Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Adventure of the Week: Space Hunt (1983)

I enjoyed playing Anthony Wood's Quest for Fire a few weeks back, and so this week we're going to tackle his 1983 TRS-80 adventure, Space Hunt (no relation to Space Quest, mind you.)  This one's billed as A MINI-ADVENTURE and NOT FOR SALE -- but we are encouraged to GIVE A COPY TO YOUR FRIENDS.  It may have been created as a demo for Wood's MicroAdventure game development system.

As a later TRS-80 game, this one does support official and aftermarket upper/lowercase modification kits (those were the days, when having a full set of ASCII characters cost extra!), though all items are listed in uppercase.  The game is written in speedy machine language and is only about 6K in size, including the game engine and the text.  And I need a quick playthrough to keep up with things this week, so this seems like a good choice.

This one's pretty straightforward and a good introductory text adventure, so my usual suggestion stands -- be encouraged to go forth and play this one for yourself, if you don't want to have any of the (admittedly brief) experience ruined by the following discussion.  There's a solution by Dorothy available at the CASA Solution Archive, but most adventurers won't need to reference it.  The SAVE and LOAD commands work, using real or emulated disk or tape, but the game is so brief that you may not even need to bother.  And, as always, there will be comprehensive...


We begin in a small room dug into a lunar mountain, with a storage locker and nothing in inventory.  There's a first-move death scenario afoot -- if we try to OPEN LOCKER, then Agghhhh!!! I've been fried by 10,000 volts that was wired to the locker!  Unlike Wood's Quest for Fire, it seems that during our Space Hunt we will not always be able to see danger coming.

An airlock to the east has a red button and an ENTRANCE TO STATION.  If we PRESS BUTTON -- without suitable preparations -- then Aggggg.. the air cycles out and I die!  At least this death is more predictable.  GO ENTRANCE just leads back to the small room, but we have to do this rather than simply going W

In  a small closet to the south we find a space suit, which we learn has a screwdriver in the pocket if we LOOK SUIT.  We have to WEAR SUIT, and now we can GO OUTSIDE through the airlock.

On the lunar plain is a space ship -- it has a control room, with a control board bearing a small calculator type keyboard -- aka a keypad, before that word became common.  We can't TYPE KEYBOARD -- the parser confusedly responds There is not one here! -- or USE anything or START anything.  And while we're exploring the limited dictionary, we may discover that READ is actually a synonym for LOOK in this game.

The ship's engine room is filled with COMPLICATED EQUIPMENT, with an access panel that's screwed down; we can OPEN PANEL with the screwdriver to find a blaster.  (And if we don't have the screwdriver, the game helpfully tells us You are not carrying a screw driver.  So we won't need to improvise a tool here.)  We are, of course, immediately tempted to SHOOT BLASTER, which in the present location yields I don't see anything to shoot here!

We can't shoot the locker either, but with the space suit on, we can OPEN LOCKER -- NASA would be impressed by a space suit that can absorb ten thousand volts.  Inside the locker is a scrap of paper, and READ PAPER yields 3215.

Now we can return to the space ship and TYPE 3215 (not TYPE KEYBOARD) and launch the spaceship, landing in a few hours on a small asteroid.  This explains why the game file is titled ASTEROID.CMD, rather than SPACHUNT.CMD or something, and exiting the ship allows us to explore the giant rock's pitted surface.

There's not much to do here -- we're pretty close to the end of the game -- but there's amusing historical relic -- in this small crater, A sign says: Leave any comments to Anthony Wood on Houston or College Station BBS's.  That's how it was done before the Internet age, and it indicates that Mr. Wood was based in Texas. 

Mr. Wood is having a little fun here -- nearby, Vandals have sprainted "AW was here!" on the gound. [sic]

There's not much else to look at on the asteroid, beyond a big boulder.  But if we do the obvious and SHOOT BOULDER, then The boulder blows up!  Oh nooo... I'm hit by a piece of flying rock. I'm too big of a target! Agggggghhh...  So there is another puzzle to deal with here.  If we LOOK BOULDER, the game notes that There seems to be somthing [sic] under it...   But ROLL BOULDER establishes that it's too heavy, and the dictionary won't let us DIG anywhere.  So what should we do here?  We can't DROP SUIT to reduce our size -- Aggghhhh! I can't breath!! [sic] But we can LIE DOWN to make ourselves a smaller target, and now The boulder disintigrates [sic] nicely.

Down the tunnel formerly concealed by the boulder, we find the treasure room which contains, in uncharacteristically undescriptive fashion, MUCHO CREDITS WORTH OF VALUABLE STUFF.  We can't learn anything new by examining the treasures, but if we GET STUFF then... rather unexpectedly and abruptly... victory is ours!

I was expecting that we would at least have to get the treasure onto the space ship and return to the station, but apparently finding these goodies is sufficient to call it a successful voyage.

That was fun, and fit my schedule this week nicely.  Mr. Wood's remaining games appear to be more substantial, and we'll tackle them in due course.

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