Deathmaze 5000 (1980)   9 comments

And now for something completely different.

Deathmaze 5000 is a first-person adventure game by Frank Corr, Jr. for Med Systems, the same company that brought us Reality Ends.

If it looks somewhat familiar, it is possible you read the blog The Adventure Gamer, because Will Moczarski did a series on Deathmaze 5000 recently (which I am avoiding, because I don’t want spoilers). However, it’s not on any of my usual three reference sites (the Interactive Fiction Database, CASA Solution Archive, or Mobygames) meaning it still qualifies as “obscure”.

This represents what could have been an entirely different evolutionary branch for adventures. The three-dimensional maze is oriented on a grid, and you move about square by square using the arrow keys. This style — akin to the CRPG “blobber” genre — pretty much started and ended with Med Systems (their last game in this style was Asylum II in 1982). First-person adventures eventually came back in season, thanks to Myst, but are now either free-roaming or node based.

I’m not surprised, really — RPGs are squarely enough in the dungeon-genre camp that spending an entire game in rectilinear format doesn’t feel all that odd, while adventures more naturally lend themselves to a variety of environments.

The interface is smoother than you might expect for a 1980 TRS-80 game. In addition to moving about with the arrow keys, you enter commands (two words at most) just by starting to type. The maze has a typical set of adventure game inventory items stored in “boxes” accessible via OPEN BOX.

The player here is about to die: a monster throws the frisbee back and chops their head off.

In addition to the frisbee incident above, there is a square in the game that kills you just by stepping in it

but for the most part the first level (that I’ve been able to reach so far) is peaceful.

Where I’m stuck is the tile marked “X”. I’m guessing it’s the way to the “next level”. When I enter, the wall has the message “To everything there is a season” and if I turn enough times, it gets followed by the message “TURN, TURN, TURN”. There’s also a calculator in a box which displays the number 317. Putting these things together, my first guess was that I turn left 3 times, then right 1 time, then left 7 times.

No luck, though, even with other combinations of turns. The manual promises

Deathmaze is gigantic. There are over 500 locations. Be patient. You will not solve Deathmaze during the first week. Or the first month.

so this could be a tough one.

Posted July 12, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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9 responses to “Deathmaze 5000 (1980)

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  1. FWIW do you know the Pete Seeger song (popularized by the Byrds)?

    I would also try “LIE” though I cannot connect it to the song.

    • I thought of the flipping-LCD-calculator thing a few hours after I wrote this post, but I haven’t got LIE or any variations to work. There is an extra wrinkle, though:

      if you examine the calculator there is a smudge. Typing CLEAN CALCULATOR gives that the display actually shows 317.2

      I have tried 2lie and various variants as well, but I acknowledge I might be missing something here.

  2. Urrrgh, please ignore the first sentence of my post, my eyes went straight over the video you embedded.

  3. Pingback: Deathmaze 5000: A Time to Be Born, a Time to Die | Renga in Blue

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