The Blade of Blackpoole: SPEAK NOT THE NAME MYRAGLYM UNTIL SHE IS HOME   8 comments

I’ve finished the game.

Ad from Atarimania.

With the exception of one very difficult puzzle and one slightly odd action (I needed hints for both) this wasn’t terribly hard; perhaps the most interesting thing about the game (other than the technical aspects I’ve already remarked on) is the main quest itself, which involves taking a sword only a small distance from one place to another. There is something sanctified about the act.

The comic writer for the ad is confused here: you’re not “bringing back” anything, just restoring the sword to its rightful place.

Continuing directly from last time, I had a monster in a river, and I was quite stuck.

Moving forward another hour, I was still stuck. The game has a built-in HELP feature so I tried it and the game told me to keep the monster smiling. Moving forward yet another hour, I was still (still) stuck. It was time to unleash outside-the-game hints.

I found out that I had missed one item. Back at the tavern at the start you can spend one gold coin to buy some ale. This means, incidentally, you can’t buy all the items in the shop (to recap, that’s knife, staff, lamp, pole, honey) but need to leave at least one off. Since I had already used the other items, I restarted and avoided buying the knife, and spent 1 gold coin on the ale instead.

The ale is still somewhat tricky to deliver — GIVE ALE TO MONSTER just has the game claim the monster is too far away. The trick it to simply pour the ale into the river, which works (!?).

I feel zero guilt about spoiling this puzzle.

Fortunately, the rest of the game went much smoother. I was able to get the boat out to a lake with an island in the middle. I still had the magic book and the prayer (SOLOCIN) I hadn’t used, so it was not hard to find the first right action.

The second right action which I did not find on my own — but I’ll just explain here to save time — is that you are also supposed to GIVE BOOK to the statue, and you’ll get a key in exchange. I’m not sure if this is unfair or not.

Going back to the clue from saying SOLOCIN, I think what it is cluing is a boulder not too far from the island which you can break open by hitting it with a tuning fork (found nearby the start of the river).

Dale Dobson somehow solved the puzzle by accident without realizing the tuning fork was causing the boulder to implode; he had just tried to GO WEST and the action happened automatically. This is interesting in a theoretical sense, since using the item automatically ought to be helpful and more friendly to the player, but if the jump is too much it could lead to a player having a puzzle solved for reasons they don’t understand, which is arguably a worse situation.

Inside the cave is a spot for a sword, and a maze.

Nearby there is a sign that says SPEAK NOT THE NAME MYRAGLYM UNTIL SHE IS HOME.

This is where the sword goes. I just had to find the actual sword, but it was not far away. I initially assumed it was in the maze, but random walking through the maze (not even mapping, I was tired) yielded a scroll with two magic words, and a longbow. (One of the words on the scroll, incidentally, causes all items to disappear — that is, it softlocks the game.) I thought maybe I still needed to search the maze and actually map it, but first I combed around the lake to make sure I hadn’t missed something, and I had.

Going DOWN (not SWIM or any permutation thereof) lands you in a place with a lizard.

One of the words on the scroll caused a magic arrow to appear. I dropped the scroll (as seen above) switched to the arrow, using it to SHOOT LIZARD.

With the lizard dead, I found the Sword of the quest, took it back to the shrine I had seen earlier, and spoke the word MYRAGLYM.

This teleports you outside, fortunately back to before getting taken away by the bird. You then are extremely hungry, and I hope you left your honey from the start of the game in a convenient spot, otherwise game over. (I had, by luck.) Then you need to return to the tavern which already knows of your achievement:

In an evaluative sense, the game went up to “pleasant diversion” but only had one really clever puzzle (the boat) which more or less got canceled by the terrible puzzle right after (getting drunk from river water). The most fascinating aspect was the quest itself, where a sword gets moved from one place to another, as it isn’t like some terrible wrong is otherwise being averted, or evil madman being thwarted. Temple of the Sun is the only other adventure of this era that I know of that has a remotely comparable arcane-ritual-as-quest.

Interesting on a secondary level is the number of influences. We can trace all these games back to Crowther/Woods Adventure, and Apple II graphics games to Mystery House — here specifically, the “biome journey” of Wizard and the Princess — but we also now have the third major influence of Zork. By late 1981 the sales of Infocom were starting to make them a serious force in adventure games; by contrast, in late 1980 they had only had a smattering of sales.

Despite roughly an comparable number of unexciting puzzles on a surface level to other games at the time, the slight edge of polish was enough that the game never felt “janky”, even when pointing out in an objective sense how verb difficulties like with the quicksand should never have happened in the first place. There is a sheen of professionalism from mimicking some of the aspects of Infocom that it gives sufficient warmth to override other qualities.

I have a decent notion of what I’m going to play for the next few games, but one thing I haven’t done lately is take requests. I can’t make promises, but if there’s a 1982 game that you really want bumped higher on the queue, I might consider it. (The reason Planet of Death and Inca Curse kicked off 1981 is because frequent commenter baltasarq requested it. I do pay attention, even to the people who keep valiant hope up that I might go back and do some more Eamon games.)

Posted April 28, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

Tagged with

8 responses to “The Blade of Blackpoole: SPEAK NOT THE NAME MYRAGLYM UNTIL SHE IS HOME

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Hmm, the intro text in the inn says that you have to bring the blade back there for all to see, but it seems as though you do no such thing?

  2. That’s some seriously high ABV ale if a monster that big can get drunk with it diluted in the river! Maybe its kind of monster is extremely sensitive to alcohol.

    Though this solution kinda makes me want to make a Tolkien reference about the River Brandywine… See https://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Baranduin#Other_names if anyone really wants to know, I guess.

  3. As for requests, I would of course love to see you tackle Xanadu Adventure!: http://bbcmicro.co.uk/game.php?id=1692

  4. A few thoughts:

    1. What happens if you say Myraglim when the sword is not in place?
    2. Is this the first hand in which the Sirius Software “Grud” mascot appears in-game?
    3. The notion of a few bar drunks lauding your victory for all time is a hilariously underwhelming reward. (One could draw the same conclusion with the Marx Brothers…)

    • Saying Myraglim early:

      THE SWORD GLOWED BRIGHTLY AND EXPLODED IN A BRIGHT BLUE FLASH

      THE EARTH RUMBLES FROM A CAVE-IN NEARBY

      The shrine is closed off and you can’t win the game.

      I’m not sure yet on Gruds until I play the other adventure games — I think at least two of them came earlier.

Leave a Reply to Adam L Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: