Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Adventure of the Week: Adventure in Mythology (1986)

We're venturing into mythological Greece this week, as we tackle Scott Cabit's illustrated Adventure in Mythology, published by Saguaro Software in 1986 for the TRS-80 Color Computer.  Mr. Cabit has given his kind permission for the game's free distribution here, although the surviving copy is a pirated version as evidenced on the title screen:

Adventure in Mythology was a fairly late release in the CoCo's life cycle -- it supports the Tandy Speech'n'Sound cartridge for enhanced music and speech, and features spot music and sound effects without it.  It also has a novel navigation interface -- the arrow keys are supported for movement in the cardinal compass directions, which is handy as the game will not accept N/W/E/S shorthand and the player  must otherwise type GO NORTH, etc.  The game does not access the disk during play, so the game disk can be removed and a blank disk inserted for save/restore purposes.

This one isn't a particularly difficult adventure, but it is VERY large -- most of the challenge lies in mapping out the environment thoroughly and finding everything needed to finish the game.  None of the puzzles are very difficult if the right items are in the player's inventory, but there are lots of one-way paths and many dead-end scenarios.  The game's HELP command is occasionally genuinely helpful, and there's a VOCAB command as well that lists some of the game's key words.

I didn't find any published walkthroughs for this game, but as the puzzles are not difficult and so much game time is spent just wandering through the world, I'm not going to write one up here for fear of introducing confusing navigational inaccuracies.  But I will note the general geographic locations where key items can be found.

Adventure in Mythology isn't a bad introductory adventure, and it's a unique CoCo release, so if you haven't played it, I encourage you to do so before proceeding.  I will provide a number of hints below, in roughly chronological order, but I will also give away much of the story -- so continue at your own risk if you wish to enjoy the game on your own.
***** SPOILERS AHEAD! *****

The game's objective isn't spelled out within the story at all -- it's really up to the player to explore and find interesting things to do.  The initial areas of the map punish excessive exploration by throwing fatal bandit attacks at the player:

It's safest to explore the forest to the south, and after emerging on the southern path head east to the village.  Be sure to pick up the key in the western area (just lying on the ground, like most of the objects in the game) and find the bird's nest in one of the trees (it's in a location with two trees displayed and north/south/west exits.)

The hut and clothing shop in the village appear to play no useful role in the game.  The sculptor's shop contains a classic mythological reference (and a surprising bit of pixelated nudity):

The player must imitate the classics and KISS GALATEA to be transported to the fabled Isle of Crete.  Here, we must enter King Minos' castle (using the key that for some reason was just lying in the forest earlier), meet the King and Princess Ariadne, and retrieve the torch, knife, and three golden apples (sitting in the dining room near the castle entrance -- it can't be entered via the obvious directions, the player must GO DINING to enter the room.)

Exploring the beach yields a rock.  I ran into one confusing parser bug at this point - EXAMINE ROCK yields the same description as EXAMINE WINGS later in the game.  After meeting Icarus and discovering his need for inspiration, I ended up backtracking and trying to find some way to keep the rock for later, which as it turns out is impossible to do.  The feather (which I missed in my first trip through the forest) actually plays the role I was imagining the rock would.

In his throne room, King Minos gives us a rather out-of-character quest, given his traditional relationship to the Minotaur, but it's the first concrete direction we are given:
You must slay the Minotaur, or Die! 

It's important to light the torch before entering the Minotaur's dark labyrinth.  We can't move safely in the dark at all, even though the exits are clearly listed, or return from the maze once we've gone in.  And the guard (who cannot be bribed or otherwise interacted with) confiscates our flint knife and rock at the point of entry:

The labyrinth is huge, with more than 100 very similar rooms, but it's consistent in its layout and easy to map.  Roughly to the south of the entrance is a dead-end room where Princess Ariadne appears and hands us a much-needed sword.  I encountered the minotaur in two different locations (dying as a result of the first run-in) -- in the extreme northwest corner and in a room roughly to the west of the entry point -- and he may appear in other places, but he only needs to be killed once.  The labyrinth's exit lies in the extreme northeast corner.

Once we're out of the labyrinth, we meet a bored-looking Icarus in Daedalus' lab, and can SHOW FEATHER to inspire him to create two sets of wings.  He takes off (presumably for the sun, as he is never seen again in the game) but we can use the remaining set to fly to a new area.

We never do get back to Crete to thank Princess Ariadne, but in the great plains, we come across a sign from a different king, offering another classical quest:
The king decrees that he who races his daughter, ATALANTA, and wins, shall have her hand in marriage!  He who races and loses... shall die!
There's a racetrack to the south, and when we RACE ATALANTA we get another glimpse of digital naturism:

Following mythological precedent once again, we THROW APPLES to distract the fleet huntress, winning the race and, rather abruptly, the whole game:

So that's Adventure in Mythology.  It's not a great game -- there's no coherent plot, it's just a short series of mythologically-inspired events spread out over a huge, sparsely-populated map.  And while the puzzles are not frustrating, they're not very challenging either.  But I was entertained for the several hours it took me to play through it, I didn't need to reference any hints or walkthroughs, and that's more than I can say for some adventures I've tackled recently.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I am familiar with other programs from Cabit, but don't recall ever seeing this one.