When I first started this blog series, I thought I'd eventually run out of adventure games to tackle. But after playing literally hundreds of them, I'm still only scratching the surface, and I've learned that every machine had its share of unique, exclusive adventures. So this week, I'm dipping my toe into a new platform -- the early portable TRS-80 Model 100, a Radio Shack machine (via Kyocera) with a limited 8-by-40-character LCD display. But it was no technological slouch, and not cheap either at more than a thousand 1983 dollars, and it had enough power to present a decent text adventure.
So this week we're playing Howard Batie's Galaxy Trek Adventure, an unlicensed Star Trek story written in BASIC for the Model 100 and released by the author in 1983; the title screen calls it #1 but as far as I can determine there was never a #2. According to line 1 of the source code, it was made available via the Club 100 Library back in the day, a Model 100 support/fan group that survives even today at www.club100.org. We're playing using the VirtualT emulator, with my PC's caps lock on, as commands are only recognized in uppercase.
Interested readers can find this game, along with several other Model 100 adventures, at the Interactive Fiction Archives. I usually recommend playing through any game I cover firsthand before reading my notes below, as I'll be documenting my experience from beginning to end, but in this case I will warn you that there are a couple of syntax errors in lines 101 and 158 of the BASIC code that I had to fix before I could finish the game. So if you want to save yourself some emulation and debugging headaches, feel free to proceed into the...
***** SPOILERS AHEAD! ******
As the adventure begins, Captain James T. Kirk (the player) awakes to find himself on a mysteriously empty Starship Enterprise. In-game instructions are available, handily informing us that INV is the inventory command, we have to spell out directions as full words (e.g. NORTH), there is a SCORE command, and we can even SAVE, QUIT and START (to restore from the single save slot.)
We begin in the Captain's Quarters, with a 3D Chess Set and an exit north. Captain Kirk has nothing in inventory, and we can GET CHESS to pick up the chess set (though there's no EXAMINE verb so we can't find out any details about it.)
To the north we find an east-west corridor of the Enterprise; to the east is the Transporter Room, currently empty, and to the west the entrance to a turbolift, with additional passages north and east. A sign here reads "FEDERATION STARSHIP ENTERPRISE -- NCC 1701 -- DECK 2 - PERSONNEL SECTION."
We can go north into the turbolift, and travel up and down, but first we'll explore further west to another corridor -- where we encounter a Klingon Soldier! And WITHOUT A PHASER, YOU MUST SURRENDER! THIS ADVENTURE IS OVER.
Okay, so we need to find a phaser. Starting over and taking the turbolift up, we can exit on its east side to find a room with exits south and east, a sign, and some star charts. We can READ SIGN to learn that this is Deck 1, the Bridge, and while we can't READ STAR or READ CHARTS we can GET CHARTS to carry them around. Many of the objects in this adventure aren't actually useful, but they do lend a little Trek atmosphere to the proceedings.
Heading east brings us to the Navigation Console, where a button is labelled FIRE IMPULSE ENGINES. South is the Science Officer's Station, with a SHIP'S STATUS button. This one seems safe to PUSH, though in fact we have to PRESS BUTTON to learn that THE ENTERPRISE IS IN A DECAYING ORBIT AROUND THE CLASS 'M' PLANET TIERAS-80 (get it?); it is also noted that IMPULSE ENGINES MUST BE FIRED SOON, OR WE'LL BURN UP IN THE ATMOSPHERE. So there is a time element at work here.
Heading west to the Communications Station allows us to use the ship's sensors, determining that the Enterprise is occupied by one humanoid life form, many Klingons, and one Vulcan. Hmmmm... Mr. Spock must be around somewhere, then; but where is everyone else? Before we leave this floor, we'll try firing the impulse engines -- the ship is still in a decaying orbit, but the status warning has been cleared, at least for now.
Heading down to Deck 3, Technical Departments, we wander through some empty corridors. In the northeast corner is the Ship's Library, where the ship's Technical Manual can be reviewed, though IT DOESN'T MENTION ANYTHING OF VALUE. In the southeast corner is the Enterprise's Sick Bay, with a Hypodermic Antidote we can't seem to GET.
We're still phaserless, so let's go down in the turbolift again to Deck 4, the Security Section. We find Spock's tricorder down here, but we can't seem to USE TRICORDER or TALK TRICORDER... but ah, READ TRICORDER indicates that THERE ARE STILL KLINGONS ON THE SHIP! We find Mr. Spock unconscious in the ship's brig at the east end of the corridor, but we can't WAKE or SLAP or NUDGE or TALK to him. A Supply Warehouse at the west end of this deck doesn't explicitly list its contents, but we can GET PHASER here. We can't seem to SET PHASER or SET STUN, or READ PHASER or otherwise examine it, so we'll just have to hope it's appropriately configured should we need to use it.
We might as well continue exploring the Enterprise, so we'll go down one more level to Deck 5, Engineering Division. We soon encounter danger in the Warp Engine Drive Area, where YOU'RE SURROUNDED BY KLINGONS, AND HAVE TIME FOR ONE ACTION BEFORE THEY FIRE! I tried to escape the room by continuing east, but that doesn't work -- though the end game logic is a little buggy here, as we're informed that we've been CAPTURED AND THE ENTERPRISE IS LOST!, after which the unconscious Mr. Spock somehow manages to tell us that THE ENTERPRISE IS SAVED. BUT WITHOUT THE CREW, OUR MISSION IS A FAILURE. At any rate, we need to (re)START and try again.
Maybe we should go back to Deck 2 and see if we can dispatch the single Klingon blocking the way there. It seems the enemy soldier just doesn't appear if we have the phaser in hand, and we're free to visit the Crew's Quarters where we can acquire a furry little Tribble (if we drop something else, because we have a six-item inventory limit, convenient for the Model 100's 8-line display; I chose to drop the so-far-useless Technical Manual.)
I also stop by the Sick Bay on Deck 3 and this time I manage to GET NEEDLE, which succeeds where GET HYPODERMIC and GET ANTIDOTE fail. On a hunch, I try to GIVE NEEDLE to Spock, which doesn't work, but INJECT NEEDLE does the trick: SPOCK AWAKENS AND SAYS -- I AM WELL ENOUGH TO HELP YOU NOW.
Spock's assistance is invoked with the HELP command, though most of the time this just returns I SEE NOTHING UNUSUAL, CAPTAIN. He comes in very handy as we approach the Warp Drive room, however, saying, "CAPTAIN, I SENSE KLINGONS TO THE EAST. TOO MANY FOR JUST HAND PHASERS." But while he confirms that almost anything is available in the Supply Warehouse, we can't GET GRENADE or GET BOMB or GET RIFLE.
What else? In the Transporter Room, Spock advises us to "SAY 'ENERGIZE', CAPTAIN." We really have to SAY ENERGIZE, ENERGIZE alone doesn't work, and Spock beams us down to the sandy surface of Tieras-80, where we see some raw dilithium crystals, so we'll GET CRYSTALS. Interesting... if we try to travel north, we learn that we're carrying too much for this planet's gravity, and we'll have to drop something. DROP CRYSTALS seems like a bad idea, though, as they shatter into dust, and DROP TRIBBLE simply allows the furry little critter to run away.
We'll do a little exploration here before we restore. A dune to the north of our beam-down point reveals many Klingons to the east. A Klingon Officer to the west takes Kirk out if we don't have the Phaser in hand. Even if we have it, SHOOT OFFICER doesn't work -- we're too slow, and we've been captured. Timing doesn't seem to be the actual issue, so we'll try to avoid that area after we restore.
East of the landing area is a sandy hillside; to the south is a sand sea, where a large sand snake kills us before we can react in any way, and heading east of the hill leads us fatally into a rockslide. This is a very hostile planet! North of the hillside is a Klingon camp, where we again are captured by the Klingon Soldier here, even if we try to SHOOT KLINGON with our one available move.
Aha! My problem here is that SHOOT isn't recognized and we don't get another chance to satisfy the parser. KILL KLINGON is also not supported, but FIRE PHASER works! However... when I try to FIRE PHASER at the Klingon Officer, he's removed, BUT YOUR PHASER VAPORIZED! And when I try to SAY ENERGIZE to return to the Enterprise, it turns out that we don't have the communicator and are mis-beamed fatally into deep space. There also seems to be a limit on how much stuff can be beamed back to the Enterprise, but that's kind of a secondary issue at the moment.
So after this latest restart, let's try to go planetside with a minimum of unnecessary stuff, and a communicator, which we can get from the Supply Warehouse. Vaporizing the klingon soldier south of the camp destroys the phaser again, but we can go north to the camp gate... to be captured by another Klingon guard. The same happens if we go east, so it seems we'll need to acquire another phaser after taking care of the first guard. With the communicator, we can safely beam back aboard and... nope, we can't pick up another phaser from the supply warehouse; the Federation supplies only one per customer, apparently.
HELP (from Spock) near the Klingon-infested warp drive room suggests that WE NEED SOMETHING TO FRIGHTEN THEM AWAY. Dropping the tribble in their presence doesn't seem to do the job, though it seems like that ought to do something; the dilithium crystals don't frighten them either.
What can we do with the tribble? Spock suggests that the creature may be useful, but dropping it just outside the warp drive room doesn't seem to scare off the Klingons. And it doesn't seem to want to multiply and infest the supply room.
Further experiments establish that we can't seem to PLAY CHESS with Spock. The tribble always returns to the crew's quarters after we drop it, it seems. We can SAY ENERGIZE anywhere on the surface, or even onboard the Enterprise, apparently, though that doesn't really help us much as it doesn't get us away from any Klingons quickly enough.
Can we come up with something in the warehouse that might scare Klingons? Aren't Klingons supposed to be afraid of Tribbles, if I remember my Trek lore correctly? SHOW TRIBBLE and GIVE TRIBBLE don't parse, but I discover that while DROP TRIBBLE allows the critter to run away, THROW TRIBBLE just drops the furball in our current location. Let's try that in the warp drive room, then -- and yes, WHEN THE KLINGONS SEE THE TRIBBLE, THEY RUN AWAY IN ALL DIRECTIONS!
Now we can access the areas past the Warp Engine Drive Area. To the east is the Auxiliary Power room, with a power control panel and an unarmed Klingon Commander. We can't CAPTURE KLINGON -- but Spock's HELP advises us that the Klingon phrase for "DO YOU SURRENDER?" is TRISAETI. He does indeed when we SAY TRISAETI, and promises to provide transporter coordinates so we can rescue the crew before he goes to the brig.
South of the warp drive area is the Dilithium Crystal Power Station, where we note that power levels are very low. This should be easy enough to solve, but let's get the crew back first... well, maybe we'll take care of the dilithium crystal situation first, as I'm not quite sure how to invoke the transporter to return the crew! We take the crystals from the planet's surface to the power station, INSERT CRYSTAL, and now power is above 93%.
How to get the crew back onboard, then? Spock suggests we consult the ship's manual, but it still contains nothing of value after I go back to the crew's quarters where I left it earlier. We can't ENTER COORDINATES anywhere, it seems. If we SAY ENERGIZE in the transporter room, we're back on the surface of the planet, with nothing apparently changed (the Klingon surrender, it seems, does not extend planetside.)
Maybe we have to READ MANUAL in the rooms where Spock mentions it -- and, yes, in the power control room it indicates that we need to INSTALL THE SHUNT IN THE CONTROL PANEL. We can GET SHUNT in the supply room and INSTALL SHUNT -- A GREEN PANEL LIGHT GLOWS, and Spock says... ahh, dang it!
It seems there are a few syntax errors, a semicolon where there should be a colon and a missing print command, in line 158, a bit of code that kicks in when the ship's orbit starts to decay. It probably got missed in playtesting, because an efficient playthrough would never see it. After fixing the bug and restoring, we have to race upstairs to the bridge (I just barely made it before time ran out) and fire the impulse engines again to get the ship back into a stable orbit. Whew!
Now how do we beam everyone back aboard the Enterprise? The Tribble is still available, so maybe we can shoot one Klingon and scare the other to get into the Klingon camp. THROW TRIBBLE at the south edge of the camp on Tieras-80 works, but we get a syntax error in line 101, another semicolon/colon mixup (fortunately the Model 100's EDIT command is pretty easy to work with.)
The tribble runs off again after scaring the Klingon guard away, but we can still FIRE PHASER to eliminate the sentry outside the camp. And now we can enter the camp and find the crew! YOU MUST LEAD THEM BACK TO WHERE YOU BEAMED DOWN, we learn, which is easy enough to do if we've drawn a map so we don't wander into the surrounding dangers. We return to our landing point, SAY ENERGIZE one last time to beam back aboard with the crew, and victory is ours!
A second screen informs us that we are to be promoted to Commodore after a bit of shore leave; my mission score was -6003, which doesn't sound impressive at all, but the story is over and I'm not going to replay the game to improve upon it.
Galaxy Trek Adventure #1 is a fairly typical early text adventure, one of many unlicensed Star Trek-inspired games during the early home computing era, with straightforward puzzles and a limited parser. But it shows off the Model 100's capabilities nicely -- I was impressed that this simple BASIC game features more than three dozen rooms, online instructions and save/restore features (using the machine's RAM-based file system), and the design manages to make everything work within the 8-line display, no mean feat. Mr. Batie's effort is not a bad little game, aside from the syntax errors I ran into, and I enjoyed playing through it in emulated form on this unique system.