Here's another one of the young and prolific Greg Hassett's text adventures for the TRS-80 Model I computer -- on a reader's recommendation, we're playing Curse of the Sasquatch, published in 1980. There's no publisher cited on the title screen, but the address given is the same Chelmsford, Massachusetts P.O. box used by previous Hassett publishers Mad Hatter Software and Adventure-World, so presumably this one was handled by the same entity.
The game begins in a small shack in Alaska, strewn with traditional adventuring items, and our objective isn't initially clear, which is kind of refreshing. As always, I urge interested readers to try to dispel the Curse of the Sasquatch independently before proceeding here, although I will warn you that I was not able to get the SAVE and RESTORE to work using the TRS32 emulator, so I just had to restart any time I died, and was glad this game is written in speedy machine language. For history's sake, I will be documenting the game's nooks and crannies as thoroughly as I can, which means there will doubtless be...
****** SQUATCHY SPOILERS AHEAD! ******
I like this title screen's nod to the "puppet" metaphor often used to explain the adventure game concept in the genre's early years, as the player prepares to RISK YOUR (AND MY) LIFE. The game is dedicated to Dan, Dick, and Frank, presumably friends or relatives of Mr. Hassett.
The shack where the player wakes up contains a BEARSKIN RUG, PAINTING, FIREPLACE, and a MOOSEHAEAD [sic] -- yes, Greg Hassett's spelling remains unconventional. We learn that we were carried to this shack by someone or something..., but no further details are provided.
There's an old-school first-move death possible here -- if we go W, we learn that I DIE OF THE SUBZERO COLD immediately. We can see that the shack is numbered 419 before we go, though I never found any other shacks or in-game significance to this number; it's the inverse of the publisher's P.O. box, but I don't think that really means anything either.
Inside the cabin, if we LOOK RUG, the game yields WOW! SOMETHIN' FELL OUT OF THE BEAR'S MOUTH! IT LOOKS REAL WARM! Don't worry, it's not a fresh hairball or remains of the shack's former occupants -- these are apparently two different thoughts: a candle fell out of the bear's mouth, and the RUG looks warm.
Hmmmmm... the painting on the wall is of a Siamese cat named MIMI, reminiscent of a cat statue appearing in another Hassett game, The Devil's Palace! Does RUB MIMI accomplish anything in this one? Apparently not. But GET PAINTING reveals a LOOSE BRICK; unfortunately, we can't GET, MOVE, or PULL it. We can't GET MOOSEHEAD either, as IT BITES ME AS I REACH FOR IT! (?) This made me wonder if the remainder of a live moose is standing outside the cabin, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
We can GO FIREPLACE, however, and discover that there's a keyhole in there. Outside at the base of a mountain is a dead monk. If we LOOK MONK, he disappears, leaving a ZIPPO brand lighter behind. Do monks smoke? Trying to CLIMB MOUNTAIN at this point is fatal - a snowstorm knocks us unconscious, and once again we die of exposure in the sub-zero temperatures.
Back inside the shack, if we PUSH BRICK, the animal regurgitation motif continues as THE MOOSE SAYS: IT'S KINDA CHILLY IN HERE... WHY NOT BUILD A FIRE? AND SPITS SOMETHING OUT. This is a key, hidden right under our noses if we could have found the right verb to use on the loose brick.
Returning to the fireplace now, INSERT KEY does nothing obvious. But TURN KEY causes the fireplace to turn, depositing us on a ledge. This is a one way passage, apparently, a bit of a funhouse pathway similar to the ones in Hassett's other games. On the ledge, if we PULL LEVER, another one-way trip sends us down to a dark cavern where we find a GROWLING TAPE RECORDER and a FLUTE. I spent some time while solving this game collecting various artifacts, like this tape recorder, that seem to point toward a Scooby Doo-style fake Bigfoot, but as it turns out these are just for our information and don't need to be taken or used for anything.
Heading E from this location takes us into yet another TWISTING MAZE OF UNDERGROUND TUNNELS, but fortunately it maps fairly logically, and we just need to find the single successful path through it. "Wrong" moves either loop back to our current location or go back logically to the previous one. Thanks, Mr. Hassett!
A dead end to the south of the previous location has a COIL OF ROPE. But if we try to GET ROPE, we are surprised (or maybe not) to see that THE ROPE MOVES AWAY AS I GET NEAR! Should we try to, I dunno, PLAY FLUTE? Yep. THE ROPE BECOMES STIFF AND CLIMBABLE. So now we can CLIMB ROPE.
The rope takes us to a ledge, and what we really need to do here is obtain a LADDER. But it's fun to climb the ladder first, and visit the ADVENTURE WORKROOM -- it's a nice little meta-joke, with cassettes, mounds of paper, and thousands of broken pencils.
But if we try to GET anything here, a TALL WIZARD APPEARS and WITH A PASS OF HIS BONEY HANDS I VANISH INTO THIN AIR! Game over. No cheating allowed, apparently.
Backtracking to the ledge (we have to come back in from the outside if we've already pulled the lever), if we walk down instead of falling, we enter a dark area where we need to LIGHT CANDLE (and Curse the Sasquatch?) Oddly, A LIFE-SIZE BIGFOOT DOLL is thrown at us for a quick scare; closer examination reveals that the doll is of a female bigfoot, so that will probably play into things somehow. There's a ramp leading back up to the ledge; we can't go UP but we can CLIMB RAMP to go back up, and we can go S from here to a T intersection leading to the unimaginatively named PIT "A" and PIT "B", where a tiger guards an axe, and a cobra guards a tranquilizer gun, respectively.
We can't DROP RUG while mapping the maze or trying to free up inventory, as we instantly DIE OF THE SUBZERO COLD again, no matter where we happen to be. At the end of the maze, a LARGE CAVE EXIT eventually gets us back to the BASE OF MOUNTAIN and the shack. And if we forgot to GET KEY after using it in the fireplace, we are now stuck because we can't get back into the underground areas to finish the game.
How to deal with the TIGER and COBRA? The flute does the expected double-duty; we PLAY FLUTE, and THE SNAKE GOES INTO A TRANCE AND SLITHERS AWAY. Then we can SHOOT TIGER with the tranquilizer gun thus made available and GET AXE. With the AXE, we can CHOP [things], but most yield only I CAN'T CHOP *THAT*!
So I guess we should go looking for something choppable, as it feels like we've explored the map pretty thoroughly. We can't FOLLOW the HUGE FOOTPRINTS at the base of the mountain, but to the game's credit it recognizes the attempt, telling us that THEY ONLY GO FOR A FEW YARDS... THEN THEY STOP.
So now what? We have the growling tape recorder and the female sasquatch doll. Who threw the doll at us? We can't INSERT RECORDER to make the doll more attractive, nor can we STOP or RECORD anything with the device. If we go back to the shack and attempt to BUILD FIRE, we are informed that we need firewood, so we're on the right track there and should probably find some wood to chop.
Curse words (or verbs) produce the response, WATCH YOUR TONGUE, BUDDY. If we PLAY FLUTE in the wrong places, we are usefully told that ABSOLUTELY *NOTHING* HAPPENED.
I was stuck, and with no published walkthrough available, I resorted to digging into the binary image and found this tantalizing phrase: MOST ARE DEAD. WOULD MAKE GOOD FIREWOOD. This led me to explore more thoroughly, and I discovered that on the SNOWY LEDGE at the end of the maze, we can use the ladder (DROP LADDER, then CLIMB LADDER) to reach a THICK FOREST. Here, we can CHOP TREES to get FIREWOOD and a SLIP OF PAPER. (But we can't GET FIREWOOD, we have to GET WOOD.) The slip of paper reads, "THEIR [sic] IS A CURSE PUT ON ALL THOSE WHO SEEK THE SASQUATCH..." But as far as I can tell this purported curse never really comes into play.
There's more territory to explore up here, however. A building to the west has an oil dispenser, some huge wooden feet (more evidence), and a knob in the wall. The THIN, BUDDING FOREST outside is nicely non-cliched, and contains a statue of a woodman holding an axe. To the south is a COBBLESTONE PADIO [sic] with a mailbox. The statue appears to say "ILL ME" -- do we need to oil him somehow, a la The Wizard of Oz? HELP indicates THE STATUE IS MADE OF TIN, which is surprisingly helpful, except for the fact that LOOK STATUE does not tell us this. So yes, oil may be the trick here.
We can TURN KNOB in the building to access underground caverns and passages. A low cave has a barrel of oil; the wine cellar has a bottle of wine; and a room with an elevator takes us to an immaculately kept bedroom with a closet and black marks on the carpet (which call the immaculate qualities of the room description into question.) In the closet, we find a bigfoot costume and a shelf. There doesn't seem to be any way to return from this location, though, so if we are not prepared for the endgame, we will be stuck here.
LOOK SHELF inside the closet establishes that IT LOOKS BIG ENOUGH TO HOLD ME! If we GO SHELF, the game mentions that IT FEELS LIKE I AM BEING MONITORED. WHEN I WHISTLE, THE SHELF SHAKES... Why we are whistling without apparent motivation remains a mystery, but if we explicitly WHISTLE, the shelf vibrates and we fall off. This is meant to be a hint that we should once again PLAY FLUTE, at which point THE SHELF FOLDS DOWN AT AN ANGLE AND I SLIDE OFF.
Now we find ourselves in a MASTER CONTROL ROOM. It appears the "bigfoot" has something to do with oil wells in the area, and there are more black marks on the floor. So a lot of things I initially thought I needed to use to catch a Sasquatch were just evidence of fakery, a cool little skeptical twist.
I wasn't able to figure out what to do here, so I delved into the code again; we can apparently open the roof of the shack by... building the fire, I think? Interesting, but not of much help when we're stuck in the master control room. We can get back to the bedroom, but the elevator we used to get here seems to have completely vanished, the flute and ladder are useless, and despite the feeling we are being watched, SHOW DOLL and SHOW COSTUME in the area don't seem to provoke any interesting responses. HELP in the control room yields DID YOU READ THE NOTE? Is that referring to the curse? No, another peek at the code suggests that it's referring to a note that accompanies a trap. So this is probably where our last stand is meant to be and we should come here last.
Okay - first things first, then. We can go back to the shack and BUILD FIRE with the firewood, we don't need to solve everything in this part of the map right away, and we are free to do as long as we haven't gone to the bedroom yet. With the fire roaring away, the shack's roof opens, and the snowstorm subsides a bit. We can use the ladder to get to the roof, where we find a trap and a note reading:
DROP THIS TRAP AND YOUR BAIT (NOT INCLUDED) WHERE YOU SUSPECT THE SASQUATCH FREQUENTS.
We've already been told that the Sasquatch appears to frequent the Master Control Room, so that seems to make sense. Should we use the female sasquatch doll as bait? There must be some reason for its existence.
Of course, getting back there is now a challenge, as now there is a fire blazing away -- GO FIREPLACE yields, HAR HAR HAR. GO RIGHT INTO THE BLAZING FIRE. IT IS TO LAUGH. We can try to EXTINGUISH FIRE, but I HAVE NO FIRE EXTINGUISHER. Hmmmm. As it turns out, now that the storm has subsided a bit, we can GO MOUNTAIN to reach the snowy ledge directly, without going through the maze again. This is good, but the cave maze is a one-way trip, so if we left anything we need in there we are now stuck. So I had to start over to test my theory that the bigfoot doll would be useful as bait.
Before doing that, I figured I should try to deal with the tin statue. I tried to GET OIL, and was told I should TRY "FILL SOMETHING." So we apparently need something to put it in, and the wine bottle seems appropriate -- but we needn't bother, as attempting to fill it reveals that it already has oil in it. And I wasn't able to find a way to get back from the lower reaches of the map after retrieving the wine bottle -- I tried using the ladder in every possible location, to no avail. Something seems a little unfinished here.
Back to the endgame, then. We can't BAIT TRAP or INSERT DOLL; we just have to DROP TRAP and DROP DOLL, apparently, then leave the room briefly, and return to... abrupt victory!
While we were away for just a second, the trap was sprung, which is kind of anticlimactic. The man masquerading as Bigfoot was selling the oil to the Russians, apparently, in a little bit of 1980 cold war paranoia. And we are never told why the man would have been the least bit interested in the female sasquatch doll, but maybe it gets really lonely in Alaska.
There are several elements here that don't quite resolve -- the tin statue, the oil, the wine bottle full of oil, but no reason to FILL it. There's an oil can mentioned in the code, but I never ran across it. And the code also indicates that the woodsman gives us a clue about using the flute three times, which is kind of unnecessary, as we are able to figure that out on our own with other hints and traditional adventure game behavior. So I'll chalk those up to interesting ideas that never quite got implemented, perhaps due to memory or development time constraints.
There are more Greg Hassett adventures for us to explore -- the precocious young coder was pretty prolific during the three years or so he was active in the industry. This game is listed in the CASA Solution Archive, but there was no published walkthrough available there when I started playing. So here's mine, below the fold.
***** WALKTHROUGH *****
TURN KEY (fireplace spins)
PULL LEVER (fall through floor)
PLAY FLUTE (coil of rope stiffens)
(navigate through maze:)
E, N, D, E, D, E, W, E
D ("BIGFOOT COMES CHARGING AT ME!!!! RELAX...")
E, N, D, E, D, E, W, E
D, D, N
LIGHT FIRE (panel in roof slides open)
READ NOTE (instructions for using trap)
GO MOUNTAIN (storm has subsided, now we can climb to snowy ledge)
D, E, E, D
PLAY FLUTE (shelf folds down, we slide off)
(return to room to find sudden victory!)