9. Magazine Adventures

by Garry Francis of Sydney, Australia

 

 

Issue 17

Sep/Oct 85

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If you're a real Adventure addict, you'll be overly aware of the fact that you just can't afford to buy all the two hundred or so Adventures available for the Atari. If you did buy them, you'd soon be flat broke!

So how does the idea of free Adventures sound? Just for a change, let's take a look at all those type-it-in-yourself Adventure listings from magazines.

KIDNAPPED by Peter Kirsch (SoftSide July 1981):

You have been kidnapped! You awaken on the ninth floor of a strange building to find that your kidnapper has left you unattended. You must try to escape from the building one floor at a time. Each floor is independent of the others. You cannot carry items from one floor to another and you cannot return to a previous floor. Everything you need to escape from a given floor can be found on that floor! This makes you feel like you're playing nine mini-Adventures rather than one big Adventure.

Kidnapped was originally written for the TRS-80. The Atari version did not appear until some months later. The puzzles and storyline are fairly simple and this leads me to believe that it may have been one of Peter Kirsch's early attempts at an Adventure. He later became a prolific Adventure writer and was responsible for many of the excellent SoftSide 'Adventure of the Month' series. These later Adventures show much greater depth and originality. Nevertheless, Kidnapped is a lot of fun and is ideal for beginners.

THE CURSE OF THE PHARAOH by Peter Kirsch (SoftSide March 1982):

A curse has been placed on the land following the theft of the two rubies which served as the eyes of the Pharaoh Ickabathan's mummy. You must attempt to break the curse by recovering the lost rubies from within the Pharaoh's pyramid and return them to the mummy.

The Curse of the Pharaoh is an illustrated Adventure. It didn't actually appear as a printed listing in SoftSide, but was included on the Atari Disk Version. Unlike Kidnapped, it was written specifically for the Atari and appears to be an experimental attempt at writing an Adventure with graphics. Although the graphics are crude, it is the only illustrated Adventure I have seen that resides completely in memory and does not require any disk access. It's generally fairly easy and is again suited to beginners.

ESCAPE FROM THE DUNGEON OF THE GODS by Ray Sato (SoftSide #30):

As a member of a band of rebels planning to attack the evil King Safuis II, you have been captured by the King's secret police and thrown into the Dungeon of the Gods. Legends say that the dungeon contains a special chest called the Chest of the Gods which has the power to destroy the king and his forces. Your job is to escape from your cell, find the Chest of the Gods and any other treasures and ultimately escape from the dungeon so that the rebels can use the power of the chest to overthrow the evil King.

Escape from the Dungeon of the Gods was originally written for the TRS-80, but an Atari translation appeared in the same issue. One noticeable feature was that all the string assignments and DATA statements in the listings were encoded to prevent giving away clues as the program was typed in. This was a good idea, but it made typing a real headache and slowed the adventure down during execution. This one will appeal to fantasy lovers.

OPERATION: SABOTAGE by Ray Sato (SoftSide #32):

The aliens from the distant planet Zekloke have established a large military complex on Mars which presents a great threat to Earth. Your job is to sneak into the alien complex and destroy it, but you must also find the plans for a powerful defence shield which are known to be hidden in the complex.

Operation: Sabotage is another program written for the TRS-80 with an Atari translation appearing in the same issue. It was again encoded to prevent giving away clues when the program was typed in and hence suffers the same disadvantages as Escape from the Dungeon of the Gods. Nevertheless, it's worth typing in. This one will appeal to the science fiction freaks, but don't expect anything too deep.

ADVENTURE IN THE FIFTH DIMENSION by Brian Moriarty (A.N.A.L.O.G. Computing Issue 11):

The Declaration of Independence has been stolen from its impenetrable display case by alien beings from the fifth dimension. You are a top-notch private investigator who has been hired by the government to retrieve the Declaration. You must search the city of Washington for clues, find a way into the alien universe, find the Declaration and return it to the police station.

Adventure in the Fifth Dimension is an all text Adventure, but as it is written specifically for the Atari, it runs much faster than the SoftSide Adventures. Moriarty has used a couple of machine language routines to speed up execution and has also used a sensible screen layout. I liked the way it changed colours for different 'dimensions'. Very enjoyable.

CRASH DIVE! by Brian Moriarty (A.N.A.L.O.G. Computing Issue 18):

You are a crewman aboard the USS Sea Moss a Navy submarine patrolling the North Atlantic when a routine maintenance job in the forward escape tube saves your life. While locked in the airtight tube, a saboteur gasses the remainder of the crew. It's obvious that someone wants to steal the sub perhaps for the experimental sonar-jammer that makes the sub 'invisible' to enemy sensors. Your job is to prevent the sub from falling into enemy hands. This entails finding a way to survive the poisoned atmosphere, getting the submarine underwater so that the enemy can't board it and finally destroying it!

Crash Dive! is unique amongst the Adventures reviewed here in that it is written in machine language. It is a great program in every sense execution speed, playability and display. The latter is very imaginative, though simple, and uses some of the Atari's special features.

HOUSE OF SECRETS by David Blease (Page 6 Issue 10):

You have inherited an old mansion which is rumoured to be built on the remains of a much older building used by an evil warlock. Legend also says that the warlock owned a fortune in gold. Your job is to explore the mansion and attempt to find the gold.

House of Secrets needs no introduction to regular Page 6 readers. It was the giant program from the special Adventure issue and was voted second in the last annual readers' poll. The Adventure itself is a lot of fun, but is let down by words being split in half at the end of lines and some nasty punctuation. XL owners beware! You'll need a translator disk for House of Secrets to run properly because the scrolling routine doesn't work with the XL's display handler. (There is a small bug but it is still playable on the XL and XE. Ed)

ADVENT X-5 by J.D. Casten (Antic November 1984):

You are the sole crew member aboard the Advent X-5, a space ship designed to transport small animals. On the way to Klybex-6, a meteor storm forces you to crash land on Klybex-7. You must get to the emergency shuttle and blast off for the nearest starbase.

J.D. Casten is the author of a couple of Antic's most popular arcade games including the excellent Risky Rescue and its sequel Escape from Epsilon. The arcade games are very good, but I can't vouch for the Adventure as I haven't had a chance to play it yet.

ADVENTURE AT VANDENBERG A.F.B. by Tom Hudson (A.N.A.LO.G. Computing Issue 27):

As a reporter for the 'Daily Babble', it is your job to follow up on a hot story. In doing so, you overhear some terrorists discussing a plot to destroy the Air Force's newest space shuttle. A bomb has been placed somewhere on the Air Force base and it is set to go off at 9 o'clock just seconds before the launch. When you report this to the local police station, they won't believe you. (They must have read your stories about Bigfoot being an alien.) So it's up to you to save the space shuttle all by yourself!

Tom Hudson is a long time staff member of A.N.A.L.O.G. and has built up an almost cult following with his numerous tutorials, programmer's aids and especially his machine language arcade games. He was never thrilled about Adventures until he played Brian Moriarty's Crash Dive! He enjoyed it so much that he went back and played Adventure in the Fifth Dimension. He was hooked. Writing an Adventure was obviously the next step and Adventure at Vandenberg A.F.B. is the result. It is based around the same structure as Brian Moriarty's Adventure in the Fifth Dimension and was inspired by the space shuttle complex at Vandenberg Air Force Base. This one's quite hard in the early stages. Be prepared to die a lot!

PORTRAIT DUNGEON by Paul Coppins (Computer & Video Games April 1985):

I haven't played Portrait Dungeon yet. Unfortunately, I can't even tell you what it's about, because I lent the magazine to a friend who promised to type it in. I assume that the author is the same Paul Coppins who assists with Computer & Video Game's Adventure columns, so it should be interesting to see what he comes up with.

Conclusion

Of the ten Adventures I've come across and reviewed here, I've played eight and found them all to rate somewhere between good and excellent. You may have trouble finding the old issues of SoftSide (as they've gone out of business), but try your utmost to get all the rest especially the A.N.A.L.O.G. ones because they're great!

I realise there's probably a few more Atari Adventures in other magazines. If you know of any, please send me a copy of the article and program listing. Or better still, send a copy of the program on disk and I'll send you some of the above Adventures in exchange (4 Adventures per disk). Also feel free to write to me about the column. I'd appreciate the feedback.

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