Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Adventure of the Week: Derelict 2147 (1982/2012)

This week, we reach a series milestone of sorts, as we play the twentieth game in the almost-lost Roger M. Wilcox series, Derelict 2147!  Written in 1982 for the TRS-80, and converted by the author to Windows PCs in 2012, it's been retrospectively described as its creator as a "ho-hum treasure hunt," so we'll see if we agree.   (It shares a year and part of its title, but this adventure is no relation to the Aardvark Software Derelict we've previously played through.)

Given that much of the fun of adventure gaming is in making discoveries and experiencing the story, I always encourage interested readers to tackle these games before reading my detailed playthrough notes.  Mr. Wilcox has generously made all of his games available at his website, so by all means feel free to come back later if you so desire.  Beyond this point I will be describing my own experience in detail, and there are certain to be...

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

We begin in a future city near a weapon shop and a manhole cover, in the year 2147, as the brief introduction notes that there is a report that a large, derelict spacecraft has been sighted just outside the orbit of Mars.

It's beyond our power to OPEN the manhole COVER; the weapon shop contains an assortment of Guns and knives -- we can't GET GUN, as You don't have a permit, but we can GET KNIFE.  We have nothing in inventory, so it's not clear how we're paying for this, but now we have a Swiss army knife.  (If we drop the knife elsewhere, I noted in passing, we can GET KNIFE again here to teleport it magically back into our inventory.)

Going east, we find ourselves on a long runway where an armed guard stands watch over a Small planetship.  We can't YELL or SHOUT to distract the guard, as was possible in a couple of other Wilcox adventures.  We can try to GO SHIP, but as expected, The guard won't let you.  The parser is surprisingly complicit, as an attempt to KILL GUARD returns "How do you propose to do that?! The guard's too good to be taken in by a knife!"

That's all the geography we can explore for now -- so how do we get aboard that ship?  We can't OPEN MANHOLE or GO MANHOLE without getting it open.  HELP suggests that I know the verb "MOVE" -- so we have to be a little more specific about how we are getting it open, by executing a MOVE COVER (MOVE MANHOLE being correctly noted as physically impossible.)

Down the manhole, we find a Long dead body which has a gun permit about its, um, ex-person.  Now we can GET GUN in the weapon shop and SHOOT GUARD with a "Zzap!" to eliminate him from the equation.  Ethics are apparently not a consideration for the player character in this game.

Aboard the ship, we find some Controls and a sign reading, "Drop *treasures* here, then score."  So this will be the SCORE room, confirming that this indeed a treasure hunt.  The controls consist of a red button, a joystick, and a fuel gauge indicating that we have barely enough fuel to escape Earth's gravity.  A one-way trip, then?  Well, we don't have any prospects here beyond a possible murder conviction in the near future, so we might as well PUSH RED to take off and maneuver into the derelict ship's docking bay.  Now we have no fuel at all, so it's a good thing the SCORE location traveled with us (and, no, we can't GET SIGN to relocate it!)

The pressure gauge in the ship's bay indicates that we'll be dealing with "5 atmospheres," so while it seems we might want to prepare for that it doesn't seem that we need to.  This appears to be a hub location of sorts, so we'll explore the area a bit.

D from the bay is a strange airlock with an equally Strange forcefield; above the bay, we find the top of a wide tunnel with a hole in the ceiling that is too high, even for jumping

To the west is a small storage room containing a * Platinum cube * and some copper coil.  The cube has a wire attached, a subtle warning that, were we to simply GET CUBE, we'd experience what I did: a pit opened up below you, and you were impaled on the spikes within it.  You are dead.  So we should probably try to sever that wire first -- and yes, we can CUT WIRE to liberate the cube.  It accounts for 16 percent of the maximum 100 percent SCORE back on the ship, so it seems we are looking for 6 treasures in total if they are equally weighted.

North of the docking bay is the passenger quarters, where we see Rows of cryonics chambers -- noting upon examination that  Almost every chamber contains an alien.  There's also a Small control console, which has a lever on it... with a crystal attached!  PULLing the LEVER proves fatal, as the aliens all revive and dispatch the player as an invading parasite.  And the same thing happens if we try to GET CRYSTAL, pulling the lever in the process.

East is a hallway with a few further branches -- to the north is a small antechamber with a single cryonics chamber.  Pulling the lever here releases a friendlier 2 meter-tall tripedal alien, who telepathically says: "You're not a mutant!"  The alien follows us around, but its presence is of no use in convincing the mob of aliens in the other room of our non-mutated intentions.

A large storage room east of the hallway contains sliding doors, metal shelves, and a wall panel. If we EXAMINE SHELVES a few times, we discover a Small device and a 5-pound key.  We can't seem to EXAMINE DEVICE -- the parser keeps saying that You don't see it here, which appears to be a bug.  The wall panel contains a small identification lock for the doors.  We can't OPEN DOORS -- With what? -- KEY or DEVICE, so we'll need to look around some more.

Can the 2-meter tall alien help us get into the tunnel above the docking bay?  Nope, our best efforts to CLIMB ALIEN and GO HOLE continue to fail.  If we try to GO into the force FIELD below, we learn to no great surprise that "Your body couldn't take the transition to zero pressure! You were ripped apart!"  Though we do catch a glimpse of an alien wearing a steel belt on the other side of the field as the game ends, so if we can find some suitable gear maybe we can survive out there.

We can't KILL ALIEN -- "This being is your friend."  If we EXAMINE CONSOLE in the larger cryonics room, he helps us out by removing the * Crystal parasite * from the lever, then sealing himself in an available chamber.  We have two treasures now, and a score of 33 percent.

What else can we do?  Trying to CONNECT COIL in the cube room, where there is now a loose wire, indicates that something is missing.  We still can't READ or EXAMINE the small DEVICE, whether it's in inventory or on the floor; I'm pretty sure this is a parser dictionary bug, and I had to peek at the code to learn that we're supposed to be able to learn that it has a green button on it.  PUSH GREEN works, and You feel the artificial gravity temporarily neutralized.   The effect seems to last only for the turn at hand -- but we can PUSH GREEN in the tunnel room to make it up to the hole in the ceiling, where we can acquire an * Octagonal Crystal * and an electric iron rod.  (We have a seven-item inventory limit, so we need to start dropping some unneeded items; I elected to drop the gun permit and the gun.)

We're now at three treasures, and 50 percent of the loot.  The rod has a blue button on it -- pressing it apparently unleashes a substantial electrical charge.  We can PUSH BLUE and then PULL WIRE in the cube room to safely open and navigate down into the spiked pit without getting killed -- one of the spikes here is visibly cracked, and if we BREAK SPIKE the resulting fragment of * Printed-circuit spike * is a fourth treasure.  (I'm not sure that we need to PUSH BLUE here -- it just seemed sensible to try that in the hopes it might short out the trap.)

We haven't done anything with the copper coil or the 5-pound key yet.  Ah!  We can CONNECT COIL to the rod to make an electromagnet; now when we PUSH BLUE, A charge flows through the copper wire.  We still can't connect it to the loose wire in the cube room or the wall panel in the large storage room, but -- aha! -- if we do this in the airlock, it drags the alien with the steel belt in through the force field.  It's not clear whether the creature is alive or dead, but it puts no objection as we  EXAMINE ALIEN to yield an * Advanced communicator * and an I.D. amulet.

Now we can OPEN DOORS with the amulet (it's an identification lock, remember) in the large storage room, opening an exit to the north (GO DOORS doesn't work) that leads through a hallway to a cylindrical room with a closed cabinet.  We can OPEN CABINET (presumably with the 5-pound key we haven't otherwise used) to obtain a * Vial of Californium *.

So now we have six treasures, 100 percent, and victory is ours (assuming we can find a way back to Earth at some point...)

This one was indeed a straightforward treasure hunt, but I still enjoyed the sci-fi atmosphere.  We have only one Roger M. Wilcox adventure left to go, officially, though there's another Wilcox family effort that has recently been unearthed and finished.  More on that soon!


  1. Woops! I found the parser bug that was keeping you from EXAMINing the DEVICE. I used a || when I should have used an &&.

    I've put the fixed code up on my website for all to enjoy.

  2. Fun fact:

    A few years after I wrote this adventure, a TV series came on Saturday mornings named _Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future_. In this TV series, an event called "The Metal Wars" occurs in the future, turning Earth into an apocalyptic hellscape.

    The year of the Metal Wars? 2147.