ADV.CAVES (1980?)   2 comments

This game has the triple whammy of an unknown author, unknown year, and what is more or less an unknown title.

I’m titling ADV.CAVES by its filename. I found it on the mysterious Apple II Compilation #007. The compilation comes with multiple games of old vintage. Here are the ones I’ve been able to identify:

  • Lost Dutchman’s Gold (1979, the Apple II version came out in 1980)
  • Dukedom (1976, the 1980 Apple II port is on the disk)
  • Imhotep (1980)
  • Journey to the Center of the World (1978, called “Adventure Within the Earth” in this version)

It is thus a good guess ADV.CAVES is also from 1980. It’s possible it was a type-in but I haven’t been able to identify the source magazine. It’s also possible this was a private project that escaped to the wild, because this is very short and feels more like someone’s programming exercise (akin to Roger Wilcox’s work) rather than an attempt at publishing a game. (As an example of the roughness: there is no “inventory” command.)

I’m sure you won’t be surprised that a game with a “caves” moniker asks you to collect treasures and drop them in a central location (the starting room of the game). There is no “end game” message; the goal seems to be to accumulate as many points as you like and then quit. While not spelled out exactly, 100 points is the maximum. You get points not only from depositing treasures and for each new location you visit (this will become important in a little while).

Close to the starting room is a room with a kitten:

YOU ARE AT A PILE OF RUBBLE AT THE N END OF A LOW
PASSAGE
A SIGN SAYS ‘MAGIC MAY WORK HERE’

A CUTE KITTEN SCAMPERS ABOUT UNDER FOOT.

After going through the requisite Crowther/Woods Adventure words (XYZZY, PLUGH, etc.) and generic magic words (SESAME, ABACADABRA, and so forth) I hit upon the word MAGIC itself as a magic word. It teleports you straight to a dragon. If you drop the kitten where the dragon is:

AMAZINGLY THE DRAGON IS TERRIFIED OF KITTENS
HE HAS FLOWN OFF ELSEWHERE IN THE CAVE

After the dragon vs. kitten face-off, something highly unusual happens. The dragon doesn’t just go poof: it just moves elsewhere. That means any of the other rooms of the game may have A LARGE DRAGON BLOCKS YOUR PATH; to be safe you need to take the kitten with you to do any further necessary dragon-scaring. I can’t think of any other adventure games I’ve played where this happens, that is, where an enemy is defeated by solving a puzzle, but may need to be redefeated later in the same manner. This in contrast to CRPG-style violence or some other non-puzzle method of driving enemies away; when a puzzle is solved there seems to be the unspoken rule it should be solved only once.

You can get most of the points (96 of them) through normal gameplay, but I did say earlier the max score is 100. For a full 100 point ending, you need to plunge into a chasm.

YOU STAND AT THE N EDGE OF A 3 METER DEEP CHASM ABOUT 2 METERS WIDE. THE HALL GOES ON BEYOND.

COMMAND=D

LYING BRUISED AND BLEEDING AT THE FOOT OF A 3 METER HIGH SHEAR WALL, YOU STARE UP AT THE DISTANT ARCHED ROOF AND PONDER YOUR FATE.

You could have quit at 96 points, but those last 4 were your downfall. Rest in peace, Adventurer.

But wait, a miracle occurs!

CLIMB works, you just have to do it a bunch of times. Never mind. I guess we made it out alive … this time.

In all seriousness, I had thought for a while the scene trapped in the cave forever was the real “ending” but decided to go back and try CLIMB a bunch more times just to be sure. The first Russian art house cinema style ending for an adventure game will have to wait a little longer.

Posted July 11, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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2 responses to “ADV.CAVES (1980?)

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  1. What’s going on with the directions between the Great Hall and Round Chamber?

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