The Betamax tape is a cruel red herring

I found the great majority of puzzles in the game to be very logical and well designed, but one particular item/puzzle seems to only serve to lead the player to a dead-end avenue of thought - at least it did with me. Namely, the Betamax tape, the MovieTron, and the Security Camera in the Quickie Pal.

Unlike the other red herring items in the game (which are just stuff that’s easily picked up along the way, can be thrown into a trash can and have nothing in their description to hint at their importance), the Betamax thing is given much more ‘prominence’, leading the player to believe it’s an item crucial to progressing in the game.

It’s the only red herring item that has an entire dedicated ‘puzzle’ to obtain (pizza coupon, having to replace the vacuum tube on the MovieTron), and the coupon for it is featured on a pizza flyer that gives vital clues/information to the player (the seckrit meeting, the electric fence, the code for the fence). There’s also the fact that Leonard has some lines of dialogue early in the game that hint at Betamax tapes being used in the Security camera, and how his boss is gonna be mad if the tape is stolen/replaced - another prominent ‘exposition’ of how important the Betamax thing will be further into the game.

All of that, imo, tends to really lead a player into believing that the Betamax thing is a crucial part of a larger future puzzle and that it surely can’t be a red herring since it’s much harder to obtain and is given much more attention in the game than the random junk you pick up along the highway and such. Even when the characters said that there aren’t any Betamax players in the game, I understood it as a hint that the exact opposite was true.

If any developers read this, was this originally meant to be a larger/crucial puzzle that was then cut out at the least moment and sort of awkwardly and misleadingly kept in the game as a red herring/dead end? I loved the game and most of the puzzle design in general, but this one really stood out as problematic and misleading to me.


you got a good point here.

The camera system in the Quickie Pal should have been part of a puzzle, involving another Tron Machine, where the user could use the recorded images to find some evidence, by zooming, move forward and backward, etc.
In the final version, this puzzle has been cut, together with the CameraTron Machine.

1 Like

Yeah, Mr. Gilbert also mentioned that there was an EnhanceTron 3000™ as part of the design to manipulate the photo, but was discarded for various reasons.


Good observation. I also noticed the seemingly cut content and wondered, what it might be. Perhaps one day this will be readded as optional puzzle just like the arcade hall is now open and can be visited and used.

Or it’s the puzzle is functioning all along and just nobody discovered how to solve it. :scream:

1 Like

Betamax is the new chainsaw!


@RonGilbert That’s the chance you were waitin’ for to keep on working on the game after October, adding new features and puzzle chains! Haven’t you said that also point and click adventures could get DLCs? :grin:

Something tells me that it won’t happen… :thinking: And I don’t think it will be a bad thing… The only thing I’m concerned about is the puzzle with the baloon animal and its reference in the future.

1 Like

The Wayback Machine may still work in 30 years…*/

I like the assumption this is based on, that people will still play Thimbleweed Park for the first time long after, youtube, google and all the other websites have gone out of business.:slightly_smiling_face:

The game Startropics for the NES had a part where you had to put a piece of paper that came in the game box under water to reveal a hidden code.

Nowadays nobody has the box more, especially those who play the game on their NES Classic Edition. But the code is always the same, so people just can look it up online.

I think there will always people there to people, even when the blog and the original video are long gone.

1 Like

Elders will hand information over the youngers. Word of mouth.

1 Like

My personal experience about the Betamax tape is that at the beginning I thought it was a puzzle but the more I played the game the more I was convinced that there wasn’t much to do about it. At that point it felt to me as an abandoned puzzle.

1 Like

We talked a little about the Betamax tape here:

Note that the tape is also a reference which is probably the main reason it wasn’t removed.

1 Like

The issue with the Betamax tape was also discussed in the following thread:

1 Like

> I thought Doug and his shovel might become important at some point.



This ever-changing content-expanding game makes our impressions obsolete. A year from now even this thread might become interesting only for videogame historians.

1 Like

But by then, will it actually still be the same game, or something completly new ála the Ship of Theseus?

1 Like

Imagine an expansion pack where you control Ransome and you need to do mean things (like pushing the stilts guy ).

Or Doug and you only have the verb “use shovel”. (or “dig”)

or many verbs, all related to the various shades of using the shovel (dig out, bury, turn over, destroy, push…)

1 Like

Don´t forget “teleport”!

1 Like



You forgot a verb: decapitate.

Poor me! No way! :sweat_smile::sweat_smile: