Cavern of Riches (1980)   10 comments

In 1980, John O’Hare wrote a trio of games for the Commodore PET:

Adventure 1: Cavern of Riches
Adventure 2: The Great Pyramid
Adventure 3: Haunted Mansion

All three were later ported to C64, including one version sold by Keypunch Software in 1985 in such a way I am fairly certain the original author never got any money.

Via The Museum of Computer Adventure Game History. Ah, the halycon days where you could grab some BASIC games off somewhere, slap them on a disk, and put them on sale.

I played the C64 version which ended up having a major bug I’ll talk about at the end of this, so I’d recommend using the original PET version instead. I’ve confirmed the PET version doesn’t have the same bug.

The complete game map. Click to enlarge.

Now, we’ve seen a lot of creativity by 1980, enough so that there have been more non-treasure-hunt games than treasure-hunt games. I’m sad to say that’s not the case here. Not only is this a raw plotless treasure hunt, the author more or less stole more than half of the locations and puzzles from Adventure.

Exhibit A:

This is not actually the first screen of the game; you start outside a log cabin instead.

Exhibit B:

I find it interesting how even though the game clearly understood what I meant from >enter bridge it enforced I go back and type it as >cross bridge.

Exhibit C:

Ah, another round of “guess the noun”.

Exhibit D:

This is simplified from Adventure in that you only have to water the plant once.

Ok, enough ragging: complex programming within the limits of the PET was a bit of a hassle, so this was clearly just a game where the author was figuring things out. Despite slavishly copying Adventure, the game has two interesting creative touches.

First, if you die (a little tricky to do, but you can jump into a volcano, for instance) the game sends you to “Limbo”.

Assuming no knowledge, you then have a 1/6 chance of living, since 5 of the exits take you to the gates of heaven, whereas only one (east) brings you to life. (ADD: As Wade points out in the comments, this is a moment cribbed straight from the Scott Adams game Adventureland.)

I also liked this moment with a blue light.

If you try to take the floating sphere, you die (you get electrocuted). It serves no purpose at all. It doesn’t even model light correctly (if you turn your lamp off, you can’t see it). But still, for a brief moment, I got a feel of Atmosphere. I’d like this to be the start of the game. Where is the light coming from? Is it a creature, or a ghost, or a projection created by some device?

Oh, and the bug:

I gathered all 12 treasures, but dropping a treasure does not register anything on the score (I ended with 0 out of 120 points), so there’s no win screen. I’m fairly sure the version I had was the Keypunch one.

Yes, Keypunch put on a sale a game that was broken so that not only is it impossible to win, it’s impossible to score any points at all. I’ll still calling this one done, but I’ll stick with the classic PET version when I get to O’Hare Adventure #2.

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Posted May 1, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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10 responses to “Cavern of Riches (1980)

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  1. 74 carats (kudos for them spelling it correctly, anyway) seems specific. I wonder if it’s a reference to something, or merely a number picked to sound large.

  2. No, that’s what I mean. You appear to have 24-karat, i.e. pure, gold in mind. The two terms are actually related (see https://science.howstuffworks.com/dictionary/geology-terms/question64.htm), but no particular carat size of a large gemstone leaps to my mind as being a “typical” one.

  3. It’s kind of like if Scott Adams had written Advent.

    Was there a proper port of Advent for the PET at the time? If not, the borrowing is forgivable.

  4. “Re: it’s kind of like if Scott Adams had written Advent” – his incarnation of Advent was Adventureland, which the style (asterisked treasures) and hazards of this game here (the limbo room, ‘find right exit and live’ sign) are pretty much direct lifts.

    • Uh, yeah, that was kind of my whole point.

      • It looks like Mr. O’Hare may have modified the Adventureland source code directly to make his game, although I haven’t examined super closely (the formatting is the same and the intro-text is the same).

  5. Pingback: The Great Pyramid (1980) | Renga in Blue

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