Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Adventure of the Week: Nuclear Submarine (1980/2013)

I'm continuing a recent trend this week, by playing Roger M. Wilcox's fourth fifth adventure game, only recently restored and converted to Windows.  (Interstellar War, which I recently covered, was actually the ninth in this series, not the fourth as reported at the time.)  These straightforward adventures were written mostly for the amusement of Mr. Wilcox and his friends, but they're entertaining examples of the early text adventure, starting life on the TRS-80 circa 1980 and ported to Windows in recent years.  And with this latest conversion, he's updated his Windows code so we can now load a saved game without having to restart the executable!  Much appreciated, Roger.

Interested readers are encouraged to check out this series, freely available at the author's site.  Beyond this point, there are certain to be...

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

We begin in a Nuclear Submarine (naturally) with a closed hatch on the floor that, oddly enough, requires a key for opening.  An airlock chamber to the east (there is no port or starboard directional navigation implemented on this sub) contains a copper key and a red button.

The copper key, surprisingly, opens the hatch, allowing access to the Score Room where the sailors bring any hot manatees they happen to pick up... oh, no, it's actually the traditional drop treasures and say SCORE area.  There are 6 treasures to pick up, making this game a more traditional treasure hunt than I was expecting given the setting.  We can also acquire some scuba gear and a spear gun here.

The engine room contains an empty reactor with a Start button that does nothing at the moment.  We'll have to get our hands dirty with some nuclear fuel, it appears.  Actually, we probably shouldn't use our hands, but we'll see how the story develops.

PUSHing the red BUTTON in the airlock chamber without wearing the scuba gear first proves immediately fatal.  With proper gear, we can enter an underwater area that conforms to traditional adventure game navigational conventions.

Below the airlock we encounter a nicely gender-neutral =Person-eating shark= that will not let you pass! but is otherwise politely refraining from eating our person, giving us time to SHOOT SHARK with the spear gun.  There's an underwater treasure room below, with an * Imitation treasure chest * that nevertheless counts as a treasure.

There's also a cave with a pressurized air room containing a wall mirror and a curtain of darkness.  We can BREAK MIRROR -- With what? (the prompt appearing in a popup window) -- GUN, creating a new hole to the north that lets us pick up a lit lamp.

Now we can GO DARKNESS to find ourselves in the first dark room, where a * Simulated diamond necklace * sparkles.  An enchanted room to the west contains a Blaster wand.  This comes in handy in the Big Room where there's a Cave in on the ceiling (Lionel Richie would perfect this concept some five years later.)  We can WAVE WAND and it disintegrates the cave-in, allowing us to travel upward.

The Room of Valuable Weaponry above the Big Room contains a * Plastic dagger *, also a treasure though its antiquity is in serious question if you ask me.  East of here is the Room of "Spring" with a trampoline that proves quite portable.

If we try to JUMP TRAMPOLINE in the cliff room, You're smashed to bits from the fall! You're dead!  So that's not good.  We can DROP TRAMPOLINE and then JUMP, which produces the same result, but if we THROW TRAMPOLINE instead, it drops off the cliff's edge.  We now land safely on the trampoline below if we JUMP.

Here at the bottom of the cliff is a small shut oyster which can't be moved.  The "Tehran" room to the east contains an * Iranian rug *.  To the west is a rusted gateway -- the copper key apparently fits it, but it's rusted shut and the blaster wand does nothing to help with that.

We can SEARCH in any room, but the only place where that seems productive is in the Tehran room, where we find a passage going east to a Secret Room containing a Can of None-In-1 Oil.  We can now OIL GATE and OPEN GATE to reach the Treasure Room, with a * Collection of counterfeit coins * and a Curtain of light leading to a twisty cave maze, to be mapped in the traditional fashion.

The maze contains a Piece of radioactive plutonium, and there are some lead tongs in a dead end room.  If we put the plutonium in the reactor (an action presumably requiring the tongs, I didn't try to pick up the plutonium without them) and PUSH BUTTON, the submarine starts and leaves!  We don't have to have collected all of the treasures, even.

But we should try to do this right, so we can take the * Plastic dagger * to the oyster and use it to OPEN OYSTER.  A * Cultured pearl * pops out and rolls to the west, where it can easily be collected.

With 6 treasures in hand, we fire up the sub's reactor, and victory is satisfyingly ours!

That's the end of this one -- none of Wilcox's adventures I've played to date are particularly difficult, but this one didn't require me to dig into the code to work out any puzzles, so either the author's style was developing, or I'm getting more used to it.  I have to go back and play his actual fourth adventure, Space Traveller, now that the numbering is straightened out.


  1. You'll notice that all of the "treasures" in this adventure are items that really aren't that valuable. An imitation treasure chest, counterfeit coins, a cultured pearl, a plastic dagger, a simulated diamond necklace, and an Iranian (rather than Persian) rug at a time when the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979-80 was still going on.

    I re-used this notion of cheap treasures, with a vengeance, in my later adventure _Trash Island_.

  2. This was a fun but easy game, until the last "puzzle." I had to look into the code to figure out you have to Insert Plutonium into the reactor. I must have tried every verb but that.