Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.

Archive for the ‘1978’ Category

Journey to the Center of the Earth Adventure

Posted by Tracy Poff on April 13, 2014

Journey to the Center of the Earth Adventure is a 1978 text adventure by Greg Hassett (who was, as I understand it, only 12 years old at the time) for the TRS-80. I played the Commodore PET version, ported by S. Prenzel.

When the game begins, you find yourself in a ship which has crashed. A computer screen informs us that ship’s “fribulating gonkulator is burned out.” I hate it when that happens.

What follows is a rather standard exercise in exploration and treasure-gathering. The game’s map contains about three dozen rooms, including two–thankfully very small–mazes (with a reference to the Colossal Cave Adventure: “I’m in a maze of twisty little passages.”). The game uses a two word parser, with only the first three letters of a word being significant.

Wandering randomly around in the game are bugs. If you encounter one before you have found the sword (which is very likely), you’ll be killed, and have to load a saved game. Bad luck for you if you saved in a place where you’ll inevitably be killed.

The game is completed when you have found both a replacement fribulating gonkulator and the tools with which to install, but there are over a dozen treasure to collect, some of which are necessary to progress, and others which only add to your final score. I managed 170/175 points, and I cannot imagine what I must do to get the last five points.

The world is a bit incoherent. You’re apparently deep underground, so rooms like the ice cavern or cobblestone hallway make sense, but others, like the Arabian Room or Al’s diner (!) just don’t fit. In addition, the game is very poorly written, with many spelling and usage errors (“I can here chirping nearby.”, “and fall into the lava ??? Fat chanche !”). On the positive side, the game does include some unique responses for flavor. For example, attempting to eat ruby results in “I think that a large ruby would give me indigestion, and I don’t have any Pepto-Bismol.”

Journey to the Center of the Earth Adventure doesn’t measure up to many of its contemporaries, and it certainly can’t compare to modern interactive fiction, but it’s still an interesting part of the history of interactive fiction.

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Hanoi (1978)

Posted by Tracy Poff on May 29, 2012

Hanoi by Glen Fisher, published in Cursor #05 (Nov. 1978), is a Tower of Hanoi game for the Commodore PET.

Hanoi, like most Tower of Hanoi games for Commodore computers, is a very simple and straightforward implementation. The rules should be familiar to most of us, but you may see Wikipedia for details. In this version, you select the number of discs in the puzzle, between two and seven, and then you are prompted from which pile to pick up a disc, and onto which pile to place it.

The discs move with a simple but smooth animation–nice enough, I suppose, at first, but it would get very tiresome indeed in the 127 moves it takes to solve a puzzle with seven discs. Upon completion of the puzzle, the game tells you how many moves you used, and how many were required, at minimum.

While I doubt anyone will be much interested in a simple Tower of Hanoi game in any case, I’ll still recommend against this particular version. It’s not bad, for what it is, but it’s got nothing in particular to recommend it, either.

Two updated versions of Hanoi were released, one in 1980, and another in 1984, which included color but were otherwise similar.

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