Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Adventure of the Week: Legacy (1984)

I've only recently started to look at the Apple Macintosh platform, thanks to a reader's encouragement.  Eventually the Mac and PC software scenes converged, but when the Mac was the only consumer point-and-click system on the market, it hosted some unique adventure games.  This week, I'm taking a look at Challenger Software's 1984 adventure, Legacy.  It was a team project -- games were getting more complicated now that more sophisticated graphics were possible, and the artists corral the Mac's monochrome pixels into some highly detailed artwork.  Rather than trying to list all the authors, I'll just show you the credits popup:


The manual informs us that we are a young magician seeking to recover a mystical orb, in the standard adventure game tradition.  The game's authors were reportedly high school students, and while the text occasionally sounds derivative, it's still evocative, and location names are fresh and poetic; it's nice to wander through Scattering Leaves and Burning Hickory rather than endless rooms of Forest.  The puzzles are straightforward, as long as we have the spellbook containing a few key details, but there are a few red herrings so fleshed out that they're quite capable of leading the player down the wrong path for a while.

Technically the game has a few shortcomings, chiefly that the illustrations are apparently uncompressed, and while the map is fairly compact the game takes up two disks, requiring frequent swapping for the east and west sides of the map.  This wouldn't be so bad, except that each disk stores an independent save file, so if we want to return to a save from the other side of the map, we have to find our way there before we can resume.  The parser is fairly sophisticated but occasionally interrupts the story's flow, and there are a few holes in the logic where the designers didn't anticipate the player's actions.

Once again I suggest that interested readers explore the world of Legacy before continuing below; I will be divulging everything I discovered about this adventure, and as I found no published walkthroughs online, mine will be provided at the bottom.  So take heed, brave adventurer -- there will be...

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

We begin in the forest, where scattering leaves blow about and there's nothing obvious to do.  Heading to the west and crossing the rickety, one-way bridge over the Misty River calls for Disk Two, so perhaps we shouldn't go there just yet.  Still, there's not much to do where we are, in the woods -- we see some very nice graphics and lush descriptions, but it's a bit... touristy.  There are no immediate signs of humor or danger.

So we cross the Misty River, transitioning to Disk Two, and examine a log lying across the path.  A large tree at the end of a path looks to be the only interesting thing we've encountered so far -- EXAMINE TREE reveals a rope ladder hanging down its opposite side.  We can climb up to a wooden platform, and easily OPEN the ironbound oaken DOOR.  And now we can't ENTER DOOR or GO DOOR or navigate in?  Ah, we must simply ENTER.  (ENTER is treated as a direction more than an action on something, at least in this situation; when we're near the cave, a simple ENTER yields You must supply a noun.)

Inside the treehouse we find some potentially useful items -- an old book, a lamp, a splintered broom, some old garments, a large dusty trunk and a bed.  Trying to take some of the useless old stuff reveals something about our character -- Certainly a magician of your prominence doesn't need to be carrying around... whatever non-portable item we were trying to pick up.  We do find a coin in some old overalls, though I never found a use for it; I think it's an intentional red herring.

There's no SAVE or SAVE GAME command -- we have to use the Mac's File menu per Apple's GUI standards.  This makes sense, but it's annoying that the same goes for INVENTORY, with an Inventory menu that lists the items in our possession even though clicking on them does nothing; some of these point-and-click experiments justifiably did not survive.  The parser also appears to give a few details away -- attempting to SWEEP DUST with the broom yields You can't sweep the diamond dust with your bare hands!, and READ BOOK produces You must specify which book you mean, even though there's only one present at the moment.  But the confusion is understandable -- we already have a spellbook in our inventory, and a container filled with diamond dust if we examine it closely.  OPEN THE OLD BOOK yields You can't open that, but READ THE OLD BOOK works, even though it's written in a language we don't understand.  We can't read our spellbook in-game, but must reference the documentation, where detailed backstories and casting instructions fill out the game world's mythology a bit (and provide yet more red herrings, in the form of promising spells that are not actually implemented in the game.)

We can't GET LAMP in the treehouse.  We can EXTINGUISH THE LAMP, though that doesn't seem like a good idea as we have no way to relight it.  We can still EXIT, fumbling our way out, but if we go back into the dark treehouse, we somehow regain vision momentarily, enough so that again You see some old garments and an old book here.  This kind of gives away which items are important and which are just window dressing.

I managed to crash the game (or at least the Mini VMac emulator) by taking the old book in the darkness where I knew it was even though I couldn't see it, so I started over and stayed on Disk 1 for a while.  A cave to the south is the origin of the Misty River, and the parser informs us that it cannot be entered except by following the river; this led me down the wrong path for quite a while later on.

A battle axe is embedded in the bark of a tree, so ingrown that we can't retrieve it.  Maybe we can use our spellbook here -- it looks like the Mandukaal spell will do the trick, reverting the tree to the acorn stage.  The spells are fairly complicated, which is kind of nice as it makes the physical spellbook seem like more than copy protection.  We have to make a triangle around the base of the tree using fine white powder made from crystallized sap, then place three silver acorns at the vertices of the triangle.  And then say "Entragon."  Hmmm.

Back on the west side of the river -- the bridge disintegrates as we cross -- an ominous gray cottage is also decaying.  It contains a crushed barrel and a charred shovel, both burned beyond use, and oddly there is a fire in its fireplace. We can't put it out, so it must be magical in nature.

So what next?  Well, the map at this point is pretty constrained, so let's go through our inventory.  We have an ivory vial containing -- ah, crystallized tree sap powder.  Good.  So we just need to find some acorns.  We also have a pouch containing some fish scales, a glass bottle with ointment, and a sack containing diamond dust.  Most of these seem to be ingredients for our spells, so it looks like we will probably have to gather others in the right order and end up casting all of them to finish this adventure, though that's not really true.

At the top of some stairs, we see that there are apparently good trees and evil trees in this land, and they line up right along the border of Frimlock Forest and Sechryll Forest.  Nature vs. nurture?  There's a grassy clearing to the east, but there's no DIG verb so I'm not sure what we are going to do here.  Sitting on a log briefly notes that the roar of the wind in the trees is strangely reminiscent of the crashing waves of the ocean.  Is that significant or just descriptive?

Looking at our collection of spells, we have Lacrhymith, for levitating large inorganic objects, and Zuryll, which changes non-living objects to dust.  Flameir makes the caster invulnerable to flame and heat.  Most of these -- all of them, actually -- require some ingredients we don't have, but we can still examine the possibilities.  Flameir requires an ointment -- is it the one in the glass bottle?  We can't OPEN THE BOTTLE to check -- You can't open that -- nor can we USE OINTMENT or SPREAD OINTMENT.  The spellbook says we have to put it on our hands, feet and forehead, in that order, but how?  We can try to PUT OINTMENT ON HANDS and PUT HANDS IN OINTMENT -- both yield You can't do that with your hands.  Oh, well -- we also need a lump of fireclay, which has spent thirteen days in a Minathian lamp, and that's nowhere in sight.

Except -- is that a Minathian lamp in the treehouse?  I don't know yet, but going back there and trying to TAKE THE TRUNK moves it, revealing a hole with a gold coin stamped with the name Crun Drasmoor.  We can't TAKE COIN, we have to TAKE CRUN DRASMOOR.  When we try to climb down, we discover that the rope ladder has been moved, but we can CLIMB VINES to descend the tree.  If we examine the tree afterward, we can see that the ladder is no longer hanging from the platform above.  But we can still CLIMB LADDER to return to the treehouse, or even just go UP, even though an attempt to CLIMB TREE indicates there are no branches low enough to climb.

Hmmmm... now we are seeing a slender, surefooted figure creeping about near the rotting log.  We can't examine or talk to it, though.  Taking the broom to the ominous cottage is more productive -- we can SWEEP FLOOR WITH BROOM to discover a trap door.  Entering the cellar, someone slams the trap door closed, and we are, as one might expect, trapped.  There's a well down here, and a lantern hanging nearby that is not mentioned in the description.  Trying to TAKE THE LANTERN is a bad idea, it falls and goes out, leaving us in darkness again.  We can't ENTER THE WELL -- it only lets us stand next to it and note that its waters aren't reflecting anything.  Restoring a save so we have light again, we can EXAMINE THE REFLECTION and see an image of the decrepit cabin's past: a man with a telescope and a fire; then we see a horrible fire break out.  A molten monster leaps out of the well -- and terrified, we run up the stairs, through the trap door cartoon-style -- all on autopilot -- and find ourselves in a different cottage than before.  Well, it's the same cottage, but as it was before the fire.  And here we find an intact barrel, a strong shovel, a box, and the man and his telescope.  The box contains two large sea shells, needed for the water-crossing spell Zythrimnos.  But before we can act, the molten monster shows up:

And now the Mac is beeping and Time is running out as the man is killed by the fire creature and the cabin begins to collapse.  We only have time to take three objects, as going for a fourth is fatal.  The telescope turns out to be broken, having been dropped, so we should take the box, shovel and intact barrel, probably.  What's in the barrel?  We can't seem to OPEN or BREAK it.
When we EXIT to escape the nightmare from the past, we find ourselves in the cellar again.  Can we escape this location via the well?  No, it's gone black; but we can just go UP again to enter the present-day decaying cabin.  If we go back D, we're told that someone slams the trap door again, but we need only go U again, we're not actually stuck.  The designers apparently never anticipated unnecessary return trips.  EXIT in the cottage of the past goes to the cellar, while EXIT in the present day goes back outside.

It's not clear why we need the shovel, as the parser does not understand the DIG or USE SHOVEL.  All we have gained, it seems, is the ability to cross the river after the bridge was broken when we came over earlier.  Following the spellbook's instructions, we OPEN BOX, THROW SCALES ON WATER (THROW SCALES is not acknowledged by the parser in any way), HOLD SHELL, and SAY ELYSORR.  Now we can just go E (and insert Disk 1 again).  We still have some fish scales in inventory, but we're down to one white shell, so I hope we don't need to do this too often.

So now what?  Are we any closer to casting another spell?  SWIMming in the river is fatal.  We can try the tree spell -- we can successfully MAKE TRIANGLE WITH POWDER... but can't ENTER TRIANGLE yet because the game recognizes that our preparation is not complete.  We still need acorns from a Black Nemesis tree, and a thorough examination of all the trees we can get to doesn't help us with that.

Can we translate the old book?  Do something with Crun Drasmoor?  Figure out why we hear the ocean when we sit on the log? Or open the barrel?  We can't DROP BARREL or THROW BARREL from the tree (THROW is treated as DROP.)  Seems like we might be able to SHOVEL (something) -- it works as a verb and needs a noun?  No, the parser is just saying that I'm trying to use a noun as a verb (Illegal noun usage.) 

The manual mentions that we should look for clues in the illustrations.  There are definitely items that the text does not mention, but sometimes it's hard to tell what an illustration is illustrating.  We can't CLIMB THE HILL by the cave; we slip, fall into the river and drown.

Okay.  It seems like the fire protection spell and the fireplace ought to work together somehow.  But there's no fireclay in the game?  Or -- time to cheat by poking at the parser -- recognition of the associated magic word HENKEL?  Nor MANAT, nor ALSOV -- it seems most of the spells in the book are red herrings, where we have one of the ingredients as the game begins but the second is not actually available (perhaps due to overambitious design?)  The tree-to-acorn spell Mandukaal is workable, and has an obvious application.  So we need to find the silver acorns, that's the only other spell that's truly available.

I had to cheat by peeking at the unencrypted game text to learn that the acorns appear to be hidden in a cavern somewhere.  Some other material suggests that the intact barrel is not actually sealed, it just isn't crushed -- we can get into it.  Maybe we can use the barrel to travel in the river -- holding it and jumping in isn't sufficient, but can we GET IN THE BARREL?  No.  CLIMB BARREL?  No.  ENTER THE BARREL works.

Entering on the west side of the river sends us rapidly around a bend, where the barrel capsizes and we drown.  This seems to happen no matter where we launch the barrel.  Do we need to hang on somehow?  Can we use the shovel as an oar?  Not that I can see.  This probably won't work anyway, as the river is flowing OUT of the cave, not into it.  Time to look at other ideas.

The unidentified thing in the Large Grassy Clearing that I took to be a haystack or a grave or a small garden-sized patch of dirt is actually... a rock.  We can PRY ROCK WITH SHOVEL to reveal a hole (although the graphics actually cause the hole to appear to the right of the unmoving rock, creating the impression we have been digging the hole instead.)  We need a rope ladder to climb down, dang it, and it's already been stolen, double dang it.

This is a puzzle of its own -- we can't TAKE LADDER from the treehouse platform, as it is securely tied to two pegs on the platform.  If we UNTIE LADDER, it drops to the ground and the thief makes off with it -- he must be the mysterious figure we can't otherwise interact with.  We have to PULL THE LADDER UP to keep it.

Now we can enter the hole below the rock and find the Room of the Black Nemesis, to collect the acorns we need for the axe-freeing spell.  We just SHAKE THE TREE to free up the three shimmering silver acorns we need.

North of the Black Nemesis we find the traditional Stygian Boatman (here called a Boatsman), who wants Crun Drasmoor and will transport us to the Sechryll Forest if we give it to him.  We can also just climb back up the rope ladder, but we should see where the apparition takes us... he refers to us by name, Dagon Bathraal, in case we haven't read the manual.  On our way back to Disk 1 territory, we see two large looming claws threatening the fragile boat... and then it destroys it.  Is this another red herring or do we need to deal with the creature somehow?

Let's just take the acorns and run for now.  We can MAKE TRIANGLE WITH POWDER, PUT ACORNS ON TRIANGLE, ENTER TRIANGLE, and SAY ENTRAGON to reduce the tree to an acorn.  Now we can obtain the massive battle axe.  Can we CHOP TREES to clear the way?  No, despite the many directions which are blocked by growth, we are told that, Being good, you can't kill the trees.

So now what?  It seems that we still have some fish scales left -- I thought the first use consumed them, but we do have more scales and a shell left over so we can use the water-walking spell one more time to go back across.  Maybe now we can use the axe somewhere. Yes, we can CHOP CLAWS WITH AXE to get safely to Sechryll Forest with the Boatsman.

We are now approaching The Drab Castle -- Roberta Williams would never stand for such lame coloration! -- and destiny urges us forward, making our next few moves a one-way trip to the castle gates.  We can open them and enter to find the Room of the Orb, presumed object of our quest.  It lies on a red velvet pillow.  (The prose is particulary purple here, with graceful yet surly lines carved into the patterns on the walls as the young authors struggle to create a sense of beauty and foreboding all at the same time.)

What now?  It won't be as simple as taking the orb... oh, wait actually, we can just TAKE THE ORB, but if we try to EXIT we are prevented from doing so, as our quest is somehow incomplete: To turn back now would be a foolish decision that you would regret for the rest of your days.  We must EXAMINE ORB to see a vision of a black magician -- and a white one -- two versions of the Wizard Arkimar.  He looks very much like Gandalf -- we've briefly seen him before, muttering in despair whenever we die.

The finale presents a moral conundrum -- we are told that an evil being's soul is trapped in the orb; if we give it to the white Arkimar, he will destroy it; the black Arkimar will not, and suggests that this is the greater good.  I'm not one for moral absolutism, but I follow the lessons of Star Wars and give it to the white Arkimar.  This proves to be a bad choice... but so is giving it to the black Arkimar, apparently.

If we opt not to make a decision and just KEEP THE ORB, the two figures coalesce into one and congratulate us for our moral fortitude, though it feels more like good old-fashioned indecisiveness.  And now we do actually give it to Arkimar to claim the reward of apprenticeship under his magical hands.  As it turns out, there wasn't much at stake here, really -- just a test of our hero's resourcefulness.  But the game is over, ending at last in victory!

Legacy never saw a sequel, and its young authors apparently went on to other pursuits.  But it's not a bad little adventure, and some of the illustrations are very attractive.  My solution is available at the CASA Solution Archive, and is also available below the fold.


W, W, W (insert disk two)
S, S
N, N, N, N
EXAMINE REFLECTION (monster forces us upstairs)
EXAMINE MAN (may have to repeat until the monster gets upstairs)
EXIT (to the cellar)
EXIT (outdoors)
S, S, S
E, U, E

W, D, W, N

E (insert disk one again)
E, E, N

SAY ENTRAGON (tree is reduced to an acorn)
S, W, W


S, E, U, E
D, N
CLIMB ABOARD (two giant claws loom from behind)
CHOP CLAWS WITH AXE (we arrive safely at a dock)

N, N (to gateway of Drab Castle)
EXAMINE ORB (two wizards appear)
KEEP THE ORB (they coalesce into one)


  1. Thanks for this walkthrough. This was one of the first games I played and it frustrated the life out of me! Never got far at all. I wondered if it was just broken or I was incompetent... Now I know ;-)

  2. I can't really say much about my own competence, as I did have to peek at the game text to get a clue. But while elements of the game are a little bit buggy, the game isn't broken overall; it can be completed.