Colossal Adventure: A Bizarre Chaos of Tortured Rock Which Seems To Have Been Crafted by the Devil Himself   5 comments

(This post won’t make much sense without my prior ones leading up to it. Also, I’m assuming some familiarity with original Crowther/Woods adventure, which you can read up on here if you’ve missed out.)

As I mentioned in my last post, the outdoors have been changed compared to the original. The tendency seemed to be to try to make the environment more interesting, or at least comparably interesting to the rest of the game. The only problem is there still nearly isn’t anything to do; at least with the original the nondescript forest was meant to funnel the player towards the locked grate with a minimum of fuss.

I should add that this kind of random death wasn’t a feature in the original.

To alleviate the problem slightly, the food that had been taken out of the building got moved to a picnic spot. As Pete Austin explained: “It was really because there was a lot of forest around, nothing actually to do with the game.” In other words, they spent their time sprucing up the environment, they wanted some point in the player exploring it.

The most curious scenery change is from the underground portion, not the outdoors: the “volcano” that’s past the troll bridge (and the Lenslok I was stuck on last time). Just as a reminder, here’s how the original room went:

You are on the edge of a breath-taking view. Far below you is an active volcano, from which great gouts of molten lava come surging out, cascading back down into the depths. The glowing rock fills the farthest reaches of the cavern with a blood-red glare, giving every- thing an eerie, macabre appearance. The air is filled with flickering sparks of ash and a heavy smell of brimstone. The walls are hot to the touch, and the thundering of the volcano drowns out all other sounds. Embedded in the jagged roof far overhead are myriad twisted formations composed of pure white alabaster, which scatter the murky light into sinister apparitions upon the walls. To one side is a deep gorge, filled with a bizarre chaos of tortured rock which seems to have been crafted by the devil himself. An immense river of fire crashes out from the depths of the volcano, burns its way through the gorge, and plummets into a bottomless pit far off to your left. To the right, an immense geyser of blistering steam erupts continuously from a barren island in the center of a sulfurous lake, which bubbles ominously. The far right wall is aflame with an incandescence of its own, which lends an additional infernal splendor to the already hellish scene. A dark, foreboding passage exits to the south.

The new variation is much more succinct.

In a way, the shortening is understandable — the text would fly off the text portion allocated to the screen, and the graphics, while pleasant in their own way, just don’t have a chance at describing “a bizarre chaos of tortured rock which seems to have been crafted by the devil himself”. The general effect of the length also wouldn’t strike as hard in context; in the original, it is a remarkable moment simply due to the relatively spare descriptions everywhere else in the game, but the mere presence of graphics undermines the minimalist feel.

There is one other serious change. I mentioned last time the lamp timer seemingly set to force a trip to the vending machine (and the presence of coins which work and don’t count as a treasure, so nothing is lost). However, the all-different maze itself is changed! This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, given my characterization of it as the worst maze ever. Pete Austin seems to have agreed, and made the whole thing much more compact.

I admit to being bowled over when I first realized I needed to re-map, but I was of the assumption that the pattern would follow the original monstrosity; the much smaller room count which still keeps the same gimmick of slightly different word order is much nicer to handle.

The all-alike maze, incidentally, is identical to the original. The pirate theft-rate does seem to be reduced a little and I had to wander quite a bit holding some diamonds for the pirate to show up (his chest hidden in the all-alike maze doesn’t show up until after the theft). Also, notice how the vending machine room contains a hint about the chest.

The chest was the last treasure in my sequence, and a message announced I was told to leave out the main entrance. Walking to the building and dropping the last treasure leads to a message from an elf:

Saying yes here reaches this version’s extended endgame, which I’ll write about next time.

One final comment — I mentioned this in passing last time but it is worth spending a little more time — the inventory limit dropped from seven in the original to four. This is an extreme change, since the lamp is absolutely required, and the axe is usually required (pirate frequency might be lower, but dwarves still pop up often). I had to in a couple circumstances just drop the axe and hope I wouldn’t have to worry about it, especially past the troll bridge where you need the lamp, the keys, and the sandwich, and while you get rid of the sandwich, you pick up rare spices, a chain, and the bear itself (which I don’t think counted as an inventory item in the original, but does here). Unfortunately I can’t tell what the experience would be like for someone with fresh eyes who doesn’t already know the puzzle solutions, but it strikes me here as likely much more irritating to experiment; part of the interest in the original is that you typically would have a bottle of water already when first coming across the plant, so there would be the joy of applying it. While logistically juggling back to the bottle technically requires more insight, I just don’t think, given the open-ended exploration focus of the original, that the overall result is quite as effective.

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

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5 responses to “Colossal Adventure: A Bizarre Chaos of Tortured Rock Which Seems To Have Been Crafted by the Devil Himself

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  1. One amusing thing about the changed outdoor level – in the picnic area where you find the food, if you do, indeed, ‘litter’ at the location in defiance of the sign, you are killed.
    As far as the main game, apart from some changed and/or expanded description of rooms, I didn’t see really any difference from the original Colossal Cave.

  2. It seems this is the version Andres Samudio’s Aventuras AD based its “Aventura Original” on. The surroundings of the entrance to the cave had a picnic area, a spire, and a volcano. Indeed, you could find an Spanish omelette in the picnic area, which you could take with you to the cavern. Also, a dwarf would give you something else (don’t remember what) in exchange for a pair of boots, since he wanted to be taller.

  3. Pingback: Colossal Adventure: Finale | Renga in Blue

  4. Interesting. I’m not familiar with the Jewels of Darkness version, but I did play the original ZX Spectrum version when it first came out, and IIRC that did have a much longer fuller description of the crater. OTOH it didn’t have any graphics or Examine command, so maybe they had to cut some text to make room for those.

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