Palace in Thunderland: Finished!   9 comments

250 out of 250. One of my jokes turned out to be prophecy. This won’t make much sense without reading the prior posts first. Complete spoilers follow.

I had gotten killed by the Queen of Hearts while playing her game of croquet.

I had noticed that the nearby red and black cards seemed slightly discontented, and also, based on this clue

THE SWORD SINGS IN A COLURATURA SOPRANO VOICE, “WHO WILL TELL THE QUEEN HOW REVOLTING WE ALL ARE?”

I had made a joke the command was to >LEAD REVOLUTION. I was, in fact, quite close.

The odd thing about the above is this won’t work unless you have the flamingo and hedgehog. I suppose the narrative explanation is that the peasants aren’t really paying attention to you until you are set for a game of croquet. At least I solved it, and there is a second clue:

…MOOD TLOVER, WIDER THAN A MILE…

(read the first part backwards)

With that resolved, I realized I still wasn’t getting anywhere without finally working out the power outage issue. If you wait until after the lights go out there’s a “busted fuse” but I didn’t have any luck replacing it; Voltgloss provided some handy hints which led me to the suspiciously empty Arboretum. (I mean, in a lot of 1981 games it wouldn’t be suspicious, but this is a game where nearly everything gets used somewhere.)

THE SWORD SINGS, “EVERY TIME IT RAINS, IT RAINS PENNIES FROM HEAVEN….

For some reason I had failed to EXAMINE POOL and find out the light was too bright to see in the pool. The key was to wait until the lights go out entirely, then use the flashlight.

The goal then is to take the penny down and use it as a fuse. (A Google search for “use penny as fuse” attests to this being a real thing, including this strange Forbes article which uses replacing a fuse with a copper penny as an analogy for businesses on economic life support.) Unfortunately, the flashlight doesn’t quite have enough life left to make the full trip.

Not quite far enough!

I had fortunately had in mind a previous scene with a dormouse which I already wrote about, but let me jog your memory with a screenshot.

The Great Hall with the grandfather clock happens to be close enough to reach with an active flashlight (just west, southwest, then south) so I tried it and had the exact same message as before appear. However, secretly, this extended the flashlight life.

This was enough to make it all the way to where I could insert the penny and get the lights back on. Phew. This is incidentally the only timed event in the game, and you can play at your leisure after, but note in the process of rushing it’s possible to solve a puzzle with an unfortunate shortcut.

It was a shortcut I was suspicious of; it was back with the Jabberwocky where it was trivial to use the sword to kill it. That was the wrong move. The “pink hairnet” I had made last time can be used to catch the critter, which makes me sad, because I had tried to THROW HAIRNET there already and the right syntax is instead CATCH JABBERWOCKY.

Grr, right solution, wrong verb. At least another singing sword hint does signal the intent quite strongly:

TUM TUM TUM TUM
CATCHA BEASTIE WITH A SEINE, WOVEN STRANDS THAT FIT THE BRAIN…
TUM TUM TUM TUM…

Part of the catch to all this is THROW is mapped as a synonym for DROP. With that decision made, there’s a design dilemma, because the author has to either

a.) ignore a perfectly reasonable way to phrase an action

b.) cause a verb which normally behaves one way to switch behaviors in a special circumstance

I’d say b.) is clearly the lesser of the two evils, but it genuinely has been confusing in some games for the Project where a verb takes special dimension and meaning in one circumstance where it takes an entirely different one elsewhere. For example, the HAIRLOOM I utilized last time only worked with USE HAIRLOOM, but the game otherwise acts like it doesn’t even understand what you are talking about with the verb USE (often in text games, this means “please be more specific”).

Anyway, with that resolved, it wasn’t too hard to work out what to do next, as there were very few unresolved problems. Time to unleash the power of a horrible beast on some infant children.

I’m sure they’ll be fine.

With this, I nearly had all the treasures. (I skipped talking about opening an oyster — it’s another “you can blow an item too early” situation — you just need to keep the pink prybar before making a flamingo out of it and OPEN OYSTER to get some pearls.)

GOLD RECORD
PEARLS
CHATEAU LAFEET
ERMINE ROBE
JEWELED SCEPTRE
PLATINUM CROWN
FAMILY HAIRLOOM

I was clearly missing just one, but at a loss as to where and here I confess to blowing through an entire set of Voltgloss’s carefully-constructed clues all the way to the end. Yet another singing sword clue shows up:

THE SWORD WHINES, “I SAY, INSPECTOR CLOUSEAU! THERE’S TREASURE TO BE HAD BUT THE CHABLIS HAS GONE BAD!”

You can SAY INSPECTOR at the wine cellar downstairs to cause a “PINK PANTHER DIAMOND” to appear. Bah. It’s sort of cryptic crossword style, where you’re supposed to omit the “I” from the “I say” and just take “SAY INSPECTOR CLOSEAU” as instructions.

I mean, this puzzle is in line with many of the others, like leading the peasants to revolt, but somehow I still found it totally arbitrary. At least the “seebone” puzzle had the clue in the location it was used, and the clue essentially gives exact directions if you read it correctly. Here, while I understand what’s going on at an intellectual level, this felt like a random kick at the player for fun.

Nevermind, all eight treasures found and safely stowed where the game explicitly says to:

Going up you can see peasants below asking WEAR IS THE RULER?? I had some clothing loot (crown and sceptre) which seemed sufficiently royal.

Oops, not quite. The “ermine robe” is also royal (and I remembered being wearable).

I still hadn’t used one singing sword clue, where it sang “SHAKE, RATTLE, AND ROLL”.

>SHAKE
THERE’S A CROWD OF PEASANTS BELOW WAVING AT YOU, JUMPING AROUND,
AND SHOUTING, “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, COME ON DOWN AND GET SOME MORE!”

This is just indicating you can go back to the start and collect big winner kudos.

This is going to make it my “personal enjoyment” list for 1981 but not my general recommendations. It has been a sort of game I’ve been lacking for a while: dropping the “maze” nonsense, making a compact map, and leveraging the era’s comfort with dead-end puzzle solutions and slightly obtuse hints to make a raw puzzlefest that was, for the most part, fair. It’s something that I know has been in the technical capabilities of the computers in question — even as a TRS-80 type-in — but very few had quite struck the mark, not being able to shake off the cruft of Adventure and Zork.

Also, the extra “dimension” that opened up by realizing the singing sword had unique songs was far more memorable than just a single secret door; it’s as if all the rooms in the game suddenly gained potential secret doors.

We’re not done with Dale Johnson; just like Mad Venture contained a promo for Thunderland, Thunderland contains a promo for his next game.

>READ BOOK
THE COVER IS VERY FADED. ALL I CAN MAKE OUT IS “WIS ROLL”
>OPEN BOOK
THE BOOK IS NOW OPEN.
>READ BOOK
IT READS, “LOOK FOR THE NEXT ATTRACTION, MYSTERY IN MADNESS” AT YOUR LOCAL COMPUTER STORES SOON!”

It eventually came out in 1982 under the name Madsquerade, and involves tracking down a hit man. Sounds rather different from an treasure hunt, so I’m looking forward to it.

In the meantime, I’m going to stay with treasures a bit longer, because there’s a newly unearthed game — one that nobody in the history of adventures, as far as I can find, has ever written about — to dive into next time.

Posted February 20, 2021 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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9 responses to “Palace in Thunderland: Finished!

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  1. Excellently (and prophetically) done!

  2. If it’s any consolation, I read Tweedlee and Tweedledum as not infants but very immature, annoying, and short adults.

    The butler’s song mentioning the queen meeting her “Doom” was also a clue that the words “revolt doom” were related to the queen solution I guess? It seems a little weird that “doom” never came up but “revolt” is the only sensible verb there.

    And I guess “Shake” is specifically “shake rattle,” i.e., the sceptre?

    Anyway, congratulations. These seem like particularly interesting games and I’m looking forward to reading about the next one, when you do it.

  3. I’m most interested by the fact that when the dormouse winds the clock, it extends the flashlight’s life. Is it trying to imply that winding the clock rolls back time across the whole game?

    • Yes, but I think it’s supposed to be only a “local effect” — time is being rewound for the items in that particular room.

      • Do you suppose if you left the flashlight outside the room that it wouldn’t be “wound back”, then?
        Now that you’ve described the puzzle this way, it’s reminding me of the puzzle in Beyond Zork where you hfr gur uheql theql gb ghea gur ohggresyl onpx vagb n pngrecvyyne.

      • Messed around with it — I actually managed to get it to work with the flashlight in an adjacent room, but it didn’t seem to last as many turns!

        Dunno if there’s some real logic going on or if it’s just coincidence based on how the source code is setup.

      • You actually do *not* need to have the flashlight in that room in order for the Dormouse/Clock interaction to extend the flashlight’s life. Even if you haven’t yet picked up the flashlight in a run, the Dormouse/Clock event will extend it.

        The White Rabbit, who appears in the second room of the game (but vanishes later), gives clues to this. He appears in the second room of the game and says “Well, you’re late!!” If you then “SAY SORRY” or “APOLOGIZE,” he responds “Well, all right! Just don’t forget the Dormouse can give you the time you need!” And if you “LOOK” at him first, he says “Be sure to visit Peter’s Cellar, where the specialty of the house is a hickory daquiri, Doc!” Dormouse + time + “hickory daquiri Doc” (Hickory Dickory Dock) = combine Dormouse and Clock to get “the time you need.” (And Peter’s Cellar is a cryptic clue to “Peter Sellers” + “Cellar” – Peter Sellers, of course, played Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies.)

      • Ha! Ok, I guess you’re, uh, metaphorically influencing time?

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