Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Adventure of the Week: King of the Jungle (1981/2012)

This post is going up slightly late due to your editor's advancing age -- I thought I had finished editing this entry, but I hadn't!  This week, we're tackling Roger M. Wilcox's adventure number fifteen, King of the Jungle, written for the TRS-80 in 1981 and converted to Windows in 2012 by the original author.  This one features a fairly original plot, or at least an entertaining mash-up of several less original concepts, as a giant lion has chased all the residents and their useless weapons out of a small African village following a nuclear test.  The player must now take on the beast, armed only with a hunting rifle.

Mr. Wilcox has graciously made his rediscovered adventure series freely available online at his site, so readers are encouraged to sample King of the Jungle before proceeding here.  As always, for historical authenticity I will document my stumbles, successes and sneaky software skulduggery in the following discussion, and there are doubtless many...

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

We begin in the deserted village, with a Very high powered rifle in inventory, near a Barn and a Grass hut.  To the east lies more of the village, where a Dead native lies on the ground near a Sturdy cabin (apparently the indigenous people have imported some modern building materials.)  Oddly, EXAMINE NATIVE reveals that His body's intact, but his head is hollow!  SEARCH NATIVE discovers a scrawled note (in his head?), introducing some science fiction elements by suggesting that the lion is a mutation, and the "giant" form is "only his projected image in a material form, therefore none of our weapons could harm him."  (We accept this without direct evidence because the author of the note explains in a preface, "I am a psychic.")  The back of the note features a blurb promoting Wilcox's Medieval Space Warrior, in the grand Scott Adams tradition.

South of the eastern edge of the village is a Strange dark stream; east is the foot of a mountain.  Before we explore further, let's go back and check out the barn, where we find a Cow, a Hand churn, and an Empty bucket.  We can GET BUCKET, MILK COW, and CHURN BUTTER to yield a Bucket of buttermilk.  The grass hut contains a Medicine kit, and an armory room with a Scruffed-up shield and a Sparker.  We can't USE SPARKER or SPARK STREAM, so I guess the dark stream isn't oil.

Inside the cabin, actually an abandoned wizard's quarters, we find a Held portal, an Ancient scroll, and a Rod of cancellation, so we may conclude that there will also be some magic afoot.  It's not a good idea to READ SCROLL just yet, though, as A silvery line extends from your finger, and ignites a fireball in midair -- leaving us with a Blank scroll, so this is a one-shot deal and it seems wise to restore to an earlier save.

We've found quite a few objects and are now running up against the seven-item inventory limit, so we'll drop the hand churn.  It's time to assay the mountain, after observing the Bamboo trees in the bamboo nursery north of its foot, though there doesn't seem to be anything we can do with them yet.

Climbing the mountain isn't a challenge -- we can just go U to reach its top, where we find a Hole in the ground and a Shovel.  It's wise to EXAMINE HOLE, as we see a deep pit with snakes at the bottomGOing HOLE regardless leaves us dead at the bottom of a fifty foot deep pit, with no need for the snakes to contribute to our demise.

With the shovel, always a useful adventure game implement, we can DIG everywhere to see what we find.  We discover a Dirty old rope at the foot of the mountain, and... nothing anywhere else at this point.  We can now TIE ROPE -- To what?  Hmmmm.  Trying to tie it to most things yields only, Sorry, it slips off.   Hmmmm... make that pretty much everything.  Only BAMBOO seems to be an interesting response -- You aren't holding it -- so can we obtain some?  Shooting the bamboo trees with the rifle isn't allowed, and the fireball doesn't do anything to it, nor does the sparker.

So... a third stanza of hmmm.  Time to investigate the source code, methinks... and, aha!  We can BREAK BAMBOO to obtain a Bamboo pole -- and temporarily exceed the inventory limit, until we consolidate a few items to end up with a Rope tied to pole.

Now we can GO HOLE to climb down to a point in mid-air above a deep pit, and go D, where... You're attacked by man-eating snakes! You're dead.  Drat, I almost forgot about those!  Restoring, we can easily climb back up, or we can try to do something about the snakes.  The fireball remains unhelpful -- this location in mid-air and the fireball appearing in mid-air are not a pair of clues, it seems.  Except... ah, we can AIM... Aim what?... AIM FINGER... Specify a direction... AIM DOWN.   Reading the scroll with these preparations in order indicates that Nothing could survive such a blast -- and now we can reach the newly snake-free bottom of the pit, where, of course, it's too dark to see.

We can't light the sparker -- but can we make a torch somehow?  The dark stream remains obstinately non-flammable. There's still that Held portal in the wizard's quarters... we can't OPEN PORTAL or use the rod of cancellation, but TOUCH PORTAL turns it into a simple closed door that can be opened in the normal manner, to access a small walk-in wardrobe closet.  Here we find a Pot of oil and a Piece of fine cloth, and we can just LIGHT POT (with the sparker I assume) to create a viable light source.

Now we can see that the bottom of the pit has charred walls (probably from our great ball of fire) and a passage leading south.  Here, at a T intersection, we meet the = Giant snake king =, apparently in town on some sort of royal diplomacy junket, or here to undermine the normal specist stereotypes about the King of the Jungle.  Is its upsizing mechanism similar to that of the Giant Lion?  We haven't much time to wonder, as shortly and randomly The snake's eyes shoot beams of coherent light at you! -- which readily penetrate the shield.

So we probably need to do a little maintenance on our sole piece of armor -- we can't RUB anything, according to the parser, but we can POLISH SHIELD to establish that It is now shiny chrome.  The snake won't let us leave, but the shield does deflect the laser beams he's firing at us, buying us a little time to think.  And we can AIM SHIELD to bounce the beams back at the snake, destroying him with a nice bit of descriptive action: His head falls, then his whole body vanishes before his head hits the ground.

Now we're free to explore some more.  There's a narrow crawlway with rocky walls and ... a Radiation field to the west... and a Temple to the east, built in haste, then abandoned, where there's a statue of a lion that... is holding a piece of cheese?  We can't seem to use the fine cloth with it -- okay, yes, I was thinking "cheese cloth" -- and Empty bucket gets rid of the buttermilk to no apparent effect.

Can we CANCEL FIELD or WAVE ROD or USE ROD to clear the radiation field with the rod of cancellation?  DISPEL FIELD yields only, Use a device to do your dispelling.  You're no wizard.  Trying to just GO FIELD yields a near-instantaneous conventional-epidemiology-defying death of cancer.  The medicine kit contains a strong anti-toxin, but we can't seem to separate it from the kit?  DRINK ANTI causes death from heartburn/ulcer, but if we DRINK BUTTERMILK first we seem to survive.  We still can't go into the radiation field, though.  We have to also drink from the dark stream (by filling the bucket and then DRINKing the LIQUID thus obtained) before we can enter the field -- and now, of course, we're in the cave lair of the lion, and The lion attacks you with a mental blast!  You're mindless -- and dead, or at least unable to continue.

So how do we distract the lion?  The buttermilk isn't going to be available, it seems, and it seems we can't TAKE CHEESE from the lion statue.  Ah - we can TOUCH CHEESE, and apparently as long as we have the Rod of cancellation in hand, the statue cheese simply falls to the ground.

Now we can enter the lion's lair, take advantage of his animal instincts with a discreet DROP CHEESE, and while he's eating it, SHOOT LION -- except, no, he wasn't distracted enough to keep us from being torn apart after he stops the bullets with his mental powers.  Ack!  We can't always drop the cheese successfully either, at least not in time, so this bit of action seems to be randomized a bit.

What else are we missing?  Aha!  We can THROW CHEESE, which distracts the lion more definitively, and then SHOOT LION, for an uncharacteristically graphic Roger M. Wilcox adventure victory sequence:

'Twas beauty killed the beast.  Awwwwyeah.

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