Archive for the ‘city-adventure’ Tag

City Adventure   8 comments

You can generally rank the obscurity of my games for All the Adventures by how many of my three main sources they appear in (CASA Solution Archive, Interactive Fiction Database, and Mobygames).

As of this writing, City Adventure appears in zero.

Joining the ranks of teenage entrepreneurs Greg Hassett, Joel Mick, and Charles Forsythe is the team behind Software Innovations; according to the article above, it was founded in 1980 via “$100 investment donations from parents and the selling of shares in the company for $25.” The employees listed in the article above are

Evan Grossman, aged 16: stock, advertising, company catalog
Roy Niederhoffer, aged 14: orders and mailing labels
Steve Sanders, aged 16: treasurer
Tim Binder, aged 16: mailing lists and printed company material

The physical tape (marked copyright 1980) only mentions it is by Software Innovations, and the article states “All the executives pitch in to produce the company’s marketable software” so I’ll credit it to the company label.

One thing you may notice is missing from the advertisement above is the overall goal of the game. This isn’t the first ambiguous objective I’ve hit during this era, but it previously hasn’t been a hindrance in my gameplay; eventually, I’d find some treasures lying about or otherwise run across some kind of directions. Here, I genuinely reached a point where it seemed like I was “done” but I wasn’t done. More on that (and the odd reference to “Interludes”) later; you start, as in common in Your House Games, in a bed:

Any direction leaves the bed, which does make sense, yet this is the first adventure game bed I’ve seen with such a setup.

While they later became a plague of the text adventure enthusiast community, in 1980 Your House Games weren’t even a genre yet. Out of the all the adventure games up to 1980 (including the ones I haven’t written about yet) the other only ones that seems to start with “you in your house” are Pirate Adventure, Lost Dutchman’s Gold, Dracula Avontuur, and Will ‘O the Wisp.

There are no fantasy elements at all in the opening to City Adventure; the obstacles are along the lines of finding your glasses (you feed your Doberman and then get them to FETCH), getting exact change for a bus (you have a five-dollar bill and the driver needs $1.10), turning off an alarm system, and unlocking the front door.

I’m unclear why there would be a code needed to unlock the door from the inside. Maybe we’re still playing The Prisoner.

While in this section the game drops hints about various locations at city intersections.

The reason why becomes very clear after you finish wrangling the bus change; you get dropped off in the city.

Going north reduces the street number, south increases it. Going east reduces the avenue number, going west increases it. This system isn’t purely mechanical either, as “Lexington” is squeezed amongst the low-numbered avenues. To find the locations of the game, you have to get to the right intersection; for example, 44th and 5th has a bank. (This is similar to Thomas M. Disch’s Amnesia, but six years early.)

For a not-many-K TRS-80 BASIC game, this does effectively deliver the illusion of a big environment without the coders having to add many more rooms. The problem is the MUGGER as seen in the screenshot above. The mugger is quite aggressive and has (according to the source code) a 1 out of 7 chance of stealing something at any particular turn. While you can find the stolen items later, there’s a bug where the act of an item being stolen reduces your inventory capacity. After not too long I had the hilarious scenario of carrying no items at all yet also not having room to pick anything up.

If you bring the Doberman with you to the city, the mugger stays away, but there’s a 1-in-50 chance of the Doberman running away, and once that happens, the mugger visits start in. I eventually resorted to the tried-and-true method of “edit the BASIC source code”.

159 IFO(15,0)=-1THENF2=F2+1:IFF2>25ANDRND(50)=1THENF2=0:O(15,0)=-2:PRINT”DOG BARKS AND JUMPS DOWN”:O(143,0)=R:GOSUB6

Rather than stopping the mugger code, I just changed the dog code above so RND(50)=1 became RND(1)=9, meaning the dog will never run away.

As a note from the house indicates, “Suzy” is waiting at 45 & 6 NY. I’m not sure how to express GO ON A DATE, and the game didn’t seem to either; all I could do was TAKE SUZY and cart her around (so the adventurer is toting around both a dog and a girlfriend).

I found a SCRAP of metal and a place nearby I could wash it; it became a SHINING MAGIC RING.


A “magic shop” at a different intersection had the clue to this:

Typing “SAY ONE” teleported me back to the bed. (I guess riding the bus back was too hard.) However, I haven’t been able to end the game here. It’s possible to KISS SUZY while at the bed, but the game says “THIS IS FUN! BUT YOU HAVEN’T COMPLETED YOUR ADVENTURE!” Studying the source code, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere the “date” can go to (maybe being in town was the date). There is a computer store (the player avatar’s workplace) where the TRS-80 program INTERLUDES resides, which was famous in 1980 as an adult computer program (the manual comes with suggested activities). The player’s home does have a TRS-80, so I imagine the goal is to then run the program, but I never worked out a syntax how. Checking the source code, the end message is then


I’m 95% sure I just need to puzzle out the parser issue to attain the endgame message, but I’m fine bailing out early on this one.

Posted September 27, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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