Regular readers will notice that my posting has been considerably less frequent lately -- real life and other projects have been intruding on my gaming and blogging time. I've been cheating a bit to keep these Adventure of the Week posts going semi-regularly, by focusing on shorter, simpler adventure games from the early TRS-80 era.
This week's post ends up being an even quicker piece of work than I thought it would be -- I ran across a game named Deserted Island in the online archives, credited by at least one source to a Thomas Ally. This name does not appear within the code at all, so I don't necessarily want to blame Mr. Ally for the mis-attribution or outright theft in evidence here.
Deserted Island starts out in a familiar but presumably unique manner, with the player aboard a defunct motor boat, anchored near a mysterious Pacific island. Island escape adventures are certainly nothing new, and many games have used this same basic premise to launch the story:
I'd like to say I spotted the ancestral resemblance immediately, but I set about mapping the game and solving the puzzles in the usual manner. I was about 45 minutes into the adventure when I started to have the nagging feeling that I'd encountered the same map, items and puzzles before. And I had -- I'd already written about this game back in 2010, as Lost Island / Lost on the Great Barrier Reef! That game was published as a type-in in 80 Micro magazine, so the version I played had some typos and bugs. But there's little doubt that this version stems from the same code -- here's the first interactive screen from that game:
The intellectual theft seems to be intentional, or, more charitably, the work of a lazy typist, as very little has been changed. Basically, Lost Island has been renamed to Deserted Island, some text has been shortened, and different typos have been introduced (though both versions contain the misspelling SMITHERINES). Most telling, perhaps, is the fact that the Deserted Island code has removed this critical title and credits screen from the original game:
Since writing about Lost Island, I have heard from original co-author Tom Johnstone, who confirmed its origins. Once I realized where this game came from, I decided not to bother playing it to completion -- though in trying to confirm that the code had been little changed, I ran into a different crash bug I didn't run into in the more accurate version:
At least I've crossed Deserted Island off my to-play list, and would advise others to do the same. How this version originated and survived remains a mystery -- did someone steal and rename the game in to try to impress his or her friends with mad adventure writing skillz? Or were the omissions made simply to reduce the amount of typing required? Only the typist knows for sure.