Castle: Finished   4 comments

Or rather, finished one ending. According to the source there’s three endings, but they require an action in the winning path that crashes the game. I’ve worked out enough to describe what happens, though.


(Click the image above for the full map.)

First, how I escaped the forest, which had the odd attribute of being acutely unfair in a game system but would make some sense in real life.

You’re in a dark and dreary woods with dense foliage in all directions.
Splashing sounds and bird calls seem to come from the east.

There is a shovel here.
The way is blocked by a deep river.
This spot looks awful familiar.
You’ve made a circle.

I am not ashamed to say I had to check the source for this.

West end of bridge

I suppose if this was an episode of Survivorman and not an IF game, I could see this being the logical course of action, but “upriver” isn’t even a noun mentioned in the text. Even with that added, it’s hard enough to convey in text-form the thought “it looks like if I stay close and follow the river it will lead somewhere” that I suspect most people would not attempt it at all. (FOLLOW RIVER would have been ok, but it doesn’t work.)

A few minor puzzles later and I reached the titular Castle. It’s kind of an odd map in that there are a lot of rooms for “geography’s sake” that don’t get used for much. There’s multiple routes to different locations, including secret doors via pushing buttons that lead to places reachable from different directions. Other notable aspects:

1.) There’s a sack of potatoes inside. Once eaten I had no more problems with hunger.

2.) There’s a “true maze” of cells in the basement, but it is totally possible to ignore it. I only partially mapped it above because it was clearly not leading anywhere.

3.) There’s a missile silo which lets you launch at the portcullis to blow it up. Obviously the game didn’t have a lot of concern about sticking to a particular time period of technology.

As I already mentioned, there are three endings.

DAMSEL ENDING: The damsel is in a room named “Rapunzel’s Tower”.

You’re high above the castle in the east tower; in fact, you are so high up that you can see clouds outside the window. A spiral staircase leads down.

Oddly, doing “take damsel” results in

Don’t be lewd! (This is neither the time nor the place)

and some guessing the verb leads to instead

The damsel gratefully climbs into your arms and whispers
“take me to the cross-roads and I’ll repay your kindness!”
You hear a sound like stone grating on stone.

Unfortunately, the sound indicates the staircase being blocked off. Escape requires an item from another tower:

There is a 30 foot long wig here.

Trying to CLIMB WIG results in

You get 9 feet down and find a little tag that says
“Made in Hong-Kong, Inspcted by no 1” — the wig starts to shred!!
You frantically scramble …
and just manage to get into a window as the wig falls apart.

I am very uncertain of the physics of this situation: How were you lugging around a giant wig? How would anyone wear such a wig anyway? What is the wig attached to as you’re doing this? How are you carrying a damsel at the same time?

In any case, after this rescue there’s a clear route back to the opening room (the “cross-roads” the damsel mentions) at which point you are taken to “nirvana” and win the game.

FROG ENDING: Getting to the frog ending seems to require using the missile silo I already mentioned, but also smashing a chain with a mace (which lowers the drawbridge). The bit that involves getting a mace is what crashes the game. I’ll just reproduce the raw source code.

#44 Armory
“You’re in the castle armory. There are suits of chain mail, maces, lances,
swords, suits of armor, axes, etc, etc here. Most seem to be made of either
crude metal, perhaps iron, or a smooth grey substance; all of them, even the
wooden lances, appear to be held to the wall by some magnetic, (or is it
magic?) force. A small black and yellow sign is posted on the wall.
A small doorway leads to some stone steps going up and down.”
e 51
up 52
down 58
read\ sign m=”The sign says: \”Danger — Shock Hazard\””

take m=”You can’t budge anything, the strange force is stronger than you are.”
drop t?%INP_OBJ% s=44.1 o+mace o+%INP_OBJ% m=\
“clank … … K A B O O M ! !
The slight shock seems to have detonated some plastic explosive!

In any case, getting through both leads to a frog, which can be carted back to the Crossroads just like damsel. He then turns into a prince and you are taken to Nirvana to win the game.

DAMSEL AND FROG TOGETHER: Yes, the game is socially liberal enough you can both rescue the frog and damsel. You will all go to Nirvana together.

I’m not sure I’m ready for “final thoughts” here — I think I need to try the other offerings from the Wander system before I decide.

As a game, I found the parts after reaching the castle to be the most interesting, and I theorize they are also the parts designed before the influence of Adventure. The multiple routes simply suggest the author was trying to design a layout, and the opening linear-route-of-puzzles section was attached later to make it more of a “game”. This is pure theory, though, and it won’t be resolved unless the 1974 version written in BASIC is located. (And it’s perhaps too tempting a theory, knowing that before the original Crowther source for Adventure was located people assumed it was a pure cave exploration crawl with no magic, but this turned out not to be the case.)

The parser system in Castle is a little too erratic for me to recommend it just as a game, but it’s worth a try based on historical merits. The online version located here is the easiest to get to, although my original post has links to compiled versions.

Posted December 29, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

Tagged with ,

4 responses to “Castle: Finished

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  1. Thanks for the write-up. Helped me make my way through Castle as well. It’s actually fairly simple to understand the .wrld file and make a few modifications (for example, fixing the game crash in the Armory by changing that line of code to: drop s=44.1 o+mace m=\

    However, getting the Damsel & Frog together proved to be a problem with the compiled version (Win32) that I was using. I’m not sure if a similar issue exists with other versions. But if you’re carrying the Damsel when you walk into the room with the frog – your Damsel turns into a frog in your inventory never to change back. I had to edit the name of the frog in the Wander files so that I could actually see the best (!?) ending. Some may ask why go through the trouble when you can just read the ending in the source? Just because its fun to see how a game ticks.

    But I concur there is too much erratic parser behavior to make this a good game. I was stumped when trying to launch a missile at the Portcullis… because I kept typing “push button”. This caused a premature detonation every time. Then I looked at the source in frustration to discover the *only correct method is to “press button.” For historic value, however, this was really neat to check out. My thanks to all those who have compiled playable versions and gathered up the source files from the lost archives!

    • Thanks for the tip on fixing the game file. I figured at the time it probably wasn’t too hard to deal with but I had documented enough of the game I could move on.

  2. Pingback: Wander – Language Overview – Comparative Creation

  3. There must be something in the collective human unconscious about castles with missile silos.

    I didn’t know about Castle until I read this article just today, but back in 1983, I wrote my last TRS-80 adventure game (The Last City), and it had a castle with a missile silo!

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