Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Adventure

Gamers of my vintage will fondly remember the 1979 Atari video game entitled simply Adventure. Though the gameplay and graphics were decidedly primitive, I nevertheless had a great deal of fun with the game, which involved a quest to find a magical chalice hidden away in a locked castle, protected by dragons, a mischievous bat, and a maze, and whose gate could only be opened by discovering a key that was place randomly within the game "world." Hard though it is to imagine nowadays, Adventure was innovative for its time and was another step along the road to the D&D-fueled ascendancy of fantasy as the premier genre for video games.

Reader Matthew Fox pointed out that the Atari website includes a Flash-based port of the game that you can play online if you're looking for a little blast from the past.

27 comments:

  1. I have to ask James, what is your opinion of the first "Legend of Zelda" game and its site-based design?

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  2. I know nothing of Zelda, as I've never played it.

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  3. the first real DnD videogame was on Intellivision of course! :-)

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  4. Adventure is still fun, but at the time - wow - very innovative. The secret room, the fact that you could manipulate the various objects in a sandbox environment (hmmm, if I position the magnet here, and let it attract the bridge -- placed there -- can I follow the bridge and pass through to the top of the black castle?!).

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  5. I wish I still had my 2600; I loved this dang game.

    Thanks for the link!

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  6. Don't forget Odyssy which did a D&D game too.

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  7. We played the heck out of this game! I still remember the path through both mazes by heart. No fancy graphics but lots of fun.

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  8. Marco,

    Yes, I remember that D&D game for the Intellivision quite well. I didn't own it but a close friend did it and I must admit I didn't like it. Somehow, it seemed much less than I'd hoped it would be. I remember one of the most common monsters was a snake -- hardly what I was expecting!

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  9. Don't forget Odyssy which did a D&D game too.

    Are you thinking of Quest for the Rings? I think that's what it was called.

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  10. Wow, I loved that game, as did my brother & sister. The duck-like dragons, the magic dot that opened the "secret room", great stuff.

    One of our friends had an Intellivision and we watched him play the CRPG on that, whatever it was called. I can't remember if he ever let us play it though.

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  11. Man, I can remember how excited I was to play this for the first time, at a friend's birthday pool party, with a can of Mellow Yellow by my side.

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  12. I literally groaned in pleasure when I saw the box art here... "Oooooaaawwhhh". :)

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  13. "I remember one of the most common monsters was a snake -- hardly what I was expecting!"

    snakes are the staple enemy of the Pulp hero. but yea they are kind of boring. especialy when they are one pixel wavy lines. kids today don't know how good they have it.

    I had a Coleco and wanted the Tunels and Trolls game so bad, but never got it.

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  14. James, you gave me the memory equivalent of an instant ice cream headache with that link! I had forgotten (blocked out?) how much I played that game back in the day!

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  15. And I'll point out that on the most advanced level, when objects were scattered randomly throughtout the maps, it was sometimes flat-out impossible to win (e.g., key locked in its own castle).

    That's old-school. As a mathematician I can appreciate the flavor of the game turning itself into "prove that this game is impossible".

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  16. 1980: I see this game at a friend's house.

    My mind is blown.

    And it did have a surprisingly good replay value at Level 3 (the random allocation of stuff).

    I just thought of something else: the Bat was an awesome example of of a non-deadly enemy who you hated far more than the ostensible monsters. You'd have the Key or Sword or Chalice and then--whooshh!--that damn Bat would fly off and you'd be screaming at the screen.

    Good times.

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  17. Oh lawdy, did I spend ages of time on that.

    Not only were there some major easter eggs, you could generate more by fidgeting with the power and reset switches...just a slight touch could scramble rooms and game rules.

    What really did set this game apart from just about everything else were the interactions. Magnet and sliding bridge was mentioned, but don't forget multiple object fading to make dragons easier to evade, if harder to fight, among other oddnesses unlike anything else Atari games offered.

    Hours and hours of fun.

    There were actually TWO Intellivision D&D games. The archer/snake fighting one was ok, but was I really the only one that played the dungeon exploring version, with the minotaur and goofy books? I think there's an emulator online somewhere that lets you still play it, even.

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  18. I loved Adventure. Hearing about the hidden room at school and then following the occult procedures to unlock it blew me away with the intimation of a much larger world than I'd suspected, concealed behind something I'd passed by so often. Watching my players discover secret areas in the Caverns of Thracia have re-instilled that feeling lately; Adventure indeed!

    Wikipedia has a good entry on this "easter egg", although the screenshot doesn't do justice to the shifting palette that gave the message the appearance of letters of fire.
    - Tavis

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  19. Heh: I was just going to ask if the dot was available in the flash version or not? :D

    Allan.

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  20. Allan, I was wondering the same thing. We always called it "the speck," I wonder if there was a real name for it...

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  21. The dot is in the flash version linked above. Just tried it out, and got the easter egg room.

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  22. I just want to point out that it's both cool and horrifying that, thirty years after the fact, I can still sit down and unerringly navigate the mazes in Atari Adventure, and find the friggin' dot, and see Warren Robinett's name engraved in letters of fire.

    My muscle memory scares the hell out of me sometimes.

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  23. The original Zelda's a classic. If you ever get the chance, give it a try.

    As for Adventure, I still have an Atari (not my original, of course), and I love it!

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  24. Yep, Adventure is one of the reasons I pushed my parents so hard to get the Atari. A couple of years ago stores were selling an Atari joystick with several games, including Adventure, in it. You hooked it up to your t.v. and played away. Of course, I bought it.

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  25. I just want to point out that it's both cool and horrifying that, thirty years after the fact, I can still sit down and unerringly navigate the mazes in Atari Adventure....

    I had the same reaction when I tried that emulator. How can I still know the maze and not remember my own phone number?

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  26. The game seemed hard when I was really young, but after years of playing tricky NES games, its now a cake-walk. Flipping the game, and finding the easter egg is fine and all, but I'm not truly content until I find and exploit a really good glitch! (I have been known to damage a game system to two, glitching the hell out of the games)

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