Spider Mountain Adventure (1979)   1 comment

Teri Li wrote Spider Mountain and Lost Dutchman’s Gold almost back to back in the early days of commercial adventure. If one examines the two programs it is easy to see that the same structure was used in both. However, the map paths are profoundly different.

— From The Captain 80 Book of Basic Adventures

The above quote comes from Bob Liddil, who is also listed as a co-author (he states elsewhere that he “finished” the work). It is something of an understatement.

This is essentially a fantasy reskinning of The Lost Dutchman’s Gold. It seems like the author essentially cut and paste the source code as the basis for a new game.

You start, as in the previous game, with a mule, er, “burdenbeast”. You get “beast snacks” and a “handweapon”. (Unlike the mule, you can ride this animal. Still a neat piece of atmosphere.) After heading west a bit there is a village to the south with a tavern that is nearly a clone of Lost Dutchman’s Gold.

Perhaps most bizarrely, the scene with “Indians” is still present, but has been substituted with “Orcs”. The scene is just as useless in this game, and somehow even more uncomfortable knowing the substitution was made.

The “dungeon” area this time is hidden in the tavern instead of the mountain. The area below is quite simple and essentially danger-free — the only way I found to die was to forget to light my torch before exploring, where I was dramatically eaten by the spider Shelob.

I did like how YOUR LIFE FLASHING IN FRONT OF YOUR EYES is an item, but there is no danger here.

There are essentially no puzzles (you have to dig in one place, but the game telegraphs this clearly) except for one room, where getting a treasure causes the door to close and seal you in.

There is a hint from earlier: “THERE’S SOMETHING MAGIC ABOUT HOME.” If you SAY HOME while holding one of the other treasures (a gold ring) you are teleported back to the base camp and escape the trap.

I’m suspect (given the origin history) that Teri somehow planned to make a lot more changes, but gave up early. Then Bob Liddil offered to finish and publish the game, and the odd parts stayed in. I’ll call this an early blip in history, because Teri Li has one more adventure up his sleeve after this, and it’s a far more important one to the history of games.

ADD: Ok, the backstory is a little more interesting. From Terry Kepner himself:

The only thing I would add is that, typical Bob, when he returned from his first run at showing Lost Dutchman’s Gold with orders for three more titles, he told me we had a whole week to write the second game, as he had promised it to the store owners the next Friday! My conversation for the next hour was mostly four-letter words. But we did it.

That would explain the cut-and-paste!

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Posted September 6, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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One response to “Spider Mountain Adventure (1979)

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  1. Pingback: Atlantean Odyssey (1979) | Renga in Blue

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