The Haunted Palace: Secrets and Darkness   8 comments

(Prior Haunted Palace posts here.)

Well: I found a secret in the cellar. Then I got trapped.

Fortunately, the cellar isn’t terribly big, so my technique of using HAMMER&CHISEL everywhere worked. I also discovered my character’s WISDOM and INTUITION were both large enough to spot secret doors, although I can’t guarantee I’ll find all of them with that. The game has gaping enough bugs that it may simply be a feature that never got implemented correctly, and Sibyl doesn’t have any particular advantage. (For example, sometimes when using the chisel the game locks into a “checking your baggage” message; you can USE HAMMER&CHISEL again and it will break out of that and work correctly.) It is hard to say without both knowing what is really going on and some serious testing.

For example: going north from the Catacombs gets the situation on the top of the post. But wisdom also indicates a secret passage to the south, and one from the Lab also going to the south. I haven’t been able to open either one as the chisel doesn’t work in either.

The secret passage that I was able to open leads to a wine cellar. Good enough, except that while a secret passage is detected on the way back to the south, there seems to be no way to open it.

We can move on to another room, more catacombs, and some stairs. Trying to CLIMB STAIRS just warns the player YOU CANNOT CLIMB THE STAIRS HERE! I don’t know if the game is literally broken (not unlikely) or if there’s some undisclosed reason for getting stopped (also not unlikely).

I honestly thought perhaps this would break me into the endgame and I’d be done, but no. I puzzled for a while longer and decided to tackle the dark area upstairs. I still had no luck with MATCHES or a CANDLE, but the game specifically mentions a TORCH so I assume that’s the only thing that will really work. Despite many, many, duplicates of other items, I have not found any torches scouring the available levels. It is possible the torches are through the darkness; that is, the game has intended for you to wander in the dark for a bit.

This is unusual for an adventure game. People copying Crowther/Woods Adventure often did something akin to a pit you’d eventually fall into (Zork started with pits, but then the Attic was upstairs and also dark, hence the grue was born). Otherwise, the games of this era at least generally prohibit certain actions in the dark, like picking up items (our recent game Murdac was really loose and only disallowed reading, but it also had an unlimited light source found early).

As far as I can tell, the only thing wandering in darkness does is make it so while screens will appear, they will only do so quite briefly before the room is plunged into black. I could theoretically record video and get screenshots that way, but I decided to roll with what the game was giving me.

At the very least, it really is an impairment not to see the visuals, because there are enough passages that loop back it is very easy to get a mangled map where portions clearly repeat but there isn’t enough information to know exactly where.

Still, I was able to find a SKELETON KEY and a MAGIC CLOAK, and by now I really seem to be immune from most enemies. (There’s also been MAGIC BALM I’ve been finding where using it gives your strength a considerable boost.)

I did also find one lit area, a kitchen complex. A few screens:

There were a series of food lockers, including two meat lockers, where, confusingly, typing OPEN MEAT LOCKER gave me an “ERCORP” in each one. I only found out later (through the heavily damaged and confused inventory screen, where some of the entries are invisible) what I was holding.

Yes, that’s two corpses I’ve been toting around. No detail on what kind of corpses they are.

I’ve never played a game before that felt so ruined and cursed. I don’t know if I’ll make it to the end; I don’t have confidence it is even possible. But I still have more dark parts of to map to get to, and I’m still holding out hope there’s a torch out there somewhere.

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

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8 responses to “The Haunted Palace: Secrets and Darkness

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  1. This is the Apple version, right? I wonder if the Atari version presents similar weirdness.

    • I do have a copy of the Atari version but I haven’t been able to get it to run.

      Based on a comment at Atarimania it’s still pretty messed up.

      • For what it is worth, this works for me for the Atari version to at least get it started. This is for the Atari800 emulator:

        atari800.exe -xlxe_rom ATARIXL.ROM -xl -basic_rom ATARIBAS.ROM -ntsc-artif ntsc-new -win-width 1422 -win-height 904 “Haunted Palace (The) [side A].atr” “Haunted Palace (The) [side B].atr”

        The Atari OSB ROM works as well.

      • Are you able to get past “turn disk over”?

      • Yes. To change disks you do ALT-D, then I chose “rotate” since I had both disks mounted. Hit ESC to get out of the emulator menu, then hit the button on the joystick.

  2. Are those supposed to be pans and skillets hanging above the sink in the kitchen?

    Methinks the drawing primitives used for building these pictures didn’t include draw_circle().

  3. tested out the Atari version some

    hammer and chisel don’t work to unearth the secret passage

    the characters don’t start with their normal stuff (everyone starts with a key, seems like)

    scrolls are still unusable from what I can find

    I’ll muck about a bit longer but I think the Apple one might be better, weirdly enough

  4. just a quick update:

    I found out if you find a secret door with wisdom, you can MOVE forward and reveal it, even without any tools. That’s how you get through the ones I was having trouble with (so you can actually return from the wine cellar)

    also found quite a number of broken map spots including one bit that crashes the game and two bits where the player is trapped with no escape

    found the torches finally

    but they don’t work

    seems to be a bug in the source code (yes, this is all written in BASIC)

    2308 IF U(1) = 17 THEN : GOTO 2600
    2310 IF U(1) = 17 THEN : GOTO 2600

    I think the second line is supposed to be something else! but I’m not sure what value of U(1) is right

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