Frankenstein Adventure (1980-1981)   11 comments

Frankenstein Adventure is yet another TRS-80 game in BASIC, and was released in the October 1981 edition of CLOAD. (This was the same “magazine on tape” that had CIA Adventure.)

The reason I have the date listed as 1980 to 1981 is that, rather unusually for a simple BASIC game from this era, there is an extensive interview with the author, John R. Olsen Jr. from Oregon (not to be confused with John R. Olson from Kansas who was working at the same time).

I decided that I was going to write an adventure game. But I had no idea of how to go about it. There were no adventure authoring languages like Visionary at that time. My only choice was to write in the BASIC language. And that meant that I had to write everything: the parser, the input routines, the output routines, as well as the movement and other logic. But I had a pretty good knowledge of BASIC and so undaunted I began writing my first adventure during my Christmas vacation of 1980. The plot of my inaugural adventure was taken from the old horror movies. Its working title was ‘Frankenstein Adventure’. The plot had you (the player) discovering you were the long lost relative of Dr. Frankenstein. As his only heir, you had inherited his mansion. When you arrived, you found a letter from him telling you that he wanted you to complete his creature and bring it to life.

As the quote above implies, you’re not tasked with looting treasures or defeating evil. You are here to create life.

So far I’ve mostly explored. The map is fairly small; there’s a cemetery, a bog, and the house; other than the typical kitchen and dining room the house has a master bedroom with a “four poster BED” and “a PAINTING” of Victor Frankenstein.

There’s also a library, which (perhaps inevitably) had a secret passageway, leading to a laboratory.

My most immediate obstacle to fulfilling Dr. Frankenstein’s dying wish is the padlock on the power level, but I’m guessing that’s not the only hitch; I suspect the monster itself will need some work, but I don’t know with what yet. What I’m getting stalled on is some quicksand…

…and a wolf, who blocks my way back in the house after I dig up a coffin with a corpse.

I have access to a CANDLE, MATCHES, a SCALPEL, a CROWBAR, an old LEMON, some silk THREAD, a SHOVEL, and a SCREWDRIVER. It’s possible I’m still missing an ordinary secret in the house so I won’t call this comprehensive.

With a simple treasure-hunt TRS-80 game I likely would have dived into hints or source code already, but the premise is compelling enough I’m giving the game a little more effort before I throw in the towel. I like how the protagonist’s quest is not framed as good or evil, but just fulfilling a mission as Frankenstein’s last living relative.

Posted March 25, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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11 responses to “Frankenstein Adventure (1980-1981)

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  1. Is it possible to use the scalpel on the monster or the wolf for dissection or as a weapon respectively? Maybe the silk could be used as a post operative suture.

    • Doesn’t work on them, but I was able to cut open the corpse and get a HEART and LIVER.

      • Maybe feed the offal to the wolf? Nose to tail eating is very fashionable these days

      • Yep, he likes the liver.

        (…and you can get it back. Uh, it’s kind of interesting. I’ll explain when I write my ending post.)

      • Not precisely “it”….

        (I was just playing with the z-machine port and it may have had a slightly different trigger on when you can get past the wolf. It looked like the wol was blocking me when I had the body parts but not necessarily when I had just opened the coffin. This meant it was possible to get past the wolf without sacrificing the liver, I think. I had to hit the walkthrough for verbs for unlighting the candle and getting out of the crypt, though maybe I should’ve thought of the latter one.)

      • UNLIGHT is from the Scott Adams games (given explicitly in those, but not here) so I had it in my bag of tricks.

        I did try the z-machine version out — it looks like the wolf is out right away. With the original the wolf doesn’t appear until after the corpse scene and then he blocks you. Then after getting through the bog/old mill scene he blocks you again (and you need to apply a little more force).

        Ending post might not be until tomorrow. Fun game, though.

  2. I remember this game! (I had a subscription to CLOAD back in the day.)
    I’m pretty sure that (a) you don’t currently have the item you need to defeat the wolf and (b) it’ll be really obvious when you see it.

  3. Maybe the classic “swim” will work in the quicksand…

  4. Being Frankenstein’s Monster you’d better make sure he doesn’t try and make a bolt for freedom at the end of the game.

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