Archive for the ‘asylum-2’ Tag

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

Tagged with

Asylum II: Electro-shock Therapy   3 comments

This continues directly from my previous post on Asylum II.

My mostly-finished map of the opening area. T1 warps to T1, T2 warps to T2, three doors including one to the far east remain locked with my current resources.

In the previous Asylum game, there was a scene with you being “walled in” to a small area and then being chased by an axe-wielding assailant. An approximation appears in the manual.

The way to defeat the murderer is to hand over a note that says LOOK UP. In the Asylum-verse, looking up anywhere in the game causes a piano to fall on your head.

From the DOS version of the game.

This is true of both the player and of other characters! So handing the LOOK UP note to the murderer causes them to look up, which kills them. With enemy defeated via piano, you can then nab the axe, and chop your way out of the sealed area.

The Asylum II copies the same scene, but with a reversal.

In this area, there’s nothing at all that happens until you arrive at the location marked “axe” and pick up the axe. You then hear building happening in the distance (this causes the “dotted wall” to get sealed off) and an electrician appears with a sign.

The implication here is: now you are the axe murderer! And indeed, the way to move on is to KILL ELECTRICIAN WITH AXE, which will let you take both the sign and a fuse he is carrying. Also, just like the first game, you can go to the sealed up wall and CHOP WALL WITH AXE to continue. Unfortunately, I haven’t had anything useful happen with my new-found items. I tried chopping up a psychiatrist (which you’ll see in a bit) but the game just chastised me for violence and sent me to the starting room.

Nearby this axe room is a corridor with 20 doors.

All these doors are closed but unlocked. As you walk around you hear doors slamming and footsteps running every few steps.

Last time I picked up a steel key from one of the rooms to the north. (I should put north in quotes, “north”, since the game has never given out a compass. I just had to pick a direction to be north by random.) The steel key works on the doors, but since they’re already unlocked, the key should be used to lock them. After all 20 doors are locked:

You never see a body or the like, but after the scream, you can find a box with a candle and matches. Again, like the axe/fuse/sign, I have yet to find a use for them, but it is still nice to have progress.

Other than that, the opening area has a pay phone, the hypochondriac, and three locked doors to deal with. I’ve only seen one other thing that kind of qualifies as a puzzle, and that’s in the starting room; if you look under the desk you see “a picture” but are unable to refer to it because you can’t see it. I’m not sure if that’s a bug or some such, as I checked in the C64 and DOS versions and nothing like that happened. My best guess is the picture gets revealed later in the game but the TRS-80 version is coded so it is already “in the room” even when the game doesn’t recognize it as such.

Moving on to the door to the west:

This map is not entirely accurate, and I’m not meaning just the doors not filled in yet (neither the fork nor key I have work). I mean this is actually in the shape of a hexagon. At the midway-spots on the top of the bottom there’s extra 90-degree turns, but since that’s not really possible to do in physical reality, I compromised and squished it down.

Upon entering this area there’s a clunking sound, which suggests to me a new item somewhere, especially because in the DOS version of the game it says “something has dropped in the maze”. I have yet to locate where in the maze this might be but I suspect I need to scan through all the opening area again.

(Yes, I’m mainly playing TRS-80 still; I checked in on DOS, and C64 was giving me some control issues so I haven’t tried it yet.)

Moving on: upon entering PSYCHIATRY we have a psychiatrist “talk to us soothingly” and then after two turns more we die by getting bored to death. This gives enough time to react and do an action or even escape. I mentioned already trying the axe; I also tried the sign but the psychiatrist ignored it. I’m not sure violence is the answer to this one.

I was also able to bust into a plastic surgery room, but I need anesthetics it seems?

Finally, I managed to get into an unlocked ELECTRO-SHOCK room. This causes the screen to blink fast and for you to get sent back to the opening room (just like if you try to kill someone random with an axe).

I’ve got a couple threads to pull on; finding the thing dropped in the maze, trying to chop more walls, maybe seeing if I can bust open the pay phone (I have a feeling I’m supposed to bring money and make a call, though). Instead of the puzzle-solving end I can consider the object-using end; I’ve got a bean bag and a bird costume (!) still, and all of the items from the south portion (candle, matches, fuse, sign, axe) that likely have more uses. Nothing occurs immediately to mind, but the entire Med System series has always had at least one slightly random action, so I’ll try some more patient prodding first before inevitably collapsing and resorting to hints.

Posted March 24, 2023 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

Tagged with

Asylum II: Secret Items   3 comments

An Asylum II “master disk” from eBay. It is easy to forget when seeing so many high-quality pictures of original media that a lot of players from the era had their disks look like this; copies with a fair chance of being pirated.

Continuing directly from last time, I had mentioned a sound that meant an item had dropped somewhere in the maze. I just had to find it.

This had a gold key.

Finding a key in Asylum is both thrilling and exhausting. Thrilling in the ability to open possibly many doors, and exhausting in the ability to open possibly many doors; that is, upon obtaining a key, you have to check every available door.

The gold key unlocks two doors I had left to deal with in the opening area.

One of them (on the west side) held a rocket belt. If the player wears the rocket belt and turns it on, it causes the player to fly forward, hit the wall ahead of them, and die from impact. This is functionally identical to the FART command from all the way back in Deathmaze 5000 (except the impact doesn’t kill you in that game). I don’t feel like making a new GIF file for the rocket, so you get to reminisce about the farting instead.

The other one leads to a room with a circuit board. I’ll get back to it in a little bit.

The only door I still haven’t opened in the starting area is the one on the east, which no doubt leads to another giant complex of rooms that will take ages to map.

Taking the gold key over to the hexagon, I was able to get at three new rooms. One had someone mumbling scientific terms that you could hear while outside the door, so it was not shocking to find a scientist. The scientist needs a battery, magnet, and copper wire.

There’s additionally the sound of someone saying ACTION! whilst in the hall; using the gold key to unlock the door yields a “mad movie producer”.

Finally, most intriguingly, there’s the door marked DOCTORS ONLY, the one that was mentioned at the start of the game as the exit to the asylum. The key works!

This is an interesting design finesse! Already, the exit is available quite quickly (compare to Asylum); I would have expected the key to be held back longer, but no, the only real obstacle between you and freedom is a doctor’s uniform. Not that the game won’t pull a twist, but I could as easily see it simply now making the doctor’s uniform only discoverable after epic struggle.

With all these places unlocked, I was now quite stuck. The movie producer was not impressed by my bird costume, I had nothing the scientist wanted, and the only thing to do seemed to be to whack at the circuit board yet no action I tried was working. Fortunately, the game comes with a VOCAB command to list every single word it understands.

This goes for multiple pages.

One that struck my eye is SCRAMBLE. It was highly unusual; could it work on the circuit housing?

Indeed it could: the game says

The fuses in the fuse box are scrambled.

This made me immediately think of the phone. You see, I had tried to CHOP it earlier with my axe hoping to get some spare change, but that causes an alarm to be sounded and my hapless avatar to be sent for electro-shock therapy. I thought perhaps the alarm was now disabled. This was not the case.

However: after the electro-shock therapy was through, rather than getting sent back to the starting room, the lights were all shut off.

Fortunately, a search through the entire maze is not necessary again to find what fell on the floor: it is nearby. You can now get a BATTERY, one of the items the scientist wants.

You can also use the candle and matches to light your way at least temporarily, but I haven’t found any more changes to the asylum. I tried the phone smashing yet again, thinking the total frying of the fuses might have now made the alarm totally gone, but no: you just get sent back to the electro-shock room except the shock doesn’t work! I also tried using the replacement fuse I had from the electrician and even though REPLACE is on the verb list it doesn’t work (unless my parser form is lacking). I vaguely suspect I’m supposed to keep the electrician alive somehow so they can fix the issue themselves, but you really are requires to kill him in order to chop out with the axe. Maybe the axe scene just needs to get saved for later? Or maybe the fuse box thing doesn’t get fixed at all, and we are supposed to have a copper wire and magnet to go with the battery and we’ll be able to get a flashlight from the scientist (that still doesn’t sound right to me, but I’m just throwing things out there).

I’m not quite ready to nudge at hints yet. One of the advantages of having a dungeon-crawler style map is the feeling like there’s always another wall or room that can be poked at; I still have yet to test significant wall-smashing with the axe, for instance. However, given some of the abstruse puzzles of prior games, I might be better served by giving up sooner rather than later. I’ll probably try the clock-trick I did back with “One of the Most Deeply Inscrutable Puzzles in Adventure Game History” and give myself an hour on a timer to make progress before taking a peek. (Hints are fine in the comments as well, but ROT13 only please!)

Posted March 28, 2023 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

Tagged with

Asylum II: I Will Give You a New Face   4 comments

Asylum II went completely wild, which I suppose is thematic. Prior posts needed to understand this one.

The C64/Atari tape version of the game, via eBay.

To make two caveats before I begin:

a.) I switched from using trs80gp in Model 1 emulation to Model 3 emulation. Normally I prefer Model 3 (the graphics look a little crisper) although I was having trouble getting the game to start in Model 3 mode. Over at the trs80gp Discord I asked about it, and JRace realized the version I had been using had this data added on to it:


It appears to be from some sort of convert-tape-to-disk software; tapes could have copy protection just like disks but there was software to get around that.

One of the versions available (asylum2b from here) did run fine with Model 3, so I swapped over. The upshot is the screenshots are a little mixed this time. See if you can spot the difference!

b.) I had to use hints twice. One puzzle was kind of clever and obnoxious at the same time, one I was fooled slightly by inconsistent behavior.

Let’s finish dealing with the fuses first. Last time I had managed to get everything in the dark, but my attempt to bring a fuse back to the circuit box to fix it failed. I speculated offhand I might just be typing the parser command wrong, and that turned out to be correct: PUT FUSE IN CIRCUIT seems to work (despite FIX and REPAIR both being verbs they don’t apply here).

Now, for the inconsistent behavior: I had given a stethoscope to a hypochondriac, causing him to keep appearing and running away, shouting about GERMS. Before I had given the stethoscope I had tried using my AXE and I was picked up for violent behavior, just like all the other times I tried violence, so I figured that was that.

Once the hypochondriac is in his “germ phase” after handing off the stethoscope…

He runs off screaming ‘GERMS! GERMS!’

…you can then attack (even just a KICK seems to work). He will drop some pills and run away, but you will not sound any kind of alarm.

I pretty quickly sussed out what the pills were for, but I first want to go back to the rocket belt. I had, recall, found myself flying into a wall and dying. I ended up being baffled enough I just checked hints outright here. The clever bit has to do with leveraging the geography of the game.

You see, as you are moving with the rocket belt, there’s a message about “accelerating”; however, the rocket doesn’t last forever, and if you keep going there’s a message about “decelerating”. So what you need to do is find an extra-long hallway; in fact, the longest one in the game so far, the one on the very top of my map.

This part of the puzzle was gratifyingly clever (even though I didn’t solve it myself). I first used the term unexpected re-purposing back with Deathmaze 5000, and here the game transforms something mundane (not only mundane, but useless “maze filler”) into a puzzle.

This wasn’t the entire puzzle, however. As the animation above implies, you still die on impact even after the long hall. The way to survive is to also drop that bean bag I’ve been toting around on the far end; it will break your landing. First off, I had an unfortunate issue of visualization (like this confusion regarding an urn in Adventure 430). The item is described as a “bean bag”, not a “bean bag chair”, so I was imagining something small, like these throwing beanbags as the first image on Wikipedia. Second, I had the same mental state treating items as I did back with Deathmaze 5000 where I was able to carry around a snake by carrying the “box” that it was in; I thought that if you just dropped a bean bag (which is described as in a box that you can open) that it was treated on the ground like a physical box.

On crash-landing the rocket leaves behind a copper wire, which is one of the supplies the scientist needs. As we have the battery we just need the magnets, now.

Back to the pills. I remembered the plastic surgeon needed drugs, so with some trepidation I toted the pills over.

Horror and comedy wrapped into the same moment.

Well. The most obvious step was to make a stop by the “mad movie producer” who had been throwing me out.

With camera in hand I quickly got accosted by a guard who seemed to be a fan.

Thinking about the items I had left to use (not many) I handed over the bird costume and he took it away “gleefully” to change leaving behind a uniform.

With uniform in hand I was aimless for a while until I tried yet another whack at the phone with the axe.

This time, success! Also, the phone is described as having a “receiver”, so you can hack at that as a separate item.

The coins I haven’t used yet (although I have a suspicion where they go); the magnets can now go with the other items to the scientist.

By the way: essentially everyone you can refer to as an INMATE. Adventure games in general often feel like staged plays, where the right items just happen to be available in the right places and in the right quantities to solve puzzles that are in just the right sequence to be resolved by the items you have. Or: characters are cooperative in very specific ways that just happened to be oriented around the world-verse you’re in to make progress. Why would the scientist go through the trouble to build a time-stasis machine just to leave it behind? It makes sense if a.) they’re an inmate being told what to do and b.) they’re taking part in a staged play of sorts. b.) is reinforced by plot events which you’ll see in a little bit.

I really had nothing left to whack at other than the psychologist, so it seemed to be time to give the time stasis a whirl. Prior visit led to me dying from boredom, so maybe let’s make time pass a bit quicker?

The smock is the doctor’s outfit! Is that it? Are we done with the game. Ha. Ha ha. No. But we can go through the Doctor’s door now.

The entire dialogue is:

It’s amazing you have gotten this far! You are smarter than we realized! However, your escape isn’t to be this simple! If you can find the Master Mystic and rid us of him, we will let you go free! We will require proof of your success! We will give you a pass key. Go to your room and rest! Good luck!

So the entire process was a test of sorts, like Zork III? (It’s one of those things that’s an easy way to explain away all the different adventure tropes.)

This lands you an ivory key. I haven’t tested it thoroughly, but I can say the door to the far east of the opening maze is now unlockable, and it goes to a series of corridors similar to the hexagon, except now it is a heptagon.

A partial map so far. Alas, not nearly as easy to make clean looking as the hexagon was.

Posted April 3, 2023 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

Tagged with

Asylum II: The Lair of the Master Mystic   11 comments

I’ve reached the ending, and if you’ve arrived here from elsewhere you should read the previous posts on this game first.

Last time I left off being sent to find a kill the Master Mystic and bring back proof of his defeat. (Spoiler: he does not get “defeated”, exactly.) I received an ivory key and found a heptagon of doors to explore.

The heptagon included:

1. A “fix-it man” that quickly throws me out

2. An entomologist

3. A philosopher who wants a book of law

4. A “bored” terrorist who is in the same room as a vending machine

5. An exterminator; the game specifically says you need to TIPTOE to go inside, otherwise he throws you out

You can unlock other doors, but unlike Asylum 1, there isn’t a high density where you have to check over each and every one; there’s signals once you are outside each door that it goes somewhere, like “you smell bug spray” for the exterminator.

After a quick-runthrough of the encounters above I decided to go back to the original hexagon and check for more exits. There were three on the “outside ring” that were unlockable with the ivory key.

The heptagon, via Magic Chris.

Two of them led to a short passage which links directly with the heptagon (it is shown in the map above). Each of the short passages includes an extra passage; when entering, I saw rats in hallways but shortly after died from rat poisoning via the exterminator I had met earlier.

The third led to a brand-new area which took a while to map.

Part of the trouble were “revolving doors” (which I’ve depicted on the map as barrels in the corners). When stepping in any of the adjacent squares, you get spun around rapidly with the screen flashing before getting flung in some nearby direction. I suspected something useful in the 3 by 3 gap of my map. I tried spinning around quite a few times before concluding this was a trap of some sort that needed to be evaded with a new item from elsewhere or I needed an alternate route to get in.

The spinning is out of your control once entering a revolving spot. I would show the animation but there’s also a lot of blinking.

The other parts of trouble are another teleport (from northwest to southeast, at least how I have my map oriented) and a very random area marked “BEWARE THESE HALLS” which is nearly impossible to map (the only reason to go in is to pick up a knife, which I’ll discuss more of shortly).

Once I had the issues above settled I had, newly found, a knife, a rope, a banana peel (which you slip and fall on when you first encounter it), and a rat suit. Unable to be picked up was an electric catapult, which you can try to ride by sitting and pushing a button.

I discovered a few things messing around with the items:

a.) if you examine the banana peel you find a caterpillar (yes, that goes to the entomologist)

b.) if you drop the peel and walk around and step on it a second time you get approached by a lawyer who tells you that you should sue and gives you a law book (yes, that goes to the philosopher)

c.) if you STAB ME WITH KNIFE you find out it is a trick knife

The last one was an absolutely random find: I was messing around with the fact ME was on the vocabulary list and trying to ATTACK ME WITH BANANA PEEL and finding out that this makes you considered violent so you get warped to electro-shock therapy and then the starting cell (this is useful for fast travel). So I tried STAB ME WITH KNIFE as well:

This was immediately after an electro-shock treatment, which I guess didn’t work.

Going back to that list in order: the entomologist eyes your catepillar as you walk in:

In “thanks” he parades his trained army ants, which then proceed to eat you.

The philosopher is a little more peaceful: he takes the law book and leaves you a “nirvana scroll” in trade.

I guess legalese has this effect on people.

For the knife, I was truly, horribly, stuck, and needed help from Will Moczarski, who explained that I needed to go over to the bored terrorist and do a repeat performance of the stab-self-with-knife scene.

Ugh. Even thinking in a cartoon-y, stereotypical sense, I’m not sure what about this would impressive to a terrorist. This has my vote for worst puzzle in the game.

This leaves behind a vending machine, wherein you can insert a coin.

If you attempt to insert a coin the game states “Broken! Please tell the author of Asylum II immediately!” This might normally be a problem except I already met the author of Asylum II.

Back at the maze area with the revolving doors, there’s also two rooms with people: a “picnicker” who throws you out shortly after you enter, and William Denman. And yes, you can refer to Denman as INMATE:

He goes off to fix the machine and then disappears from the game.

Heading back to the machine and inserting a coin in the now-functioning machine, I got a bomb. Let’s take a solve-it-yourself moment, since everything you need to solve the puzzle is in this post: do you know where the bomb goes?

Remember that attempting to use the catapult results in your splatting into the ceiling. But what if there was no ceiling?



Now you can safely use the catapult. I’m unclear why the landing is safe (you don’t have a bean bag or whatnot breaking your fall) but nevertheless, this causes you to land in that 3 by 3 area from earlier inside the spinning doors. There you can find a jar. I quite quickly realized the jar’s usefulness:

I had a suspicion that ants + picnic would make an interesting combo, and the game provides another “you’re the axe murderer this time” moment.

This leaves a lunch, which is … a curious trade for a human life. (To be fair, given the meta-aspect of the programmer being in the game, the chicken suit scene, the rocket belt, etc., I don’t think we are supposed to read into this any kind of cruelty. It’s more like the inmates are all actors in a play where you just need to find the right bits to move the script forward.)

Here I was fairly stuck except for one thing: I could go back to the plastic surgeon, who asked if I wanted yet another new face; I said YES and gave over a coin (you can give “coins” plural which hands them all over, which is a mistake) giving me the face of Captain James T. Kirk.

Well then. That didn’t help me with my lingering last dilemma, which was the rat poison. I did realize the exterminator that I could TIPTOE to had to be the one dispensing the poison, so he needed to be eliminated, but my various stratagems were failing. After fiddling around with all the items I had I finally … looked up a hint to realize I needed to use the rope. TIE INMATE WITH ROPE:

OK, fine. This one was actually logical.

Now that he was tied up, I could enter the rat area in peace, which led to a new short map. I needed to take my rat suit with me and WEAR SUIT upon seeing rats in order to live in peace.

I didn’t find much, other than a machine I remember being the Time Machine from Asylum 1 (which seems to be just filler graphics here), a locked door I couldn’t get through but which turned out to be important, and Dr. McCoy himself from Star Trek.

The “transporter” is broken and needs fixing. There was still a “fix-it man” that I hadn’t made any headway with, so I toted the transporter over and … still found myself getting thrown out. Hmm.

It turns out you can have the plastic surgeon do his work again, and it works. I’ll just give this as a sequence of pictures. I had the lunch already in hand. Maybe you can have it make sense. Is there some Duran Duran reference I’m missing?

The inmate fixes the transporter once the lunch is delivered. Pressing the button on the transporter tells you

OK…. nothing apparent happens.

Huh. I was ready for suffering a lot more frustrating when my finger slipped and I tried to walk into a wall, which normally displays SPLAT! (Remember movement is by arrow keys in this game.) I instead walked straight through the wall. Interesting!

There was only one locked door of interest left in the game, back in the rat maze, so I tried the pass-through trick there:

This doesn’t kill you but rather literally restarts the game from the start as you’ve been sent back in time. Oops.

Given there was no time to react it clearly was some sort of “held condition” in order to enter without being time-nuked, but what? Items didn’t help, but there was one other thing I could change:

If you try to do this again, it rotates back to Hitchcock, then Kirk.

Not clear what would happen, I went through the door to the Mystic again, who says something about “I see a rat, but don’t smell one!” This is while wearing the rat suit, so you need to drop it off first:

You also need the nirvana scroll here, which is fortunately not too hard to realize given we’re nearly out of items to try solving puzzles with and the design clearly intended to be “tight” and have everything get used:

He then says “I see the light!” and disappears, leaving behind a dragon ring, also providing a hint to look under your desk. Yes, we were supposed to “kill” him, but the ring works fine. However, if you just make a beeline for the Doctor Exit with ring in hand it doesn’t end well:

Long, long, back, I had found a picture under the desk (because I obsessively checked under every desk and bed the entire game, given what happened with Asylum 1) but hadn’t been able to get it. I assumed some secret button would activate the access, but no, it’s just parser frustration. So frustrating I had to check Will Moczarski’s post; you must type GET PICTURE UNDER DESK exactly with that syntax. Argh! The game had been so good about avoiding parser annoyances like Asylum 1 only to have a trip-up at the end.

Picture in hand I took it over to the surgeon and showed it off, who used it as a reference to reconstruct the player character’s original face. Then I was able to exit with the ring:

I was then told “Stay healthy! We will need you very soon!” followed by:

Considering the whole series (keeping in mind Frank Corr wrote the first one solo and co-wrote the other two):

Deathmaze 5000: still the tightest “plot” but with a few terrible puzzles like the “turn, turn, turn” one; the red herrings hurt rather than help in the end, and there’s “magic physics” to contend with not in the other games

Labyrinth: a much more diffuse layout which feels less like a story arc, but with puzzles fair enough the genuinely can all be solved without hints

Asylum 1: weird, curious, sprawling, and requiring tons of patience; I think the big change between 1 and 2 is less of a need to exhaustively test keys, plus it has some large-ness for its own sake

Asylum 2: only two large maps so it feels much more in control than Asylum 1 in terms of the player experience; you don’t need to prod through each and every room to find what’s important.

This feels like a natural learning curve; not exactly “getting better and better” but trying a new thing then realizing the flaw with that element and fixing it in the next version. It would be nice to see where this journey goes next, but unfortunately, this marks the end of William Denman’s adventure games, unless you count the ports from TRS-80 to other systems. Will Moczarski has more detail and screenshots if you’d like to see more about what they’re like.

Oddly, this is not the end of the line for first-person adventure games in 1982, but unlike Asylum (which got reasonably famous with its ports), the game I will be playing in the future is known by almost nobody at all. (It is for Apple II and I am not referring to The Prisoner 2; it is far enough away that’s all I will say at the moment.)

Posted April 9, 2023 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

Tagged with