Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Adventure of the Week: Escape from Trash Island (1981/2012)

I hate to stop in the middle of a story, so this week we're going to continue with the second part of Roger M. Wilcox's Trash Island series (formerly the third part of the Trash Island trilogy) -- Escape from Trash Island, the eighteenth game in his TRS-80 series.  It was originally written in 1981, and we're playing the author's 2012 Windows port here.

The previous chapter was a treasure hunt -- an unsanctioned activity, apparently, as the local authorities have now locked the player in a cell.  So this one is an escape-the-island adventure.

Interested readers are encouraged to Escape from Trash Island first-hand before proceeding here, as Mr. Wilcox has made all of his games freely available.  In this case it's advisable to play through the previous game first, as a password is provided that's necessary to launch this chapter -- but you can see my earlier post for a screenshot if you're being silly and jumping in midway.  For history's sake I'll be documenting my playthrough in thorough detail, so after this warning there are certain to be...

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

After we enter the password from the previous episode, we find ourselves locked behind bamboo bars in a cell in a cave, where we have been consigned after ransacking the island's trashy treasures.  It's hinted that the verbs INSERT, SHAKE and WRAP may come in handy, which saves us some parser wrestling later at the expense of giving away a few puzzle solutions.

We have nothing in inventory at the start, and the cell features Locked bamboo bars and a passage D to a... well, this is an unexpected surprise.  The posessions [sic] room contains our faithful and handy Shovel and Skeleton key from the previous adventure!  We can DIG down here to find a Puddle of crude oil, which may come in handy as the hinges (?) on the bamboo bars in the cell are jammed tight.  And You can't dig a bars.  No matter how hep it is, daddy-o.

Fortunately, we don't need anything fancy here -- we can simply GET OIL to carry the puddle of crude oil around in our pocket, and OIL BARS to get the hinges nice and greasy.  (We can repeatedly dig downstairs to get more oil, should we need it.)  Now we can OPEN BARS successfully, and GO BARS toward freedom.

Exiting on the north side of the cell, we find ourselves at a "T" intersection.  Travel E leads to a caved-in room with a Cave-in in ceiling dominating the view; we can go D from here to find a 120-volt battery in the glow-in-the-dark room. 

West of the "T" is the weapons room, where we can acquire a Spear, and from here we can go down to the art museum for prisoners, where we see a Foreign painting and some Flash powder.  We can't pick up the painting, but if we EXAMINE PAINTING we learn that It is a picture of toolsOne of them appears loose.  We can SHAKE PAINTING to acquire a Stone pick

Can we use any of this equipment to blow a path through the cave-in area?  We can PICK CAVE-IN to reveal a Hole in the ceiling, but we can't GO HOLE yet -- There is something dirty plugging it up.  We can DIG HOLE, and a Pile of dirt falls out.  There doesn't seem to be anything DIGgable or PICKable in it, but now we can enter a large cavern.

There's a bit of Red treated paper here, but it doesn't have anything written on it; we can pick up a Piece of string in a cul-de-sac to the east, and DIG in the same location to find some Steel wool.

West of the cavern is an east-west hallway, containing a Churn with heating elements.  Interesting.  Further west is a dead-end, with no visible or discoverable objects as far as I can see.

So we've explored the accessible map to this point, and we have a number of interesting objects in hand.  Can we WRAP POWDER in the paper?  Yes, and this produces a Stick of artificial TNT.  Hmmmm.  We can't INSERT TNT into the churn, but we can GET CHURN and then try to CHURN TNT -- but It has no power for the heating elements!

We can't CONNECT BATTERY or ATTACH BATTERY, but we can POWER CHURN.  Now we can try to CHURN TNT, but You have nothing to churn in it, so apparently the noun doesn't count and nothing we have in inventory is CHURNable.  We can RUB WOOL -- Against what? -- hmmmm.  Nothing we have seems to do anything interesting.

I thought I had tried to DIG and PICK at the pile of dirt, but hadn't tried to EXAMINE it, which suggests that There is something *else* inside the dirt!  I must have just tried to DIG at a room level earlier, because we can DIG DIRT to reveal... some more Flash powder.  Interesting.

We can INSERT STRING to provide a fuse for our makeshift TNT, but rubbing the wool against it doesn't set off a spark.  We can dig up some more oil, though, and CHURN it with our Powered-up churn to yield a Churn of gasoline.

What next?  I got stuck here and had to peek at the code -- it turns out that we want to rub the wool against the battery to make a spark, but once we've got the churn of gasoline (as opposed to the powered-up churn) we can't REMOVE BATTERY to retrieve it anymore.  So I've done things a bit out of order here.

Deferring powering up the churn for now, we can use the spark and the TNT to blow a hole in the roof at the dead end, and then go back and churn up some gasoline.  Going up through the hole in the roof, we find ourselves on the top of a hill.

Traveling down the hill and then north, we find ourselves in an abandoned oil field, where we can DIG up some more oil if we didn't go back to the cell for more earlier.  East of here is a guard forest with a Deadly savage warrior on duty -- and on my first attempt, The savage lunges with its spear! It gets you! and the adventure is over.

Unlike Mr. Wilcox's more recent Windows ports, Escape from Trash Island doesn't allow us to restore a game after dying, which means we have to re-enter the password each time we start up before we can get back to where we were.  It took me several retries before I managed to be missed by the warrior's spear and connect with my own.  I tried to THROW SPEAR before going in, which didn't help, and SHAKE SPEAR is just a missed joke opportunity; surviving this encounter is just a random event that requires a little persistence and luck.

Past the guard forest, we reach a barren and rocky beach... and here's our faithful Speedboat again!  The natives don't see the *trash* as worth anything, per the intro, so it's all still here, and all we have to do now is FILL the empty outboard MOTOR, and START it up to head home to victory!

The author's effusive praise seems a bit overblown, given that the Trash Island games are actually less difficult than many of his other adventures.  And I was disappointed that the childhood myth concept and maternal conflict mentioned at the start of the first game don't really play out in the saga's conclusion. 

But I enjoyed both of the Trash Island adventures -- compared to their inspiration, Scott Adams' Savage Island two-game series, these are much more manageable.  We've only got a few more Roger M. Wilcox games to tackle, and I expect we'll continue with them soon.


  1. Odd ... when I saved the game and deliberately let the warrior kill me, the "Load game" option on the file menu worked fine.

    Were you trying to use "SAVE" as a verb? I never implemented the SAVE verb in the TRS-80 original, but I did implement a "Save game" menu item under the File menu for exactly that purpose.

  2. I think I see the problem -- I was playing a version I downloaded in January, and it looks like you might have put a new build out circa April. Does the latest version incorporate the ability to restore after dying? I know you added that feature in your 2013 conversions, and I didn't think to go back and re-download the ones converted in 2012.

    1. Ah, that explains it. Yes, in early April I read a play-through of yours where you pointed out how annoying it was to have to go back and re-launch the .exe every time you died. So, I went back and retrofit all my previously-rewritten Adventures with state-of-the-art "Restore saved game after death" technology (patent pending).

      There are 2 adventures I don't think I touched, though: _Follower's Adventure_, and _The Last City_. Those two have the distinctions of being rewritten Way Earlier [TM], and are C++ Win32 apps rather than .NET WPF apps.