead tunnel. In that case, you go ahead and crawl.
Either Hannah's camera shy or the bubble's a photobomber.
11. The space bar is your best friend.
I know what you're thinking: you've been holding down the up button for a good amount of time and Hannah shoots right to the surface. Mashing spacebar, however, gives you a reassuring "thwop" jump sound and, if you look closely, actually puts a little speed burst in her strokes. While it's not recommended in overhead cave environments with stalactites (and for those of you who don't know, it's the ones hanging down from the ceiling) it's certainly useful for getting that much-needed quick breath of fresh air... or stale cave air.
12. Up and down, down and up
In said overhead environment, precision is pretty much even with speed. I won't reveal which level it is, but one has a particular difficult (and thankfully optional) spiky underwater section with the reward at one end, and air at the other. There is just enough time to grab the reward and leave without poor Hannah drowning. The developers were clever with her underwater behavior: like people, Hannah is naturally buoyant, and will rise slowly in the water, which is fine if there is a surface to get to. However, this trait is fatal in spiky overhead water environments. One way to deal with this is to alternate the up and down arrow keys to minimize overcorrecting and to account for her natural buoyancy. Just don't overdo the up and down motions themselves, or you could waste time. There is a certain balance between the two.
13. Physics? What physics?
You feel a chill run through your bones as you see Hannah freefalling into a pool with spikes eerily close to the surface. The force of her fall would surely cause her to splash right on top of them... unless you're holding the up arrow. It's strange, really. It's like she has the will to float WHILE she's falling. If you hold that up arrow key while swimming left or right, she will stick to the surface, allowing you easy passage over most spikes.
14. THINK BEFORE YOU ACT.
I cannot stress this enough. If you have a little time to think just before you hit that arrow crate, roll that boulder, or jump into the water, think about your next move. There are little things that will mess you up—everywhere. Hopefully with these tips, you'll be able to make decisions that will best suit Hannah and help her obtain the treasure of her dreams.
Thank you for your time and for reading—for reaching the end, you may have a fun little image of Hannah defying gravity!
So if you care to find me, look to the western cave...