Deathmaze 5000: A Time to Be Born, a Time to Die   13 comments

I skipped mentioning the motivation and plot last time, so let’s remedy that first. From the manual:

Your only goal is to leave Deathmaze. Alive.

Ayep. Deep. So let’s segue into


There’s a FART command and it gets mentioned on the opening screen.

I don’t know what the “scientific marvel” mentioned on this screen is yet.

The effect is to propel the player forward until they hit a wall.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to save in-game time. I say this is unfortunate because a.) there’s a hunger timer; I’ve found food in two places but it’s definitely possible to starve b.) there’s a timer on torch health, and if it becomes dark you get eaten by a monster.

For the maps that follow, I need to keep in mind some route optimization. Turning counts as a “step”, so when a path is “wiggly”, it can take more travel time than a straight corridor covering the same number of spaces.

An example: The corridor on the left takes twice as long to pass through as the corridor on the right.


I still haven’t solved the calculator problem from last time, although I should mention LOOK CALCULATOR reveals there’s a smudge, and CLEAN CALCULATOR shows the actual number on the screen is 317.2.

The number combined with being on a calculator combined with the “TURN, TURN, TURN” hint suggests this might be a word on an inverted calculator.

Matt in the comments suggest “Z.LIE” and I’ve tried a bunch of permutations like “LIELIE” and “TWO LIE” but no luck.

It’s possible I need an item of some sort, because you can move on to the lower levels without solving the puzzle. One of the items just lying about (a HAT) gives you explicit instructions if you LOOK HAT:

Wear this hat. CHARGE a wall near where you found it.

Specifically, if you face north and CHARGE, you bust through the wall and fall down a pit to level two.


Here’s where the Deathmaze really started living up to its name. One of the item boxes has a snake that kills you if you open it (I haven’t decided if this is a red herring or a puzzle that needs solving)

There’s an “elevator” which just crushes you by the walls coming in sideways.

There are two attack dogs, one which occurs after a certain number of steps, and one which happens in a specific spot. I have only found the sneaker useful in fending him off, although it causes the sneaker to disappear:

A vicious dog attacks you!


The Sneaker magically flies around a convenient corner and is eaten by the monster!!!

The dog chases the sneaker! and is eaten by the monster!!!

The dog that is in a fixed spot is blocking a box that has a magic staff. Also, while this level has both food and a torch, the torch is far enough away (notice how it’s at the end of a “wiggly” corridor) that it gives time for the “timed dog” to attack. This means I can choose from either a.) fighting the fixed dog and taking the magic staff or b.) fighting the timed dog and getting an extra torch, although that means I skip the magic staff.

Of course, c.) find an extra way to defeat a dog and do both is possible, but I haven’t wrangled it yet.


There’s not as much content here, but the “L” shape does indicate there’s probably more to this level. I don’t know if it’s possible to enter in the upper right area on this level (indicating a secret door or some related shenanigans) or if it’s a “closed area” that can only be entered from below.


This is where my journey so far has bottomed out. Apart from running out of torch time or dying of hunger, again things aren’t too dangerous. It may be the next direction is “up” — the bottom of the pit doesn’t correspond to any existing pits, so it must go up to the “missing” section on level 3. I suspect a method of scaling pits will be the next step in the journey, but given farts are a method of propulsion, I won’t be surprised if things go sideways.

Part of where I’m stumped is a short verb list. This is the entire list I’ve found so far.


None of these are the usual WAVE that gets used to activate a magic staff in many a game, or GAZE to use the crystal ball from the first level. CLIMB wants a noun and the bottom of pits (where it seems like climbing might work) I haven’t been able to get the game to recognize any particular use.

Posted July 13, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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13 responses to “Deathmaze 5000: A Time to Be Born, a Time to Die

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  1. The “TURN, TURN, TURN” bit is one of the most deeply inscrutable puzzles in adventure game history. I will be very, very surprised if you get it without hints.

    • I solved it by looking up the solution, but I can at least explain how one might conceivably be expected to get it without source code diving.

      I think. Maybe not.

      • My next post will be all about this puzzle. You can anticipate being bemused/horrified as I enumerate my attempts at a solution.

      • Ok, I’m through that and working on the post, but, uh, how would you get it without source code diving?

      • V unq gubhtug gung nf ybat lbh ner ba gur evtug cngu, gheavat gur evtug ahzore bs gvzrf, gur zrffntr jvyy pbagvahr gb qvfcynl. Gung vf, juvyr vg fnlf “Gb rirel guvat gurer vf n frnfba” lbh’er fgvyy BX. Naq jura lbh ghea gur bgure jnl lbh trg gur ghea ghea ghea zrffntr. Guvf jbhyq cebonoyl vaibyir n ybg bs fnir-erfgber gb svther bhg ubj abg gb trg bss gur cngu.

        But when I tried to implement this other than by just typing in the solution, I couldn’t do it. Partly perhaps because doing so requires lots more patience than I have? Or maybe I just misunderstood it, which is not at all unlikely..

      • It’s always
        Steps 1-5 show “For every time there is a season”
        Steps 6-14 show nothing
        Steps 15-20 show “For every time there is a season”
        Steps 21-25 include TURN, TURN, TURN message
        Steps 26 and further: no message

      • Oh, pure coincidence then. I must have started on step 15, so there was a message for the first eleven steps of the solution, and then the twelfth set me free.

        Yeah, beats the heck out of me! My guess is that the calculator is a reward and is supposed to be a hint for something else?

  2. For the dog–can you throw the frisbee? Seems like an obvious thing to try with a dog. Before it killed you, but maybe this time it’ll take care of the dog? (Though it seems likely you’ve tried that.)

  3. FART seems like nonsense a cracker would alter as a joke. The Apple ][ version, also (c) 1980, uses CHARGE, which makes more sense for its’ effect and in context.

    • Charge is different (at least on the trs-80). It will kill you if you ram into a wall. So far it only has been used to break open one secret.

      FART is in the printed 1980 manual.

    • I’m going to try the apple II version a little to see if the calculator puzzle is any different — maybe they tweaked that in addition to charging.

    • It’s interesting, the game actually recognizes FART as a verb, just says “You will do no such thing !” (which is different from not knowing the word)

      The calculator is no more helpful: “It displays 317.2 !”

      Apple II version is actually a bit tougher to get what’s going on since the “There is a season” message overwrites the calculator description.

      It does have one crazy inadvertent clue. As far as I can tell, since Z and X are movement (even in the middle of typing a command) it means no command in the game can use the letters “Z” or “X”.

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