Fantasyland: City of Treasures   7 comments

(Reading my previous post on Fantasyland is necessary to understand this one.)

So yet again I put aside a game and one my readers (this time, K) decided to tear it apart to discover its secrets. I did achieve five out of five treasures and the method is wild enough it is worth an extra post rather than just a post edit.

This is a good time to mention two side discoveries regarding Canadian history. First off, I found out the Toronto PET Users’ Group put out a CD with every single disk they ever created. While I haven’t checked every platform, it includes a fair amount of PET material that is not available anywhere else I’ve seen. (Link on Internet Archive.)

Secondly, as Rob points out in the last post, there’s an earlier Canadian videogame company: Speakeasy Software, as mentioned in the Gallery of Undiscovered Entities. Bulls and Bears, their first title from 1978, estimates 7000 copies sold (very respectable for 1978!)

Their other top-selling title. I don’t think Wargaming Scribe has done this one yet.

My suspicion is there’s still some gold to be unearthed in the 1977-1982 period of Canada. This period in computer history is a mess in essentially every country in terms of historical knowledge; everything was diffuse and rarer.

Going back to the game: I had four out of five treasures but could not find the location for a fifth. That’s because I was missing a “direction”.

Specifically, there’s mention in the room A Whiff of Home that “Magic Works”. In literally every other game of the period this would mean there was a magic word like MAGIC or HOME that would cause effects to happen. This turns out to be the case here but it doesn’t get delivered in the same way; the game requires a verb AND a noun. SAY is recognized as SAVE (the parser only looks at the first two letters of each word). With those strictures in place I thought the game was just being weird (in some places it is definitely just being weird) and moved on.

The actual syntax is GO HOME and GO MAGIC. Those are two different “directions” that can be done in all the rooms. You need to be holding the BOOK OF SECRETS for this to work, except every command there’s a 1/10 chance that it will get stolen. However, you can USE PICTURE (the PICTURE OF MOM) to make the book reappear again. The only reason I knew about the latter is I used it correctly when trying to get the JEWELS from MOM (you’re supposed to DROP the picture so you can get the JEWELS — USE PICTURE doesn’t work for convincing MOM, and I realize for someone who dropped into this paragraph without context this makes no sense at all).

So the right movement patterns is to GO MAGIC and GO HOME in every room, while invoking USE PICTURE every time the book gets stolen. The stolen book of course gets irritating, but systematically checking every room also gets irritating (since you’d like to test both alter-directions, but if one of them works, it takes a while to get back to test the other). I ended up using save states to make things go faster.

ADD: check the comments — it is even more complicated than expected. GO MAGIC and GO HOME universally go to the same place (but it seems to be possibly a bug?) and there are rooms where the “alternate direction” is done via holding something other than the book, like a DEFOGGER.

Interestingly enough, I had a little bit of a puzzle-breakthrough in finding the final treasure. It might have just been accidental and there’s plenty of methods that work, but if you like, study the map and try to guess which room I went to in order to USE MAGIC and jump to the final treasure room.

Click here if you want to take a shot.

The room that’s useful to use magic at is — Fantasyland!

With shovel in hand you can get the statue, the last treasure. There’s some other magic-hidden rooms, apparently, but this is the only important one. Since there’s no treasure-storing area you just need all five treasures in hand and can end the game right there.

The game was, in its own curious way, staggeringly ambitious. I didn’t even talk about the flashlight, which shows nearby items…

…or the fact that NEW GAME, which I speculated was a broken feature last time, is working as intended. It is broken that sometimes the game is literally impossible to solve, but it does make essentially a “full randomizer” function — every item is shuffled to a new place, including the player’s inventory. I guess this was a way to squeeze a little more longevity out of the game. The author, after all, was still in an era where he had to struggle to find games to play.

The result of another NEW GAME. The SOMETHING is a useful object that helps defeat the guard (or it would be useful if the guard wasn’t buggy anyway). We’ve had plenty of adventure-roguelikes but this is the first time I’ve seen a “default game” that can then be turned later into a roguelike on command. The only comparison I can think of is Adventure for Atari 2600, where Game 3 is the randomized version.

Posted April 16, 2023 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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7 responses to “Fantasyland: City of Treasures

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  1. It is very nice to see your return to Fantasyland with this post.

    I think you might be in error about one thing though. Originally I was also of the belief that GO HOME and GO MAGIC were two different commands, referencing different connections form the location. This was based on the data structure, before I had fully understood the game code. In the “location connections” data array there are what seems like six “connections” for every location. These match up with the directions NORTH, SOUTH, WEST, EAST, MAGIC and HOME that are in the “nouns” data array.
    The six “connections” for every location are represented by numbers that seem to match up well with other locations and for N/S/W/E and even the fifth “connection” that is just what they do. However, the sixth number is actually not referring to another location but to an item(!) in the “nouns” array.
    When you enter a GO command that is followed by MAGIC or HOME the game treats them just the same:
    1) it checks if you are carrying the item(!) represented by the sixth number in the “locations connections” array
    2a) if you don’t have the item, the game explains that it can not do what we ask and just returns to the prompt
    2b) but if you have the item, you move to the location represented by the fifth number in the “location connections” array

    Like the standard N/S/W/E connections the MAGIC/HOME connection is not available for every location. Where it is, the item required is usually the BOOK OF SECRETS, but there are some locations where another(!) item is required instead (ie, it does not matter if you are carrying the book or not, you need something else). An example (that is easy to test at) is DOG KENNEL, here you can GO MAGIC/HOME to SKYSCRAPER, but only if you are carrying the PICTURE OF MOM(!). From GHOST TOWN, WEIRD-SMELLING DUMP, SHORES and I AM ONLY A VOICE IN YOUR HEAD you can GO MAGIC/HOME to the locations close to CITY OF TREASURES but for this you need to carry the DEFOGGER (seems intentional because of where you go). There are a couple of more locations where the item is PICTURE OF MOM, and then there are two more special cases with other items that are so difficult or even impossible to be carrying so it is probably indicative of bugs/oversights in the programming.

    Here is a link to my spoiler notes with all the details I have about the game:

    In these notes you can see the data tables for all location connections, including MAGIC/HOME and also the data on required items. You can also find the standard starting locations for all items, more extracted data structures and the whole BASIC code with annotations.

    There are probably mistakes, feel free to comment to add/correct.

    • Oh, and here is a horribly ugly map of the horrible map… :D

    • hmm, maybe the author _intended_ to have two connections but they either decided against it or they genuinely have another error?

      • There are many signs in the source of code and data structures being repurposed over time. I think we will never know for certain, but it sure is an extra layer of confusion for us digital archaeologists.

      • there’s another version of the game on the TPUG disc if you really want to go all-in. I’m going to worry about that for a different day.

        (on the disk (v)g4 –> fantasylandl6k.v an adventure game for the vic.)

  2. Just when I thought I was ready with this! :D

    But it was quick, I did a comparison of the BASIC code and they are the same.

  3. Warlords is certainly a good catch I did not have on my list.
    It seems to be 2 – 5 players only. Initially, I only covered solitaire games, ut as you know I recently played MP games with commenters or bloggers provided they were historically significant enough – and being a 1978 Canadian top-seller definitely qualifies. I will add it to my list of “maybe”.

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