Dragon Quest Adventure: A History of Nonviolence   9 comments

There’s an emerging pattern that I’ve already pointed out a few times, but for those of you who haven’t obsessively read my entire backlog, a summary:

  • Lost Dutchman’s Gold (1979) had a rifle and gun, but if you attempt to use either one in a fight, you are overwhelmed and die. They can both just be left at home.
  • Pyramid of Doom (1979) had a pistol that worked but was still useless; you could shoot a nomad that follows the player around, but the nomad would just come back. (There wasn’t a point even in trying since the nomad only gives helpful rather than harmful information.)
  • Atlantean Odyssey (1979) had a speargun that you could try to use on a shark, but the shark would just kill you.
  • Burial Ground Adventure (1979) came with a gun and separate bullets that you could load, but if you tried to use the gun to get rid of some dogs, the dogs would kill you.
  • You could use a spear in In Search Of… Dr. Livingston (1980) to fend off an alligator, but the alligator room was usually optional and the spear would generally just get you in trouble in the game’s villages.
  • House of Thirty Gables (1980) gives as ax-and-nearby-troll setup, but killing the troll turns out to be a meaningless act: “ONE MIGHTY BLOW FROM YOUR AX HAS KILLED THE POOR INNOCENT TROLL.” There’s also a wandering dwarf you can try using the ax on, but: “YOU SEEM TO BE VERY INEPT AT AX THROWING.”
  • There’s a pistol in Pyramid (1980) but instead of shooting anything you need to take it apart and utilize the gunpowder, MacGyver-style.

There’s still plenty of cases where violence has been the answer (in, for example, Mystery House) but there have been so many useless weapons in adventure games I now always treat them as potential red herrings.

There’s something inherent to the form of adventure games itself that causes this to keep happening. APPLY WEAPON TO ENEMY tends not to be an interesting puzzle, and the times I’ve seen it work either the weapon was hard to obtain or there was some RPG-stats-and-randomization undercurrent programmed in (like in Zork). Adventurer-as-trickster is more common than adventure-as-warrior since that fits more with the puzzle mode of gameplay. A sword is more likely to be used in cutting a rope than cutting down a monster.

Dragon Quest Adventure takes this idea to the next level.

From last time, I had found a set piece with a 100-foot pillar, a skeleton with broken legs, and a scroll indicating the presence of an amulet that allowed flight. However, there was no amulet to be found. This storytelling-by-absence-of-an-item showed up in Secret Mission, where you are told about an envelope in a mission briefing that has already been stolen.

Here, similarly, the amulet has been stolen, but by whom? I unfortunately hit an interface issue I’ve seen many times before, where the game lets you GO LOCATION to enter some place not by the normal NORTH / SOUTH / EAST / WEST directions, and where sometimes this is mentioned as an explicit object (a passage at the start of the game which lets you GO PASSAGE, for instance) and sometimes it is not. Here, while I could GO ROWBOAT to enter a rowboat by the river, I could also enter the river itself.

I needed to check the walkthrough to find this place.

Ah, well. The rest was smooth sailing, at least. I decided to try my newfound magic amulet back at the coffin with the flash of blinding light.

Matt W. wondered in the comments what CLOSE EYES does; the game just doesn’t recognize that eyes exist. There’s been quite a few games where I’ve found an unrecognized “alternate solution” that comes just from referring to the player’s body parts. It seems like they’d be fair game but the only times I can think of them being used have been on unfair puzzles. It’s just one of those conventions, I think; if enough games allowed a standard ability to refer to one’s EYES, NOSE, EARS, and so on, it’d probably be more acceptable to write a puzzle that refers to them.

I was then able to exchange my ruby at a nearby alchemist for a MAGIC SHIELD. He also gave me a magic word (XAVAX).

I already had a sword from earlier; I took my amulet, sword, and shield, and went back to the pillar room and typed FLY. I was told something I was carrying was too heavy. I had to drop everything but the amulet.




Fortunately, the magic word XAVAX then was useful here to cause a ladder to appear, so I could go back and get my stuff. Heading north from the top of the pillar led to the dragon’s lair:


As a dutiful stereotypical adventurer, I then typed >KILL DRAGON:



If you go back and read the king’s original directive you are not here to slay the dragon, just to rescue the princess. Since the dragon is asleep now, there’s no need to confront him! I admit being thrown for a loop given the sword-and-shield setup strongly suggests a full-on-fight.

I was able to grab the sleeping princess and then just walk all the way back to the king, and victory.

Despite the typical fairy-tale setup, we were only promised half the kingdom, not half the kingdom and the hand of the princess. So we only get a kiss, as opposed to forced participation in medieval patriarchy. Wizard and the Princess similarly only promised half the kingdom for rescuing the princess.

We’re not quite done with Charles Forsythe yet; he will return in 1981 with Tower of Fear. But we need to get through 1980 first; 10 games to go!

Posted November 28, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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9 responses to “Dragon Quest Adventure: A History of Nonviolence

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  1. That artwork in the game ad looks very, ah, public domain. Most of the hits I’m finding are just for that ad itself, though, nothing about who might have originally drawn/painted it. I’m finding some hints it might be an illustration of Siegfried and the dragon Fafnir, from Germanic or Norse mythology, but that’s about it.

    • https://rpggeek.com/rpgitem/82200/dimensions-and-doors-2nd-edition

      The same publisher. Looks like it was recycling. Maybe the artist is mentioned in the Tunnels and Trolls book?

      • It’s definitely a public-domain illustration, and you’re right : it shows Siegfried (or Sigurd, if you prefer the Old Norse spelling rather than the German) fighting the dragon Fafnir. He’s got his horn strapped to his belt (as in Wagner’s opera), and more importantly, he’s holding up the cursed ring that Siegfried takes from Fafnir’s hoard. (A bit of a chronological mix-up there, since Siegfried obtains the ring *after* killing Fafnir.)

      • Poking around some more the hero looks kind of like Arthur Rackham’s, but I haven’t found the particular image on the Internet.

      • It’s definitely not by Rackham, but I haven’t been able to locate the true source yet either.

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