Pyramid of Doom (1979)   3 comments

Let’s finish with Scott Adams for 1979!

Except, well, this isn’t Scott Adams, but rather the only game ever made by Alvin Files. Alvin had worked out how the Scott Adams Adventure system worked, and wrote a game on his own. He sent it to Mr. Adams, and after minor tweaks, it was released as Scott Adams Adventure #8.

This is one of those early-difficulty games: there are four desert rooms, a small hole I can enter, and I have no idea what to do to get the game started.

The style of starting with a tight area containing a difficult puzzle can work on occasion. Christminster is a text adventure from 1995 with a very devious timing puzzle in the first four rooms. Once solved the resolution is glorious. (On the other hand, it caused some people to quit playing.)

I wrote a level set called A Quiet Place for the game DROD where I made the first room high-pressure just as a way of throwing down the gauntlet — if someone couldn’t beat it, they were best off playing some easier levels first. Also, the tight pressure was a thematic device throughout (as the Youtube video I just linked explains, “everything wants me dead. Immediately.”)

To pick a less obscure (and only slightly less relevant) example, the first boss of Dark Souls is legendary for being extremely difficult. That is, extremely difficult for someone approaching the game as a standard RPG button masher; the repeated deaths are intended to train the player that yes, you might need to dodge and aim your attacks to win the game. By the end, the player has either quit or undergone a sadistic sort of tutorial which sets the tone for the rest of the game.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s really the case here that the puzzle is supposed to be classically “difficult”; the resolution may end up being just silly and frustrating. (The difficulty overall of the game is advertised as “Moderate.” Savage Island, which will come in 1980, starts with a small difficult section but is “Advanced” and clearly intended to challenge the player.)

I’ve got access to:

  • A canteen, and water
  • A shovel
  • A flashlight
  • A tiny key, which I found by digging in one of the desert rooms.
  • A stone; READ STONE tells me “Confusing. Part appears missing.”; taking the stone causes “the sound of machinery” and a “door with large keyhole” to appear.
  • In the same place as the stone I can DIG to make a hole, and then enter the hole to find a tiny locked door. The tiny key unlocks the tiny door (again causing “the sound of machinery”) and that’s the point I’m stuck. I can’t get any more machinery sounds and the door is too small to enter.
  • There’s also a “small nomad” that appears not long after starting the game who follows the player around, but I haven’t found any use for him yet. Other than TALK NOMAD (which ends up being fruitless) I can’t interact with him at all. I suppose maybe he’s small enough to fit in the door, but this isn’t an Infocom game where I can say >NOMAD, ENTER DOOR.
  • Oh, and finally, there’s a sign that states “He who defiles to tombs of Egypt shall surely perish!” Not likely useful, but when I’m this stuck I’m willing to try anything.

I’d be willing to take hints, but if you post one, ROT13 format only please. I’m going to keep at this for a while yet.

Posted June 20, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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3 responses to “Pyramid of Doom (1979)

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  1. For what it’s worth, this was the first adventure game I ever solved without help. So it’s probably less difficult overall than you’re currently thinking.

    A hint: Lbh znl or haqrerfgvzngvat gur fvmr bs gung cbby bs jngre.

  2. I remember playing and beating this, and Scott Adams #9, on the school library in my 7th/8th grade days. Good times. I remember being very impressed at one late-game puzzle in particular.

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