Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Adventure of the Week: Wet T-Shirt Contest!

Sometimes our dedication to historical documentation requires a side trip down a sleazy alley.  An enterprising and affable gentleman calling himself "Dirty" Bob Krotts founded Softcore Software in Kettering, Ohio, back in the early 1980s, and produced a seven-game series of "adult" text adventures known as the Misadventures.  We've previously looked at the first game in the series; this week, we're looking at the second entry -- Misadventure #2: Wet T-Shirt Contest!, published in 1982 for the TRS-80 Model I.

Mr. Krotts has actually remained active in the adult entertainment industry, and also runs a photography studio in the Dayton area.  I had a very pleasant phone conversation with him a few months back about the game software business of the early 80s, when a new game could be put together in a few weeks and might sell well for a month or two before widespread piracy killed its market.

Misadventure #2 isn't hard to finish -- the handful of puzzles are simple, there aren't many actions or objects to worry about, and most of the challenge comes from mapping out the convoluted city streets.  Interested readers are encouraged, as always, to tackle this game before proceeding here.  Because, along with a walkthrough at the end (also available at the CASA Solution Archive), I'm going to be giving everyone...

***** THE NAKED TRUTH (i.e., SPOILERS!!!) *****

Just to be clear, there's nothing truly X-rated on offer here.  Similar to the Leisure Suit Larry games that would follow a few years later, these early "adult" games tend to be naughty and (at least ostensibly) funny.  The tongue-in-cheek adult subject matter isn't suitable for kids, obviously, but this opening sequence is about as adult as the language gets:

So we start in a hotel room, are accosted by thugs after answering the door (we can't really do anything else in the room), and learn that our posterior is low-lying vegetation if we don't come up with a hundred bucks for The Boss by tomorrow.  I've certainly played adventure games motivated by less.

Krotts' parser improved over the run of the series, but is still on the primitive side here -- it's very fond of saying TRY SOMETHING ELSE... and WRONG - TRY SOMETHING ELSE!!!, neither of which is generally helpful.  For the most part, our possible actions are limited -- we only have to maneuver in the four compass directions, CLIMB stairs on occasion, PUSH a few buttons and use a few special-situation verbs.  Most other attempts to learn about our environment get us nowhere.  And there's no INVENTORY command, so we'd better remember what we're carrying.

The map is sparse -- there's generally only one item of value in any room, and most rooms are empty with minimal descriptions.  Once we leave the hotel room at the beginning of the game, we can't return there, but there's nothing in the room we need to take or make use of.  Outside the room, at the south end of a hall, we find a smelly pile of trash, but I found no good reason to disturb it (nor any way to do so) so it seems to be present for olfactory atmosphere.

Wet T-Shirt Contest's only serious challenge is that it's fairly difficult to map -- there are many, many nondescript street "rooms," few landmarks, and wraparounds in unexpected places.  I started three or four different maps before getting my bearings -- using graph paper dungeon-crawl style didn't quite work, as the passages aren't really laid out in a grid, but with patience I managed to explore all the possibilities and find the handful of important locations.

The Boom-Boom Club is just outside the hotel where we start the game, but it remains closed until we figure out what to do concerning the Wet T-Shirt Contest! that starts at midnight.  Clearly, we need to raise some money, but as our character seems to be male we don't really have the right accessories to enter the contest.  (Or if we do, nobody really wants to see them.)  We can go to the bank and try to GET LOAN, but THE TELLER LAUGHS! THE BANK GUARD ESCORTS YOU OUT OF THE BANK!  So we need to do a little exploring.

Dead ends are invariably described as THE ROAD DEAD ENDS HERE. . .BEWARE OF MUGGERS AND WHORES!!!, which seems like reasonable advice, but we never encounter any meaningful threats from said denizens of the netherworld.  Entering the IRS building sends us through an audit, and thence to jail for tax fraud, ending the game, so it's best to avoid these particular authorities.

This game came out in 1982, and one wonders if the author predicted that in 2010 we'd still be able to relate to the arcade and its resident, completely unlicensed Pac-Man machine.  Initially, PLAY GAME yields YOU HAVE NO MONEY.  But we can find a coin a few blocks up the street, which buys us a rather amazing play session - a crowd gathers to watch, we set the high score, and instead of hitting the infamous "kill screen," the machine actually catches fire, leaving a burned video monitor on the floor of the arcade.  We should GET SCREEN before stepping outside, as if we leave the arcade and come back, the Pac-Man cab is miraculously restored to its original condition.

The next important area is a flight of stairs not far from the bank.  CLIMB STAIRS takes us to the lobby of the K&K Corporation, which in the real world appears to link up with Krotts' K&K Photo.  There's an elevator door here -- we can PUSH BUTTON to enter the elevator.

Inside the elevator, we find buttons numbered 1-21, which present the game's core puzzle.  It's one of those "you must try darn near everything" puzzles, so I will spoil its most annoying features by revealing that many of the buttons are instantly fatal, with no way to predict their effects.  Most commonly (floors 2, 6, 8, 12, 17, 19 and 20)  YOU ARE ELECTROCUTED INSTANTLY!; on floors 5, 10, 18, we are attacked by ten Dobermans and ripped to shreds.  Floors 4, 14, 15 and 21 have the same 9-room layout and no items or details worth exploring.  There's no 13th floor, per superstitious tradition; on floor 11, AN ALARM SOUNDS! A GUARD KICKS YOU OUT OF THE BUILDING!  The most thematically appropriate area is the 9th floor, where after KNOCK-OUT GAS COMES OUT OF THE VENTS, the player awakens naked and tied to a bed; 5 beautiful women enter and the festivities begin, until UH, OH... YOU CAN'T TAKE IT! YOUR HEART GIVES OUT!

Significant trial-and-error discovers that floors 3 and 16 provide a clue about the plot -- a scientist rushes by, we can see that he's looking for something, and then he disappears behind a secret locked door (that we cannot access.)  Of course, this is an "adult" adventure, so it's also noted that HE LEFT AN OBNOXIOUS FART IN THE ROOM - ECCH!  We can only flee S back into the elevator, but at least we're still alive.

The only floor we truly need to visit is the 7th floor, housing the Scientist's Lab.  There's a substantial maze here, of a sort; it's laid out logically, and there aren't enough objects in the game to allow mapping it out in the traditional way.  But there are fatal dead ends aplenty -- we must keep trying available directions, restarting frequently as we suffer repeated death by Dobermans and floors giving way, to find the single safe route to the scientist's lab.

When at last we arrive in the Transfiguration Room, we see the scientist cursing his broken video screen.  Giving him the Pac-Man arcade monitor makes him happy, and he allows us to "observe" his experiment in progress.  There's a BEAUTIFUL WOMAN lying on a table; we know she is attractive because the game gives us her measurements, 38-24-36.  She is also UNCONSCIENCE (which is either a misspelling or a Freudian slip).

So -- do we turn into a girl so we can enter the Wet T-Shirt Contest?  Sort of -- we SIT, PUSH BUTTON, and after a blinding flash, we wake up in the woman's body, leaving our lifeless corpse temporarily in the lab.  We are informed that we have 1 hour to spend in the BEAUTIFUL WOMAN'S BODY -- no, not that way -- so there's no time (and, thankfully, no parser support) to dilly-dally with our new toys.  It's time to enter the tit-ular contest!  Sorry.

For once, the parser helps us out -- if we're unsure what to do after we enter the Boom-Boom Club, any command that's not the expected one yields WHY NOT < GO DRESSING ROOM >?.  When we do GO DRESSING ROOM, the result is detailed but not at all interactive -- we don a t-shirt emblazoned with the number 6, endure a humiliating, sexist public ritual involving way too much cold water and jumping up and down, win $200.00 in prize money, and are escorted out of the building, presumably to avoid the slavering manimals inside.

Now all we have to do is find our way back into the lab, transfer back into our original body, and grab the money before the test subject wakes up.  We've succeeded in paying off our presumably illegally-incurred debt by taking over the body of a drugged woman incapable of consent and exploiting said body for our own monetary gain.  But the game calls this a victory:

Sigh.  Heroic this one is not, but it has its novel moments and I enjoyed working my way through it even though the storyline makes one feel dirty, and not in the good way.  My walkthrough is below the fold.

***** WALKTHROUGH *****

OPEN DOOR; (get beaten up by thugs)
E, N, N, W, W, N, W, N, W, N, N, N, W;
S, E, S, S, E, S, E, N, E, E, N, N, W, W;
E, E, S, S, W, W, S, W, N;
W, W, N, N, W, N, W, OPEN DOOR, S, S, W;
GIVE SCREEN; SIT; PUSH BUTTON; GET UP; (now you're in the beautiful woman's body)
E, N, N, OPEN DOOR, E, S, E, S, E, E, S; PUSH 1;
S, E, S, E, E, S, W;
GO DRESSING ROOM; (win the contest!)
W, W, N, N, W, N, W, OPEN DOOR, S, S, W; (pass out, wake up, get the money, win!)

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