Palace in Thunderland (1981)   4 comments

It’s time to head back to the Apple II for a big, messy, puzzle-box game.

From the Museum of Computer Adventure Games.


Palace in Thunderland is the sequel to Mad Venture, advertised as coming soon inside the game itself. As a reminder, that game featured a.) collecting treasures for no particular narrative reason b.) a very tight time limit and c.) wordplay-adjacent puzzles, or at least a game where words and the objects they refer to can become detachable. The authors this time are Dale Johnson and Ken Rose instead of Dale Johnson and Christine Johnson.

Mad Venture was quite up-front about the only objective being to collect treasures in a time limit; here’s it’s a little more cryptic.

THE OBJECT OF THE GAME IS TO CORRECTLY DECIPHER THE CLUES GIVEN TO YOU AND EXECUTE THEM APPROPRIATELY.

There really are treasures marked with ! symbols and room indicating to drop the treasures here, and a score that increases as you do so; therefore the instructions might be enigmatic for nothing, but I’m guessing there might be an extra catch.

You can’t interact with the peasants; I’m not sure if they serve any purpose yet, although you can get to the top of the castle and see the same peasants milling around.


The game starts unapologetically wide open, with lots of items to grab (quickly breaking a six-item inventory limit), puzzles to consider, and perhaps most interestingly, NPCs to have minor interactions with. Example, after finding a singing sword elsewhere:

Roughly, the map is divided into a basement, a Great Hall ground floor area, an upper area at a Landing, and an outside garden.

The basement includes the jabberwocky, Bill the maintenance man (hanging out near a rusted metal box I can’t open), a carpenter who states “In vino veritas” and a wine cellar with a hidden bottle which counts as a treasure. You can make friends with the carpenter by giving over the wine bottle …

I’ll be returning to the “getting very dark” message soon.


… but that destroys a treasure. Now, Mad Venture required destroying a treasure (you could get a duplicate) so that might still be right, but I think it’s fair to say I’m not off the hook here yet. The carpenter will then follow you, and you can lead them to a walrus at the upper level who will make friends, leaving some oysters. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the Carroll references are a little more direct in this game than in Mad Venture.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

The ground floor has a white rabbit

HE SAYS, “BE SURE TO VISIT PETER’S CELLAR, WHERE THE SPECIALTY OF THE HOUSE IS A DICKORY DAQUIRI, DOC!”

and a dormouse.

“THAT STUPID RABBIT PROMISED ME BUTTER FOR THE TOAST. THERE ISN’T ANY AROUND HERE ANYHWERE!”

The upper level has a walrus (as already mentioned) and Tweedledee and Tweedledum in toddler form with a rattle. The garden has the Queen of Hearts and a possible game over.

Elsewhere there’s a “MINGO MENDER” and scattered through the map are some pink items (pink drumsticks, a pink globe, a pink prybar) which suggest they connect up to a flamingo-themed mallet, but that takes up time, and I’ve been and busy getting fried by another phenomenon: a very tight time limit.

Remember the message early about it getting dark? Quite quickly in — 60 moves, not long enough to do much significant — there’s a lightning strike.

Ow. I believe one of the first orders of business is surviving the blast? (Will the boots from the jabberwocky help, maybe?) I certainly don’t feel like I’m stuck, just I’ve got a lot of puzzle pieces I haven’t organized by shape yet.

Posted February 10, 2021 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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4 responses to “Palace in Thunderland (1981)

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  1. I’m going to be amused if you get to literally MEND MINGO with your “mingo mender”.

  2. I was intrigued enough by the premise and setting to give this one a try. Made a bit more progress beyond what’s covered here, hit a roadblock where I was concerned I was missing something fundamental, found a playthrough online to consult to try to get past that particular roadblock, and… wound up inadvertently spoiling myself on enough other puzzles that I just sort of followed the playthrough the rest of the way.

    Point being: should you find yourself stuck and seeking a targeted hint, I’m now equipped to provide, rot13 Invisiclues-style.

  3. Nice

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