Enchanted Island (1979)   2 comments

Enchanted Island is the last of the Greg Hassett games from 1979, making it his 6th published game. He was still 13 or 14 at the time. You find yourself on an island (with the usual cave and jungle) and need to collect treasures.

There’s not much I would call “evolution” in his games just yet; the structure feels a lot like Journey to Atlantis. Specifically, there are a lot of rooms with a.) a treasure and b.) some sort of enemy preventing you from taking it. The enemy needs to be chased away, pacified, or subdued, and then the treasure is available. Thus, the gameplay feels like finding the right key for the right lock.

A lot of the connections between enemy/obstacle and the treasure they guard are arbitrary enough that the game has to give pretty explicit hints.

Holy smokes, a tiger! Barbs like ban… (The inky on the rest of the note is too faded to read.)

The message above is from a note in a bottle. If you give the barbarian a banana, it eats it, drops the peel, and leaves.

One of the hints in the game mentions a secret word of “BIMBO”. (I’m not sure why that choice of word. Given the incongruence with the rest of Mr. Hassett’s work I’m tempted to think the author didn’t realize at the time it had a known meaning.) The secret word is essentially the only interesting puzzle, because it took me through several phases:

Phase 1. It didn’t work anywhere.

Phase 2. Later in the game, I got it to work, and it teleported me to a “dead end” in the caves. I figured that was the full effect.

Phase 3. After getting stuck I decided there might be more to the magic, and tried it a second time after reaching the dead end. It teleported me into a previously inaccessible jungle area.

Phase 4. Later, I couldn’t get the magic word to work again. I was unclear what conditions the word did or did not work, and it took some experimenting to realize one of the treasures (a ruby) was allowing the magic to work when I was holding it.

The above sequence incidentally suggests why even simple adventures in general aren’t just locks and keys — or at least describing them as such is too reductive. The “key” for the lock of the magic word was the ruby, but it wasn’t clear what the key was (if it was an item, even) and it wasn’t clear what the key did.

The route to 140 out of 140 points was fairly straightforward, except for an issue with the parser. One of the enemies is a “bear”, and the response to >HIT BEAR is just “I’d rather not. It might hit me back!” (like the barbarian mentioned earlier). I figured that was that and looked for peaceful resolutions, scaring the bear, applying some magic at the bear — no dice. I finally resorted to a walkthrough and found that I could ATTACK BEAR and drive it away, even though my player avatar was too scared to HIT BEAR!

Most would likely shelve this under “guess-the-verb” but the situation is messier; rather than needing to guess a verb, the game split ATTACK and HIT into two distinct actions and the player needed to realize they were *not* considered synonyms, even though the default “you can’t hit” message strongly suggests that attacking is fruitless, too.

In other news, we are now officially almost done with the 1970s. Only David Long’s 501 point version of Adventure remains!

Ok, fine: there’s a non-English Tolkien text adventure from 1979 earlier than LORD I have a lead on, and there was a translation, and I even have a lead on the translation, but I haven’t fully snagged it yet. I’ll loop back during 1980 if I hit paydirt.

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Posted August 4, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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2 responses to “Enchanted Island (1979)

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  1. FYI, I just got Ira at TRS-80.com to make the Greg Hassett adventures available for download from his archive, since there was some evidence out there on the Internet that he intended for them to be public domain now. I could be wrong, but I think that will make for the only publicly available version of Hassett’s Mystery Mansion adventure, which should be the next of his on your list as it’s from the first half of 1980.

    Love what you’re doing here, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Journey is all about.

    • Wow! I’ve been trying to get a hold of Mystery Mansion Adventure for a while. Thanks!

      (Also, the Asio City link that I got the chronology from is dead, and it apparently used robots.txt so Internet Archie doesn’t have it, alas.)

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