The Great Pyramid (1980)   7 comments

I decided to continue with the O’Hare trilogy.

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

Last time we saw what was a mashing together of Crowther/Woods Adventure with what might literally have been the code from Scott Adams Adventureland. Everyone has to start somewhere.

As I expected, this game feels more "original" … still gathering treasures, mind you. However, it flat out tricked me for the last treasure in a way that managed to be simple and very clever at the same time.

This animation is in the 1980 PET version but not the later C64 one.

Pyramid games seem to like tricky openings, like Pyramid of Doom (1979) which kills you if you just try to walk in, or Infocom’s Infidel (1983) where I remember being stuck a long time. While I have now finished this game, I originally thought I was going to have to open with a post where I was stuck outside.

There’s a spot where you can dig and get some items (flashlight, flute, matches, crowbar, copper key) but the front of the pyramid is blocked by a brass door so the copper key doesn’t work, since the rule in videogameland is that all doors and keys must color-match.

Specifically, a backpack is buried in the desert. My grizzled-adventurer instincts were enough for me to remember to try “open backpack” multiple times.

I seriously thought for a while perhaps there was some deranged way to turn the copper into brass (I’ve come across situations before with roughly the same logic). I eventually resorted to verb-checking, by going through an old verb list I made playing Pyramid of Doom to see which ones would work.

PUT, PUSH, BURN, TOUCH, OPEN, UNLOCK, CLIMB, READ, SEARCH, TALK, ASK, WEAR, KICK, SHOOT, DRINK, EAT, JUMP, YELL, …

CLIMB turned out to be the magical solution.

Mind you, “up” says YOU CAN’T GO IN THAT DIRECTION.

Eh, well. I guess the opening made me think the game might be slightly more difficult than its predecessor? For the most part, no.

There’s a mummy that you burn, a snake you play the flute for, secret passages that open to magic words given right next to them. There’s a vault and the nearby numbers 762, 112, 777 (it turns out you only need to enter the last number for the vault to open, which I guess is a low-effort way to avoid worrying about keeping track of state).

In adventure games of this era rust happens really fast.

All this dropped me into false complacency: I had gathered 11 treasures with 1 more to go. The last one was at a hungry tiger:

>FEED TIGER gave me “I have nothing to feed it.” so I knew the verb existed, I just need to find the right slab of meat or piece of bread or whatever.

I assumed I must have missed an exit somewhere (not uncommon for me), so I combed over the whole map … twice. No food. (It’s really weird to have viable food in an ancient pyramid, but adventure-game logic has led us to finding a Coke machine in the center of the Earth.)

The “hungry” thing is just a red herring. The proper solution is force. Specifically, one of the treasures is a “silver sword”.

Poor tiger, he just wanted a treat.

I never would have thought using a weapon to fight an enemy would be a puzzle worthy of stumping me for hours, but I always seem to discover new things with these games. This puzzle only could work within this particular structure: the author must have known exactly what he was doing, and how the simple frame would lull the player into falling for the red herring. (Additionally, none of the other treasures were useful as items before this point — remember, this is at the end of the game — so they weren’t even on my radar for puzzle-solving.)

Curiously, this location is *inside* the pyramid. It’s like the player is just being an interior decorator rather than the usual tomb robber.

So, kudos to Mr. O’Hare, and hopefully we’ll see some more interesting developments in his last adventure game, Haunted Mansion.

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Posted May 7, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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7 responses to “The Great Pyramid (1980)

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  1. I seriously thought for a while perhaps there was some deranged way to turn the copper into brass (I’ve come across situations before with roughly the same logic).

    It wouldn’t be that deranged. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. We did a fun experiment in high school chemistry where we plated pennies with zinc (making “silver” pennies), then heated them in a gas flame to turn them “gold”. If the game allowed pulling the same trick with a copper key I would actually find that an interesting solution (although I wouldn’t expect the average player to simply already know the necessary information).

    • The alloy aspect is what made it occur to me. Not sure how to make it go with matches and a flashlight, though.

      I think the only Sciencey puzzle we have hit so far is making gunpowder in Ghost Town, but I might be forgetting something.

    • Well, bronze is actually copper and tin.

  2. In the words of Monty Python: “A tiger? In Africa?”

    • Finding viable tiger food in an ancient pyramid seems no less likely than finding a live tiger in the ancient pyramid! Also, poor tiger.

  3. (Argh, only two levels deep of comments is frustrating sometimes…)

    Bronze and brass aren’t the same, though.

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