Pyramid (1980)   14 comments

Rodger Olson returns, he of Deathship, Escape to Mars, and a parser system written for the Ohio Scientific brand of computers that only understands the first two letters of each word.


The parser is a little better on this one; I’ll discuss that in a second, but first, you may be asking “wait, weren’t the previous games all text, why is there a picture?” Good question, Hypothetical Reader! While the original 1980 version of Pyramid is text-only, a later TRS-80 Color Computer version added pictures (and as far as I can tell so far, didn’t change anything else, but I’ll swap back and forth between the versions for a while to confirm).

While picking up items still doesn’t give any feedback, the game’s parser is now courteous enough to say if you didn’t pick something up correctly.




Dramatic! But in all seriousness, even this alone makes playing the game more comfortable.

Also, you can LOOK KNAPSACK to see what is inside and GET each item individually.





This may seem a bit underwhelming as a “feature” but compare to Escape from Mars where I literally had to test every verb in order to get at what was inside a pocket. Really, the game almost feels “normal” relative to 1980 now.

Also typical: a pyramid-themed game with a tricky opening where it’s easy to get stuck early. In addition to the starting items in the hut, I managed to find an AARDVARK, MONKEY, and BANANA in a desert as well as some VINES by a locked HEAVY DOOR at the front of the pyramid. I eventually was able to DIG to a new location:

To escape here I had to TAKE ROCKS, followed by PUT ROCKS; it asked


Doing so caused the cavern to flood; I was able to hop onto the boat and sail it south to an ancient cave. From there I headed up to an “Empty Treasure Room” with a SWORD and an ALTAR, and what appears to be the end of the road.

I can stand on the ALTAR and I assume there’s a secret lever or some such but I haven’t triggered anything yet. I am holding a SWORD, BANANAS, FLASHLIGHT, SHOVEL, AARDVARK, TIN, VINES and PISTOL. Also, I’m being followed around by the MONKEY although various permutations of FEED MONKEY or THROW BANANA do not yield any results.

The sword also says it is PROP. OF ALI BABBA. Anyone with an idea of what to do next?

(The C64 version of this is online, if you want an easy way to try it out.)

Posted November 21, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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14 responses to “Pyramid (1980)

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  1. If the sword is Prop. of Ali Babba I would try various versions of OPEN SESAME in various places, especially the heavy door, and hope that they aren’t also doing the part with the boiling oil.

    • Hey, that works! Got teleported to maze-ish thing. Good call.

    • At least, that seems like it would work, if I could get back up. Is there anyplace to tie the vines?

      • Probably (I’ve been trying TIE VINE everywhere and it asks to what, then says NOT HERE, so the parser is working with me at least).

      • How did you get back up to the pyramid door? I thought maybe it would involve tying the vines somewhere and climbing back up, but I guess not! I got to the alter room and then got stuck. FWIW I also didn’t get the monkey to follow me.

        The inventory limit is very annoying!

      • I haven’t actually got back to the door yet, I just grabbed the ivy from there and took it with me.

        I haven’t hit a limit on the amount of things I can put in the knapsack yet, so there’s that at least.

      • Oh also I tried LOOK STREAM and was told it flows through a hole, and you can also PUT ROCKS in HOLE to make the flood happen. So that’s fair.

      • Yeah, I figured out that I was supposed to use OPEN SESAME on the alt[a]r, which was where I hadn’t tried it. (The two-letter parser covers up for a lot of spelling mistakes.) Then I wandered the maze for a while, figured out an action that will work somewhere but haven’t figured out where, found a thing, and got myself killed. If I want to succeed I guess I have to map the maze for real.

      • You got most of the maze. It’s not a complicated one, but one of the cryptograms (the one that indicates walls hiding things) I haen’t been able to follow up with yet, I’ve tried all the “wrong” directions and things like “TOUCH WALL” and so forth.

        Not sure if I will post tonight, it might not be until Monday.

      • “PUSH WALL” yields something like “not yet,” which means it probably works somewhere.

        oh whoa, I think there was a place where it gave me something like “which direction,” which I interpreted like pushing a rock to the north, but it was probably a place where I should’ve given a direction you couldn’t go.

        …no wait, that was “PUSH FLOOR,” and it didn’t do anything, unless I should’ve tried “DOWN.” Hmm.

      • I also found if your BURN (RANDOM THING) it will say WON’T BURN but if you BURN MUMMY you just get a blank prompt (which implies it will work as long as you have some kind of flame, which I don’t)

        Don’t forget “PU” normally maps to “PUT”. I haven’t seen an Aardvark game yet that doubles up the verb meanings but this could be the first.

        ADD: Oh, gah. There are matches in the tin if you OPEN TIN. Got through the mummy.

      • Oof, good point about PU. Still, “PUSH WALL” is something different from “PUT WALL,” I think. And it understands “INV” but not “IN,” so at least sometimes it’s looking at the third letter.

        I haven’t even reached the mummy! (The thing I found was the key from the skelton.)

        OPEN TIN… that makes sense. Keeping matches in a tin maybe less so.

      • PUSH WALL does work somewhere.

        (In the graphical version, it actually displays a special picture in the right place, which is a strong hint. In the text version which I tried first, it does not.)

  2. Pingback: Pyramid: XBMMT IBWF TFDSFUT | Renga in Blue

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