Asylum II (1982)   7 comments

Med Systems has been one of our more innovative companies featured here, making the first person adventure games Deathmaze 5000 (TRS-80 and Apple II), Labyrinth (TRS-80 only) and Asylum (TRS-80 only).

Asylum II is a direct follow-up to Asylum, and gives main credit to William Denman while just crediting Frank Corr with “graphics”. Given the amount of graphical re-use from the prior game it may be Frank Corr was not involved at all.

The game did end up on platforms other than TRS-80 through a confusing route: by 1982 Med Systems had been merged with Intelligent Systems, and somehow between that year and 1984 they had a.) started publishing software under the name Screenplay and b.) been bought (?) by the parent company AGS Computers, Inc (source here). Asylum II got re-published under the Screenplay label (as just “Asylum” with the “II” dropped) with improved graphics for Atari, DOS, and C-64 systems; the last is what seems to be their most famous product.

I’m going to stick with the TRS-80 version for consistency with my last three play-throughs, but I may poke in on the Commodore 64 version from time to time just to see what the graphics look like. I can say there is at least an immediate difference: the room you start in has a “nut fork” in the TRS-80 version and a “credit card” in the C-64 one. Both can be used to unlock the door of the cell you start in.

The objective, as with all these other games, is to escape, although an inmate two doors down from where you start gives you some helpful tips on how to do that.

They also suggest to find a doctor’s outfit.

My first choice before playing in earnest was how to make my map. This is essentially an old-school Wizardry-style dungeon crawler but in adventure game form. I’ve done a spreadsheet with borders filled in (on Deathmaze) and I’ve done raw pencil and paper (on Asylum). It had been long enough since the last two games I poked around if there were any new solutions, and I ran across the software Dungeon Scrawl. It seems to mostly cater to people making tabletop RPG campaigns, but it works with the kind of map I need as well.

Well, mostly work. On corridors I did not explore yet but just saw in the distance I put a “half exit” that doesn’t fill the whole square. I was able to map out various doors quite well; all the ones that I were able to get in I used the “nut fork” on. This led to me having a bird costume, stethoscope, steel key, and bean bag loaded up in my inventory. However, you’ll notice there’s some spots on the maze marked with “T”; that’s where the corridors became inconsistent. Unfortunately, starting with Labyrinth, the various Med System games have used teleports to induce non-Euclidean geometry, and I’m guessing that’s the case here. I haven’t experimented yet to figure out if I’ve made any errors or they truly represent teleports, in which case I need to decide how to tweak my mapping system.

Look, pretty isometric view! Kind of a pain to play with it set this way but it makes the maps look like Aaron Reed’s book.

I did have one encounter even given my tentative stepping out. Once you have the stethoscope a “hypochondriac” encounters you in the hall.

If you give the stethoscope over they start habitually using it, but also running away and shouting GERMS! The hypochondriac then keeps appearing and I assume I have to do something about the germs next.

I’m definitely not “stuck”; I’ve still got quite a bit of map to keep making, and the doors on the west side on my map are only part of what seem like very long rows. I suspect I might be running into a scenario like the original Asylum, which had a five-sided figure (where it wasn’t obvious it was five sided!) and even though Dungeon Scrawl technically can handle the situation I’ll need to fall back to pencil-and-paper for a bit.

I’m guessing I’ll need a coin for this.

A door I have yet to open. I vaguely recall in Asylum 1 that opening such a door resulted in getting a lobotomy.

(Want to skip ahead? This game’s been played by Will Moczarski over at The Adventure Gamer.)

Posted March 22, 2023 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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7 responses to “Asylum II (1982)

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  1. The Asylum link at the top of the post actually goes to Labyrinth again.

  2. Good luck with this one, Jason! I remember this being simultaneously the most pleasant and the most painful experience of all their 3D games. The C64 version is indeed worth a look, I think.

    And you’re right with the assumption that Dungeon Scrawl won’t be helpful anymore in the near future.

  3. Low-res graphics, interesting.

  4. Pingback: Asylum II: Electro-shock Therapy | Renga in Blue

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