The Count: Won!   10 comments

I was indeed close to a win last time, although I did need a hint to pull it off.

First off, while staying awake with the no-doz pills I went to have a face-off with Dracula, but he never came out of bat form.


This led to some tense chasing about the castle, but unfortunately I realized Dracula would not be trappable in bat form. I did find after he left his coffin I could go in …


… and I suspected I could fiddle with the lock somehow, but none of my objects worked.

This is the point I needed a hint. If you recall I mentioned an oven with “sunlight and heat” and I suspected I had to toss Dracula in somehow. I had a visualization problem, because it never crossed my mind I could *enter* the oven. It’s a solar oven that only works during the day, and going in night revealed a nail file.

This bit of annoyance led to the most clever moment in the game. You can make it in Dracula’s coffin on Day 2 and break the lock with the file, and then come back in Day 3 after he has gone to sleep and open the coffin (which is no longer locked).

Using preparation to outsmart Dracula felt like a perfect merge of action and narrative.


I want to take a moment before moving on to praise Scott Adams’s use of absence to tell a story. Secret Mission had the opening briefing describe a manila envelope that was not there, implying something had gone wrong. The Count takes this even further with an omitted first act (what did happen before the first day?) and nights where the protagonist sleeps while other things go on — items are stolen or removed, and the PC is harmed. This leads to a plot where half of it is reconstructed by evidence in a way unique to the medium.

Certainly The Count is the most coherent of any of the games I’ve played so far. Alas I didn’t find it quite as fun as, say, Voodoo Castle, or even Zork. The sparse structure led to too many moments were I felt completely constricted and couldn’t come up with any action at all that was helpful. Additionally, while the timed structure of The Count is very clever in retrospect, in practice I had a lot of annoyances of having to save and restore and restart and save and restore and restart. So while I might recommend a play, and it isn’t even that hard a game comparative to other works at the time, there would be no shame in using a walkthrough to see it to the end.

Posted August 3, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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10 responses to “The Count: Won!

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  1. Fairly interesting concept, but “having to save and restore and restart and save and restore and restart” got the better of me in the end, so I simply read how you did it. I actually tried to go into the oven during the day, only to be told I couldn’t because of the light coming out of it. I don’t see how I was supposed to think of doing it at night. I’m really glad I simply read this instead. I also took the tablets before the first nightfall to avoid getting my neck bitten. Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to do that. Grrrr….
    Oh, well, enjoy this video of the AVGN playing The Count:

    Alexander Freeman
  2. There’s another unique feature of the original version of The Count. When you fell asleep in the game, the status display (i.e. the top half of the screen, above the scrolling interactive half) would go wild. The room display would change to a random location, and be filled to capacity with a random selection of items from the game (including items you had yet to find). But only for a quarter-second or so — too brief to get more than a glimpse — before the display changed to a different room and a different random selection of items. This flashing randomness continued for about 3 seconds, and then suddenly stop, with you laying in the empty bed, at the start of the next day.

    I and my friends first thought the game was buggy when it happened, perhaps because we had a corrupted version, and half expected the game to crash permanently before we solved it. But no, it was intentional, and later on I learned that it was intended to suggest nightmares taking place during your sleep, vivid but too fragmentary to piece together upon waking.

    Sadly, this bit of detail got dropped in later versions, presumably because it wasn’t worth the trouble (or the bytes — a precious commodity) to support it in the later versions of his game engine.

    • I did play a version with the screen changing. I did not catch what was going on enough to realize it was an in-game trick and not just the interpreter being glitchy.

    • Oh! That’s what’s supposed to be going on. The TRS-80 games still have this intact, and it’s nice to know it’s not an emulator bug but rather a “feature”. There is another part of the game that also can get lost in translation to alternate versions or FAST computers. When you go down into the dungeon and you LIGHT MATCH… on the original games the room DOES light up for about a second. Then the match blows out and it’s dark again. BUT, in that second of light, you do get a chance to see what’s in the pit. That makes all the difference, because if you know whats there you can GET it.

  3. Since this got brought up again will you be entertaining the possibility of playing the graphical versions, either the American or the curiously different Japanese ones?

    Morpheus Kitami
  4. Fun catching up on the review and comments. It’s always interesting to see how well some things I tried worked (or didn’t). Sorry about the spelling mistakes and typos, they just didn’t get caught and fixed.

    In retrospect I totally apologize for the requirement to restart and save so much. As noted, I was indeed trying to tell a story and let folks fill in the blanks as they figured things out.

    I’ve redone Adventureland slightly for its 40th anniversary and changed things around so it is possible to never lose and be required to restart. But as you might imagine it is a memory hog of a feature and would never have worked in the original 16k version.

    • I feel a little bad on some of the earlier posts for your games (since they showed up so early and I was still figuring out how to make a proper writeup) didn’t quite get as deep a treatment as they could’ve. (Compare what I put for Adventureland with the Savage Island games, which I enjoyed quite a bit.)

      I was intending to mention your Kickstarter, btw, in my next news post while it was still going on.

  5. I think your reviews are great. You gave your honest opinion. And like my games and most other writers, your style continually improves with time :)

    I am going to have to go read the other reviews as well as time permits. Looking forward to it.

    I do appreciate any help in spreading the word about the Kickstarter! We can use all the support we can get. For those reading this thread just check out the banner on

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