Mummy’s Curse: THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN BE KILLED   4 comments

I finished. As predicted, there wasn’t much farther to go until the end, although what I didn’t predict is how fascinating the ending was. As usual, you should read the previous entries on this game first before going on.

Part of an alternate cover of a version of Mummy’s Curse sold by Softsmith, from the Museum of Computer Adventure Games.

So I was correct that the straw-and-dirt tunnel was necessary to pass for progress. I had made — or to be honest, the authors made — what I’d call a Scaling Error. This is where an object is described in world in such a way that you (the player) visualizes it in a different way than the author does, making solving the puzzle much harder. Alternately, it could be something slightly improbable is meant to happen based on the clearly-described size of objects (a refrigerator being toted in one’s pocket, for instance).

The way to get by an entire passage blocked up with dirt was to … POUR WATER from a normal-sized ewer. This loosens the dirt up enough to go through.

I mean, maybe? But it comes off more as the pitcher of water being turned into the generalized concept of water, and water is plenty to get dirt muddy, voila. It’s a little like wordplay puzzle, except the thing gets converted to a word which gets converted back to a thing of a slightly different type than the first thing but the same name.

Moving on! The ramp goes up to a “dome room” (nothing happens there) and you can go make a brief visit to the wicket Princess Fatima.

She does nothing and there seems to be no purpose to her being there, other than — kind of — to warn you about a bit shortly after where you can die by walking into a mirror.

Nearby is the trap door shown above, and the way through is to just try going DOWN at which point the game prompts you that you need a knife to pick the lock. ??? Okay, I have a knife:

The lock doesn’t stay picked, either. There’s no state to the trap door, PICK LOCK is just treated like a movement command. Also, the explicit giveaway to a puzzle (where someone could still get stuck if they didn’t think to just try going down as opposed to UNLOCK DOOR and other fruitless tasks) is vaguely curious. I’m wondering if this was a testing-situation where they decided to toss the comment in to make the puzzle “easy” but didn’t anticipate someone just not doing the action and seeing the hint.

This mirror is where going NORTH kills you, even though the game isn’t clear you are facing north. Nearby (heading south instead) there is a bottomless pit, followed by a three-headed serpent.

Strength (the HORUS amulet) is enough to jump over the pit, and snake (the APEP amulet) is enough to get by the snake. This leads to a room with a scepter, which turns out to be the last gizmo needed to reach the end — waving it or rubbing it causes you to float.

With scepter in hand I was out of things to do in the palace, so I went back to the empty room at the mummy’s tomb and tried using the scepter there.

I floated up to the object of my desires (see above) but was then confronted by THE MUMMY.

Trying to escape normally leads to messages like the mummy having his hands around your neck. I tried to DROP MASK and it said

IT IS YOUR FOREVER BEGONE WITH YOU

and poking and testing out more directions for a long time was … enough to win the game? You die, but the game asks if you want to keep playing, and if you say YES you end up with the winning screen:

Was this intentional? Or was this a weird glitch like in Mission: Asteroid where you save the Earth only to have it destroyed by an asteroid if you keep playing. I’m honestly not sure, because the other ending (I looked up hints, which mentions both) is to take the “BEGONE WITH YOU” as instructions and type BEGONE ADVENTURER. (There’s sort of a clue with the blue-robed person saying BEGONE AMAHD causing you to get blown out of the room, but AMAHD doesn’t work here, it has to be ADVENTURER.)

This results in the exact same ending! Is this also an ending where the adventurer dies? What does typing the command even mean, given we aren’t SAYing anything?

I’ll still take it in the Win column as Beating the Game Without Hints, hurray. I’ll leave behind the existential crisis presented and offer some regret that we have, once again, a situation where someone — or in this case two someones — have a burst of energy in developing their skill at creating adventures, but bail out right when they start getting good. Alas, the market in 1981 was not a sure thing despite (or perhaps “because of”) the ability to start from zero, and it chewed up developers.

Next up: a TRS-80 game I was halfway through typing when the developer popped up recently and produced a newly revised version.

Posted September 4, 2021 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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4 responses to “Mummy’s Curse: THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN BE KILLED

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  1. If I recall correctly, the ewer was a bottomless source of water (though I don’t recall the game telling you that explicitly). That way you didn’t have to keep going back to the oasis to drink, but also serves to explain how it could dissolve the straw and dirt blocking the tunnel. If it’s bottomless, it’s not necessarily a problem of misrepresented graphics scale. Eventually it would dissolve away.

  2. I can’t imagine that the win you achieved was anything but accidental, and poor game design to boot. I applaud allowing you to restart from the beginning as if you were using up a new life in a video game (as you know, adventure games of the era could be punishing, in part to give people their money’s worth so it would take months to complete a game that actually took ten minutes to play through). But the programmers not anticipating that the near impossible “BEGONE ADVENTURER” would of course end up in a death before figuring out that obscure command, well that’s on them.

    I rank “BEGONE ADVENTURER” right up there with Ulysses and the Golden Fleece “CAST OFF” command as some of the most absurdly obtuse parser commands of that era. (Why not “SAIL SHIP”?)

    • If it was BEGONE AMAHD (or if the robed person said BEGONE ADVENTURER directly) I’d take it. I _think_ it may have been implied somewhere they were being used as synonyms (even though the word means something else), but for constructing a magic phrase that’s too obscure.

      GO OCEAN works on Ulysses (took me a whilllle to find though, you can see in my writeup).

      (I’m also hanging on vaguely 25%-ish the second ending is intended — the text outside about not going out the same way you go in feels a little like “you need to die” and also the YOU HAVE THE MASK FOREVER was a very odd comment otherwise, and the lag time to wait for dying was so long it almost needs to be intentional. Also, the mask is a GOLDEN DEATH MASK.)

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