Mad Venture (1981)   6 comments

Micro Labs published only two adventure games, both for the Apple II and both from 1981: Mad Venture (Dale Johnson and Christine Johnson) and Alice in Thunderland (Dale Johnson, again, and Ken Rose).

From the Museum of Computer Adventure Game History, although I’m guessing this is a picture from an old auction.

This is yet another pure treasure gathering game, although this time the game is very explicit about a time limit, as shown on the box art above. I suspect I will need to create myself a walkthrough to win.

Or possibly: cling helplessly to one. For I’ve known about this game for a while, where the one thing I’ve heard is the difficulty is really high. We’re talking another aspirant for Quondam’s throne of Most Difficult Adventure Ever, here. Of course, I can’t know how hard Mad Venture is until I try it, but I am still blocking out a few weeks.

While Alice in Thunderland is more explicit about the connection, Mad Venture has a vague sense of Alice in Wonderland to what I’ve seen so far. This led some people on the intfiction forums to speculate this was one of the first adventure games with a female character (Alice) but while I’d say the argument holds for Thunderland, I’m pretty sure the hero for Mad Venture is intended to be “you”. (Keeping an open mind, though, until I get deeper in the game.)

You start outside a movie theater where you are told to bring the treasures in 185 moves or bust. Nearby there’s a bunch of items, a rabbit hole (described as too small to enter), and a cave.

I moved all the items to this room to get them in one screenshot.

Going west:

YOU ARE IN A LARGE UNDERGROUND CHAMBER. A PASSAGE WEST HAS BEEN BOARDED UP! THERE IS A SIGN POSTED HERE THAT READS: “CAVE CLOSED FOR REPAIRS. DEPOSIT ALL NON-PERISHABLES IN CHUTE FOR FULL REFUND.

THERE IS A “DEPOSIT” CHUTE HERE.

The book has a faded cover which states “LE…CAR” and the inside notes “THE FOOD IS THE KEY TO YOUR PROBLEM”. This made me think the sandwich was somehow helpful but my first attempt at eating it while standing by the deposit chute led to death.

YOU HAVE BEEN CRUSHED TO DEATH BY A FALLING OBJECT!!
YOU ARE DEAD!

After some experimenting, I found that the sandwich has a better effect while eaten in the initial cave room.

YOU ARE NOW 4 INCHES TALL.

(There’s some rooms where you die and some where you transform — I’m not sure the pattern.)

This lets you be small enough to pop in the previously mentioned rabbit hole. Any items dropped in the DEPOSIT chute await below.

Notice there’s a “nasty sandwich” that’s new. If you try to GET SANDWICH you die with the message “THE SANDWICH GETS YOU FIRST!”

If anyone is inclined to follow along, there’s an easy-to-use online version of Mad Venture at the Internet Archive.

Posted August 3, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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6 responses to “Mad Venture (1981)

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  1. I suspect the “falling object” might be something else from your inventory. Are you sure dying/transforming depends on your location and not on what you’re carrying?

  2. LE…CAR = LEwis CARroll, I would expect?

  3. As Micro Fun, though, they also put out Death In the Caribbean.

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