Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Adventure of the Week: Kidnapped (1981)

This week, we're getting Kidnapped, which has nothing to do with the Robert Louis Stevenson novel.
Published by SoftSide Publications, I haven't been able to track down the original TRS-80 version written by Peter Kirsch, but conversions survive for the Atari 400/800 and Apple II computers.  We're playing the Apple II version here, after I wasted some time wrestling with a very buggy, typo-ridden and unfinishable version I found online for the Atari 400/800 (probably an unofficial conversion or a poor type-in job.)  Mr. Kirsch created a number of the SoftSide Adventures later on, though this one doesn't appear to be an official numbered part of that series.

Kidnapped is essentially nine simple escape adventures in a series -- everything we need to escape each floor is available there, and nothing gets carried from one floor to the next, so it's really a collection of mini-adventures.

I always encourage interested readers to tackle these games before reading much farther -- this one is very straightforward and a good introduction to the genre if you've been following this series but haven't been playing.  But Kidnapped is not a challenging game, so more experienced readers are also welcome to skip ahead into my playthrough notes below.  There's not really much to spoil here, but there are still guaranteed...

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

We awaken on FLOOR 9, vaguely aware that we have been kidnapped and are now alone.  North of the starting point is an office with a paper note reading, "IMPORTANT TV PROGRAM ON."  There's a closet containing a LONG BROOM to the north; on the east side of the map, there's an elevator with a trap door in its ceiling that's too hard to reach, and a maintenance room contains a locked cabinet.

Suddenly there's a POWER FAILURE!  And moving in the dark tends to be fatal, so we have to start over.  This time I go west from the starting point and find another office with a TV and a CLOCK -- LOOK and EXAMINE CLOCK fail, but READ CLOCK tells us it's 3 P.M. at the moment   READ GRAFFITI in the rest room yields, "WATCH OUT FOR LIVE ONES," and we can WATCH TV to learn that the power gets cut off at midnight, so that's probably what went wrong on my earlier attempt.

The most important room on this floor seems to be the office south of the starting point, where we can see a key on the ledge outside an open window; going onto the ledge is fatal as it breaks away, and our arms are too short to reach it, but we can GET KEY if we have the long broom in inventory.

The power failure seems intended to keep us moving, so there's definitely some time pressure here!  Moving efficiently, we get the broom, get the key, unlock (actually OPEN) the cabinet and get a flashlight and some ELECTRICAL TAPE.  But once the power failure happens, we still can't LIGHT FLASHLIGHT in the dark, and apparently just standing in place fiddling with it is potentially fatal as YOU FELL AND BROKE YOUR NECK yet again.  So we need to be sure to light it before the power failure occurs.

We need the office chair to get to the trap door in the elevator; after we DROP CHAIR we can GO DOOR, as YOU STEP ON CHAIR AND JUST MANAGE TO REACH THE TRAP DOOR.  Now we can see THE ENDS OF TWO LIVE WIRES in the elevator shaft, and TAPE WIRES to... get ourselves electrocuted, dang it.  We have to wait until the power goes out and/or the clock tells us it's PAST MIDNIGHT (literally!) to get the elevator fixed, then we can PUSH DOWN (despite the lack of power) to reach the eighth floor, dropping everything we have along the way.

Starting fresh on floor 8, we find ourselves in a hallway. South is an office containing a sleeping pill and a vicious doberman blocking the way east.  West of our entry point is an aquarium full of piranha fish, and further west a closet containing some rope.  Trying to GET FISH isn't recognized, and trying to GET PIRANHA results in a horrible death, as we might have expected.  If we GIVE PILL to the dog, nothing happens and GIVE is just interpreted as DROP, but we can "give" it to the piranha to end up with a SLEEPING PIRANHA, which proves portable.  Taking one and trying to GIVE it to the dog produces dinner -- for the piranha, not the doberman, but the piranha then dies of overeating and we can access an office.  The OPEN WINDOW is inviting, but we can't just GO WINDOW; we have to TIE ROPE (to the desk) and then we can CLIMB ROPE down to the 7th floor, again abandoning anything we are carrying.

(For purposes of brevity, from here on in I'll dispense with the navigational details -- none of the remaining floors are very large, just a few rooms that don't really require any mapping.)

The seventh floor features a KEY MAKING MACHINE -- since we can't EXAMINE anything in this game, we'll have to take it face value.  A TOOL CRIB contains some SUPER GLUE and a WOODEN STAIR STEP, so we'll probably be doing some repairs to the steps down to floor 6.  A small storage room contains a THICK COPPER SHEET, which we can probably use to MAKE a KEY -- yep, we fashion a CRUDE KEY despite having no idea what the door's tumbler configuration looks like, and now we can OPEN DOOR, and while we can't FIX STEPS or REPAIR STEPS we can GLUE STEP to make our way down to floor number six.

Here, we find a TANK OF HELIUM GAS in a closet -- we can't GET TANK but we can GET GAS.  A STRING VENDING MACHINE charges $1.00 for string, in one of those only-in-adventure-games scenarios where demand for something as simple as string is so high that vending machines are placed in office buildings.  A window features a WIDE, LONG LEDGE, which (in case you were wondering) we can use to access another room -- oddly enough, a VAULT that's accessible by an open window from an easily navigable ledge.  The KIDNAPPER is in the vault, counting cash, so we'll probably want the GUN found lying around in another office, and we'll pick up the LARGE DEFLATED BALLOON from the game room just in case.  Trying to SHOOT KIDNAPPER actually doesn't work -- we have blanks, and he fires back with real bullets.  We can INFLATE BALLOON, but we can't TIE it to anything just yet.  However, we can use the gun (without firing it) to GET MONEY by threatening the kidnapper, who is now scared.  (We can actually do this multiple times, ending up with individual DOLLAR items in inventory until we run out of space).  We can't BUY STRING or GET STRING, but we can PUT DOLLAR to obtain a LONG STRING.  With the helium-filled balloon tied off with string, we can JUMP from the ledge and float down to the next floor.

The fifth floor features a raging fire blocking one hall, and we can PUSH BUTTON in another room to turn on the sprinkler system, except our clothes get soaked so we have to strip down and continue the adventure naked.  An admirable if misplaced sense of propriety prevents us from an entering a room where some YOUNG GIRL OFFICE WORKERS are present, so even though we would be perfectly able to explain the situation while hiding discreetly around the corner, we can't continue until we use the KNITTING NEEDLES and BALL OF YARN elsewhere on this floor to KNIT CLOTHES -- a fine suit, even, though it seems we could have gotten by with less.  Now we can endure the presence of the office staff to obtain a small key from the office -- again, not asking the girls for help or explaining the situation -- and unlock a door to reach the fourth floor.  We're more than halfway down the building now!

Floor number four has a large swimming pool dividing one room, DEEP AND EMPTY; we can fill it by pushing a button in another office, and READ a BOOK entitled HOW TO SWIM to cross the pool.  On the other side we find an unlicensed MARY POPPINS UMBRELLA and open it to carry an OPEN POPPIN'S UMBREALL [sic].  But we can't GO WINDOW to float down to the next floor?  Nor can we FLY DOWN or SING?  We can't even CLOSE the UMBRELLA, so we just have to JUMP again and float down to...

The third floor!  Some restroom graffiti reads, "DO YOU HAVE A SPLIT PERSONALITY?"  We're not strong enough to OPEN the steel DOOR that blocks passage to the next area, but there are some mysterious jars in a laboratory here.  The YELLOW SOLUTION is labeled ANTIDOTE, and the FLUID has an undecipherable label.  We can DRINK FLUID to transform into MR. HYDE -- YOU ARE VERY STRONG!, which is good because if that didn't happen we'd be much more vexed than we have been so far.  Now we can open the steel door and slide down a child's slide to the next floor, but if we didn't take the antidote fairly quickly then FLUID POISONS YOU.  So we need to DRINK SOLUTION (the antidote) before we GO SLIDE.

We're making rapid progress now.  The second floor presents us with a DROOLING ALLIGATOR blocking a staircase; he has THE REMAINS OF A KIDNAPPER IN HIS MOUTH, so even if we die now we may at least feel that justice was served.  There's a water cooler here with a single paper cup, probably due to budget cutbacks; we can GET WATER and POUR WATER on a plant (though we can't WATER PLANT) in the next room, causing it to grow tall enough to let us climb through a trap door in the ceiling into a crawlway.  We find a FLUTE at the other end of this passage, and can see some coiled rope in the room below, and of course PLAY FLUTE establishes that the INDIAN ROPE RISES UP TO YOU, so we can CLIMB down the ROPE and then GO STAIRS, bypassing the alligator.

At last we're on the first floor, but we're not quite home safe yet.  We find a LONG ROPE, a PIANO we can't PLAY, and a room with an improbably architected HUGE BOG OF QUICKSAND blocking our way to the front door and our ultimate escape.  There's a tent stake on this side of the bog, and a hook on the other side, as well as another conveniently placed book entitled HOW TO WALK A TIGHTROPE (what ever happened to these amazing instructors who can teach such skills with no physical training required?)  As it turns out, the rope already has a hook on it, though this isn't made apparent until we TIE ROPE to the stake on this side and THROW ROPE so its hook catches the hook on the other side.  We GO ROPE (after we READ BOOK, mind) and find ourselves at the front door, where we can simply GO DOOR... except the door is locked.  We have to return to the hitherto unused piano and GET KEY (get it?) so we can OPEN DOOR and GO DOOR to escape!  Victory is ours, though the celebration is rather terse:

While there's a fair amount to do in Kidnapped, there's no real challenge to speak of -- once I realized how limited the parser was, and that there are really no hidden exits or non-obvious solutions to the typical early-80s adventure game puzzles, everything was straightforward and I didn't even need to draw a map.  But there's a bit of humor here, and it's interesting historically as a forerunner to the later Softside Adventures, some of which were also written by Mr. Kirsch, and some of which were similarly episodic in style.  I enjoyed finishing it, primarily because most of the challenge in this case was finding a playable copy of the game!

1 comment:

  1. So ... on floor 8, you can pick up and carry a drugged piranha out of its fish tank, and not only does it not die from being out of water, it will single-handedly devour an entire doberman and explode?

    Someone call the Department of Defense. We have totally gotta weaponize these fish.