I estimate that there are close to two hundred
Adventures available for the Atari. These range from simple BASIC
listings in books and magazines through to multi-disk, machine
language epics. Needless to say, the quality varies from lousy
through to excellent with price usually being indicative of quality.
Fortunately for Atari owners, very few Atari Adventures fall into
the 'lousy' category, but those in the 'excellent' category tend to
be a bit pricey.
Once in a blue moon, you find something out of the
ordinary. Something that really makes you sit up and pay attention.
Something that's cheap, yet holds its own with the most expensive
commercial Adventures. Dragon Quest and Stonequest are two such
Adventures. If you've never heard of them before, then I'm not
surprised. These Adventures cannot be bought over the counter at
your local computer store. They are only available by mail order
from the U.S.A. and hence are not very well known – although they
deserve to be. Both are top quality games. Buy them if you can. I
doubt that you'll be disappointed.
A Twist in the Tail
Dragon Quest is an illustrated Adventure written in
BASIC and machine language by Ed Churnside. It is just one of the
many fine programs available from the APX Classics in Antic
magazine's software catalogue. Unfortunately, it is the only
The game comes on a double-sided disk. You should
begin by booting side 2 as this contains all the instructions. You
will be given the option of printing the instructions to the screen
or a printer. Choose the printer option if you've got one as the
instructions are very lengthy – certainly too much to remember in
one sitting. They give a brief overview of the game, system
requirements, loading instructions, very thorough playing
instructions, technical notes, game playing hints and three
appendices. It's a pity that instructions for all commercial
Adventures aren't this thorough. The playing instructions make it
obvious that the author has put a lot of effort into making the game
easy to use. For example, you can save up to ten games on each data
disk and this can be on a second drive to avoid disk swaps. You can
format a disk or get a directory of the saved games and free space
available from within the game, you can keep a record of your quest
on a printer (a la Infocom) and even toggle the custom character set
on and off (a la Scott Adams).
As if that's not enough, the author even has an
answer to the 'sudden death syndrome' common in many Adventures.
When you carry out some action that causes your demise, you may be
offered a second chance. The program asks "Would you like to try
that again?". If you answer "YES", you can continue on from the
previous move as though nothing had happened. Great stuff! When
you've finished with the instructions, flip the disk to side 1 and
boot the main program.
Dragon Quest begins in a forest. Isn't it amazing
how many Adventures start in a forest? I often wonder how you got
there in the first place. Anyway, this particular forest and all
subsequent locations are depicted by brightly coloured pictures in
GRAPHICS 7. The resolution of GRAPHICS 7 is a little coarser than
what you're probably used to in an illustrated Adventure, but it
doesn't detract from the game. The pictures have been drawn using
Paint (Reston/Atari) and Draw It! (APX/Antic), and have been saved
in a compacted format so that they load very quickly. But back to
It just so happens that a sign is roped to a nearby
tree in the forest. Upon reading the sign, you find that the king is
offering a large reward for some unspecified task. Now being the
adventurous type (money hungry?), you set off to see the king for
more details. When you find him, he reveals that he and the princess
were once hunting in the forest when they became separated from the
main party. Whilst wandering about by themselves, a dragon swooped
down and carried the princess away. The king knows that the princess
is dead, but wants you to find and kill the dragon and return with
the princess' pendant as proof of your success. Only then will he
give you your reward. However, he is good enough to give you 500
gold pieces to use in your quest.
Now that your aim is clear, you can set off and
explore the castle and the forest and anything else that pops up
along the way. Note that important items are sometimes shown in the
picture, but not in the description and vice versa, so examine
everything! Be careful in the forest. It is in fact a maze, but one
worth exploring. Read the room descriptions carefully as each one is
The game is absolutely riddled with hints and
humour, but it's sometimes hard to distinguish between the two. It
is sometimes only in retrospect that you realise a humorous line was
actually a subtle clue. Therefore, don't take anything for granted.
And don't be shy! Talk to anyone and everyone ... and listen too!
Most importantly, this game is very logical. There is a reason for
everything and nothing is random!
Dragon Quest comes close to the perfect blend of
inbuilt clues, interesting puzzles, humour and downright fun. It
even has an element of mystery that I've never struck before in an
Adventure. Just like an Agatha Christie novel, there is a twist in
the ending, hence the sub-title "A Twist in the Tail". There's even
a twist in the sub-title! (Say it out loud and ignore the spelling.
Get it?) I did find a couple of minor bugs, but even these were
humorous. Can you imagine my surprise when a certain save/restore
sequence gave me a picture of a dragon superimposed over the king?
Finally, just to top everything off, a successful
completion of the game rewards you with a completely unexpected
surprise. I won't reveal the surprise, but it did induce a great
feeling of pride and achievement unlike anything I'd experienced
with other Adventures. I'm just sorry that it's over. A sequel was
mentioned in the instructions of another APX Classic called Draw It!
Let's hope this comes to fruition. Anyway, if you want a
refreshingly different Adventure with just the right level of
difficulty, try Dragon Quest. It's the best game I've played for
Dragon Quest costs just US$12.95 plus US$6.00 for
return airmail postage. You can pay using VISA, MasterCard or an
international cheque in U.S. dollars payable at a U.S. bank. Send
your order to Antic Product Catalog, 524 Second Street, San
Francisco, CA 94107, U.S.A.
1. Can't enter the castle?
35 50 11 43
2. Don't know whether to trust the king?
35 50 11 43 35 33 11 36 22 31 4 17 58
3. Can't enter the inn?
4. Can't find the wizard's hat?
22 31 4 17 58
5. Still can't find the wizard's hat?
70 49 11 66 11 43
6. Don't know whether to trust the king?
64 34 12 11 7 18 31 2
7. Can't open the door to the dungeon?
22 30 4 17 58
8. Can't leave the castle without falling into the
68 23 67 65 51 22
9. Don't know whether to trust the king?
16 34 9 11 43
10. Objects disappear when you drop them?
22 31 4 17 58
11. Can't find the disappearing objects?
70 49 11 66 11 43
12. Can't climb the tree?
13. Can't go west from certain forest areas without
22 32 4 17 58
14. Still getting killed?
15. Can't see in the cave?
64 34 41
16. Missing wood?
17. Missing flint?
57 34 56 28
18. Missing steel?
57 34 7 28
19. Who or what is Durin?
22 32 4 17 58
20. Can't get gold to Durin?
21. Missing a shield?
39 15 17 58
22. Haven't found the woodland shrine?
35 33 11 36
23. Still haven't found the woodland shrine?
54 4 34 58 37
24. Still haven't found the woodland shrine?
52 46 44 11 3 28
25. Can't cross the stream?
45 61 31
26. Can't enter the woodland shrine?
27. Can't open the safe?
15 28 25 28 40 28 24 58 28
28. Can't decipher the third scroll?
13 40 48 63
29. Still can't decipher the third scroll?
31 38 59 26
30. Can't get the shield out of the shrine?
62 21 11 6
31. Can't enter the pit?
24 50 11 43 28
32. Can't untie the rope?
33. Missing a sword?
22 32 4 17 58
34. Can't find your way IN through the maze of
35 33 11 36
35. Troll kills you?
62 23 53
36. Missing a magic sword?
16 34 60 8
37. Can't afford the magic sword?
38. Can't cross the lava flow?
10 9 11 43
39. Still can't cross the lava flow?
40. Can't find the dragon?
24 20 11 56 28
41. Can't find your way OUT through the maze of
35 33 11 36
42. Goblins kill you?
70 55 10
43. King throws you in the dungeon?
16 34 26
The Quest for the Great Stone of Prosperity
Stonequest is an all-text Adventure written by David
Strelitz. It is again written in BASIC which proves that this
language is more than adequate for a fast executing, complex
Adventure when placed in the hands of a competent author.
The six double-spaced pages of instructions for
Stonequest are nowhere near as thorough as those for Dragon Quest,
but adequate just the same. They consist of a title page, a lengthy
background story and helpful playing instructions. The background
story tells how a struggling alchemist created a stone that
magically gave prosperity to whoever owned it. He gave this to the
king of Parnidell, hoping that the kingdom would prosper. And it
did. Unfortunately, the king did not give credit to the alchemist,
but claimed that he'd invented the stone himself. The alchemist
became angry and bitter and soon turned to evil. When the king died,
his son Weesey took over the throne. Weesey was a good king, but
"not well endowed in the brains department". The alchemist was able
to trick Weesey and steal back the stone. Without the stone,
prosperity left the kingdom and "the Parnidell stock market
crashed". King Weesey summoned the greatest adventurers in the land
to try and recover the Great Stone of Prosperity (as it had become
known), but none were successful. In desperation, he offered "the
greatest reward imaginable" for the recovery of the stone and this
is where you enter the picture.
Stonequest is actually three games in one. When you
first boot the disk, you are presented with a simple title screen
which asks you to enter a codeword or press RETURN. The first time
you play the game you won't know any codewords, so just press
RETURN. However, when you later complete part 1, you will be given a
codeword which you should write down for future reference. It will
disappear when part 2 has finished loading. Whenever you reboot the
disk, you can enter this codeword to skip directly to part 2 without
having to replay part 1. Similarly, when you complete part 2, you
will be given another codeword which allows you to skip directly to
part 3. This is a novel idea which not only works well from the
user's point of view, but no doubt allowed the author to squeeze a
lot more Adventure out of the machine than would normally be
possible in a single BASIC program.
Part 1 starts outside the royal palace. From here,
you can explore the countryside of Parnidell including the forest
(not another one!) and the township of Gree. There aren't many
locations, but the descriptions are very lengthy and full of
atmosphere. Once you've mapped the area and found the only object
lying around, you may be left wondering what to do next. I should
warn you that magic is commonplace in this kingdom. The puzzles you
need to solve and the objects needed to solve them are very cleverly
concealed all around you. Give it some thought and you'll find that
the solution to part 1 is actually fairly easy. The last puzzle very
cunningly forces you to drop all objects so that you can squeeze
through a trapdoor. This leaves you empty handed when you start part
Part 2 is set completely underground. Here you will
meet two particularly nasty characters and some equally nasty
puzzles. Magic again comes to the fore in more ways than one. At one
point you find a small metal canister. If you pick it up and repeat
your actions, you find another metal canister. If you take one of
them to another room, then return and again repeat your actions,
you'll find yet another metal canister! Ad infinitum. A cynic would
say there's a bug in the program, but I know magic when I see it!
Anyway, with a little persistence, you'll eventually find the
whirlpool hinted at in the game's instructions and get sucked into
the third and final part of the game.
Boy, this game gets harder and harder! Part 3 is set
"on a dark and foreboding island". The dominant feature is a huge
maze. It's really easy to map as all exits obey the laws of real
life physics instead of Adventure physics, but it's HUGE ... almost
200 rooms! Make sure you map it all or you may miss some important
items. The closing chapters of the game include some more magic and
a couple of riddles before entering the Black Fortress for the final
showdown with the Evil Alchemist and (hopefully) the recovery of the
Great Stone of Prosperity. Phew!
Stonequest is another great game for the price. It's
a bit harder than Dragon Quest, but takes an equally light-hearted
and humorous approach which makes it all the more enjoyable. If you
like text Adventures, give Stonequest a go!
Stonequest costs US$14.95 plus US$4.00 for return
airmail postage. It is available from LotsaBytes, 15445 Ventura
Boulevard, Suite 10G, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413, U.S.A. Unfortunately,
LotsaBytes will not accept credit cards, so you'll have to send an
international cheque in U.S. dollars payable at a U.S. bank. (You
can obtain an International Money Order at any branch of Barclays.
Ed.) I notice that LotsaBytes haven't had their usual
advertisements in recent issues of Antic and ANALOG, so you might be
well advised to write a letter before sending any money, just to
make sure they're still in business.
1. Can't get past the mad lumberjack?
1 24 46 13
2. Can't find anything to trade with Ibid?
3 6 12 64 53 51
3. Still can't find anything to trade with Ibid?
3 65 37 3 66 20
4. Can't find anything to trade with Ivan?
8 64 69
5. Haven't found the trapdoor?
33 33 10 7 22
6. Can't open the trapdoor?
19 45 67 1 68 48 58 15 47 21
7. Can't make sense of the inscription?
5 1 64 25 34
8. Can't get the knife?
5 1 62
9. Still can't get the knife?
41 45 30 55
10. Still can't get the knife?
41 25 34 70 31 66 22
11. Can't open the bird cage?
36 43 3 59 35 5 13
12. Can't get past the ogre?
54 5 49
13. Can't get past the octopus?
41 3 59 39
14. Can't keep the matchey dry?
41 29 3 40
15. Can't find anywhere else to go?
44 1 50 13
16. Want a quick way out of the maze?
30 3 18
17. Can't find anywhere else to go?
27 42 15 17
18. Can't answer Ethnor's first riddle?
60 56 26 32 52 38
19. Can't answer Ethnor's second riddle?
9 1 45 11 63 22 1 45 16
20. Missing a gold coin?
41 3 42 17
21. Still missing a gold coin?
69 2 28 64 57 14
22. Can't read the tapestry?
8 64 69
23. Can't open the great wooden doors?
41 4 49
24. Can't defeat the Evil Alchemist?
41 3 42 17 58 15 61 46
25. Can't find anywhere else to go?
41 29 3 23
I haven't made any firm plans for next issue
although I'm tentatively thinking of a trip to outer space. I've
completed several Adventures recently, but most of them are the sort
of rare and obscure titles (like Dragon Quest and Stonequest) that I
really relish, yet most people haven't heard of. As usual, if you've
got any criticism, comments or suggestions for future columns, feel
free to contact me at the address below.
Finally, my thanks to our regular Adventure
reviewer, John Sweeney, for helping me out with Asylum (Issue 20).
Your free disk of Adventures is on the way!