It's Roger M. Wilcox adventure time again, as we tackle the author's sixth game, India Palace, written in 1980 for the TRS-80 and updated to Windows in 2013 following the source code's recent rescue.
Mr. Wilcox warns me of some juvenile not-nicety that takes place in this game, so we'll see what we discover as we go along. Plotwise it's another treasure hunt, though in a fresh setting -- In a small town in India, you have heard about a nearby palace that is deserted and supposedly haunted. It has not been cleared of its treasures, however. That job is yours.
The author has generously made these games freely available at his website, so if you want a quick and entertaining evening's adventuring, I urge you to go grab a copy and play. Beyond this point I will be documenting my playthrough experience in detail, so if you want to discover the world of India Palace for yourself, I encourage you to stop reading here, go forth and do so before returning. Because, as always, there will be...
***** SPOILERS AHEAD! *****
We begin in a valley near the palace, and can open the big wooden door with a simple KNOCK DOOR. But before we go in, let's check out the upper area, where a loaded cannon occupies a ledge above the valley. We FIRE CANNON and It seems to have ruptured part of the palace, though we will not discover the result of the impact until much later (and it's not really obvious even then!)
Entering the palace leads to a foyer with passages leading to other rooms. To the east, a Room with a rocky inscription reads: "Day-oh!" A magic word, perhaps? South of the foyer is a passageway blocked by a stone wall, near the Ancient weapons room where we see a glowing scimitar, which can readily be taken.
West of the foyer, we are at the top of some slippery steps, implying that trying to go down them... yes, You slipped on the steps! You fell & broke your neck! You're dead! So we will need some way to improve our traction.
Or -- after trying this in other areas -- we can SAY DAY-OH at the top of the stairs to be magically transported to Another day-oh room containing a miner's pick. Now we can PICK through the WALL blocking the southbound passage to squeeze through (one way) into the bottom of a mining shaft. Now, however, we're left with a pile of rubble and no obvious exits. KICK RUBBLE and SAY DAY-OH, SEARCH and DIG RUBBLE do us no good. I tried restarting and not firing the cannon at the castle, but that doesn't make any obvious difference here.
Oh! SAY DAY-OH in the inscription room leads us to the Rough room, where we can pick up some mining boots and a * Flying carpet * in the Light-headed place nearby.
We don't have to WEAR BOOTS explicitly -- the parser doesn't recognize the verb -- but if we are carrying them we can safely walk down to the *SCORE* Room. The carpet counts as 16%, so we must need to collect 6 or 7 treasures to win this one.
Now can we use the flying carpet to fly up the shaft? Hmmmm. Apparently not? We can't FLY CARPET or RIDE CARPET or USE CARPET or GO CARPET. But READ CARPET returns, Clap for up, snap for down. We have to be carrying the carpet for this to work, of course.
At the top of the shaft we find another treasure, a * Technological phaser * (as opposed to those natural phasers our ancestors had to gather) which is reportedly set on stun. Can we use it on the wraithlike guard in the guard house next door, who will not let us pass? On Stun it doesn't do anything, but we can SET PHASER and respond to the Stun/Blast popup with the Blast radio button. Even then, we can't SHOOT GUARD -- it's not effective against immaterial wraiths, apparently. But we can KILL GUARD -- Using what? -- SCIMITAR to dispatch it the old-fashioned way.
Past the guard house we encounter an acid vat and a coil of rope. GO VAT is (as expected) not very productive -- The acid dissolved you! You're dead! Hmmm. We can't see anything to tie the rope to here, either, so let's see if we can BLAST RUBBLE at the bottom of the mine shaft instead -- yep. The phaser and carpet together get us to 33%, so we must have to round up 6 treasures.
What can we tie the rope to? We can tie it to the pick, and THROW PICK across the vat of acid to create a rope bridging the vat; we can't CROSS BRIDGE (nor should we expect to, really) but we can CROSS ROPE. There's a * Gold India crown * on the other side of the vat, and a passage up to an Old slavery house (we assume the traders haven't been doing much business -- location, people!)
There's still a Slave woman residing here -- and we can't GIVE her anything. Or KISS her. Or, thankfully, KILL her -- Aw, c'mon, why would you want to kill a woman?!? But we can SHOOT WOMAN to do the same thing. Hmmmm... that was on blast. What if we set the phaser to stun instead? Now she is stunned, and we can SEARCH WOMAN... and, erm, You found a passage. Ahem. That was a room-level search, apparently, paying no attention to the object of the SEARCH verb.
Do we have to stun her at all? As it turns out, we can just go through the secret passage without harassing the slave woman. There's a * Magic lamp * here, and if we RUB LAMP in this location we are taken to a treasure room with an * Uncut ruby * and a * Chest of jewels * at the end of another secret passage down the way. Now we can take all our treasures back to the score room (we can carry enough in inventory that this doesn't require much juggling at this point) for a flawless victory!
There were a few loose ends I was curious about, so I took a peek at the source code. The secret passage to the * Chest of jewels * is only available after the cannon is fired, so it was just my random experimentation at the start that made it easy to find. Also, if we HIT the slave woman after stunning her, she tells us about the secret passage before she slips back into a coma. Nastiness indeed! I'm glad this antisocial behavior is optional, as we can just SEARCH and find the passage without forcing the hint... though, of course, we can also blast the slave woman to bits and still finish the game, so we're free to do that if we want also.
India Palace has more options, a larger map and a wider range of possibilities than Wilcox's earlier games, without being too difficult to play through in an evening or two. I enjoyed this one and will continue to play through this series; my schedule has been busy of late, so these games have been just what I needed.