Escape from Trash Island (1981)   3 comments

Oddly, this is one of the fastest games I’ve beaten in a while; the last time I remember an experience this brisk for All the Adventures was … Roger M. Wilcox Adventure #1. I can’t say he’s gone full circle, because the puzzles are more sturdy (despite some curious science) and there will be three more games to come in 1982, but maybe a lasso shape of some sort.

As I indicated in my last post, this is the third of a trilogy, so possibly the author didn’t feel obliged to go for long. We’ve gathered our trash/treasure and for some reason got captured, even though our trash collection could have been anywhere on the island and there were no “savages” to be seen.

The complete map.

It is also unclear why directly below the “Cell” you start in there is a “possessions room” which has the skeleton key and shovel that you were toting around last time. How nice of the captors to let you keep exactly the items needed to escape. In the same room you can DIG to find some oil that you can use to oil the “locked bamboo bars” which are then openable with the skeleton key.

There’s a small smattering of rooms including a “stone pick” which lets you get past a cave-in, and when everything is collected there’s also a spear, battery, a “churn with heating elements”, steel wool, flash powder, a piece of string, and red treated paper.

I wasn’t sure what was going on with the latter three but I had suspicion there was enough items I should try the WRAP verb mentioned at the start of the game. Lo and behold, a makeshift stick of TNT emerged (sure, why not), which I was then able to place at a dead end. Then rubbing the steel wool on the battery caused a spark, which blew the TNT up, which either makes a helpful hole in the ceiling or an unhelpful hole in your body depending if you are holding it when the explosion goes off.

Then there’s really not much more too it — there’s a face-off with a “savage” where THROW SPEAR takes care of the problem (ugh)…

…and when you find your old speedboat the motor is still out of gasoline. You can dig some oil up with a shovel and use it in the churn (?) to somehow get gasoline…

…which works on the motor. Voila:

Given how small and straightforward this one was, allow me a philosophical aside.

If you’ve been keeping track, I really am nearly done with 1981 — Softporn Adventure, two CLOAD games for TRS-80, and Michael Berlyn’s Cyborg. Likely, barring high difficulty in Cyborg, I’ll be wrapped up before the end of the year. So I’ve been poking ahead at 1982, and boy howdy, the list of games is starting to get big.

Now, I already realized ahead of time this was coming, but as I do preliminary research roughly a month or two ahead, I’m “experiencing” the list for the first time. I realize there is to some extent All the Adventures will never be “finished” but I am still determined to play all the games. But how much should I write about all the games? While there are plenty of “meaty” games — more than any previous year so far, including 3 games from Infocom — there’s still honestly a good amount of “gather 10 treasures, yay you won” sorts. I’m thinking for particular games I should revert to a shorter format. (Of course every time I start thinking that, I hit an oddity like Atom Adventure which appears as standard as possible yet does something radically different with its gameplay.) On the other other hand, part of why I started the project is I felt like one-paragraph reviews that I was seeing for historical games were deeply unsatisfying for knowing what’s really going on.

I’m still vacillating on this, and in all honestly I’m probably just going to revert to writing about everything. But such thoughts have been passing through my head. I would like to hear, assuming a condensed format for some of the minor works, what you find most useful/fulfilling to read.

Posted November 13, 2021 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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3 responses to “Escape from Trash Island (1981)

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  1. Yes, looking ahead over the next few years, a slightly different strategy would seem to be advisable.

    As the genre spread around the world, and particularly onto the endless conveyor belt of new microcomputers, a lot of time was spent re-treading old ground, with endless numbers of treasure hunts and variations on the same basic themes. There was very little learning from other games going on, with everyone instead going back to draw water from the original Colossal Caves well.

    It would be very easy to get bogged down in the piles of lacklustre BASIC type-ins from books and magazines and lose all enthusiasm for the project. So, I’d trust your judgement. Write at length when you feel you need to, whether it’s about a game that’s interesting, new, unique or just one that’s truly bizarre. There will be plenty of interest and plenty that hasn’t been written about much before.

    As long as you’re giving everything a go, then you are still playing ‘all the adventures’. Just some games might only deserve a single blog post or even, in some cases, an entry could group together and cover several similar games. If you attempt to continue to cover the 1982-1985 games as in depth as the pre-1982 ones, you’d be in danger of spending more time composing your blog posts than some authors spent writing their games. Certainly than some authors spent playtesting their games, anyway. ;)

  2. I think one way or another some games are going to suffer in coverage. You can’t really help if you find some games really boring to play through. For my own 2 cents, I think you should maybe do type-in games a bunch at a time, like by magazine or by book. They’re usually not very interesting as a consequence of the format, and any that are you could always spend more time on.

  3. I completely trust your judgement. If you feel there is something interesting about the adventure, then write about it in length. If you believe it does not gives anything new to the genre, then don’t. It is your personal project, the main goal no to feel overwhelmed about it.

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