Colossal Adventure

reviewed by Allan J Palmer


Issue 10

Jul/Aug 84

Next Article >>

<< Prev Article



LEVEL 9     32K CASS.

You boot the tape and wait. The screen fills with text:

"Welcome to Colossal Adventure, the original classic mainframe adventure, from Level 9 Computing. You are standing beside a small brick building at the end of a road from the north. A river flows south. To the north is open country and all around is dense forest. 
What now?"

What now, indeed, you think. This all seems rather verbose for a cassette based Adventure game. It claims to be the "original classic mainframe adventure" in 32K without disk files. Well, this needs further investigation. Movement and actions are accomplished in the straightforward verb plus noun form, (e.g. GO WEST, LIGHT LAMP). The initial ingredients are soon found: that infamous wellhouse, some keys, and naturally, a brass lamp. The entrance to the underground caverns is shortly located and then, with lamp lit, it is downwards and on. The location descriptions are speedily updated as you move about. The prose style of the text is quite effective, and then...

"You are in the Hall of the Mountain Rings, a huge room decorated with majestic statues. The east wall is covered by trophies and the mounted heads of elves and monsters with a carved granite throne standing beneath them. The hall is hung about with the tattered remains of rich tapestries and has large doorways on all sides. A huge green snake hisses fiercely at you.
What now?"

Great Scott (Adams?)! Level 9 Computing have a winner here in this excellent rendition of the original Crowther/Woods mainframe Adventure game. All the treasures, all the locations, all the puzzles and a decent sized vocabulary are included. Now, cassette-only ATARI (and other micro) owners can enjoy text Adventures of the sort previously only available on disk. Level 9 have developed their own specific low-level language, which combined with highly efficient text compression techniques, results in their Adventures residing totally in RAM, with fast response to user input and swift refresh of the screen as the description of a new location is displayed. Colossal Adventure even manages to extend the original mainframe scenario with a new end-game involving 70 additional rooms.

The parser may not handle complex sentences as are catered for in Infocom's infamous ZORK trilogy, but the general response is very acceptable. You will find the SAVE/RESTORE options useful as there are a number of tricky problems to overcome. SCORE gives you a rating on your progress. You will need to locate and secure all possible bonuses and avoid using SAVE and RESTORE or being killed in order to reach the lofty heights of Grandmaster.

Level 9 now have a flourishing line of Adventures, each retailing at under ten pounds. Their first trilogy (the Middle Earth series) comprises Colossal Adventure, Adventure Quest, and Dungeon Adventure. All are set in the same fantasy universe, each have over 200 locations, and are guaranteed to enthral the most jaded of Adventurers. Snowball is the first of the Silicon Dream trilogy. This time the background is outer space and the locations are aboard a giant starship. The latest release is Lords of Time, a time-travel based Adventure.

I thoroughly recommend these Adventures, they are excellent value for money. No self respecting Adventure-addict should be without them. I believe Level 9 are producing a series of Adventures which should be regarded as classics along with the Scott Adams series and Infocom's ZORK trilogy.