Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Adventure of the Week: Summer Daze (198?)

I feel like it's time to dispel the Michigan winter doldrums with an early, simple TRS-80 adventure game -- Bryan Fripp's Summer Daze, also known as Lazy Daze (based on the filename, LAZYDAZE/CMD).  The game is dedicated to a Bill Johnson, but no publisher or date is mentioned on the title screen; it's executed in machine language, so it's probably not a magazine type-in or amateur effort, but its history is shrouded in the mists of time.  I'm guessing it was created in the early 1980s, and I believe it's Australian in origin based on its setting and use of the English language.  Summer Daze is patterned after the Scott Adams adventures (in fact, it may use a version of the Adams engine, as the data structures appear very similar) and it opens with a similar introduction:

It's not a difficult game at all -- it only took me a few hours to solve it, though I did cheat a bit by digging into the code to find the last treasure.  The map is small, and simple experimentation suffices to find and solve most of the puzzles.  The object is to find and store five treasures in a "SECRET LOCATION," starting out at MANLY BOAT HARBOUR (presumably the one near Moreton Bay and Stradbroke Island, real-world locations near Brisbane, Australia.)

As always, if you wish to get the most out of a few hours of your own with Summer Daze, I advise you to step away and do so before proceeding here.  I doubt you'll need it, but I'll also provide my walkthrough at the bottom of this post, also available at the CASA Solution Archive.  Beyond that, be forewarned, as there are bound to be...

***** SPOILERS AHEAD! *****

Summer Daze is primarily a seafaring adventure -- land-based locations are limited to the boat harbor and an island with a cave and a supply shop, and the ocean dominates the map.  The waters are navigated in simple N/S/E/W terms, and the boat travels with the player, so there are no port/starboard conventions or sailing accessories to worry about.

Exploring the ocean, we run across the traditional message in a bottle.  A note inside is faded; all we can make out is a portion that reads, "... IN SOUTHERN BAY. SINKING FAST..."  There's also some driftwood floating nearby, which the game tells us is PROBABLY FROM AN ANCIENT WRECK in case the earlier hint didn't quite get through.

To the west of MANLY BOAT HARBOUR, the COAST GUARD CENTRE has plenty of supplies, most of which will come in handy during the adventure: radio transceivers, whiskey, scuba gear, binoculars, fishing tackle, a torch, some flares, and a knife.  We can only carry five items, so some juggling will be necessary, although fortunately the five treasures don't seem to be counted against the inventory limit.

In a cave on the eastern island, Mr. Fripp has implemented some innovative darkness handling -- without a light source, we can make out that we're in a cave, and that there's a sign on the wall, but we can't read it.  This is considerably more naturalistic than the norm -- if we have the torch (which turns out to be, in the British sense, a battery-operated flashlight) in inventory, we can discover that this is the "secret" location where we are to store our treasures.  It's not very secret, really, and possession is nine-tenths of the puzzle here -- we don't even need to LIGHT TORCH, we just have to carry it with us in the cave so we can READ SIGN.

On the island, GO SHOP doesn't actually enter the building, it just yields some descriptive information informing us that the establishment sells outboard fuel and bait, both of which we will need, and that the fishing is good in the northern bay, per the shopkeeper.  There's a little bugginess here -- if we try to BUY BAIT or BUY FUEL with no money in hand, the shopkeeper tells us "SORRY, WE ONLY SELL BAIT AND FUEL."  I bought both items after returning with cash, but never actually needed the extra fuel as far as I could tell.  The game also gets a bit confused by this commercial situation -- we can't GET FUEL if we happen to have dropped it here, where we would normally BUY FUEL. But this isn't a major problem, as our cash holdings are never actually reduced by these transactions -- LOOK MONEY always yields YOU HAVE $ 3.67, no matter how many times we've had to buy bait and fuel.

A clue to one of the treasures is a sign on the southern beach that reads, "PEARLS ARE AT THE CENTRE OF ALL THINGS."  GO BEACH on the island yields a partial message, "LO.... CA...", which I never made sense of; my guess is it's meant to suggest that we should LOCATE or LOOK CAVE, as a hint about the "secret" treasure store.

We can DRINK WHISKEY, and it disappears, raising the question of what exactly we did with the bottle.  This may be a kludge around the other bottle with the message in it -- we can't DROP that BOTTLE once we have picked it up, until we OPEN BOTTLE and GET MESSAGE, but then the message seems to evaporate into thin air.  And as far as I could see, there's no pirate about, hiding these objects deep within a maze or anything.

We do have to do a little fishing, which involves a little parser wrestling -- we can't USE TACKLE or GO FISHING or FISH TACKLE or FISH.  We have to invoke a little positive thinking and CATCH FISH -- yielding I THINK WE'LL NEED SOME BAIT! if we have not already purchased some.  We can fish in most locations, even on dry land, and in most cases learn that WE'VE FISHED FOR ONE HOUR AND CAUGHT NOTHING!  But if we fish in the LIGHT SWELL ocean location, we can catch a LARGE FISH, and OPEN FISH (with the knife) to find a *DIAMOND RING*.  We have to explicitly GET RING, after which OPEN FISH still tells us there's a ring inside, but we can no longer take it.

We need to carry the SCUBA GEAR in order to GO REEF and reach the SIGHT [sic] OF AN OLD WRECKLOOK WRECK discovers a treasure chest, half buried in the sand; we need the knife in hand to OPEN CHEST, where we discover two treasures at once, the *GOLD FISH HOOK* and *GOLD COINS*.

We can also dive in the location with the persistent light drizzle, to discover and open a GIANT CLAM (again with the knife) to find the *PEARL*.  We have to GO BOAT to escape from the reef areas; it's not immediately clear how to exit the reef, as no navigational directions or SWIM commands work.

Some of the intriguing items available onshore don't really come into play.  We can't SHOOT FLARE or IGNITE FLARE, or LIGHT FLARE - we have to attempt to USE FLARE to learn that IT'S NO USE. THEY ARE WET. USELESS.  This is the case even at the start of the game, so we can safely ignore the flares.

In trying to track down the final treasure, I opened up the binary code and discovered a location named Storeroom, can't get here; my guess is that this is where items not currently in play are kept.  My surreptitious investigation revealed that, somewhere in the game, there's an *OLD SEXTANT* lying in the mud.  I went back into the game to track it down -- the mud is casually mentioned in the shipwreck's description, and LOOK MUD reveals the well-hidden treasure number five.

Delivering the treasures to the "secret" cave, victory is ours in short order!

Sometimes a quick, easy little adventure is exactly what's needed (especially with a self-imposed weekly blog deadline to meet!)  Summer Daze certainly qualifies -- it's straightforward, non-aggravating and brief.

***** WALKTHROUGH *****

E, E, E
E, E
W, N, W, W
S, S, E
E, N, E, N
SCORE (victory!)

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