Sands of Egypt was reviewed by Alexander Kells in
Issue 10, so I won't say too much about it here. I'll assume that you've
read the review or you're already familiar with the game.
However, I can't help commenting on the impressive
graphics. Sands of Egypt has a very attractive split screen display
on a narrow playfield. The top half shows a colourful, high
resolution picture in ANTIC mode 14, while the bottom is devoted to
text. Player-missile graphics fill the gaps at each side of the
display (in the form of Egyptian hieroglyphics) and also provides
the compass that shows the possible exits. As though all this isn't
enough, most of the screens are animated! Clouds float across the
sky, the desert scrolls when you move about, the camel blinks and
chews its cud, the water flows through the canal and the whole room
shakes when you return the sceptre. The secret chamber is
particularly impressive and you'll probably have a good laugh when
you ride the camel. And the most amazing thing of all is that it
runs in only 16k!
The aim of the game is very clearly spelled out in
the instructions, so make sure you read them before you begin. I
don't think Sands of Egypt was meant to be easy, for you begin the
game empty-handed in the middle of a maze! You can find yourself
wandering around hopelessly lost for ages before you even find
anything. This really puts beginners off (although beginners
shouldn't be wandering the Sands of Egypt in the first place), so
here are a few general hints.
When you begin the game, keep heading north until
you reach the top of a cliff, head west until you find an object,
then head north. From this point, you're on your own, but at least
you've got an object to help you find your way around. Don't waste
too much time drawing a map at this stage as you begin to get
thirsty after 30 moves. After 45 moves, you begin to get very
thirsty. After 60 moves, you start dying of thirst and after 75
moves, you're dead. The moral here should be obvious. Find water!
Once you've quenched your thirst (and it's not as
easy as it sounds), you may like to collect all the objects you can
lay your hands on, then return to the desert areas and map them out.
Once everything is mapped, you'll feel more secure when moving
around and you can concentrate on solving the puzzles. The puzzles
themselves are all fairly logical, but finding the right words to
use is sometimes a bit trying. The only other hint I'll give at this
point is to make sure you examine every object and say HELP in every
If you type SCORE at any point during the game, you
can see how many moves you've taken. When you eventually finish the
game, you'll be told how many moves you took to complete it. The
author claims to have done it in 101 moves, but I reckon he's having
us on! My best is 111 moves and I can't see anywhere that it can be
improved. If anyone out there can beat my score, I'd like to see
Incidentally, there are a number of one letter
commands apart from N, S, E, W, U and D which you can use to save
typing. These are H for Help, I for Inventory, L for Look, Q for
Quit, P for Put (or drop) and T for Take (or get).
Unfortunately, Sands of Egypt is not without its
flaws. There is one insidious bug in the program which had me
stumped for months. It doesn't surface until after you've found your
way into the secret chamber very late in the game. If you've made it
that far and you couldn't get the ladder back through the crack,
then lucky you! You've found the bug! (Perhaps this is the Curse of
When David Will Henderson encountered it, he wrote
to the CONTACT column in Issue 8 for help. I responded to David's
plea in the Readers' Letters of Issue 10. At the time, I said that
the bug occurred randomly and for no apparent reason. This is not
true. After further testing, I now believe I know why the bug occurs
and how to overcome it. So if you are interested, read on...
In order to make Adventures a little more difficult
(and realistic), there is usually a limit on the number of items you
can carry about. Sands of Egypt is no exception and limits you to
six items. The Adventure programmer normally handles this by
allocating a specific location in memory to keep track of the number
of items in the player's possession. If the program is written in
BASIC, then he may use a variable instead. In any case, for the sake
of convenience, let's refer to this location (or variable) as COUNT.
When the program begins, COUNT is initialised to the
number of items in the player's possession. In Sands of Egypt, you
begin empty-handed, so COUNT is zero. Every time you try to pick up
an item, the GET routine tests COUNT. If COUNT is at its maximum,
then you're told that you're carrying too much and you can't pick
the object up. On the other hand, if COUNT is less than its maximum,
then the object is added to your inventory and COUNT is incremented.
When you want to drop an object, the DROP routine puts the object in
the current room and COUNT is decremented.
So far, so good.
Unfortunately, Sands of Egypt has one special case
for the DROP routine which (I suspect) hasn't been handled properly.
If you have satisfied all the necessary conditions when you try to
DROP SCEPTRE in the outer chamber, the program asks "Where?". If you
respond correctly, the sceptre is dropped, but because this is a
special case and not part of the general DROP routine, COUNT is not
decremented! THIS IS THE BUG! COUNT should be decremented to reflect
the new number of items. This means that you may now have (say) two
items in your possession, but COUNT still thinks you've got three!
Keep this in mind for a moment. Apart from keeping a tally of your
inventory, COUNT is also useful for testing the validity of other
actions. For example, you are not allowed to climb the palm tree
carrying more than one item. If you say CLIMB TREE, the CLIMB
routine will first ensure that COUNT is less than or equal to one.
If COUNT is greater than one, you will be told that your load is too
heavy to climb the tree. Similarly, you can't enter the crack to and
from the secret chamber while carrying more than two items.
Therefore, if you are carrying the torch and ladder (as you must)
when you try to leave the secret chamber, but COUNT thinks you've
got three items (due to the bug), then you cannot possibly take the
ladder out of the secret chamber!
Fortunately, there is a way of defeating the bug.
Apart from dropping individual items, Sands of Egypt also allows you
to drop everything by saying DROP ALL. If you do this after putting
the sceptre in its proper place, then everything is dropped and
COUNT is set to zero. You can now GET and DROP items in the normal
manner and COUNT will again reflect the correct number of items in
your inventory. It is now possible to take the ladder from the
secret chamber and ultimately complete the game.
If any of our more observant readers thought the
hints for Original Adventure and Zork I were in a funny order, it
was because Les got them all mixed up when pasting up the magazine.
(This has been fixed in the online version. GF.) In order to
avoid that happening in future, the hints are now numbered, but
otherwise follow the same format as usual.
Incidentally, the word next to number 77 in the Zork
I hints somehow went astray. It should have been a period (or full
stop or dot or whatever you want to call it). The poor thing was so
small, that it probably fell off the page! (Actually it was
painted out on the negative by the platemaker who thought it was
merely a nasty blemish! Ed.) (This has also been fixed in the online
1) Can't get past the snake?
20 11 6 14 48 37 57 14
2) Can't get the snake oil?
31 37 25
3) Can't find a container?
18 1 33 20 14
4) Can't find any water?
18 15 21 43 21 47 21 1 33 20 32 52 20 29
5) Can't get to the pyramid?
7 20 41
6) Camel won't cooperate?
7 20 34 53
7) Can't get the palm fronds?
7 20 54
8) Camel still won't cooperate?
16 30 45 5 36
9) Can't get the sceptre?
4 26 39 30 51 20 14
10) Haven't found the underground canal?
4 26 2 20 35
11) Still haven't found the underground canal?
45 40 8 24
12) Missing a light source?
4 26 56 52 20 19
13) Can't light the torch?
4 26 13 20 17 52 20 29
14) Still can't light the torch?
15) Can't move the boat upstream?
16) Boat floats away when you enter the archway?
38 5 49
17) Missing a rope?
55 10 22 13 20 17 52 20 29 36
18) Can't find the secret chamber?
44 20 23
19) Can't get the ladder out of the secret chamber?
46 9 8 7 50
20) Can't get out of the underground canal?
16 30 55 20 42 36
21) Think you've done everything, but the game's not
18 27 37 41 3