Acheton (1978)   1 comment

The portions-of-the-map-closing parts of Stuga are getting to be a pain (there’s a part that doesn’t seem to have any way in now — I’m not sure if it’s a bug, or if there’s some strange timed thing, but it looks like I’ll have to restart) so I’m diving into Acheton.


Perhaps the first adventure game written outside the U.S. was “Acheton” (c. 1979), by Jon Thackray and David Seal, with contributions by Jonathan Partington, working in the mathematics department of Cambridge University, England. “Acheton” is an enormous cave game, whose name is a confection of “Acheron” (the river that dead used to cross in order to get to Hades) and “Achates” (minor character in Virgil’s “Aeneid”), based around exploration and collecting treasures.

[ FAQ]

I’m using the Z-code port (courtesy Graham Nelson, Adam Atkinson and David Kinder), which is about as authentic as I could hope for (and reports a start date of 1978, not 1979):

Our aim has been to restore and not to modernise or “improve” the work: the original parser has been recreated and all textual responses are authentic. Our only additions have been the following commands: “inform”, producing this text; “restore”, which allows saved games to be restored (the Phoenix originals instead asked about this at the start of each session of play); and “script”, which allows the transcript of play to be written to a file.

The only catch here is this was a mainframe game where the original 1978 version is lost, so this is the last part from 1981. This is semi-frustrating for the true gaming archaeologist, but really, I’m just here to play. In this case, play again — I finished Acheton a few years ago (for fun, not part of any project) and still have my maps. I have a deep and possibly unnatural fondness for hand-drawn maps, so I’ll see about popping some scans up as my game progresses. Since this is a replay, it won’t be quite the same as my prior games; pretty much everything I solved myself I still remember, although there were a couple sections I relied heavily on walkthroughs and hence my memory as to actual puzzle solutions is foggy.

Late in the game there’s one of the coolest yet also impossibly unfair puzzles I’ve ever experienced. So there’s that to look forward to. Onward!

Posted January 27, 2013 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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  1. Pingback: » Topologika The Digital Antiquarian

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