This week, we're tackling Bruce G. Hansen's TRS-80 game, Burglar's Adventure -- no year is cited, but I believe this game was published in 1981 along with Hansen's Adventure System, an editor reverse-engineered from the Scott Adams adventure game engine. The distribution I found online actually includes the Scott Adams engine; legal niceties like licensing were not always recognized back in these early years of computer gaming, though I don't know whether Hansen sought Adams' permission in this specific case. At any rate, it's always fun to play another adventure in this early, classic style.
The story concerns the player, a burglar who's rather more ambitious than the norm as he or she sets out to steal five major treasures from a remarkably poorly-guarded museum. It's a treasure hunt game, but the puzzles have more to do with stealth, cleverness and evading detection by museum security than most adventure games in this vein.
I always encourage interested readers to play these games independently. This one's fairly straightforward, with few red herrings or unused items, although one puzzle solution is clearly not realistic. Beyond this point, there are comprehensive...
**** SPOILERS AHEAD! ****
We start out someplace where Its [sic] too dark to see! -- fortunately our INVENTORY contains a Flashlight, as if we try to move anywhere at all we're very likely to fall and break our neck, per long-standing Scott Adams tradition. Thanks to the way the engine is implemented, we do get a brief initial glimpse of the starting location just before the display shifts to the "dark" message. But it's not necessary -- though of course, we can't TURN ON FLASHLIGHT but must LIGHT FLASHLIGHT.
Now we can clearly see that we're on a street with a car and a museum, in the traditional minimalist style of these early adventures. EXAMINE reveals nothing special about the car, and all we learn about the museum is that it's an ivy-covered building and the front door is locked. There's no place else to go, so given these salient details, CLIMB IVY seems like a good thing to do. This leads to a window sill, with a conveniently open window that leads into the museum proper.
The museum has a bathroom with a mirror and a toilet. GO TOILET yields Ah! That felt good! but has no practical outcome. LOOK MIRROR produces Boy am I good looking! The flashlight reflection hurts my eyes! Turning off the flashlight doesn't reveal anything new in this area, though; this is just a nice bit of detail (and a clue for a puzzle later on.)
There's a Sleeping guard in the museum's main corridor -- he seems to be the only person on duty, making our job rather easier than it might have been. If we LOOK GUARD, we find a note but the guard wakes up. We can READ NOTE before the guard catches us to learn that "The time lock on the vault opens at 9:00 AM. Remember to turn off the security system before entering the RED corridor." This is likely an important clue. But once we wake the guard, eventually he gives chase -- and if he catches us, then the game ends with the player thrown in jail.
The museum contains several displays of questionable curatorial provenance. The Lumberjack Display features a chainsaw and some trees. We can try to CLIMB TREE, but we slide back down, in an unusual break from tradition. A South of the Border display provides us with some Dough & beans. And an Old West Display features a Cowboy, an Indian, and some Sticks; examining the human figures discovers a Larriet [sic], a Bow & arrow and a Tomahawk. The manager's office down the eastern hallway is locked; we can try to SAW DOOR with the chainsaw, but The saw isn't running, and START SAW confirms that I have no fuel.
The coat rack in the central museum corridor contains an Umbrella, and a Clock nearby tells the time in hours and minutes. One minute passes per turn, so we suspect that we must need to get everything done before the vault opens at 9:00 AM. We can only carry five items in inventory, though, so we'll have to be purposeful in our selections.
We've explored all of the currently available map, so it's time to experiment a little. The bathroom mirror is portable, as it turns out, so perhaps we can put it somewhere else to reflect light. We can RUB STICKS to create a fairly short-lived Fire, and then COOK DOUGH to (somehow) make Burritos. Huh. THROW LARRIET just drops it. We can't KILL GUARD or feed him a burrito.
Entering the Red Corridor sets off an alarm, as expected, waking the guard. But we are given some time to explore the rest of this small and oddly haphazard museum before we are caught. There's a *Picasso painting* in the Art Gallery, a Block of ice in the Ice Age display, and a Glass case containing a mannequin of Cleopatra in the Egyptian Display.
I tried to see if I could grab the painting and flee -- but my inventory was full, and when I decided to DROP MIRROR to make room I conveniently learned that The mirror reflected the light beam! So that can be used to suppress the painting-specific alarm, making for one treasure we can steal without being caught. This discovery likely foreshadows a trend in this Burglar's Adventure.
We can see something in the block of ice, but lighting the fire in the Ice Age room doesn't melt it at all. If we have the tomahawk, though, we can BREAK ICE to reveal a Mastodon, with *Ivory tusks* available upon further examination.
But all this treasure finding does us no good if the guard has been alerted, so we need to go back and figure out how to enter the Red Corridor without setting off the alarm. We can TIE LARRIET - TO WHAT? - TO ARROW to attach it to the bow and arrow. Then we can SHOOT ARROW to get it stuck in the RED Corridor's wall over there! Finally, in a more complicated puzzle than usual for this generation of adventure technology, we can further TIE LARRIET / TO RACK to create a Taut rope stretching through Red Corridor. Hopefully the elevation will allow us to bypass the security -- and yes, if we now CLIMB ROPE instead of entering the red corridor directly, we don't set off the alarm.
Now to deal with Cleopatra and her glass case. I got stuck here briefly because the noun CASE is recognized for many purposes -- like EXAMINE CASE -- but BREAK CASE does not work, while BREAK GLASS does. The Cleopatra mannequin is wearing a *Golden Tiara*, but of course the sound of breaking glass wakes up the guard. CUT GLASS yields the usual suggestive but non-committal I can't do that...yet! We also can't WEAR TIARA and POSE, in the hope that the guard might be nearly blind. So we will need to work on this puzzle some more, after a pre-alarm restore.
Ah -- we need to be carrying the umbrella to safely climb the rope, otherwise it may happen that I lost my balance and fell!, once again setting off the alarm. This suggests that Mr. Hansen pictured this as more of a tightrope walk than a horizontal hand-over-hand climb, as I was picturing it.
So what's left for us to experiment with? There's the chainsaw... can we get fuel from the car parked outside the museum? The parser doesn't recognize SIPHON GAS, FILL CHAINSAW, or FUEL CHAINSAW, and the game's dictionary doesn't seem to know what a TANK or GAS or FUEL is either. But aha -- and yes, this is a bit of a stretch even for an adventure game -- we can EAT BURRITOS, and then... yes... wait a while until I don't feel very good. I think I have GAS. Now, overlooking the scenario's implausibility mostly because I don't even want to think about how this could be made to work, we can START CHAINSAW, and while it can't CUT GLASS in the Cleopatra exhibit, it can SAW DOOR to get us into the Manager's Office where the locked vault sits. We can also CUT TREE in the Lumberjack exhibit, but don't seem to gain anything from doing so. We can try to SAW DOOR outside the museum, but it remains locked; this appears to be a bug, some parser confusion of this resolutely indestructible door with the breachable door inside.
At 9:00 AM, just as promised, the vault automatically opens. Inside are the * Hope diamond * and a * Ruby necklace *; we've got quite a haul so far, except that we still don't know where to store these things so that they will be officially recognized by the SCORE command.
Another bug I ran into -- a common one in adventure games -- is that after we've strung up the rope through the Red Corridor, LOOK COWBOY and LOOK INDIAN resurrect the original form of the Larriet, Tomahawk, and Bow & arrow in their original location. This doesn't seem to break anything or shortcut any puzzles, though; just one of those little bugs that tends to escape playtesting.
What else can we try? Well, we can HIT GUARD to knock him out, giving us access to the note we saw earlier without getting ourselves thrown in jail. And now that he's knocked out, maybe we can freely smash the glass case... except that even if he's knocked out instead of just sleeping, he shakes it off and wakes up. And it's impossible to HIT GUARD again when he's awake -- he always catches us and puts us in jail.
What about starting the car so we can make a clean getaway? There are no keys as such in the dictionary -- but we can HOTWIRE CAR to get it started, with no specific objects required. DRIVE CAR takes us to the Edge of a forest, where we find our hideout, a Shack with the traditional "Leave *TREASURES* here" sign prominently displayed. Dropping two treasures here yields 40 of a possible 100 points, so it looks like we will need to stash all 5 treasures we have discovered so far, without getting caught. We also learn that after this initial drive to the hideout, the car now appears to be broken down. So we'd better have all five treasures on hand before we try to drive anywhere.
Can we just make a run for it with * Cleopatra's Tiara *, after rounding up the other treasures? No -- while we can give it a good try, the guard always seems to catch up with us before we can DRIVE CAR, even if we've left the engine running. And we can't CLOSE WINDOW on our way back out of the museum to slow him down at all.
Turning off the flashlight for additional stealth doesn't seem to help either. But of course I've overlooked the obvious solution here -- once we have the * Hope diamond * from the vault we can CUT GLASS. This allows us to open Cleopatra's glass case without breaking the glass and alerting the guard, so we can escape with all five treasures, leaving the guard blissfully asleep or knocked out before he wakes up and finds himself suddenly unemployed.
With all five treasures stashed, victory is ours -- though with the flashlight running out at the end of my first successful attempt, I just barely made it in time!
Burglar's Adventure is a pretty straightforward vintage adventure, but it's not badly done -- the puzzles make sense and it's a pleasant journey. The only big problem is that, once we've figured out most of the puzzles and know what we're doing, we may have to wait an awfully long time for the vault to open at 9 AM; there's no WAIT command to speed up the process, and typing INV or LOOK or even I up to 240 times between 5 AM and 9 AM on the game clock quickly becomes painful.
Bruce Hansen wrote at least a few of these games, primarily to demonstrate his editor; this one was a nice quick play, so I will try to track down more of his work in the future. My walkthrough is below the fold and will also be made available at the CASA Solution Archive.
***** WALKTHROUGH *****
TIE LARRIET (to what?)
SHOOT ARROW (embedded in far wall)
(LOOK or INV -- wait until we "have gas" from the burrito)
HIT GUARD (he's knocked out)
READ NOTE (vault opens at 9 AM)
LOOK CLOCK (see what time it is -- should be around 5 AM)
(LOOK or INV again -- wait until the vault opens, this takes a LONG while!)
S, W, W