It may have been Will Crowther and Don Woods who
wrote the very first Adventure (see last issue's Adventure Column),
but it was Scott Adams who made Adventures available to the masses.
His name is synonymous with Adventures and there are very few
computer owners who haven't heard of him.
Adams was first introduced to Original Adventure by
his fellow employees while working as a systems programmer for
Stromberg Carlson. For almost ten days, he went to work early and
stayed late. He told his wife that he was working on a heavy
project, when in fact he was playing Adventure. When he'd achieved
the title of Grand Master, he became intrigued with the idea of
getting some sort of Adventure into his own computer – a 16k TRS-80.
When he mentioned this to his friends, they laughed! After all, the
original FORTRAN version took 300k!
Fortunately, Adams was not daunted by their laughter
and hit on the idea of an Adventure interpreter (just as BASIC is an
interpreter). After some weeks, he had developed a working
interpreter written in BASIC together with a skeleton Adventure to
play on it. After a further six months of play testing, he had
finished his first Adventure. It was called Adventureland and was
released through The Software Exchange (who started SoftSide
magazine) and Creative Computing Software. This early BASIC program
makes interesting study for the serious Adventurer and can be seen
in SoftSide July 1980 or "The Captain 80 Book of BASIC Adventures".
During the six months of programming, Adams' wife
Alexis felt that she was becoming a 'computer widow', so she started
hiding his diskettes around the house in order to get his attention.
At one time, she hid the only copies of Adventureland in the oven.
That got his attention all right! Adams decided that one Adventure
was enough and he gave the game away.
A short time later (this was in 1978), Alexis
unexpectedly announced that she would like to write an Adventure.
This resulted in a second program called Pirate's Adventure. Again
it was written in BASIC and has since appeared in Byte December
The Adventures proved to be extremely popular, so
Adams started on a third one. When halfway through it, he was
prompted by Lance Micklus to convert to machine language because of
its added speed. He followed this advice and has never looked back.
There are now thirteen Adventures in the Scott Adams
series (with a fourteenth on the way) and all are available for a
number of micros including, of course, the ATARI. The series
#2 Pirate Adventure
#3 Mission Impossible
#4 Voodoo Castle
#5 The Count
#6 Strange Odyssey
#7 Mystery Fun House
#8 Pyramid of Doom
#9 Ghost Town
#10 Savage Island Part 1
#11 Savage Island Part 2
#12 Golden Voyage
#13 The Sorceror of Claymorgue Castle
There is a tendency for the earlier Adventures (up
to number 5) to be relatively easy and the later ones to increase in
difficulty. You will gain the maximum enjoyment from the series by
playing them roughly in numerical order. For anyone new to
Adventures, Pirate Adventure or Voodoo Castle are ideal. These are
fairly easy and a hell of a lot of fun! At the opposite end of the
scale is Savage Island, which is a real brain teaser!
Adventureland appears to be the most popular in the
series and is therefore the most appropriate to review.
Unfortunately, its popularity is not because it is the easiest or
the best, but simply because it is number one in the series. As
Adams' first Adventure, it is lacking in some areas that the
following Adventures were not. For example, the theme of
Adventureland is not a particularly strong one. It is a mixture of
fantasy situations and the influence of Original Adventure is very
obvious. The object of the game is to find thirteen treasures and
return them to the proper place – although you won't know where the
'proper place' is until you find it some way into the game. You are
given points for each treasure returned, so that you can always see
how you're going by typing SCORE.
Your Adventure begins in a forest. If you climb a
tree, you'll see a meadow and a lake to the east. Obviously that's
the way to head, so you climb down the tree and head east. Lo and
behold! A sleeping dragon! And a sign which reads "In many cases mud
is good. In others...". What on earth could that mean? Here lies the
magical appeal of the Scott Adams Adventures. We are only in the
third location and already we are intrigued by his puzzles. As it
happens, waking the dragon is one of the hardest problems of the
game. Let's examine it to gain an insight into Adams' cunning mind.
Firstly, there is no evidence that you need to wake
the dragon at all, but it's too tempting to ignore and Adams knows
it! So you try waking, hitting, kicking, climbing on, pushing,
pulling, etc., but all to no avail. You eventually give up and move
on to other tasks, but the sleeping dragon sticks in your mind. As
the Adventure develops and you find useful objects, you are
constantly drawn back to the sleeping dragon to test new ideas. And
some of them work! The first method of waking the dragon will
probably get you killed. (Remember the sign?) The second requires
you to be very innovative. The results are quite humorous, but this
time the dragon gets killed. By now you will probably be thinking
that the dragon is a red herring, but that's where you're wrong.
There is a third way of waking it, which you won't discover until
deep into the game. The third way kills neither you nor the dragon
and reveals a treasure to boot! Discovering it gives you a great
sense of satisfaction and triumph, because you know you had to work
hard to get it.
Adventureland is full of puzzles like the one above.
Adams shows a deep understanding of the human mind (whether he
realises it or not) and exploits it to the fullest by constantly
tempting your curiosity and testing your powers of reasoning. You
will become entranced by the puzzles and lose all track of time.
What seems like half an hour could be half a day – or night. You can
also expect to get killed a few times, but if you carefully map
everything, you'll find a way to reincarnation. Failing that, there
is a SAVE GAME feature, but it only allows one version to be saved
unless you use a separate disk or cassette for each version.
Adventureland uses elements from The Arabian Nights
and the legend of Paul Bunyon. The latter is a North American folk
hero who neither Australians nor Europeans may be familiar with and
a couple of minor clues may go over their heads as a result.
Adventureland also uses a lot of magic, so keep this in mind.
Hints to help overcome all the major puzzles are
provided within the Adventure itself, but if you get stuck, there
are several sources you can turn to. Firstly, try typing HELP in
each room. This can occasionally be VERY informative. Secondly, buy
the Scott Adams 'Book of Hints'. Thirdly, use the hints at the end
of this issue's column.
In summary, Adventureland's theme is inconsistent,
but this is more than compensated for by the absorbing puzzles.
Recommended for intermediate Adventurers.
I have taken great pains to ensure that the
Adventureland hints are different to those in Scott Adams' own 'Book
of Hints', although I've again used his coding technique. Simply
look through the clues until you recognise the area where you're
stuck, then decode the hint by matching the numbers with the words
in the attached list. As there would be a lot of beginners stuck in
Adventureland, the hints are more straightforward than those for
Original Adventure in the last issue. Have fun!
Can't wake the dragon?
8 38 63 40 29
Can't catch the golden fish?
34 24 5 13 55 61
Can't get the statue out of the quicksand bog?
59 11 29
Can't get yourself out of the quicksand bog?
19 38 44 57 38 52 6 38 68 61
Chigger bites getting you down?
19 38 44 46 38 47 61
Haven't been underground yet?
38 3 46 38 42 12 31 5 56 67 29
Can't return to life after being killed?
43 53 54 9 32 38 25 15 29
Locked door barring your way?
33 51 60 38 42 12 49 14 22 48 61
Can't light the lamp?
59 38 37 21 29
Can't unbrick the bricked up window?
38 45 17 11 29
Can't cross the chasm?
41 36 2 29 64 5 28 18 58 39 29 29 29
Does the bear stop you from getting the magic
59 62 22 27 29
Does the magic mirror shatter when you drop it?
16 22 57 26 65 29
Can't get the treasure from the lava?
16 40 66 29
Can't return from the maze of pits?
4 44 35 30 6 23 29
Can't get the royal honey?
59 11 29
Can't catch the bees?
7 5 20 29
59 5 10 29
Missing a diamond ring?
19 69 39 38 1 50 61
Missing a diamond bracelet?
59 22 66 29