Adventureland: The Final Three   4 comments


I had three treasures left to go. Their method of extraction is spoiled below.

Adventureland’s structure has some tight redundancy; items serve more than one purpose. For example the

Rusty axe (Magic word “BUNYON” on it)

not only serves as a tree-chopper, but as a magic item.

The humble lamp used throughout as a mere light source has a second use as well. There’s a bit of scrawl in the maze that says “ALADIN WAS HERE”.


Knowing I was still missing treasures, I tried on a whim:

A glowing Genie appears, drops somehting, then vanishes.

I got a *DIAMOND RING* this way. (The typo is in the original text.)

I then worked on the bear from my last post some more. Getting frustrated, I asked David Welbourn for a hint, who said “You can defeat the bear without any tools but yourself.”

The most direct route isn’t too helpful.

Bear won’t let me
Maybe if I threw something?…

In fact, it’s downright deceptive, which is counter to the usual policy interactive fiction has about hinting from the text. Throwing the axe (the only thing you are allowed to throw) breaks the mirror and is the wrong approach. Instead:

Bear is so startled that he FELL off the ledge!

Poor bear. I guess he was evil too?

The last treasure required the ultimate gesture of defeat, the walkthrough. I did not feel bad about spoiling this time.


So yes, RUB LAMP works to get one treasure, but a second RUB LAMP gets another treasure.

This is what I have called Bad Frustration. I could see someone trying a second RUB LAMP if they’re in the process of lamp-rubbing, but after there is no plausible way to think through the answer. If I ever codify Advice for Puzzle Makers at some point, one of the rules would be this: Think about if your player is unable to solve a puzzle. Is there a clear route to get on the right track, or will it require enough luck that the player will feel like they have wasted their time? You want a response of “oh!” to a puzzle solve (even if it had to be looked up) not “oh…” with a head-shake of frustration.

Doing RUB LAMP a third time is at least amusing:

A glowing Genie appears, says “Boy you’re selfish”, takes something and then makes “ME” vanish!

Video Game Obsession for the VIC-20 cover, Ira Goldklang for the TRS-80 cover.

There’s a variety of commercial covers, but these two are my favorite. Video Game Obsession for the VIC-20 cover, Ira Goldklang for the TRS-80 cover.

I can’t in good conscience recommend Adventureland to modern audiences. Not because it’s impossible to have fun — I did — but because Scott Adams himself got better as he went along; not every game was a treasure-hunt. The actual minimalist style does have a soothing meditative quality to it, although if you’re just wanting to experience that you might try J. Robinson Wheeler’s ASCII and the Argonauts; it has the same modern-feel-with-retro-style that many indie-games shoot for these days. Since text adventures are inherently retro, that’s possibly the only way to achieve the effect.

Posted February 9, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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4 responses to “Adventureland: The Final Three

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  1. I finished the VIC20 version in the very early 1980s. It was “boo bear” I think was the method I ended up using. With the three letter only parser it was impossible to know what the “real” solution was sometimes!

  2. I played Adventureland for first time a couple of months ago and I really enjoyed the game. Luckyly, I had’t problems with the lamp puzzle. I think is one of those puzzles that expect that you know external information. In this case, you must know that in various stories when someone ask for a wish to a genie or a gnome or etc. you only can ask for two or three wishes, because the next one is a punishment for being greedy. I remember something like this happens, for example, in the Disney movie Darby O’Gill and The Little People (1959).

    • Sure, I could see that logic working (I could see how it would work after the fact, idling studying the lamp and wondering if there were more wishes).

      I just recently had another game with a multi-rub lamp but it said so explicitly.

  3. I’ve never tested this myself, but an old friend of mine reviewed video games already back in the 80s, and he had a fun anecdote to share about “Adventureland”: I don’t know whether it’s universal or not, but the Apple II version of the Adventureland-Parser didn’t check for the entire verb, but just the first three letters. So CLI gets interpreted as CLIMB, DRO as DROP, and so forth. Of course, when he played the game he didn’t know that.

    So he gets to the point with the bear on the ledge. Killing the bear doesn’t work, throwing stuff at him doesn’t work.
    Eventually, he gets frustrated, and enters

    Which resulted in “Bear is so startled that he FELL off the ledge!”

    (Apparently the parser just went for the SCR part of SCREW and interpreted it as SCREAM, but it makes for an interesting, if somewhat disturbing, mental image. :D . I guess the bear WOULD be startled if someone tried screwing it though…)

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