Microworld: Landing on Their Valences   5 comments

An optioisolator, one of the locations you can visit in Microworld. They transmit information using light. From an eBay auction.

Before I explain what puzzles I’ve solved and have yet to solve, let me give the general layout of the map.

You start, having being turned into an electron, passing through “primary windings”, a “secondary transformer”, a “rectifier”, a “regulator”, before landing on the “ground plane”, possibly passing through a main memory maze on the way.

At the ground plane you can branch in multiple directions including a “casette audio processor”, a “data bus”, a “keyboard matrix”, and “video RAM”.

There’s also a snack bar and the MICROWORLD DISCO which I’ll bring up again later.

Video RAM leads you to a “CIO chip” connected to a “disk controller”, “disk select latch”, “printer controller”, and most oddly, an “RS-232 board”.

The RS-232 seemingly leads to the “outside” but also a bunch of error rooms where you can lose the game. A sampling:

As the last clip indicates, the same direction can do alternate things.

Described in a topological sense, the connections make sense, but as I was forming my map, it was a jumbled mass. I guess this is the “educational” part of the game (although I’m going to wait until my final post before I judge the educational qualities or lack thereof of Microworld).

I’m still not certain what the objective is. The opening room states “an interesting object is in one of the corners” and my original thought that this was just referring to the calculator is incorrect; you can GO CORNER.

You are in the west corner of the blue room in front of an ATARI. A disk drive and a voice input device are connected to it.
The disk drive is empty.

The oddly bugged glass cube I mentioned last time (and was unable to open) does contain a disk, so my best guess the final objective is to escape the computer with the diskette and then use it on the computer. (I did manage to escape once, kind of, out of the RS-232 board, although no disk was at hand.)

The other objective related element has to be the assorted “IC chips” through the game. I’ve found a grey chip, a green chip, a white chip, and a red chip (separate from the odd buggy message describing a red chip in inventory when holding the glass cube — I have gathered you’re not supposed to be able to pick up the cube at all). Look at any of the chips and you get the message “all you need is a socket”, which alas, is something I don’t have; I’m also not certain how many chips there are. I did find a blue chip (although haven’t been able to hang on to) and one of the funky out-of-place errors indicated a black chip. This strikes me as a gather-the-Foobles-to-open-a-final-door sort of setup, so even though I’m not clear on where they go, I’m getting the general feel of plot advancement upon finding each new chip.

The most important thing I did was on accident.

You are in the transformer core. A couple of electrons are wandering around aimlessly. They seem to be mumbling something, but you can’t hear a word.

In the room above (in the opening area) I tried to LISTEN just out of curiosity, and hit the parser’s limit of only understanding the first four letters of each word. LIST gives what seems to be the full list of verbs.

This command doesn’t work in the TRS-80 version of the game, but it helped me crack some puzzles open in both a positive-space (what verbs are there) and a negative-space (what verbs aren’t there) sense.

For a positive-space example, there’s a snack bar with a CONTACT-COLA machine. No change is at hand, but KICKing a vending machine worked on another Med Systems game, hence:

I also, while thinking of the highly unusual verb ARRANGE, suddenly realized a place I could use it.

In a negative-space sense, notice there’s no GIVE command. I was able to sip the contact-cola but that seemed unsatisfying; there was a characteroid with its tongue out, and I realized perhaps the game just means for me to DROP the cola.

This yields an ID card reading “PRINTER MAINTENANCE”, allowing you to sneak into a new area and get the red IC card.

The DROP-instead-of-GIVE also led me to realize the *crystal* radio would be helpful in a room I’ve already mentioned:


In a way, the whole map is fair game. The problem with having artful and/or goofy text in an adventure game is it is hard to tell what is a clue and what is just atmosphere.

However, I’ve gotten past some “electromagnetic waves” using a surfboard, only to find a coil I can’t do anything with.

I found the blue chip, but when moving around after the game says it becomes LOST. There is a nearby lost and found, but I haven’t found any recognized syntax, other than LOOK CLERK (“the clerk looks at you expectantly.”)

One part of the maze traps you in a “well”; I don’t know if this is a trap or a puzzle.

Finally, there’s the glass cube I’ve already mentioned with a diskette inside. If you try to smash it persistently enough the whole thing is destroyed (including the disk).

I easily could just be missing some room exits, so I defintely don’t want any hints.

Posted September 30, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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5 responses to “Microworld: Landing on Their Valences

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  1. An “RS-232 board” would handle communicating with other devices (over an RS-232 interface), I’m assuming—can you connect or disconnect anything from the Atari back at the start of the game?

  2. Assuming that although you don’t want any hints rot13 should be fine…

    About the well:
    Vg’f n genc, abg n chmmyr.

    About the lost&found:
    Fubj gur uvag furrg (cvrpr bs cncre) gb gur pyrex naq ur jvyy zvfgnxr vg sbe n pynvz fyvc.

  3. About the coil:
    Tb pbvy!

    About the glass cube:
    Bapr lbh unir gur evtug vgrz vg fubhyq orpbzr pyrne gb lbh.

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