Archive for the ‘dragon-quest’ Tag

Dragon Quest Adventure (1980)   15 comments

I can say straight-out this game wins 1980 for best animated adventure game intro screen.

(Mind you, the John O’Hare games are the only other contenders in the category, but still, this was an unexpected surprise.)

Including the manual and different title screen permutations, the game is variously called

Dragon-Quest Adventure
Dragon Quest Adventure
“Dragon Quest” Adventure
Dragon Quest

so I just picked one that hopefully won’t clash too much with the much-more-famous JRPG game.

Charles Forsythe wrote this one before Lost Ship Adventure (see the comments here), which is curious, since this game is in assembly code and the other game is in BASIC, and the usual evolution of authors (see: Scott Adams, Greg Hassett) has been to start with BASIC and move on to assembly. (EDIT: The best guess based on current information is that Lost Ship was actually written and published first, and despite the 1980 copyright date Dragon Quest didn’t start getting advertised and sold until 1981. This makes much more sense with the BASIC-Assembly order of author development.)

I thought Lost Ship Adventure had some good starting atmosphere but ended up disappointingly simplistic once it got past the opening. Still, after the difficulty of my recent games, “simplistic” is what I’m really wanting at the moment.

The plot is neatly summarized in the opening screen:

I’ve incidentally been wondering about the origins of the “princess and half the kingdom” thing. I’m meaning the exact reward. In the Norwegian tales of Askeladden the reward was typical, but is that the earliest it occured? TV Tropes has a good listing but includes some cases that are similar but not exact, and there’s no chronology.

The time limit is quite serious here; after X number of moves (I haven’t worked out what X is, maybe 200?) the sun sets and the game is over. So there’s an added time pressure here.

The east side of the map includes a rowboat with a river where you have to ROW UPSTREAM and ROW DOWNSTREAM to go back and forth. This was a small, minimal touch, but I liked the extra texture it added to the game.

Upstream there’s a cave with a set-piece I haven’t been able to do anything with.

This could be pure storytelling by objects that are left behind, but given I’m stuck without many options, I have a feeling there’s some way of getting the amulet mentioned on the scroll. CLIMB PILLAR leads to death, and digging with a shovel doesn’t work.

The west side of the map has a small maze (in the all-or-nothing format, where the wrong direction takes you to the start) followed by an alchemist who says he will trade magical items for treasure (except I haven’t found any treasure!) and a COFFIN in a graveyard. Opening the coffin leads to a blinding flash.

This is where I’m stuck; while I can walk around, I can’t shake the darkness and disorientation. For the record, my inventory has a GLOWING LAMP, SILVER SWORD, SHOVEL, SKELETON, SCROLL, BOX, and FOOD.

Rather like Lost Ship Adventure, even though the setup is minimal, there’s enough atmosphere going that I don’t feel frustrated yet.

Posted November 27, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Dragon Quest Adventure: A History of Nonviolence   9 comments

There’s an emerging pattern that I’ve already pointed out a few times, but for those of you who haven’t obsessively read my entire backlog, a summary:

  • Lost Dutchman’s Gold (1979) had a rifle and gun, but if you attempt to use either one in a fight, you are overwhelmed and die. They can both just be left at home.
  • Pyramid of Doom (1979) had a pistol that worked but was still useless; you could shoot a nomad that follows the player around, but the nomad would just come back. (There wasn’t a point even in trying since the nomad only gives helpful rather than harmful information.)
  • Atlantean Odyssey (1979) had a speargun that you could try to use on a shark, but the shark would just kill you.
  • Burial Ground Adventure (1979) came with a gun and separate bullets that you could load, but if you tried to use the gun to get rid of some dogs, the dogs would kill you.
  • You could use a spear in In Search Of… Dr. Livingston (1980) to fend off an alligator, but the alligator room was usually optional and the spear would generally just get you in trouble in the game’s villages.
  • House of Thirty Gables (1980) gives as ax-and-nearby-troll setup, but killing the troll turns out to be a meaningless act: “ONE MIGHTY BLOW FROM YOUR AX HAS KILLED THE POOR INNOCENT TROLL.” There’s also a wandering dwarf you can try using the ax on, but: “YOU SEEM TO BE VERY INEPT AT AX THROWING.”
  • There’s a pistol in Pyramid (1980) but instead of shooting anything you need to take it apart and utilize the gunpowder, MacGyver-style.

There’s still plenty of cases where violence has been the answer (in, for example, Mystery House) but there have been so many useless weapons in adventure games I now always treat them as potential red herrings.

There’s something inherent to the form of adventure games itself that causes this to keep happening. APPLY WEAPON TO ENEMY tends not to be an interesting puzzle, and the times I’ve seen it work either the weapon was hard to obtain or there was some RPG-stats-and-randomization undercurrent programmed in (like in Zork). Adventurer-as-trickster is more common than adventure-as-warrior since that fits more with the puzzle mode of gameplay. A sword is more likely to be used in cutting a rope than cutting down a monster.

Dragon Quest Adventure takes this idea to the next level.

From last time, I had found a set piece with a 100-foot pillar, a skeleton with broken legs, and a scroll indicating the presence of an amulet that allowed flight. However, there was no amulet to be found. This storytelling-by-absence-of-an-item showed up in Secret Mission, where you are told about an envelope in a mission briefing that has already been stolen.

Here, similarly, the amulet has been stolen, but by whom? I unfortunately hit an interface issue I’ve seen many times before, where the game lets you GO LOCATION to enter some place not by the normal NORTH / SOUTH / EAST / WEST directions, and where sometimes this is mentioned as an explicit object (a passage at the start of the game which lets you GO PASSAGE, for instance) and sometimes it is not. Here, while I could GO ROWBOAT to enter a rowboat by the river, I could also enter the river itself.

I needed to check the walkthrough to find this place.

Ah, well. The rest was smooth sailing, at least. I decided to try my newfound magic amulet back at the coffin with the flash of blinding light.

Matt W. wondered in the comments what CLOSE EYES does; the game just doesn’t recognize that eyes exist. There’s been quite a few games where I’ve found an unrecognized “alternate solution” that comes just from referring to the player’s body parts. It seems like they’d be fair game but the only times I can think of them being used have been on unfair puzzles. It’s just one of those conventions, I think; if enough games allowed a standard ability to refer to one’s EYES, NOSE, EARS, and so on, it’d probably be more acceptable to write a puzzle that refers to them.

I was then able to exchange my ruby at a nearby alchemist for a MAGIC SHIELD. He also gave me a magic word (XAVAX).

I already had a sword from earlier; I took my amulet, sword, and shield, and went back to the pillar room and typed FLY. I was told something I was carrying was too heavy. I had to drop everything but the amulet.




Fortunately, the magic word XAVAX then was useful here to cause a ladder to appear, so I could go back and get my stuff. Heading north from the top of the pillar led to the dragon’s lair:


As a dutiful stereotypical adventurer, I then typed >KILL DRAGON:



If you go back and read the king’s original directive you are not here to slay the dragon, just to rescue the princess. Since the dragon is asleep now, there’s no need to confront him! I admit being thrown for a loop given the sword-and-shield setup strongly suggests a full-on-fight.

I was able to grab the sleeping princess and then just walk all the way back to the king, and victory.

Despite the typical fairy-tale setup, we were only promised half the kingdom, not half the kingdom and the hand of the princess. So we only get a kiss, as opposed to forced participation in medieval patriarchy. Wizard and the Princess similarly only promised half the kingdom for rescuing the princess.

We’re not quite done with Charles Forsythe yet; he will return in 1981 with Tower of Fear. But we need to get through 1980 first; 10 games to go!

Posted November 28, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Dragon Quest Adventure: The Angel and the Demon   15 comments

I wanted to go into one last, small feature of Dragon Quest Adventure I learned about after finishing. The implementation in practice isn’t exciting, but the game mechanic it suggests is marvelous.

Also, I wanted to toss this picture from the manual up, because commentators Lisa and Andrew in my previous post were trying to track down the source of the game’s cover; it is possible this picture comes from the same source.

Like various other games from this period (including Crowther/Woods Adventure) there is a HELP feature. I only had tried it once, and didn’t find the advice useful, but at least it’s accurate.

However, instead of angel appearing, it can be a demon instead:

This is an anti-hint. Of course the demon would give bad advice! I’d have loved if this continued with context-sensitive hints where you constantly have two hint-givers bickering, but alas this was not to be. Still, it’s a microexample of what could be a more fully-fledged game feature.

(I can only think of one other related example, from Curses in 1993, except that only has hints from a demon, and the advice is a mixture of good and bad.)


Daniel in the comments explains how to get to the angel in Curses (it’s harder to reach than the demon). That means we have an official successor to the idea.

Two more examples from the comments, courtesy Josh and Peter:

Nethack has fortune cookies that can be blessed or cursed; blessed cookies give good advice and cursed cookies give bad advice.

The Wizard Sniffer (2017) has a pair of fleas, one who always tells the truth and one who lies.

Posted November 30, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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