Adventure in Ancient Jerusalem (1980/1981)   Leave a comment

CLOAD, July 1981.

As specified from the source code

10 ‘ WARREN MELNICK — ADVENTURE IN ANCIENT JERUSALEM

VERSION 3.1 04/25/80

COPYRIGHT (C) CLOAD 1981

this is another written-in-1980-published-in-1981 work put out in CLOAD, but unlike Medieval Adventure which we looked at last, there isn’t any interesting design experimentation for redeeming value. This game is just bad. Other bad games we’ve had (like Haunted House and Alien Adventure) at least had some MST3K-ish humor and charm to them; this one just comes off as hateful, and I’m not even meaning just the murderous Arab stereotype tossed in there.

In this ancient mideastern adventure you will be able to GET, LOOK AT, and EXAMINE the objects that you find. You will command me in one or two word english sentences. You will find yourself in a street in Jerusalem, the ancient biblical city. You must explore the city while out-maneuvering Arabs that will kill you if you invade their quarter of the city, avoid burning your eyes out in the Dead Sea, etc. But, as a reward, you will find nine treasures hidden within Jerusalem and the other places that you will visit. You will score 10 points for each treasure that you store, plus 10 points for getting through the Golden Gate of the original temple.

Jim Gerrie did a port which removes the two killer Arab references in the game, if for some reason you want to play this. There’s a bit of historical context here, in that Jerusalem in 1980 was a hot source of strife and Israel “annexed” East Jerusalem during that summer (this game was written a few months before that, and what the “annexing” meant legally goes into details I don’t fully understand and this game doesn’t deserve).

You start dumped into a maze.

Not that unusual for an game written April 1980, but what is unusual, and even would make the more cruelly designed games of this time period hesitate, is that that just by stepping in the wrong direction you can softlock the game. Namely: the “author mental script” is apparently to find the glasses from the Top of Western Wall, then head south, but going south from the Underpass will prevent you from getting the (absolutely necessary) glasses.

Also, there was a weird bug where a gate with a “ruby button” which is supposed to appear later actually appeared in the maze. I even had it marked as a landmark on my map, but when it mysteriously disappeared my mapping took an extra 15 minutes because I was baffled at the inconsistency.

Past the weirdly designed maze is

a.) a Golden Gate where it is supposed to be, although there’s a ruby button and trying to press it just prompts the game to ask “How?” I don’t know, how buttons are normally pressed?

b.) a dead end for no purpose other than killing the player

There’s some circa ’79-’80 events which might motivate someone to write this, but I still just find this moment worthy of a double facepalm.

c.) a synagogue where you can use the glasses to see into a hidden chamber, then go down one way to reach the Dead Sea, where you can walk along and find some treasures, and then die

and assuming you want to make a full map, die again multiple times, in a game with no save feature.

I’ve encountered plenty of instant-death before, but somehow making a whole region this way (where you nonetheless need to test everything to be sure) just feels over the limit.

I had to look up Gaming After 40’s take, who himself had to check the source code. If you type HELP anywhere the game says

Pray for your life!!

and if you follow the prompt with PRAY, there’s the prompt

AMEN to Jerusalem!

which indicates, possibly, a keyword can be used (in the first room of the Dead Sea area) where you can SAY AMEN to get warped back. Except any SAY will work, so you can SAY FORGETTHISGAMEIMOUT which works equally as well.

One of the treasures from the Dead Sea area is a ruby ring, which enables the protagonist to PUSH BUTTON back at the Golden Gate, then get into Paradise, mopping up four treasures including SILVA HALVA:

40250 DATA”North Paradise”,0,7,0,0,0,0
40260 DATA”West Paradise”,0,0,7,0,0,0
40270 DATA”South Paradise”,7,0,0,0,0,0
40280 DATA”East Paradise”,0,0,0,7,0,0

There’s no way out of paradise other than SAY WHATEVERTHINGYOUWANT.

Also, one of the objects is a GOLDEN CALF, which seems weird given the context it appears in the Bible.

Then everything can be gathered back… where? There’s no clear indicator at all where the treasures go, so it’s a step-by-step test of DROP STAFF / SCORE / GET STAFF in each location until finding that the Western Wall permits the score to rise when treasures are dropped.

I found out after-the-fact that READ WALL specifically at that place (the wall itself isn’t ever mentioned as a referable noun, and of course walls are theoretically everywhere)

I see some writing there!! It says:
Leave *TREASURES* here

Finding it this way is honestly more tedious than doing the score test.

Grr. At least we’re now very close to 1981 being done — it’s just Softporn Adventure and Cyborg to go.

Posted November 21, 2021 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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