The Golden Voyage: Finishing the Duodecalogy   8 comments

While he kept making games after 1981, the first twelve of the Scott Adams series were packed together as a set. I have now completed the last one.

An old eBay auction via Atari Age.

What remained was mainly “hidden puzzles” — finding secrets to unlock the last section, with a battle against a cyclops guarding the fountain of youth.

First, I had missed that in one spot of the jungle I could dig twice, not just once. Digging a second time yielded a small stone that matched the other two I found, and when dropping them all together, they formed a tablet.

The tablet I bought from the market had a picture of a cave; this one had a picture of a mountain and the word SUN. Taking it to the mountain (on the small island with the sword, medicine, and shovel) and saying the word SUN opened a secret fountain.

Dropping the cave tablet in the cave fountain and the mountain tablet in the mountain tablet caused the ground to shake, and a white globe to appear in the fountain.

Searching all the places I visited, I now found the stone block I was stumped by earlier had now been turned into rubble.

This was “arbitrary” but still satisfying, since it was a puzzle that essentially required putting together pieces from the entire map: the cave fountain was on one island, the mountain fountain was on another, and the effect was to open the secret hallway on the third island.

(Before going on, I should mention I did manage to open the locked chest too — there was just a room I had forgotten to dig in with the shovel that had a key. The chest had a golden mask which is going to be coming up in a moment. Also, I had found a chalice on the altar which I had previously prayed at, which I’ll also need shortly.)

Inside the passage I found a pit which required using my rope.

Games from this era have way too much friction. The several minutes it took me to figure out the sequence of commands above made me lose momentum right when the plot should have been speeding up.

Down below was the cyclops.

While the cyclops also shows up in Ulysses and the Golden Fleece, the solution here is rather different. Breaking the white globe lets out a blinding flash of light, and wearing the mask protects you from the same light, hence:

This led the path open to the fountain of youth…

…which I was able to take back all the way to the palace and the waiting king.

I’m hoping he was a nice king and I didn’t just give an extra 50 years to a tyrant.

I don’t do a lot of rankings, but for fun, here’s my rough rankings of the Scott Adams Twelve, from “worst” to best:

Adventure #9 – Ghost Town (1980)
Adventure #3 – Secret Mission (1979)
Adventure #1 – Adventureland (1978)
Adventure #2 – Pirate Adventure (1979)
Adventure #6 – Strange Odyssey (1979)
Adventure #12 – Golden Voyage (1981)
Adventure #11 – Savage Island Part 2 (1981)
Adventure #5 – The Count (1979)
Adventure #8 – Pyramid of Doom (1979)
Adventure #10 – Savage Island Part 1 (1980)
Adventure #7 – Mystery Fun House (1979)
Adventure #4 – Voodoo Castle (1979)

Now, I admit I’m allergic to applying points to things, and looking at the list, even Ghost Town had some worthy aspects. Also, it’s not like I find Pirate Adventure bad — I’d even say if you only play one Scott Adams game, try that one, as the difficulty is tilted low and it still makes a satisfying experience.

Or consider The Count, which does an amazing job unifying a plot with puzzles (in a way only equaled by the Savage Island games) but where I had a frustrating time at the actual gameplay level in terms of getting everything arranged correctly. I could easily see other players having a more positive experience.

Golden Voyage wasn’t bad, per se, and the structure, as I emphasized before, was interesting to figure out, but it never had any puzzles that struck above average (unlike the heart of Pyramid of Doom or the finale of Mystery Fun House) and most of my time was dealing with fiddly aspects, like the parser commands to navigate off a staircase, or forgetting to lower anchor at a port and having the boat float away, or making sure I’ve tried DIG in every single room more than once.

It’s not like Scott Adams is going away — we’ve got his Questprobe series coming as well as adventures #13 and #14, and looking far into the future he even has recent work — but I can still summarize and say: the set of games for the time period (1978-1981) is an impressive achievement compared with the other adventures available. It’s true most of the ideas were outpaced by later work from Infocom and others, but some of them (like the intricate timing of Savage Island) still reward study today.

Posted November 26, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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8 responses to “The Golden Voyage: Finishing the Duodecalogy

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  1. Wait, is that what Scott Adams looked like?

  2. Great post Jason. I love that collector’s addition of the first 12 adventures collected together. I did not even realize that existed. I love that you ranked these as I have been mentally ranking the games as well. I have only played up to Pyramid of Doom at this point but it is interesting to compare my own mental rankings with yours. There are some surprising differences but rankings are always subjective as is a Coke vs Pepsi taste test. I really appreciated that part of the wrap up. Excellent post as always

    • Some of the placements could be shifted around a bunch with no objections from me.

      I suppose I feel like there’s a non-transitive aspect to it all — A might be better than B in one respect, B better than C in another, and C better than A in another — so that there’s not a clear way for me to order them. Pirate Adventure is maybe better than all of them in just being a smooth newbie experience, but in terms of small pieces it was outdone by most of the other games.

  3. I am STILL pissed over the solar oven….lol

  4. Great closure. Thanks for the series.

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