Crystal Cave: The Real Thing   6 comments

This one’s going to start “normal”, pass through “slightly strange”, and get “Haunt-level weird” at the end. (If you never got to read about Haunt, you should, since no other game before or since has included references to both Cecil the Sea Serpent and Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior.)

Public domain picture of the Crystal Caves of Bermuda for spoiler space.

Last time I was stuck trying to find the pirate’s grotto, and it turned out to be my old nemesis, Missing a Room Exit.

>nw
You are in a secret passage running southeast. A second passage enters from the southwest.

From here I only had marked exits going southeast and southwest, but there’s also an exit to the northwest.

> nw
You are at the south end of a grotto. The floor is sand, sloping off to a beach, and a lake to the west. Faint light is visible to the north. There is evidence of a former passage to the west, but it has collapsed, and there is no way to go in that direction now. At one time in the far distant past, the grotto was obviously used by pirates, and there is the tattered remains of a “Jolly Roger” hanging from the ceiling.

Yes, now that I read it carefully, the text implies you can continue to the northwest, but I missed it anyway.

> n
You are at the north end of a grotto with a sand floor and a lake.
Light filters up from the lake, and you can faintly see an opening to the outside world under water, but it is inaccessible.
There is a ruby medallion here.
There is a heavy lead hammer here.
There is a large sparkling nugget of gold here.
The pirate’s treasure chest is here.
A skeleton is here, clutching a cutlass.

So, fairly easy resolution. I also realized I was interpreting the ruby medallion wrong, and it wasn’t glowing near enemies, but just near secret passages; this netted me an ermine cape and some rare spices.

Slightly more complex was the Siege Perilous throne from last time. One time I tested it I got this message

With a powerful roar, the throne hurls you straight up — you narrowly miss hitting the roof of the cave! Your fall jars every bone in your body, but you find that you are all right.

and I different time I received this message

With a roar, the throne flips you into the air to land on the ground in front of it.

but I was stumped as to what was going on, and had to poke at the source code before I realized there’s a cumulative effect going on; there are multiple “royal” type items and if you have them all something should occur. I also learned it’s a King Arthur reference.

Galahad is the knight for whom the Siege Perilous at Arthur’s table is destined. In the Lancelot, a knight named Brumand, trying to perform an act that Lancelot never dared to do, sits in it and is burned to a crisp. Malory says that Merlin made the Siege Perilous for the greatest Grail knight. When Galahad arrives at Camelot, his name appears on the seat destined for him.
— From The Camelot Project

The items needed to be sufficiently royal are

the crown (mentioned in my last post)
the ermine cape
a platinum orb (from the Time Maze)
a scepter (from the Time Maze, guarded by a dragon)

Getting the platinum orb was technically easy, but when holding it while exiting the maze, I was pounced by a spider.

A giant hairy spider, named “Grendl”, drops from the ceiling, barely missing you. It starts to chase you around the room, trying to get you!
A giant hairy spider is following you, trying to get you!

Again I was rather stuck here, but it turned out to be a simple solution. There’s a sword you just need to be holding.

Grendl pounces – – –
but luckily falls upon your sword, and dies!!

In context, it’s understandable I missed this: I was still reckoning with both the pirate and maximum inventory capacity at the time. In a more recent game I would be able to tuck the entire universe in my back pocket, so I’d already have the sword in my possession without any extra puzzle-solving effort.

The dragon was a little more obtuse, and seems to be intended as an inversion of feeding the food to the bear:

> throw spices
The spices fly through the air, forming a fine cloud. The dragon rears back triumphantly, ready to blast you, when the spices make him sneeze explosively, and his fire is extinguished. A very crestfallen and woe-begone dragon looks up at you and says “Mind if I tag along, Boss?”

Once the dragon goes tame, it follows you around and complains about everything:

The small dragon wails “Can I have some treasure, too?”

A dragon follows you, whimpering “Can I have a match, boss?”

You are being followed by a dragon, who whines “I’m hungry.”

Yes, I think we could all use a little more treasure. With the cape, orb, and scepter in hand, I just needed to grab the crown from the Fell King (who I still haven’t figured out how to defeat) and run. While sprinting away from the Fell King, I managed to sit on the throne with all four special items and get to a new area:

> ne
The Fell King is striding after you!
You’re at the center of the Hall of the Mountain King.
There is a large, bejeweled throne here.

> sit
As you sit, you notice the inscription–“Siege Perilous — Nobles only.” The throne silently tips over, revealing a hidden passage beneath it. This is all that you have time to observe, as you are immediately transported, whirling giddily, throught a region of ominous vague shapes, somber shadows, and sullenly-glowing lights! Finally landing with a crash, you shake your head to clear it, look around, and discover . . . You are at the east side of a garden. A murmuring stream enters from the southeast, and exits through a passage to the east.

(Before going on, notice this is a pretty classy piece of structuring: there’s the “realistic” outside with the ranger, followed by the first inner section, but rather than opening the entire inner game at once, there’s a secondary puzzle that leads to a second inner section. A careful structure can go a long way in making a generic treasure hunt feel dynamic.)

The new area has a relatively standard unicorn and djinni (I haven’t figured out what the deal with either one is yet) but also:

> w
You are in an immense chamber, exiting to the east and west. It is lit by flickering, smoky torches, each of which gives off a vile, greasy, black smoke. Indistinctly visible through the smoke, the walls are seen to be lined with galleries.
There is a unicorn wearing a jeweled collar nearby.
A gigantic idol blocking the far end of the chamber is facing you.
A gigantic orc priest stands before the idol, and says:
“You would be well off to make an offering to out idol!”
The galleries are lined with orcs, silently watching you.

I tried offering various treasures.

The orcs chant “That is not the real thing”, and throw offal.

After they rejected every piece of treasure I was carrying, I contemplated if “that is not the real thing” was intended as a hint.

… wait, they wouldn’t? Would they? I had a bottle of cola from the barn at the start of the game.

> drop bottle
Ok.
The orcs scream “AAIIEEE – – – ‘ORCA-COLA’. IT IS THE REAL THING!!!”
A convulsive groan fills the chamber, as the idol shatters explosively.
Flying shards strike and kill all of the orcs, and narrowly miss you!
All the orcs vanish in greasy black clouds of smoke.
There is a small, exquisite jade idol here.
The giant, angry orc is coming after you!

If you’re baffled right now, perhaps this US commercial from the early 1980s will help. Yes, the premise of the Coke Is It! game has been found in the wild. You’re welcome.

(For those unfamiliar, Coke Is It! was an April Fools’ Day game where authors took old IF games and added delicious Coke. You drop to your knees and cradle Floyd’s head in your lap. Floyd looks up at his friend with half-open eyes. “Floyd did it … got Coke. Floyd a good friend, huh?” Quietly, you croon Floyd’s favorite song: “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke”.)

Posted June 20, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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6 responses to “Crystal Cave: The Real Thing

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  1. …Perfect harmony, la la la…

  2. Interesting. If the threat from the Fell King is that he chases you after you take the crown, and you can escape his chase via the Siege Perilous, do you actually *need* to more permanently “defeat” him at all?

    • Possibly not? I’m not done with the game yet so I’m not sure.

      You do have to go back to his level after the crown business to wrangle another puzzle, and it does give him ample time to club you, so it *feels* like there should be a more permanent solution.

    • I have now finished the game.

      The Fell King has a treasure so you do need to defeat him.

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