Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Adventure of the Week: Curse of the Pharaoh (1982)

This week, we're taking a look at Curse of the Pharaoh on the Atari 400/800 computers, written by Peter Kirsch, who wrote several text adventures for Softside disk magazine.  This 1982 effort, also published by Softside, is in a different format from Kirsch's other works -- it's a text adventure with illustrations dominating the display, and a four-line interface window at the bottom of the screen.

Like most of the Softside games, Curse of the Pharaoh is written in BASIC, and it seems the code devoted to drawing the simple images leaves little memory for the actual game.  Text is severaly constrained -- the interface just produces a low, lengthy beep if it doesn't understand a command, which gets annoying quickly with the game's incredibly limited one-word parser.

Interested readers may wish to experience this one first-hand, as it doesn't take long to finish, but it definitely merits mention that traditional commands like GET FLASHLIGHT don't work -- if there's a flashlight nearby, we are required to type GET with no object specified, and the full command is summarily rejected.  This got me stuck in the early going, and everything after that point was relatively straightforward.  I'll leave that decision up to you -- beyond this point, per usual, I will describe my playthrough from start to finish.  There isn't really much to spoil here, but there will nevertheless be...

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

We begin, without benefit of title screen or credits, in a desert, on a starlit night, near a pyramid.  We can wander in the nearby desert, but we can't DIG or otherwise go anywhere but back (always W) to the pyramid.  We can't GO PYRAMID or ENTER PYRAMID or LOOK at it or EXAMINE it or... hmmm.  Maybe we can go elsewhere in the desert -- and yes, further east of the main desert "room" is a flashlight.  Now we can GET FLASHLIGHT... no, TAKE FLASHLIGHT... no, PICK UP FLASHLIGHT... ack!  This is getting ridiculous, how are we supposed to play this?  I have to say this is the earliest I've ever had to seek out a walkthrough, and CASA contributor Juan Duc comes through again -- we can only GET, and whatever is here gets picked up.

Now we can GO at the pyramid, and discover that, to our non-surprise, it's DARK IN HERE!  LIGHT FLASH actually works, though it may just be looking for LIGHT.  There are STRANGE HYROGLIPHICS here -- does that imply they are also misspelled? -- but READ just plays what sounds like a death dirge?  Okay, maybe this is a stylistic choice, and we're being warned of fatal consequences ahead, in the traditional mode of warning all ye who enter here.

East (the only available direction, other than S to exit the pyramid) is a junction with passages leading in all directions (except up and down, as it turns out.)  North of the junction is a DARK CHAMBER OF WATERS IMPOSSIBLE TO CROSS (and no, we can't SWIM it either.)  S is a DAMP ROOM containing a GIANT CLAM and a DARK BEDROOM to the west.  We can MOVE (the bed) to find a ruby, and GET picks up the ruby but not the (presumably too heavy to carry) bed.  We can't OPEN the clam, at least not yet, as indicated by the sonorous beeping whenever we try.

Going east of the junction and ignoring some other possibilities along the way, we reach a DEAD END with a pushbutton on the wall and a rug.  Trying to PUSH the button actually produces one of the game's very few messages back -- STRANGE...DOESN'T WORK.  We can GET the rug to find a KEY; I hope we don't run out of inventory space, as there's no DROP command at all!

Heading back west to the room just east of the junction, going North leads up a staircase, and we must go U to reach a TALL ROOM with SOMETHING HANGING FROM THE CEILING that we can't GET even if we JUMP.

We can also go south from the dark bedroom (I initially allowed the illustration to influence my thinking and thought we could only go back east) to reach a DINGY CHAMBER, where we find another pushbutton on the wall.  PUSHing it doesn't do anything visible, but the confirming high-pitched beep suggests we've accomplished something.  And yes, now the SOMETHING in the tall room reveals itself to be a LADDER.  This may be one of the few pyramid-based adventures I've played that actually considers the traditional shape of the structure!

CLIMBing the ladder leads to the west end of a LONG CORRIDOR, and traveling east leads us to another staircase... with BLOODSTAINED WALLS.  This game's illustrations are extremely low-resolution and simple -- this is actually one of the more visually interesting locations, and it gets the depth cueing all wrong:

We can go U the stairs to the east end of another hall with a locked door.  We have a key, but let's first go to the west end of the hall where we see an OPEN FUSE BOX.  This pyramid has electrical power, apparently, but we don't have a fuse or anything on hand.

OPENing the locked door (presumably with the key), we find ourselves in the MUMMY ROOM, with an OPEN SARCOPHAGUS and a FEARSOME MUMMY with NO EYES.  He doesn't keep us from fleeing back south, or from trying any other verbs, so he's not presenting much of a danger.  False bloodstain advertising, I say!

What now?  The ladder retracts after we go back down it; pushing the button in the dingy chamber brings it back, but we can't GET it for use in bridging the water room.  What about the clam?  We can't PRY or TICKLE it open, or KILL or HIT the clam... but we can KICK it to reveal, in a more-egregious-than-usual instance of adventure game logic, a FUSE!  Mother of pearl!!!

We can now PUT the fuse in the fuse box... no, INSERT... no, actually, DROPping it puts it neatly into place.  So there actually is a drop verb, but it's only useful for putting things in specific places.  This has no apparent effect on the mummy or the chamber of waters, but we can now PUSH the button at the east of end of the first-floor hall that wasn't doing anything before, and now the WATER HAS DRAINED.

Going north past the chamber of newly-drained waters, we find ourselves in DEEP PINK CHAMBERS, with a ROPE available.  West is an area of DEEP PURPLE CHAMBERS, where I like to think Ian Gillan is rocking out in the background, and south of that is a DARK ROOM with a DEEP, DARK PIT and a prominently featured STAKETIE connects the rope to the stake and dangles it down into the pit.  CLIMB leads us down to find a green ruby, which we can simply GET before we CLIMB back up.  We can't retrieve the rope, so that must be the extent of this puzzle.

Now we have two rubies, a red and a green one (not an emerald, or zoisite even, but a green ruby) -- and a fearsome mummy with no eyes.  I thought we might be dealing with some sort of blind mummy/lights-out puzzle at the climax, but it seems all we have to do is DROP the two rubies, one at a time, to restore the mummy's sight.

At least the pace picks up a bit now, as the FEARSOME MUMMY...SEES! GET OUT QUICK (apparently he was harmless with 2-D vision but is very dangerous with his depth perception enabled!)  We can't pull the fuse to cause him any problems, and we can't get the eyes back.  Why did we want to do this, other than it seemed like the only remaining puzzle?  Even now, the mummy doesn't seem to pose any real threat -- we can stand around in the mummy room, methodically poking through our inventory and trying random commands without suffering any harm at all.

But it seems that the game might want us to exit the pyramid with our ill-gotten, um, rug, so we do... and apparently, that's all that's needed here.  We could have left at any time, so why we have to restore the mummy's vision instead of just keeping the rubies and heading home remains a mystery.  But if we exit the pyramid without doing that, the game isn't over, while if we have given up our hard-won treasures to restore the fearsome mummy to death-dealing life, then YOU WIN -- without so much as a celebratory exclamation point.

Curse of the Pharaoh is a primitive adventure even by 1982 standards, though the attempt to simplify the interface is interesting and could have allowed the design to work on non-computer platforms if the author had been so inclined.  But aside from some parser struggles, I didn't have any trouble finishing it in about an hour, including taking notes, and there's no real drama in the storyline, even when the parser pretends there is.  I'm glad Mr. Kirsch stuck to traditional text adventures for most of his output, as the limitations imposed by adding graphics to a BASIC language program make the Curse of the Pharaoh considerably less curseworthy than it might have been.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Adventure of the Week: Pyramid 2000 (1979)

I don't imagine my experience in this regard was unique -- I encountered a certain seminal adventure game disguised as Pyramid 2000 for the TRS-80 Model I computers during the early years of the hobby.  It was published in 1979 by Radio Shack, with no author credited, and it was only the second adventure game I'd ever played, prior to my youthful discovery that there was such a thing as third-party software.  So this one will be a bit of a trip down memory lane for me.  There's no title screen, just a brief welcoming message:

The game's manual was a product of the late 1970s, positing that our adventuring avatar is a product of Astral Projection, a New Age concept since consigned to the pop culture dustbin.  The pyramid motif was more enduring, and many later adventure games explored similar settings.  I finally solved Pyramid 2000 with the help of Tandy's support line, but only discovered a few years later (on a friend's Apple II), as a "new" adventure became increasingly familiar, that Pyramid 2000 was actually an excerpt of the Crowther and Woods Colossal Cave Adventure, redressed with an Egyptian theme.  Basically, Pyramid 2000 substitutes a pyramid for the building in Colossal Cave, replaces the high fantasy gingerbreading with Egyptian mythology, and manages to cram a substantial portion of the classic treasure-hunting experience into 16K of cassette-loaded RAM.  The interface is very basic -- text and response, with none of that fancy windowed interface stuff Scott Adams would pioneer on the same platform at around the same time.

I always encourage interested readers to sample these games firsthand, though in Pyramid 2000's case I'll accept Colossal Cave experience for full credit.  The game provides its share of frustrations, no doubt, and the best resource I can point you to is Sean Murphy's excellent figmentfly page for more information and a full walkthrough.  Beyond this point I will be recording my playthrough in detail, which means I can only cover my Astral Projection with the warning that there are certain to be...

***** SPOILERS AHEAD! *****
We begin standing before the entrance of a pyramid, with nothing in inventory (and we have to type INVENTORY, the I shorthand command was not yet traditional.)  We can wander around the desert, to no real purpose -- we're surrounded by four endless, instinguishable desert "rooms" -- so our best option is to get inside... we can't ENTER PYRAMID or GO PYRAMID or OPEN PYRAMID or GO ENTRANCE, we just have to travel North.  (One of the challenges of this RAM-limited version is that we get few entrances or exits described in the early and late going -- navigation depends largely on trial and error, which makes maze mapping very difficult later on.)

Inside the pyramid are a number of iconic adventuring items -- a SHINY BRASS LAMP, some FOOD, and a BOTTLE with WATER IN THE BOTTLE.  There's nothing to do here, except to GET LAMP and everything else; below the entrance, we find a small chamber with the classic low crawl leading west, and a dire warning that never quite pans out in-game: "CURSE ALL WHO ENTER THIS SACRED CRYPT."

Heading west, we find ourselves in the pitch dark, so it's time to LIGHT LAMP and LOOK to get a view of the surroundings.  There's a SMALL STATUE BOX in this low passage; we can't EXAMINE or READ it, as the parser does not support these verbs, but we'll take it along anyway.

Proceeding west, we enter a ROOM FILLED WITH BROKEN POTTERY SHARDS OF EGYPTIAN CRAFTS, with a THREE FOOT SCEPTER WITH AN ANKH lying nearby.  We continue through an AWKWARD SLOPING EAST/WEST CORRIDOR to enter a SPLENDID CHAMBER THIRTY FEET HIGH, with the walls memorably described as FROZEN RIVERS OF ORANGE STONE.  There's a STATUE OF THE BIRD GOD sitting here.  If we try to GET STATUE without the statue box, it can be lifted but not carried; if we have the scepter in hand, it comes to life and flies out of reach.

Traveling west again (this first section is very linear) leads to a SMALL PIT BREATHING TRACES OF WHITE MIST.  A small crack continues westward, and ROUGH STONE STEPS LEAD DOWN THE PIT.  We can't get through the crack, even if we drop all our inventory, so it makes more sense to go D into the pit.

We now find ourselves in a vast hall leading west, with openings to either side, meaning to the north and south.  If we go N, however, we're partially trapped in the PHARAOH'S CHAMBER, where a HUGE GREEN FIERCE SERPENT BARS THE WAY!  It won't let us go back south, but we can escape by going east to return to the hall.  A low room to the south contains a SPARKLING NUGGET OF GOLD, and hieroglyphics translating to "YOU WON'T GET IT UP THE STEPS."  This proves correct, as we cannot climb back up out of the pit with the nugget in hand, so we'll have to find an alternate route.

The middle of the hall is blocked by a BOTTOMLESS PIT that is reportedly TOO WIDE TO JUMP.  I remember it taking me quite a bit of experimentation, back in those early days, but with limited objects available and some experience in these matters it isn't hard to figure out that if we WAVE SCEPTER, A STONE BRIDGE NOW SPANS THE BOTTOMLESS PIT.

There's PRECIOUS JEWELRY on the other side of the pit, and while we can't proceed directly west, we can go N from this point to navigate through a parallel passage to the WEST END OF THE HALL OF GODS.  A low passage continues west, leading to the eastern end of another long hall APPARENTLY WITHOUT SIDE CHAMBERS and exits leading north and east.

West of this location is what seems to be the end of the long east-west traversal, as we join up with a narrow passage heading north.  Heading that way, we intersect a LOW E/W PASSAGE and run into a DEAD END to the north.  Heading west from the intersection takes us back to the east end of the long, narrow hall; going east enters the WEST THRONE CHAMBER where we espy MANY COINS HERE.  (The map definitely feels cave-like with these twisty, roundabout passages -- knowing nothing of the game's origins during my original foray, I remember being quite confused by the geographical inconsistencies!)

Going east from the throne chamber takes us back to the PHARAOH'S CHAMBER, with the serpent guardian still at large.  I also run into the MUMMY at this point, who replaces Colossal Cave's pirate: "I'M THE KEEPER OF THE TOMB," HE WAILS, "I TAKE THESE TREASURES AND PUT THEM IN THE CHEST DEEP IN THE MAZE!"  Since he's taken the coins, we may have trouble if we run out of battery power and need to visit the vending machine alluded to later, but we'll soldier on for now.

We might as well get the serpent out of the way -- this also took me a long time to figure out once upon a time, but we can THROW STATUE (THROW BIRD does not work, though the noun is recognized for other purposes) -- it COMES TO LIFE AND ATTACKS THE SERPENT AND IN AN ASTOUNDING FLURRY, DRIVES THE SERPENT AWAY.  Then it resumes its statue form.  (I distinctly remember solving this puzzle on a long-ago rainy Sunday afternoon, and being extremely thrilled I was finally getting somewhere!)

There are some BARS OF SILVER in a low north-south passage north of the Pharaoh's Chamber.  A hole in the floor here leads down to an east-west passage, but we'll go north first to visit a large room with a panel on the north wall.  We can PUSH PANEL to find ourselves back at the entrance to the pyramid, so this will be useful for getting our ill-gotten tomb-looting gains out of the lower levels.  We can push it again to return to the passage belowground, so this will be handy indeed.

The lower passage is DIRTY and BROKEN, leading east to a SMALL CLEAN CLIMBABLE PIT.  We can go down to the bottom of the pit, where a small stream ENTERS AND EXITS THROUGH TINY SLITS.  If we DRINK WATER, the parser first empties our bottle, then after it's empty will let us drink from the stream, which TASTES STRONGLY OF MINERALS; we can GET WATER to refill the bottle after it's been emptied, which will come in handy later.

At the west end of the broken passage is the ROOM OF BES, with a hole in the floor.  Climbing down leads into a COMPLEX JUNCTION.  North of this location is a LARGE ROOM WITH ANCIENT DRAWINGS ON ALL WALLS, depicting ATUM, A PHARAOH WEARING THE DOUBLE CROWN.  There's a sarcophagus here -- we need something else, though, as we are reportedly not strong enough to open it.

We can go downward to explore a LONG SLOPING CORRIDOR WITH RAGGED WALLS, leading down into a featureless CUL-DE-SAC ABOUT EIGHT FEET ACROSS (I remember having to look up CUL-DE-SAC as a youngster, not having encountered the word before!)  Going up from the sarcophagus room leads us to a chamber depicting KHONS, THE MOON GOD, though like a number of rooms it seems to be here strictly for atmosphere.

Returning to the complex junction, we can go east to the UNDERWORLD ANTEROOM OF SEKER, where hieroglyphics suggest, "THOSE WHO PROCEED EAST MAY NEVER RETURN,"  and we can pick up some issues of "EGYPTIAN WEEKLY" magazine (though I never found a purpose for these.)  Going E leads to THE LAND OF DEAD, a maze with passages in ">ALL< DIRECTIONS."  Trying to return west sends us through some passages and dumps us back here -- and so does going in any other direction! If we say PLUGH -- a classic adventuring magic word -- in desperation, it's no help, as "OH, NO!  I LOST MY COMPASS.  I NO LONGER SEEM TO KNOW WHICH WAY IS NORTH!"  So it's a good thing I saved before coming in here, and we'll heed the warning and avoid this single-room dead end going forward.

So let's restore, go back and map out the area around the Chamber of Horus.  We can head directly west to reach the EAST END OF THE TWOPIT ROOM, with pits at either end, and the most interesting hole in the wall DIRECTLY OVER THE WEST PIT WHERE YOU CAN'T GET TO IT.  There's a tiny plant in the pit, MURMURING "WATER, WATER, ..."  We can WATER PLANT -- well, POUR WATER, actually -- a few times, going back to the stream we found earlier to refill the bottle.  The initial watering produces a TWELVE FOOT BEAN STALK bellowing louder demands for hydration, and the second and final yields a GIGANTIC BEAN STALK STRETCHING ALL THE WAY UP TO THE HOLE

We can now CLIMB BEANSTALK to visit a narrow corridor, leading west to the CHAMBER OF OSIRIS with a nest FULL OF GOLDEN EGGS!  We can also get to the CHAMBER OF NEKHEBET to the north to find a JEWEL-ENCRUSTED KEY -- but we're running out of inventory space, so we'll have to drop the statue box before we can pick it up.  There's another passage here, BLOCKED BY A FALLEN BLOCK that cannot be cleared as far as I could discover.

If memory serves, we need to explore randomly around the Chamber of Horus to find something... it loops back most of the time, but not always, and I eventually find myself in THE PRIEST'S BEDROOM, with a SMALL VELVET PILLOW on the floor.  We can also reach a LARGE LOW CIRCULAR CHAMBER with passages leading north and south; south takes us back to the Twopit Room, and north goes back to the chamber of Horus.

More random exploration leads back to the Anteroom of Seker, which we don't need to reach via this method.  But persistence eventually gets us to the CHAMBER OF THE HIGH PRIEST, where we can acquire a DELICATE, PRECIOUS, VASE.  A SE exit returns to the chamber of Horus, but we should first explore a tight passage west -- the opening won't allow us to take any inventory with us, but the room is fortunately lit by AN EERIE LIGHT, apparently coming from AN EMERALD HERE THE SIZE OF A PLOVER'S EGG!

There is a SCORE command which reports our current points out of 220 and our current turn count.  But it seems our lamp is starting to run out now -- I'm 297 turns in, mostly underground, and the batteries are getting dim -- twenty turns later, our light source is gone.  The game mentions the vending machine we can use to buy batteries, but because the mummy stole our coins earlier, it's back to a much earlier save. 

We've learned quite a bit in our exploration so far, though.  One thing to keep in mind is that we should conserve the lamp's battery power -- UNLIGHT doesn't work, but we can TURN LANTERN OFF, a rare extension of the two-word parser approach generally used here.  And the classic puzzle from Colossal Cave is retained -- we need to use the vase and pillow together, as if we DROP VASE without first dropping the pillow, it shatters instead of RESTING, DELICATELY, ON A VELVET PILLOW.

Restarting, I try to maneuver in the dark to conserve battery power, only to be reminded that even if we have a map, it's still easy to fall and break every bone in our virtual body, being ENGULFED IN A CLOUD OF ORANGE SMOKE as we are reincarnated at the pyramid entrance -- without most of the equipment we left behind where we fell, the lamp being the only exception.  Reincarnation also costs us ten points, and after a few rounds, I SEEM TO BE OUT OF ORANGE SMOKE and the game is definitely over.  So we should try to avoid dying during our serious, game-finishing attempts.

This time, I lose the nugget and silver bars to the mummy, but not the coins, and it seems the mummy only confiscates our treasure one time.  A vague memory reminds me to use the jeweled key to OPEN SARCOPHAGUS, and a GLISTENING PEARL falls out and rolls down into the cul-de-sac, where it can be retrieved.  I drop the key, nest and pearl in the entrance, remembering to turn the lamp off while I'm doing so to save battery life, and have now scored 60 points in 86 turns.

My randomized exploration from the Chamber of Horus takes about 30 turns this time to obtain the pillow, the emerald and the vase.  I've now got 100 points in 136 turns.  I stumble across a SOUTH SIDE CHAMBER adjoining the Pharaoh's Chamber, one of those unexpected map connections I had missed earlier, and pick up some DIAMONDS.

Now it's time to explore what I have been putting off as long as possible - A MAZE OF TWISTY PASSAGES, ALL ALIKE, adjoining the Hall of Gods, which I had a tough time mapping in my youth.  Surely I'm better at this by now?  Well, at least I can see why it's so hard to map this time -- the maze has quite a few rooms in it, and it takes more objects than can readily be carried to map it out.  There is a secondary escape from the maze, THE BRINK OF A LARGE PIT which we can use to climb down to the chamber with frozen orange stone walls, but not back up.

In actuality, the maze is somewhat linear -- at least, most rooms only have one "progressive" direction available, though the interconnections, loops, and dead ends make it hard to see that without fighting our way through.  East of the brink of the pit is the very epitome of the classic non-obvious adventure puzzle -- while every room up to this point has informed us that THERE IS NO WAY FOR YOU TO GO THAT DIRECTION when we try to go NE, NW, SE, or SW, this room actually has an exit to the northwest -- and this is where the PHARAOH'S TREASURE CHEST lies, as well as any other treasures the mummy made off with earlier!  A successful sequence (certainly not the only one) for navigating the maze from the West End of the Hall of Gods all the way to the Treasure Chest -- the issue I had to call the Radio Shack help line for more than three decades ago -- is:

    S, E, S, S, S, N, E, E, NW
Then we can return to the upper level by going SE, W, S, and D, and return to the entrance to drop off more treasures. We're up to 200 points now, out of 220, so we're apparently still missing a treasure.  Ah -- I did not retrieve the precious jewelry on this pass, so it's a good thing I didn't leave the scepter anywhere it would be hard to retrieve.  Going back to the bottomless pit, waving the scepter, grabbing the jewelry, and returning to the entrance gives us satisfaction at last... although severe memory constraints are likely responsible for a somewhat anticlimactic finale.  There's not even a congratulatory message to reward us for our hard-fought victory, just the cold comfort of the best possible SCORE we can achieve:

I enjoyed revisiting Pyramid 2000 -- I remembered a good deal of it, though I have to give some credit to more recent ventures into the Colossal Cave that are fresher in my mind. It must have been quite a challenge for Radio Shack's unnamed engineer to fit even this excerpt of that seminal adventure game into a diskless microcomputer, and Pyramid 2000 remains one of the experiences that got me hooked on the genre.  Thanks for indulging my nostalgia, and I'll get back to something fresher next time around, I promise.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Adventure of the Week: The Crimson Crown (1985)

This week, I'm finally getting around to a classic I've never played before -- 1985's The Crimson Crown, a Penguin Software / Polarware illustrated adventure written by Antonio Antiochia, author of the popular Transylvania which I covered way back in 2009.

This was a sequel of sorts, though it was not formally billed as such, and is considered part of the Transylvania series.  We're playing the Apple II version, written in Penguin's COMPREHEND language.  The text, unusually for an Apple II adventure, is presented in very readable mixed-case, and the illustrations are important as they often reveal objects and possibilities not mentioned in the text.  The game can be played more quickly with the illustrations out of the way -- they're drawn using vector-and-fill techniques that take a few seconds to render -- but they really are important.  Fortunately, they can be toggled on and off with the ENTER key.

Interested readers are very much encouraged to attempt recovery of The Crimson Crown first-hand before reading my notes below.  But I will recommend you check out the supplementary material at the CASA Solution Archive --  you may not need the walkthrough, but the transcription of a riddle-bearing parchment from the original packaging is important; it was meant as a form of copy protection and the game can't readily be finished without it.  With that said, I'll leave you to your own decision, reminding you that there are going to be plenty of...

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

We begin on a lake shore, with a sleepy willow tree and a path leading east.  INVENTORY reveals we have nothing, but it also establishes that we have a traveling companion, someone named Erik who says, "We have only what we started with -- ourselves!" 

We can CLIMB TREE to see an owl perched on a branch.  The owl asks, "Who?", and we can SAY various names to no immediate effect.  We can't GET OWL, so we'll have to come back later when we have a clue about this puzzle.  Trying to CLIMB TREE again establishes the presence of a second traveling companion, as Sabrina says, "We are already in the tree!"  We have to go D to return to the lake shore; our party generally travels along with us, and while we can direct Erik and Sabrina to do things we can't, it seems we travel in lock-step and can't split up the team to solve a puzzle.

Traveling east, we enter the woods; a tree stump lies to the north and there are no other visible exits.  Trying to head north to the stump leads us into a trap, plummeting our party down into a crypt.  Here we see two iron doors and passages leading east and west.  Sabrina is apparently a novice magic user; she has no spell that can get us out of here, despite Erik's urgings that she do something.

Heading west leads us into a large, misty cavern, with no features of apparent note.  East is a cave, where a pulsating crystal ball sits atop a stalagmite.  Trying to EXAMINE BALL is dangerous but necessary to move the plot along, as we are thrust into darkness, where we encounter The Vampire.  He demands that we surrender Sabrina and the boy (Erik?) to him, before we are thrown into a chamber of blinding white light, where a friendlier shape charges us with destroying the vampire "BEFORE HE LEARNS THE SECRETS OF THE CROWN!"  He or she tries to give us something, but we are interrupted by the vampire again, and Sabrina ("the princess") has to drag us out of the room, back to the crypt.  The way east is now blocked by dirt and debris.  There's considerably more drama afoot here than in Antiochia's earlier Transylvania, at some cost to interactivity.

We don't have many options now, so we might as well READ the SIGN near the iron doors and consider pushing the button.  The sign reads:

I am very old, yet I'm very new.  Many used me before, now there are few.  A famous knight made me famous, too...  I do not breathe, yet I need air, true.

A powerful, last-resort sword of some kind?  We can't MOVE SIGN; what happens if we PUSH BUTTON?  Hmmm... Nothing happens?  It seems to be a toggle -- pushing it a second time results in a whirring noise, followed by nothing happening on the third push, so it might be an elevator moving between two floors.

What else?  Well, we can go D from the misty cavern onto a staircase, leading to a lower cavern but not all the way to it, leaving a twenty-foot vertical gap to the level below.  We can safely go D, but can't go back U the way we came.  We might as well explore, anyway, as down here there are tall pillars flanking an arched entrance.

Going north may be premature, as it brings us to a gryphon's den, though fortunately we can escape by going south again.  South is more cave area, with some mushrooms that are quite dangerous, at least psychically -- trying to GET them induces a warning from Sabrina, too late, and a seizure of sorts that leaves a shriek echoing in our head.  Hmmmm.  I should have EXAMINEd them first -- Sabrina notes that "They are evil and deadly!"

West of this location is a maze, it appears -- a crossroads of twisting paths which meander all directions.  If we hang around for a bit, a spectral sage appears; we can TALK SAGE to get a brief commercial for his or her soothsaying skills before the apparition disappears.

A stump south of the crossroads bears ancient writing, reading "Knock here."  Going S from here plunges us back into the crypt, so this must be the same stump we saw earlier.  Working our way back here, we can KNOCK STUMP -- and a twisting coil of green fire throws all of us backwards -- and back into the crypt, again.

Well, we might as well visit the Gryphon while we're making our way back to the crossroads.  We can TALK to him -- "Three riddles have I," he says, and offers us the challenge of answering them to win his treasure.  This puzzle refers to a parchment included in the original game packaging, a copy-protection measure in the pre-Internet era; each stanza apparently corresponds to a riddle, and I've copied it here from the CASA Solution Archive:


Hands I do not have, yet I grasp so tight.
I love darkness, my enemy is light.
Both the mighty and low know me well,
For in the hearts of men do I dwell!

I wonder as I wander: where am I?
I shed tears, yet I cannot cry,
I trek but cannot walk, swim, or fly,
I am born to die. Say, what am I?

I am, I'm not. I visit young and old,
Some I make timid and some I make bold,
Unwise is the one who pokes fun at me.
Beware, for I am a shadow of thee.
My first guesses were GREED, a RIVER, and FEAR.  Only FEAR produces any kind of response, and I suspect that may have been the correct answer to the first riddle, not the last one.  Repeating recognized words causes the gryphon to note that he heard us the first time, so it seems we've got one of the three.  This will take some further thought, so for now we'll go back to the crossroads.

West of the crossroads is a large, shady tree.  There's a cat here, "possessed. Its eyes glow with vermilion fire."  The moss-covered tree is too slippery to climb, and the demon cat prevents our passage further west.

Oddly enough, we still don't have anything in inventory!  But we've explored much the accessible map, it seems, and the only major area we haven't covered is a forest maze north of the crossroads, "a foreboding intersection of forest paths which lead all directions."  These are always tough to map without droppable inventory, but we'll have to venture in.  We run into the sage again, who tells us (in verse) that we need a ring, shield, and sword; that we ought to talk with the owl in the tree; and that we should "LEAVE NOT THE SCEPTER, CARRY IT FREE."  Interesting.

As it turns out, this forest area isn't really a maze -- the geography makes consistent sense and the rooms are recognizably unique.  Whew!  There's a cave to the north, but we can't see in there, due to too many bats, for a bit of a change from the usual darkness puzzle.

In the western part of the forest is a gloomy castle, which we can freely enter.  The interior is fairly large -- we travel north for a while to reach a large candle-lit chamber, with stairs going up and a hall sloping down.  The downward path takes us to the cellar, with a vault door and stairs heading further down.  The vault door is cracked open -- but if we try to ENTER VAULT, A spirit voice whispers, "Windmill..." and we are blown back to the crypt.

We encounter the sage yet again while returning to our previous location -- this time, he mentions that the Dark Prince is alive and well, but flew away with hellish power of some kind, and that "NOW ZIN IS RULER AND HERE TO STAY."  Well, we don't really care who the big bad is, we just need to deal with him/her/it by means of solving various obscure puzzles, per the usual.

Sabrina mentions that "This is the wizard's castle" as we re-enter the castle, and suggests that he is quite dangerous if angered.  Heading downstairs again, we find a treasure chamber, where we can pick up a scroll -- or try to, as everytime we attempt to GET SCROLL, a mysterious wind blows the scroll out of reach.  I tried to SAY WINDMILL here, which did summon a wind to blow us back to the crypt, but the transportation didn't bring the scroll along with it.

Returning and checking out the upper level of the castle, we find a high chamber leading to an eerie chamber.  Trying to enter it causes yet another magical wind to come up, blowing us back down the stairs.  We can examine the chandelier in the main chamber to note that it's on a chain and cannot be reached from below or above; we can't tell if that's important or not.

In the eastern part of the forest lies a forlorn cemetery with a grating set into the ground -- and gravestones marked SABRINA, ERIK and INTRUDER, clearly meant for our party.  Spooky!  The grating isn't locked, but it is rusted shut and can't readily be broken open.  The sage shows up once again -- it's not hard to get his advice, it seems -- to tell us that "THE EBONY WARRIOR IS A MIGHTY FOE" and suggest that a dipped (poisoned?) arrow tip can do him in.

We can actually pass through the dark, bat-populated cave to its northern side -- where a giant cobra rears its head.  If we hang around too long, it attacks, and we're dead of poison within a few moves -- the first true death scenario we've encountered, and nicely handled in that it doesn't happen instantly but takes a little while for the poison to set in.

After a quick restore, we're back to puzzle-solving.  There's an abandoned house in the eastern part of the forest.  The busybody sage shows up to tell us that there's something shiny in the lake that can be retrieved by someone who can dive deep.

We can enter and explore the house -- there's a crate inside, and if we open it, a hideous zombie emerges!  This is an old-school zombie -- it has fangs and claws, and looks more like the grim reaper than a contemporary George Romero-style zombie.


We have no weapon, so we'll go upstairs for now.  The attic contains a candle, which we can take (finally, something portable!)  We can see the cemetery from the attic, though the window can't be opened.  Heading back downstairs, we find we can't TALK ZOMBIE.  It advances on us, and Sabrina advises us to "Flee!", so FLEE we shall.  We run into the sage again, this time informing us that "THE FIERY ONE WILL COME TO YOUR AID" and we need to "WAVE A SYMBOL OF YOUR BELOVED LAND."  Maybe the scepter mentioned earlier?

Wandering around looking for something else to do, we run into the sage again, who mentions that we need to summon him "WHEN THE RIGHT WAY HAS BEEN SHOWN, AND THAT STRANGE WORD IS KNOWN."  Okay.  Returning to the gryphon, I luck out with CLOUD as a guess for the second riddle, but still have no good ideas about the third.

Is there a way to get back up above the crypt?  We need to talk to the owl some more, it appears, and examine the lake shore again.  And yes, we can JUMP SOUTH at the stump to avoid the trap (or so it seems -- more on this in a bit.)  But the lake is too dangerous to explore, and too murky to see into.  The owl seems uninterested in us.  The candle we just picked up is not lit, so it's probably only part of a puzzle. 

The zombie is apparently flammable, as if we try to BURN ZOMBIE with the unlit candlem, the game tells us we're forgetting something, and the zombie is not afraid.  Hmmmm... there's a torch bolted to the wall near the entrance to the gryphon's residence, and we can LIGHT CANDLE there.  Trying to BURN ZOMBIE now scares the dry, ragged zombie out of the house, and we can acquire a mouse (perhaps to give to the owl) and a magic sack.  The crate contains nothing but a note reading, "From Karel Thurg -- Handle with care!"

Can we see inside the cave with the lit candle?  Nope.  We'll EXTINGUISH CANDLE for now, then, in case we need to conserve its light for later (we won't, but it's good practice anyway.)  We can GIVE MOUSE to the owl, who flies away, saying, "If you ever need me, just whistle."  Okay.  We can WHISTLE any time, but the owl is apparently only going to help us with a specific puzzle; he flutters by without assisting otherwise, and is no use for scaring away the possessed cat.  We haven't taken time to OPEN the magic SACK yet, and doing so, we find that it contains a gleaming black ring and a strange-looking flute.  Presumably the ring is the one the sage says we need; I'm not sure about the flute, but maybe we can charm the cobra with it?  Yep!  We PLAY FLUTE and he's out of the way.  We have to disable the graphics (toggling them with the ENTER key) to read that the room we're in has exits leading north, south, and west.  (This is not an easy game to map, as there are lots of detailed interior spaces that are larger than one "box" using traditional techniques.)

To the west is Fair Deal Sam's, a shop operated by a demon, apparently, though there are no obvious goods for sale.  TALK SAM establishes that "I have just the thing for you. But it's not free!"  So we'll have to return here later with something of value to trade.  Going north takes us to a high ledge, where we can see a castle in the distance with a death's head carved into the mountainside; we're too high up to get down from here, but I suspect the end of the game will take place in that castle.  (Actually, it's a fortress, as Erik kindly explains when we try to EXAMINE CASTLE.)

There's nothing obvious we can do at the moment -- can the owl reach the chandelier in the castle we visited earlier?  Nope, nor can he snag the windblown scroll in the treasure chamber below, nor can Erik or Sabrina pick it up.  We can WEAR the RING from the magic sack; there's no immediate reason to do so, but we'll heed the sage's advice in case it makes something happen; it doesn't seem to.

I'd almost forgotten that the sign in the crypt poses a riddle -- we've already discovered the answer to this one, though I didn't register it until I came back to consider this puzzle.  SAY WINDMILL always brings us to the crypt from elsewhere, but when we're there already, it opens the elevator doors!  Well, the doors aren't for an elevator, actually, as inside is a cairn of glowing stones with a sword embedded in it.  We can't PULL SWORD, though, as It won't budge.  We can read it, though, to see the name "KADASH" -- a reference to an earlier Apshai-esque Polarware title, The Sword of Kadash.

Hmmmm.  I'm still stuck, and entirely ready to reference a walkthrough to learn that while we can't retrieve the sword, ERIK, GET SWORD works!  (Though ERIK, PULL SWORD still indicates that it won't budge.)  I really need to remember that our fellow party members can sometimes do things we can't manage ourselves.  And I'm also resigned to cheating and learning that the answer to the gryphon's third riddle is DREAM -- he disappears in frustration, leaving a jeweled scepter in his wake.  Trying to GET SCEPTER notes that inventory is getting heavy -- can we store things in the magic sack?  Yes -- we can (for example) PUT FLUTE IN SACK to free up a slot.

Now what?  Can SABRINA, SCARE CAT help us with the possessed animal?  Nope -- "Booga, Booga, Booga!" Nothing happens.  Erik has a sword, but refuses to slay any animal of the forest.  But ASK SABRINA ABOUT CAT helps -- she says, "I can handle this beast! Perhaps I should cast a spell."  And yes, SABRINA, CAST SPELL works. 

To the west, we now encounter a stereotypical broom-bearing witch near a simmering kettle and a stone tablet.  She won't let us GET TABLET, and while we're messing with that, Erik drinks some of the potion in the witch's kettle on his own initiative.  EXAMINE ERIK yields only, "Oh, no!"  ASK ERIK ABOUT ERIK produces, "I'm not afraid of an old witch!"  But Erik is not feeling well at all; he's not able to kill the witch, either.  And now... he's turned into a frog?  But he returns to normal after a few moves.  Hmmmm.

I'm guessing Erik's frog form is useful for swimming at the murky lake, but find that we can't JUMP SOUTH by the stump at the moment, as we fall into the trap again?  It seems that's what pushing the button in the crypt does; there's no elevator, but it allows us to avoid falling through the trap door.  Jumping actually has nothing to do with it, we're just navigating north and south in the normal manner once the door is held shut.  We can command ERIK, DRINK POTION to get his transformation started intentionally, then drop him at the lake after he turns -- Erik the frog dives in and emerges with a silver coin, and the timing works out so that he changes back shortly afterward.

Will the coin let us buy something from Fair Deal Sam?  Yes, he gives us a glowing sphere of annihilation.  On the way there, we spot a large, purple diamond in the bat cave; it wasn't there before, and it bears images of a centaur, a black knight, a dragon, a troll, and a demon.  Interesting; the black knight is likely the ebony warrior the sage mentioned, so this might be a preview of our foes to come.

How do we stand regarding our apparent objectives?  We're missing a shield for the final confrontation, per the sage's earlier advice.  We haven't been past the grating in the cemetery... ERIK, HIT GRATING doesn't work, nor does ERIK, PRY GRATING -- though the attempt notes that Fingers cannot fit into the cracks.  The scepter won't fit, but ERIK, PRY GRATING WITH SWORD works (with a bit of comical pratfall action as a bonus -- it seems Erik is heir to the sword, but not necessarily skilled with it.)

As we enter the grating, it slams shut above us and we are trapped.  There is a censer here, made of brass and gold, with the engraved words: "Wave me."  We can't get out of here by traditional means, but SAY WINDMILL blows us back to the crypt as usual, and now we can continue.

There's still no shield in sight -- I wonder where we're supposed to wave the censer?  We can LIGHT CENSER from the torch near the gryphon's den, and waving it around seems to produce an overpowering cloud of incense wherever we happen to be, but no specific effect.  Aha!  In the treasure chamber below Zin's castle, A blood-curdling howl erupts from the walls of the chamber, and now we can GET SCROLL... except, no, now it rolls away instead of blowing away.  SABRINA, GET SCROLL works -- it must be partial to magic users -- and we can also ask her to read the scroll, revealing that It's a spell of laughter.  Okay.

I'm not sure what's changed, but now we can go the top of the stairs in Zin's castle and meet the wizard himself; Mr. Antiochia has indulged in a bit of a pun here, as he's the wizard Zin, and the wizard is in.  Since he's not apparently a threat, we can TALK ZIN -- we learn that the tablet the witch has belongs to him, and if we recover it he'll show us how to reach the fortress.

I didn't know what would happen when I asked Sabrina to cast a spell on the witch, but she uses the scroll of laughter and while the witch is recovering, we can GET TABLET and escape (I had to do some inventory juggling here, so fortunately she doesn't recover quickly; I extinguished the censer before putting it in the sack, just in case.) Returning the tablet to the wizard yields the word, "Lorelei".

We SAY LORELEI at the high ledge facing the fortress (since there doesn't seem to be any other way to approach it) and a bridge materializes -- along with The Vampire!  He kidnaps Erik and throws the rest of the party into a pit.  And now we need to pick up with side 2 of the disk... having been stripped of our inventory, though a few key variables seem to persist from side 1 so it's not a completely separate piece of code.

Sabrina is out cold, and WAKE SABRINA doesn't work; we can't KISS SABRINA, despite that working in some other stories.  There's not much here, aside from a four-inch wide pipe near the top of the pit, trickling water down.  We have nothing to carry water in, but we can SPLASH SABRINA to revive her.

SAY WINDMILL has lost its power here in Karel Thurg.  ASK SABRINA isn't very helpful, though we certainly agree that "We must find a way out!"  LOOK DOWN reveals a drain hole in the floor, and closer examination suggests it opens up into a wider pipe, but we can't enter it or find anything inside it.  The pit is deeper than our combined heights; Sabrina has no useful spells for this situation, and doesn't think UNDRESSing is such a good idea (honestly, I thought we could make a rope from our clothing, princess!)  I tried to BLOCK HOLE and COVER HOLE to raise the water level and let us swim out of the pit, but that didn't work either.  What about the owl?  We might be on to something -- our mouth is swollen and bruised, so we can't manage to whistle, but Sabrina can.

Instantly the owl appears and drops a branch with a beehive -- "My debt is repaid, fair one," he says, so that's as much help as we can expect.  I hope neither of us is allergic to bee stings... but, no problem, the hive is empty.  We can PUT HIVE IN HOLE, which blocks the drain, and water does indeed start to fill the pit.  We have to HOLD BRANCH as the water rises, and then we're out of the pit.

Oddly enough, Prince Erik is just lying here, unconscious, but we can WAKE ERIK to get him back on his feet and restore the party to full strength.  Why The Vampire just left him here is unclear at this point, and neither Erik nor Sabrina is up for conversation; both seem frightened by an unseen presence.

Heading north, we enter a maze of dungeon caverns, though again it's not really a maze and is readily mappable.  To the east is a seaside spot, where an injured seagull is flying by (one of the only bits of animation in the game -- the sequentially-drawn rendering technique allows this to work, by sketching and erasing the gull in a series of positions.)  We can't HELP SEAGULL, as he won't let any of us near.

Erik's sword lies in a cavern chamber to the west, but can't be lifted by the player.  Then a troll appears, and we are inspired to discover that ERIK, GET SWORD works.  ERIK, KILL TROLL doesn't quite work as expected, but young Erik's bumbling attack sends the troll fleeing in terror anyway.  He doesn't stay gone long, though; he keeps coming back, but stays away long enough for us to escape each time.

The scepter lies to the north, and can be easily reclaimed; the ring lies to the east of the scepter.  Further east is a corridor, flanked by rooms containing an armed centaur, a fire-breathing dragon, and a black knight, so we'd better be prepared before we come here.  Fortunately, we can escape all of these encounters readily, and aren't trapped in any location.

An interesting room to the north contains a basin of clear water and two statuettes of Aredor and Caphis -- famous warriors who were known for their good deeds and compassion.  Sounds like we need to help the seagull out somehow, but I have no good ideas about that yet.

Exploring some more, we find a waterfall in the western part of the cavern.  It's always worth trying to GO WATERFALL in these games, and we find ourselves in the troll's den, along with the troll himself.  Erik again fails to dispatch the troll, but the troll seems terrified of the Kadash sword itself, fleeing his own abode.

A garden area south of the waterfall contains an enchanted stream, but is otherwise a dead end.  Heading northward, we reclaim the sphere of annihilation; nearby, to the southeast, is a cavern with a rusty lever protruding from the wall.  We can PULL and PUSH the LEVER to block the only exit.  Can we lure the troll in here somehow?  Ah, we can just WAIT and he shows up; when Erik attacks, he runs blindly into the gate after we've closed it, knocking himself out.  Searching him doesn't yield anything interesting, but he doesn't get up again, so this must just be a way to set those nuisance encounters aside.

Can we make any headway on the more formidable monsters?  Erik's swordsmanship is no good against any of them; trying to THROW SPHERE (of annihilation) at the dragon yields countering advice from Sabrina, but it works on the centaur, and we can grab his bow and arrow (we have to get each piece separately.)

We can't just SHOOT DRAGON -- we have to LOAD BOW first, and even then the arrow bounces off of his thick scales. It does successfully penetrate the black knight's armor, but seems to have no real impact on him otherwise.  The sage said something about poisoning the arrow, didn't he?  The flowers by the stream south of the waterfall look weird, according to Sabrina, and we can DIP ARROW IN WATER here.  But nothing comes of it -- the knight still raises his axe with no apparent damage done.  Dipping the arrow in the basin by the statuettes is more interesting -- the sharp tip begins glowing softly, and now the knight falls, his evil destroyed in a blinding white light when the arrow penetrates his armor and giving us access to a pair of steel doors, shut tight for now.

We still have to deal with the dragon -- somehow.  Erik and Sabrina seem to be no help.  Returning to the seagull's area, we can EXAMINE BEACH to note that It's perfect sand for building sand castles, except sharp objects protrude here and there.  We can DIG SAND to yield a murex shell, and LISTEN SHELL to learn that this is what the sage tried to give us during the crystal ball vision near the beginning of the adventure.  The shell now transforms into a bright shield bearing a beautiful coat of arms!  We still can't seem to help the poor seagull, though.

What happened to the scepter?  I seem to have misplaced it somewhere... I must have dropped it while we were dealing with the troll in his den, when Erik hit me with his sword.  We haven't used it for anything -- WAVE SCEPTER at the doors the black knight was guarding doesn't do anything, but it does have an interesting effect on the dragon.  He says he was once a human, and that he will join our quest; we can summon him by his name, Fury, in time of need.  Then he burrows deeply into the depths of Karel Thurg -- I never knew dragons were a burrowing species!

How do we open the iron doors, now?  SUMMON FURY seems like an option, and yes, it calls the dragon, who tears the doors open and then disappears into the throne room to hold The Vampire at bay.

The Vampire summons lightning to destroy our party, but the shield reflects it, catching the evil being off guard.  Fury takes advantage of the opening to hit him with a stream of flame, and the vampire drops a crown.  Prince Erik was previously referred to as the heir, so it seems like we should suggest ERIK, GET CROWN.  He does so.

But we're not out of the woods yet -- power-hungry vampires don't respect ceremony or rules of succession, it seems.  Our feet are stuck to the ground and can't be moved.  ERIK, WEAR CROWN is the next logical step, but almost fails, as the Vampire's spell fights Erik's actions -- but after donning it, he now seems free of the vampire's influence.  We're still stuck in place, apparently held by the vampire's stare.  CLOSE EYES doesn't help;  ERIK, COME HERE isn't even acknowledged by the parser, but GET ERIK frees us from the spell also.

With our feet unstuck, we can FLEE and go back into the caverns -- but where should we go?  Ah -- a few turns later, the cave starts shaking.  Erik warns us that it is about to collapse, and we should seek an open area.  Once more down to the beach!

Once we're here... um... now what?  We can't SUMMON SAGE, and Erik and Sabrina are uninformative.  We do have time to notice that the crown on Erik's head is in fact the titular Crimson Crown, so it seems we're just about done here.  But what remains to be done?  We hear the dragon's roar fading out in a strangled tone, so Fury has probably sacrificed himself for our cause.  Is there really nothing to do but WAIT?

Ahhh... given some time, we hear the vampire's strangled shout as well.  And then a ship appears and approaches the shore, taking us all onboard.  In short order, the fortress collapses, and Erik realizes he must take on the rule of his father's land.  He re-christens his sword Fury, in the late dragon's honor, and plans to hang it on the castle wall, despite a cautionary note from Sabrina that everyone needs to be kept safe from it.  And with a possible sequel set up, now it's THE END!

I really enjoyed The Crimson Crown -- there's a lot going on in this story, and the puzzles are logical with a nice sense of progression and pacing in the final act.  I did use the walkthrough several times, but nothing seemed like I couldn't have figured it out if I'd just had a little more patience -- there are quite a few good but subtle hints provided in-game, and many unsuccessful attempts provide clues as to the right course of action.  The Polarware adventures were well-regarded in their day, and I'm sorry it's taken me so long to come back to the publisher's output.  I'll try to catch up a bit soon.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Adventure of the Week: The Treasures of Barboz (1985)

The Treasures of Barboz await our adventuring skills this week, written in Atari 400/800 BASIC by Chris Smith and published by ANALOG Computing magazine in 1985. 

We can surmise that this is likely to be a standard treasure hunt adventure, judging from the title.  The game sports a windowed interface, with most space devoted to the location/direction/items display with just a few lines at the bottom of the screen for input and responses.  The parser dictionary is fairly limited, with few synonyms, and the text is kept spare in favor of a larger map -- while the game's world and puzzle structure feels very ZORK-like, the technical design is more in the Scott Adams mold.

As always, interested readers are encouraged to discover The Treasures of Barboz independently before reading my playthrough notes below.  I'll be detailing my struggles and successes in detail, so there are certain to be...

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

We begin at the Edge of forest, with nothing in inventory and no interesting items in the room.  This area extends (loops) infinitely to the north, west, and south; the only real way to go is E, to a Forest path.  There's a Low-hanging limb here, but we can't seem to do anything with it -- most verbs I tried weren't even recognized.

South of the forest path, we find a small clearing with a Rusty sword that Looks quite brittle upon closer EXAMINEation.  Ignoring it for the moment, we can travel east to an additional clearing, where a *Gold coin* is available.  Treasure hunt confirmed!

North of the clearing and east of the first forest path location is more forest path, with some Thick underbrush.  We can't GET it, but trying to CUT it suggests we have nothing to do that with.  We can also go U to the top of a tree, but there's nowhere new to go from here and no visible items of interest.

Continuing east, we discover a Grassy flatland with a bottomless pit.  Just for fun, I try to GO PIT -- and AAIIEEE!! You fell to your death, as expected.  Fortunately, Mr./Ms. Smith has implemented a SAVE GAME feature supporting disk and tape, so we can restore to an earlier save.

Ignoring the pit for now, we continue east to discover the West side of bridge (we assume there is an east side off to the east) guarded by a Greedy troll with his hand out.  There's also a Small path near the Tressle [sic] bridge, where we can GO to find the Bank of a river.  At the riverbank, we can go Nowhere (?) according to the exit list, but we can readily GO PATH again, after picking up an empty flask lying here and filling it with river water.

We can't PAY TROLL, but we can DROP COIN to gain access to the bridge; we can now freely come and go on the west side of the bridge, but unfortunately, there's another troll on the east side who won't let us go back once we're there.  So we might as well explore the area -- east of the bridge is the Base of a mountain with a thorny bush and a small path.  Trying to GET BUSH is fatal, as The sharp thorns are poisonous!

It's more interesting to go south, where we find the Front of house with a doormat reading: "Welcome to the home of Barboz."  We can freely GO DOOR and find ourselves inside, so we may predict that there won't be many treasures lying around for the taking here.

A laboratory contains a Glass vial, with a strange bubbling liquid inside.  The dining room features a *Golden goblet*, and the library a Book of magic.  We can READ BOOK multiple times -- it suggests that some potions are good, others are not; that "My name holds great power"; and that there's a RETURN command, "To retrieve a seemingly lost item."  RETURN COIN doesn't work as I hoped it would, though.

The bedroom contains a Long enchanted staff, and an *Ancient amulet*.  We have a five-item inventory limit, so we may have to start doing some juggling at this point.  I tried to DRINK LIQUID from the vial; we're told that we're feeling strange, but I didn't see any immediate effect, positive or negative.  Back at the mountain, we can follow the path to find a sign reading, "One false move and..." -- though this warning is vague at best.  Further east is a narrow ledge, which we can cross to reach a mountain path and a Rocky crag, with a large nest and a visible Feather in side of nest.

We can GO NEST to see a Griffon fledgling, who fortunately Looks harmless; we can exit the nest to the north or south.  If we try to GET FEATHER from the nest, however, A loud shriek causes an avalanche!  And we are once again dead.

It looks like we've explored most of the available map now; what else can we do?  If we SAY BARBOZ, the amulet grows hot and we are forced to drop it.  Trying to KILL TROLL yields a hint -- You don't have the sword.  Starting over and picking up the rusty sword doesn't help much -- it disintegrates on its first attempted use.  EXAMINE GOBLET reveals that it Contains a magic potion! -- but drinking it has no obvious result.  (More on this later!)

Ah... if we exit the Griffon's nest to the south, we're actually on a different part of the rocky crag, and heading west takes us across a different ledge, where we must JUMP from one ledge to the other to get through to a Snow-covered ledge with an Opaque sheet of ice.  Heating up the amulet here (after dropping it) reveals an Icy cave, occupied by a Sleeping white dragon.  The cold also seems to break our flask of water, leaving us with Pieces of glass in inventory.  We can't seem to WAKE DRAGON or TALK DRAGON; the heated amulet doesn't annoy him/her either.

Well, clearly I'm missing something.  Giving up the gold coin to get past the troll seems like a mistake, and I haven't found anything like a treasure-storage location yet.  We can't DIG anywhere, and I haven't come up with a way to search the thick underbrush or make use of the low-hanging limb near the beginning of the game.

Fortunately, a handy walkthrough at the CASA Solution Archive written by Juan Duc suggests that we can SWIM at the riverbank (I had tried to GO RIVER earlier with no luck; we actually use SWIM to cross the river.)  We can acquire a shallow pan on the opposite bank, though we can't PAN GOLD in the river.  Going north leads us to a spot under the bridge, where another greedy troll guards a *Treasure chest*.  He can't, unfortunately, be bribed with the gold coin.  (And after we drop it, he won't let us pick it back up!)

Ah -- thanks again, walkthrough! -- we can pan for gold in the river, but we have to do it with a DROP PAN and GET PAN to do it, revealing a * Gold nugget *.  The troll will let us drop and pick this treasure up at will, but we still can't get the chest.  I'm still stuck, so I need another hint -- and I'm glad I was able to get one, as it seems that by drinking the potion from the golden goblet in Barboz' house, we can turn the rusty sword into a durable *Jewel-encrusted sword*.  But of course!

Now we have a very useful tool -- we can KILL TROLL on the east side of the bridge, revealing that he's the same greedy troll we've been seeing everywhere else.  We can even reclaim the gold coin under the bridge, and collect the treasure chest.

We can also CUT UNDERBRUSH, revealing a small hole leading to the interior of a hollow tree; its upper reaches feature a carving: "Store treasure here."  Great!  DROP COIN gives us a resulting SCORE of 10, so there must be ten treasures to round up; we'll keep the sword for now, dropping the goblet, nugget and chest to get us up to 40 points.  We'll also grab the Gloves of strength from the tree's lower section, that sort of gear usually comes in handy (we can WEAR GLOVES too.)

We can also CUT LIMB to produce a hollow stick, with a notch in it; we can't PLAY STICK or MAKE FLUTE, but we can BLOW STICK to produce a whistling sound.  We can't GET BUSH with the gloves of strength on, but they do protect us from the thorns, and we can CUT BUSH to reveal another small hole, leading into a Bat cave (not THE Batcave, note.)  Unfortunately, as soon as we enter, Thousands of bats cause a cave-in.  Even with the gloves of strength on, we can't GET BOULDERS, so we'll proceed down a tunnel to a Subterranian [sic] cavern containing a bucket.

The southern end of the cavern is lit by a Strange green glow, but it's not radioactivity -- it leads to Medusa's lair, who turns us instantly to stone, so that's not a good place to visit just yet.  There's also a Powder room with a wooden keg of black powder (not that other sort of powder room, then), a door, and a staircase.  We could probably set off an explosion using the amulet, but I don't have it with me at the moment so it's time to restore.

Examining the powder room a bit before we try to blast it (and ourselves?) off the map, we find we can go through the door to a small room with a stone slab above.  Climbing the staircase leads to another door, leading to a mine shaft above the slab, where we can pick up a rope.  We can indeed set off the powder keg using the amulet, even remotely, but there's probably a better place to use it.  We can't drop it in Medusa's lair, though, as there's no time to do so.

Restoring back to a point before the cave-in, some other experiments may be appropriate.  Blowing the stick at the griffon nest causes the fledgling to fly away (and the feather to disappear, which explains why trying to get it caused so much ruckus earlier!)  We can obtain some *Griffon eggs* from the vacated nest.  But now the feather is gone -- we need to CUT FEATHER first, because we need it to TICKLE DRAGON in the ice cave (thanks, walkthrough!)

Fortunately, The dragon laughs and flys away, revealing a frozen warrior, who didn't find the dragon in such good humor as he's quite dead, and a black shield.  Perhaps the blackness is from dragonfire, and if we can scrape it off it'll be shiny enough to ward off Medusa?  We can try to WASH SHIELD at the river, but for some reason this is only possible if we GET FLASK and GET WATER first, otherwise You don't have any water despite the river flowing nearby.  And yes, now it's a *Silver shield* which may be a lot more useful.

Before facing Medusa, I've had to do some inventory juggling up to this point, so we'll store the *Griffon eggs* in the nest to get our score up to 50.  This game is unusual in that several treasures have practical uses -- I feel like I need to keep the amulet, shield and sword handy, eating up most of the available inventory space.  So we have located 8 treasures, but have only scored 5 so far.

The shiny shield works as expected -- Medusa's glare only succeeds in getting herself stoned, and now we can enter another subterranean cavern. It's not actually a maze, though it looks like one as we enter, with lots of exits.  We just have to find a pick-axe here, and a rock in another room, so we can PICK ROCK -- no, MINE ROCK -- no, USE PICK -- no.  Hmmmm.

The rock is on a narrow ledge.  We have access to a rope and bucket -- can we TIE ROPE and lower the bucket down?  No, but we can TIE ROPE to the rock and CLIMB ROPE... and then Stalagmites and stalagtites [sic] close in to seal your doom!  We get a glimpse of some *Precious gems* before the rocks close in, so there must be an answer here.  Ah -- we need to keep the enchanted staff around, it must protect us from some traps by making us Barbozian in some manner... and yes, the text mentions that Something you're holding stops the ceiling from crushing you.  And it's not even magic, as it turns out -- the staff is just tall enough to jam the trap, and now it stays here permanently.

I suspect we can blow ourselves back out of here using the stone slab and the room beneath it with the powder keg, but now we have a new problem -- how do we get everything we need back out of here?  With any luck, anything on the slab will travel with us.  We can't UNTIE ROPE, so that's apparently not going to be needed later.

Next problem -- I can't GET KEG, It's too heavy?  Hmmm... I'm wearing the gloves of strength.  The walkthrough suggests we can GET POWDER, but the parser indicates we need something to put it in -- the bucket, maybe?  Yes, that works.  And now we drop the bucket below the slab, leave the amulet nearby as a trigger, SAY BARBOZ, and we're blasted back to the grassy flatland.

Now, we've lost the amulet in the process, unavoidably.  The magic book suggests we can RETURN AMULET -- but that doesn't work?  Uh-oh... oh, we can SAY RETURN and the amulet is now back in our possession (though if we're full up on inventory, this doesn't work or indicate any reason why.)

Okay, we have 9 treasures now, and the only remaining puzzle is that bottomless pit... though I don't have the rope and bucket, and can't see a way to get them out of the cave.  Hmmmm... walkthrough time again.  I had assumed I needed the pick-axe to get the gems, but maybe it has another purpose... and yes, we have to HIT (not PICK) BOULDERS at the bat cave-in site to obtain a *Huge diamond*.

Heavily laden with treasure, we drop everything at the storage location -- and we don't even have to invoke the SCORE command, as the game automatically takes us to a simple victory message immediately after the tenth treasure is dropped:

The Treasures of Barboz is a fairly involved adventure by 8-bit magazine standards, with some challenging dead ends and complicated puzzles.  I got stuck several times, especially on the sword restoration puzzle, but most of the setups make sense and the game provides enough feedback on close-but-unsuccessful actions to help the player along.  As far as I can determine with a quick search, Chris Smith didn't create any other published adventure games -- I wish he or she had, as this one was quite entertaining.