Archive for the ‘king-solomons-mines’ Tag

Jungle Adventure, Part II: King Solomon’s Mines (1982)   3 comments

I was captivated. Writing adventures was more fun than playing them! I immediately started plotting other adventure stories.

Interview with the author in Syntax magazine

This is a direct sequel to John R. Olsen’s game The Elephant’s Graveyard as published in the December 1981 edition of CLOAD (a TRS-80 “tape magazine”), and was published in the month immediately following. This might normally mean it could squeak into 1981 via the “publications tend to be out a month before their newsstand date” rule, but keep in mind CLOAD is direct-mail by tape and doesn’t follow by the same rules; also, in the preface the editor-in-chief (David Lagerquist) apologizes for the issue being late (“January’s issue should come out in January, don’t you think?”)

Also, I’ll be honest, despite John R. Olsen’s Frankenstein Adventure being solid enough to hit my recommended list last year, I was stalling. Part I of this game (“based on the jungle settings of the Tarzan novels”) has a bit with pygmies and a “witchdoctor”. It managed to avoid being terrible and certainly avoided the original book’s section where Tarzan massacres the Africans, but hovering around this subject matter always makes me concerned.

Based on the title, instead of Tarzan, King Solomon’s Mines is instead nominally based on the book by Sir H. Rider Haggard, part of the Allan Quatermain series. (Think Indiana Jones as written by an actual 19th century Victorian.)

The game picks up the day after the previous one ends. Not only does it continue the story, it uses the same rooms, setting, and objects to start with. (I don’t think we’ve hit this sequel-continuity in any game so far! Savage Island was in two parts but didn’t re-use rooms. The same is true of Arrow of Death.)

This seems to be a true Treasure Hunt this time with multiple things to find.

The last game started us at the trading post as in the screenshot above, where we went west past a village and a swamp to a temple, found a map at the temple (with a sealed door and some snakes we ran away from), then used it to go east from the trading post to the elephant grounds.

This time, east is almost entirely sealed off by a rockside, so our mission seems to be west. The temple that we only briefly visited seems to be our real destination, and the snakes (which were previously a red herring puzzle) now have to be reckoned with directly.

Unfortunately, I’m stuck fairly early! The trading post has the IVORY we found from the last game, a REVOLVER with six bullets, and a BAG that will hold water (the same one as the previous game, and I looked up my post to check the syntax: PUT BAG / IN TROUGH). The game has the same tight water timer as the previous one (maybe even tighter) and regular visits back to the trading post are needed to keep from dying of thirst.

The only thing I’ve found going east is a charging rhino, who comes if you hang out for more than one turn. Your revolver works to bring it down in two shots (if you try to run away you just die). I think the rhino might be useful later if I can find a cutting implement (CUT RHINO: “You can’t do that…yet!”)

Going west you pass by a now-abandoned village (although you can pick up a skull), a field of grass (if you need grass, for some reason) and some rocks that work as flint. If you go back and LIGHT GRASS it starts a large fire and you die.

Other than a tree you can climb and get a good view (but no items from) there’s the temple with snakes. There was no way past the snakes before, and I’m unclear what the player has new now that will help. (The revolver, flint, grass, and skull all seem to be the same as before.) If you try to shoot the snakes you get one of them but the rest take you down.

I checked and Dale Dobson played through this already so I have something to fall back on if I need to. He claims the game is rather hard and involves intricate timing.

This is a fairly difficult adventure — there are time pressures of various kinds to deal with, and once a puzzle is figured out it’s often necessary to restore, go back and re-execute as efficiently as possible. The game does have a functional SAVE feature, but it allows only one slot and using it seems to count as a move, so some care is required even there.

I at least have the advantage of using save states, giving me more than one save slot and immunity to the time-passing-by-saving problem.

Posted April 28, 2023 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Jungle Adventure, Part II: King Solomon’s Mines: Finished!   Leave a comment

Ad from 80 Micro, August 1982.

So the main quest of the previous game, the one thing that we needed in order to reach a glorious conclusion, was obtaining a piece of ivory from the elephant graveyard. It was a Treasure Hunt with only one item.

This item gets used immediately in the first puzzle of the sequel where you trade it away. I find this hilarious.

I did need to check Dale Dobson’s walkthrough for this, because I didn’t understand that the village had a game mechanic attached; drop an item for trade, walk away, and come back to find the trade has happened. In this case, they trade for a map, which leads to a side area which turns out to be really the only other part of the whole map.

The cave is dark so you can’t go in there right away, but you can pick up up some dynamite and a knife. There’s also a spring which serves as a second water source. (For the entirety of the game you occasionally have to go back to water and PUT BAG / IN TROUGH in order to fill up. I found that if I did it every time I passed a water source in general I didn’t have to think about it otherwise.)

The dynamite I was able to blow up using the flint I found last time, but it blows up immediately, which is not terribly helpful. If you LOOK DYNAMITE it mentions a lack of fuse. The solution here is to go over to the grass, grab a handful, and MAKE FUSE.

You then have a little time to run away after blowing up the dynamite.

Having high power in hand I tried it in every single room, including ones where it didn’t make sense to dynamite, with no luck. I tried lighting the dynamite while holding it and walking to the snakes; while you have an extra turn to THROW and run away, you don’t have enough time to move between rooms.

Totally stumped, I had to check for help again. The KNIFE I got from the secret area I had tried to apply to the rhino (CUT RHINO) and the game told me that I couldn’t do that. Even though it is not described, you are supposed to CUT HORN.

Ugh. The worst parser fall-down in all the Olsen games so far.

The HORN, being ivory, can be traded again; if you take it to the village, and leave it behind, you get a FLUTE in exchange. This can be immediately applied to the snakes:

The temple then can be entered, but you’re stopped by a sealed door. However, after trying the dynamite everywhere, it was satisfying to finally know exactly where it went!

The goggles rather curiously make the room dark, but they’re useful for later. The mural indicates eating bark is helpful. I had already tried CUT BARK on the nearby tree (after it is described as the BARK being eaten away) but I hadn’t tried it going up higher on the branches.

With BARK in hand, you can CHEW BARK in order to make the dark cave at the secret area bright. (To see in regular rooms while under the influence of bark, you need to wear the goggles.)

Going down leads to a ledge at some lava. You can JUMP LEDGE in order to get to the other side, but only if you’re not carrying anything.

This is immediately adjacent to King Solomon’s Treasure Room.

Just like the prior game, this isn’t the whole story yet: you have to escape with the loot over the lava somehow. If you try cart them back and THROW DIAMONDS (or RUBIES or EMERALDS) the game says

They scatter and fall into the chasm.

The key here is the bag again: it’s light enough to throw over the lava, and as long as you’ve emptied the water out, you can fit one (1) of the treasures.

While you’re doing all this, your vision-power from the bark is wearing out. It is apparently possible to follow a very tight sequence of tossing the bag over, jumping, stuffing a treasure in the bag, tossing it back, jumping back, emptying the treasure out of the bag, and repeating. You can make it safely out on the very last turn (at least according to Dale Dobson).

However, there’s an easier way: there’s still bark on the tree. The better way to handle all this is to throw over only one of the treasures, then go back up to the surface (using goggles while waiting for the tree bark effect to run out) in order to get some more bark. Alternately, you can eat the bark while up the tree (goggles required), get some more bark right away, and then use the tail end of the vision effect up to as far as you can before eating a second helping of bark.

It’s still interesting to “plan the route” of the conditions here, but at least it isn’t quite as hard as Dobson originally advertised.

There’s only one more wrinkle: the pygmies will stop you from trying to leave after you find the treasure (understandably so, although even if you don’t have it). The solution is the same as the previous game: drop the skull. The presence of the sacred skull will cause them to run away.

I like the game accounts for the possibility of losing treasure in the lava. Because everything game from the same room I still wouldn’t call it a Treasure Hunt in the regular sense.

In a purely mechanical sense, it is gratifying to see Olsen still being relatively strong; he tries to include

a.) timers and general effects (like modifying vision)

b.) relatively tight geography that gets passed over multiple times

c.) mostly logical ideas

I still would call this the weakest of his games so far, just because the trading idea was weakly signaled, the parser issues were messier than usual and … well, let me just quote Dale Dobson:

Despite our blatant disregard for animal life, native religions and archaeological integrity — victory is ours!

The serial-adventure genre just doesn’t age as well when there aren’t Nazis to fight.

Posted April 29, 2023 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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