Bilingual Adventure: This Space Unintentionally Left Blank   4 comments

This post assumes casual familiarity with the Crowther/Woods version of Adventure, so if you’ve just wandered in, you might want to go read about original Adventure first.

Ad from Kilobaud Magazine, December 1979.

Amongst the various changes I encountered one major system change, one serious bug, one general parser oddity, one old puzzle with a different solution from the original, and one new puzzle I can’t yet solve.

The most noticeable change in terms of gameplay feel is that the Bilingual Adventure enforces use of the lamp only very weakly. It doesn’t get mentioned as required until this room:

At your feet is a pit breathing traces of white mist. An east passage ends here except for a small crack leading on.

It is might dangerous to grope in the dark.

The game stops you if you try to go down without the lamp lit, and if you are persistent and attempt again, you die.

However, *past* this point you can turn the lamp off just fine. The room description never goes black or the like. The only other time the lamp is needed is the dark room (I’ll return to that it a moment). This has the effect of allowing a more casual stroll through the game rather than trying to optimize for lamp light.

There are a few of intentional removals from the map, no doubt to be able to stuff the entire game on a 38K floppy; the “dragon” section seems to be gone and a couple “side tunnels” that did nothing other than add atmosphere are also gone.

Removals are marked in red.

In the process, two spots on the map got broken. The Swiss Cheese room mentions an exit to the northwest, but it’s impossible to go that way; they only way to make it to the rooms with the Ming vase is to go around the other direction (the beanstalk that sprouts up from watering the plant leads there).

Rather more seriously, there’s a room west of the crystal bridge spot that’s a literal void. As in, there *is* a room there, but it has no description or exits, so if you land there you end up in limbo and have the quit the game.

Even after I knew about the “void room” I got caught in it once; to get the diamonds now you have to use the rod to make the crystal bridge, but the crystal bridge now doesn’t stay: you have to wave the rod again to go back. I had dropped it on the east side of the bridge so my only possible exit was to the void.

It’s possible the intent was to remove that place entirely to force solving the bridge puzzle, but the authors messed it up and made the bug instead.

On to the oddity: if you type a single unrecognized verb, the parser responds asking what noun you want to go with it. This is true even if the verb is unrecognized.

?? get
get what ?? bottle
Done ?? asdasd
asdasd what ??

This possibly was meant as a purely “helpful” feature for those who forgot to type a noun, but that ranks very low on the list of Actual Typos People Make.

I could maybe see this being useful in regard to the design allowing other languages and the bilingual nature of the game causing “syntax mixing” to happen. While the subject can be waved away with the parser (having an implied “I” or “you” or whatever pronoun you want to assign to the player character) the order VERB-OBJECT isn’t universal (in languages with an order preference, subject-object-verb is the most common). This would only make sense if the “split command” syntax in the excerpt let you type the noun first, but the game doesn’t let you.

Speaking of mixing, here’s what happens if you switch to French and try to type w for west:

?? w

C’est “ouest” en Francais.

The changed puzzle is at the dark room; in the original, it involved an adjacent room with a treasure “the size of a plover egg” with the implication you can type PLOVER as a magic word to teleport there and back. This lets you bring a lamp in, so you can go northeast and pick up the item there.

You are in a small chamber lit by an eerie magic >GREEN< light. An extremely narrow tunnel exits to the west. A dark corridor leads ne.

There is an emerald here the size of a green parrot's egg

?? ne

You're in a room so dark that you cannot see the treasure that might lay here. A corridor leading south is the only exit.

The magic word to arrive and bring the lamp is “green” (apparently the authors was trying to make the game more fair than original Adventure; I’m guessing that’s also why the dragon was cut). However, the same word is supposed to be used to get out, and it doesn’t work!

?? green

We cannot go there

What does work is this:

?? y2

You have walked up a hill, still in the forest. The road slopes back down the other side of the hill. There is a small brick building in the distance.

This might normally be fair, except the “Y2” room description had also been changed:

You are in a large room with passages to the south and west, and a wall of broken rock to the east. A large “Y” is painted on the north wall.

This means there is no way to beat the game without the outside knowledge of what the original room looked like (which had “Y2” rather than “Y”). So in the process of the authors trying to create a fairer puzzle, they made an (essentially) impossible puzzle.

As what I’m guessing is meant to be a replacement for the dragon puzzle, there’s a sword in a stone. I haven’t gotten anywhere.

There is a large gleaming silver sword imbedded in the block of stone.

?? get sword

The sword is stuck firmly in the stone and won’t come out.

In Adventure 550 the solution was to eat a strength-enhancing mushroom, but there doesn’t seem to be any “new” objects in Bilingual Adventure other than this one. I tried using the oil on the sword but it doesn’t work (giving a blank message, which means the solution might just be buggy).

I could, of course, do source diving to try to work out the puzzle, but I’ll hang on a little longer trying to solve it the “real” way. Feel free to drop any suggestions you might have. Any object available in vanilla Adventure (other than the carpet) is available.

Posted July 1, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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4 responses to “Bilingual Adventure: This Space Unintentionally Left Blank

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  1. I only solved this puzzle with the aid of >HELP, which tells you something that really should have been under EXAMINE SWORD instead.

    ROT13: Gurer vf na vafpevcgvba ba gur oynqr juvpu fnlf – “BAYL ZL ANZR JVYY JVA LBH SNZR”.

  2. Pingback: Bilingual Adventure: Consumed in Its Own Fires | Renga in Blue

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