Raaka-Tu (1981)   3 comments

Raaka-Tu, otherwise known as raäka-tū, was published by Radio Shack for their TRS-80 and CoCo computers. It’s from Robert Arnstein, who we’ve seen before (Haunted House, Pyramid 2000, Death Dreadnaught) and who we will see again (Bedlam, Xenos).

For now, let’s travel to … Nepal?

You never thought that your Ph.D. project would send you to a remote corner of the world, but the research grant came through! You and your team of anthropologists began in India, sailing up the River Ghaghra where it departs from the Ganges. Last night, you entered Nepal on the river, but were forced to come aground when navigation was made impossible by the twisting, narrow stream.

I had some whiplash from the plot here; there’s some effort to put forth a real setting yet the scholarly work is Indiana Jones-like. The player character wants to find the “lost tribe” of the Khazhadim.

The old woman is seated beside you, where she unfolds an unbelievable story about the god Raaka-Tu and his temple of sacrifice. The woman tells of the treasure kept in the temple, the hideous monsters Raaka-Tu employs, and the Khazhadim who serve Raaka-Tu and guard his temple.

Rather than doing anthropologist things, we’re raiding a forbidden temple for treasure? What?

Look, fine: an attempt was made to frame the story somewhat in a real location, and it did lead to some rad cover art.

Via Figment Fly. The CoCo version has an entirely different cover, but I’ll save that for another post.

Arnstein shows some programming chops, for the system now understands indirect objects. Yes, the author of Haunted House has moved on to a four-word parser. (Having had practice helps!)

You start in a jungle maze…

…but fortunately not a rather large one.

MAZE STATS: Uses the Woods “all different” room trick of slightly altered room names. Only three connections are “normal”. The start location is a “sink” room that can be reached in more ways than any other room. Just repeating GO WEST will eventually get out no matter what the location in the maze. Most likely it was meant to be atmospheric rather than difficult.

Past the opening jungle is the outside of the Raaka-Tu temple, where guards rotate in a pattern and you can get shot if you’re not careful.

The “try again” and immediate restart with no prompt is novel. I can’t think of another text adventure example up to 1980 offhand.

The guards have some randomness to them, so you genuinely have to pay attention to their movement messages and not just hope you get lucky. (You want to wait until they disappear around a corner.) Eventually, you can find a coin on the ground and a wall with ivy that you can climb.

I’m going to stop here — I’ve made a little more progress, but I want to get a larger chunk before I write about it. I can say there are enough deathtraps I’m reminded of Death Dreadnaught.

Posted May 18, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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3 responses to “Raaka-Tu (1981)

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  1. Raäka-Tū and Bedlam were the first text adventure games that I played, way back in the early 80s. This article really brings back memories.

    • Excellent!

      Did you finish them, back in the day?

      • I know I solved Raaka-Tu, but I’m not sure about Bedlam. I was about 13. I probably spent a month on each game. I knew about adventuring from playing D&D so I knew about traps and puzzles and I mapped out both games. All of that stuff is long gone, now. From those two games I moved on to Empire of the Overmind–and finally Enchanter.

        I lived in a small Ontario town so all the software I got either came from the local Radio Shack or as hand-me-downs from friends and family. Basically if I wanted something I had to write it myself. The articles written by the guys from Infocom in Byte and Creative Computing were my Holy Grail. My thrill was writing a parser that could understand sentences as well as the Infocom one could. I never actually finished writing a full game of my own.

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