Hidden on various floors of an old castle are letter puzzles
which you must solve to get to the top of the castle. Peter Ohlmeyer
provides an original, thought-provoking, puzzle game that will
challenge you for hours.
Letter Castle is what I would consider to be
somewhere in between a game and educational software and the aim of
it is quite simple. You are in 'The Cellar' of the old Letter Castle
and have to move all the way to 'The Roof Garden'. This would be
really simple if there was not a problem with the staircases. It is,
of course, a very old castle and unfortunately most of the steps
leading up have been destroyed during centuries of weathering, so to
reach each floor you have to rebuild the stairs.
All the steps required to rebuild the stairs are
still there, but you cannot hang them up in the air, they have to
be supported by something. Unfortunately you will not find any
suitable construction materials for this task, however since you are
in a 'Letter Castle' you could most probably make use of the letters
that are hidden in each floor of the castle. You have to find them,
bring them to the staircase and place them in suitable places under
the stairs. Why these places have to be suitable will be explained.
It has something to do with the fact that the letters are not just
magic letters to fix the staircase but also have to have a meaning.
Once you have built up a complete staircase you can move to the next
floor where you will face the same problems. The weathering, you
Finally you will reach the top floor, unless you
gave up before, and then you will know how fast and clever you were
in constructing the stairs.
This is all I have to tell you about the aim of
Letter Castle. Now I have to tell you how to play it.
HOW TO PLAY
I assume that the description given above was so
promising that you will undertake the formidable task of typing in
the long listing. Before you start, have a look at the large number
of 'nonsense' DATA lines at the end of the listing and make sure
that you are using TYPO 3 to check your work! You are lucky, I could
not use it while developing the program and the DATA lines! Quite
frankly, I typed in the normal words and had a conversion subroutine
do the job, otherwise I would still be busy correcting these DATA
Once you have typed in the listing and have
checked it with TYPO 3, save a copy to disk or tape and then RUN it.
The title screen will appear and as the program initialises the
screen will change. After a short while you will see a short
explanation of the game and you are asked to choose from
Your choice will determine whether the letters
required to resconstruct the stairs finally form a city or state, an
animal name or a celebrity. There is something particular about the
names of people. They may either be only the surname or a
combination of the first name and the surname. In the latter case,
no 'space step' is left between the names, e.g. Henry Moore would
read HENRYMOORE when building new steps.
Your choice is made by pressing the appropriate
number key and then play will commence. A screen will be drawn named
THE CELLAR. You will see walls, stairs, an arrow and an information
line at the bottom that displays from the left to right: the subject
of your choice, the time left for stair construction, the letter you
are actually carrying (once you have chosen one) and your actual
Before you start to play seriously it is wise to
have a practice run to familiarise yourself with the layout and
objectives. You will find a funny little creature waiting to be
moved with the joystick plugged into port one. Move him by pushing
the joystick in the desired direction. You will not see any letters
at first but passing over a letter field makes the letter
automatically appear. When a letter appears you have two
possibilities. You may either leave the letter untouched and move
around to search for more letters or you can decide that you want to
use the letter for the construction of the stairs. If so,. move the
little man over the letter and push the fire button on the joystick.
You hear a beep and the latter changes its colour to let you know
when you return to the floor that you have already taken it.
Once you have chosen a letter you must carry it to
the staircase. Move the little man over the arrow and 'THE STAIRS'
will appear on the screen. Let's first try the ladders. Move up and
touch the arrow in the top left corner. This will allow you to 'Give
Up' the puzzle you are working on by pushing the fire button with
the little man placed on the arrow. Yours score is reduced by 200
and you will proceed to the next floor. Sometimes it is wiser to
give up because if the time runs out you will proceed to the next
floor but your score will be reduced by 250.
Now go back down the ladders to where you came
onto the screen and move straight to the right. You will reach the
edge of the wall and just fall down. The only consequence is that
you reduce your score by 50 points. You may choose this possibility
for speed or use the downward ladder to reach the paths underneath
the triangles marking the step positions. Assuming you are carrying
a letter, move the little man under the triangle where you want the
letter to be placed and push the fire button. The step falls into
its proper position and is held by the letter.
GET SOME MORE LETTERS
To collect more letters you leave THE STAIRS by
moving over the arrow in the right corner. Now pick up a new letter
and repeat the procedure of placing it in empty positions of the
stairs. Once you have placed a number of letters you can check
whether they belong to the puzzle word or not. Climb up the steps
and the correct letters will change colour whereas letters not
required will disappear and the triangles will replace them again.
Upon returning to the floor screen, the correct letters are now
shown underneath the floor's name.
It should be explained that 'correct' only means
that you need the letter to solve the puzzle, it does not
necessarily mean that the letters are already in their proper
Let us return to the floor screen and have a
closer look at it. After placing a few letters you have to continue
to find the letters and carry them to the staircase. I forgot to
mention that only on the first two floors can you reach all rooms to
collect letters. In the following two floors, one part of the castle
is locked and you have to find the key first that will open the
door. In the two remaining floors you have to find two keys before
you can reach all the letters available. Each floor holds 20 letters
of which you need only 8 to 10 to solve a puzzle but once a letter
has been checked correct and the same letter appears in another
location on the floor you are highly advised to take it because it
is definitely in the puzzle word.
IS IT RIGHT?
Now let's go back to THE STAIRS. If you have
managed to place letters in all the free places in the staircase,
climb up the steps and check whether the door to the next floor will
open. As you climb, correct letters will stay in their places while
letters not required will disappear and the triangles will fall down
again to indicate where new letters have to be placed. It is
essential that you go all the way up to the steps in front of the
door because if you return before you have reached the upper step,
the triangles will remain in their position and you cannot place new
SOLVE THE PUZZLE
Once you have found all the letters of the puzzle
and checked them to be correct, you still have to check whether they
are in the proper positions. Once all the letters are correct, a new
ladder will appear and you are asked to 'CHECK'. Climb the new ladder
until you reach the 'Y' before you start checking and then return to
the stairs and go up until you reach the door. Letters that are
already in the right position will change colour. It is your task
now to change the positions of the other letters. Simply move
underneath the stairs and place the little figure under the letter
you want to place elsewhere. Push the button and move to the
location where you want to place the letter. Push the button again
and the two letters will fall down and change their positions. Just
move the little man and the letters will automatically be placed in
the new locations. Repeat this procedure until the letters under the
steps make sense when read from left to right. It is wise to examine
the letters carefully before starting the exchange procedure,
because every exchange will reduce your score. You may check any
time how many letters are in their proper positions by simply moving
up the stairs again.
Once you think you have found the correct answer
climb the stairs again and you will find that the door to the next
floor will open upon reaching it, otherwise you will see a 'SORRY'
message and you will have to change some more letter positions.
Having successfully solved six puzzles you will
reach 'THE ROOF GARDEN' where your final score will be shown and you
will be asked whether you are want to try another puzzle. A 'Y'
would be fine.
There are many puzzles in the Letter Castle and
you will find yourself busy for many hours. I hope that I have
managed to combine the right elements of gaming and education and
that The letter Castle will continue to challenge and puzzle you.
Dr. Peter Ohlmeyer is of German nationality and
works in the German Embassy in Amman, Jordan. He has had several
other excellent programs published previously in PAGE 6 but now,
sadly, seems to have departed the 8-bit world for the ST.