Archive for the ‘lucifers-realm’ Tag

Lucifer’s Realm (1981)   10 comments

You have died. And you’re not on The List:

Down to the basement with you!

After a relatively minor puzzle …

… you find a poster noting Hitler is forming an army to overthrow Satan, and if you can stop him, Satan will let you free.

So, the overarching plot: we’ve deservedly gone to Hell, but find a prime opportunity to team up with Satan to stop Hitler and his minions (including, I have heard, Mussolini) in order to earn a ticket back out.

Welcome to Lucifer’s Realm, another Jymm Pearson jam (last seen with The Institute), as joined by Robyn Pearson, Norm Sailer, and Rick Incrocci, the latter two doing programming and art respectively for the Apple II version.

It’s worth picking over the various releases this time, not only because it’s a little messy and mysterious (and we like messy and mysterious in history circles, or perhaps “like”) but also because I am simul-blogging this with the ever-resourceful Will Moczarski, who is doing this as part of his Med Systems Marathon over with the fine people at The Adventurers Guild. He’s playing the TRS-80 original, which looks a little different from the Apple II versions I’ve shared screenshots of.

To be specific, there’s

  • 1982 releases for TRS-80 and Atari that are text-only, published after Med Systems and Intelligent Statements had merged (*)
  • a 1984 Apple II / Atari / C64 graphical version, published by American Eagle, which is the same thing as Phoenix Software (after it was sold in 1984), which — if you’re caught up on my backlog — you might remember from Adventure in Time
  • a 1985 All American Adventures UK release for Atari and Commodore 64

The split releases are also important in that the credits change. The early text versions only credit Jyym Pearson, not Robyn Pearson. Jyym’s prior game (The Institute) had Robyn Pearson listed in the graphics version but not any of the graphics versions before that, and not in any of the text-only versions. Given the games are very similar except for the addition of graphics, what happened here? Was there a collaboration earlier but not mentioned on the earlier printing? I’m reminded of the Michael and Muffy Berlyn situation with Oo-topos (where Michael is listed on the earlier 1981 release but not the later graphical one) but that game has major textual changes in the later edition and is really a case where Michael’s wife got involved later (he quit Infocom specifically because of their no-hiring-spouses policy). Credits in those days could be unruly in general (why did Scott Adams give himself co-credit on The Golden Voyage but not Pyramid of Doom?) so I don’t want to read too much into it.

All this about the premise is lovely (assuming you include the screaming of thousands of condemned souls in “lovely”), but of course a Jyym Pearson game can’t go without some major stalling points early. The room past the drain has two doors. One leads to John Wilkes Booth, who is loyally guarding Satan.

The other goes to Eichmann, the Nazi war criminal who wasn’t captured until 1960.

Eichmann will let you pass if you tell him you’re going to go see Hitler in order to join his army. This let me get by and find an “iron spike” by a ledge where two armies were fighting below.

There’s a SKULL from the other path which is described as having something rattling inside; I was able to BREAK it here which involved the protaganist just yeeting it off the cliff. I’m guessing we tie a rope to the spike to climb to wherever the skull ended up.

This is followed by a well I haven’t got a reaction out of.

Suspecting this game was like the other Pearson ones with locations needing re-re-visits, I hiked back to the start and found that the original pool of fire I landed next to had a word written into, but the “flames are too bright” to see what it is. Maybe I come back with cool shades.

(*) The News and Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina), January 22, 1984:

In late 1981, he [William Denman] merged Med Systems with a company created by David Handel, a radiology resident at Duke University Hospital. They kept the name of David Handel’s Company, Intelligent Statements Inc., and adopted Screenplay as the firm’s “retail” name. Since last summer Screenplay and Intelligent Statements have operated under the umbrella of a parent firm, AGS Computers Inc.

Thanks to S.M. Oliva, with a blog about the Computer Chronicles TV show, for sleuthing out the clip above.

And a brief reminder: while it probably won’t be up at the time of this writing, Will should be posting about this game today as well.

Posted March 15, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

Tagged with

Lucifer’s Realm: The Suffering   11 comments

If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.

— The Second World War (1950), Winston Churchill

The cover of the American Eagle edition of the game, from the Museum of Computer Adventure Games.

The afterlife lends itself well to computer gameplay. Depending on how it gets described, characters are essentially immortal and can die and revive without any disjoint between game universe and mainline narrative (done magnificently in the recent game Hades). Logic and geography only need to be held onto in a tentative way. Odd, repetitive actions and futile motions can seem “normal” (also known as: testing actions in an adventure game that don’t work).

The last part is kind of unfortunate, but expected in the context of a Pearson game: making sure to LOOK at everything, then LOOK at what might plausibly be considered a sub-noun in the description you get, then LOOKing again three more time just in case you missed something. Also, LISTEN and SMELL for good measure. Quite a bit of my early stuckness had to do with this kind of activity, which just isn’t consistent enough to feel like “exploring”.

But to start things off, I tried to kill John Wilkes Booth. As one does. He tried to strangle me with some rope and I was able to run away, and helpfully, grab the rope. (Unhelpfully, I didn’t notice the rope had come along with me until a few iterations of just running around, but I’m condensing a bit.)

In the same location next to Booth, I incidentally found a rock by SMELLing, but I couldn’t do anything with it at the time.

The game also mentions an “opening” under the rock, and at the time (based on the picture) I assumed the rock needed to be dislodged somewhere so went through great pains trying to lever it away with no luck. It turns out this was almost meant to be a non-puzzle, but I didn’t realize it until later. In the meantime, I went back to test SMELL in other places some more and found at the well from last time, while SMELL generically didn’t help much, if I typed SMELL VAPORS I was able to go into a “dream-like” state.

After some listening I got some communication straight from Beelzebub (see above) hinting not only did I need to find a crown, but that Hitler was after a piece of the statue called Deecula.


Thanks, Beelzebub … friend? Next to the well was the screw I had posited earlier I needed to tie a rope to, and this was indeed the case. Climbing down, I found another Hitler ally.

The Jim Jones massacre happened only four years before this came out, in 1978. The short version is that in the US he formed a quasi-Christian cult of personality known as the Peoples Temple, and eventually (due to paranoia and concern of nuclear war) moved the group to Guyana. Some complications with the US government led to the group murdering a US congressman and the eventual distribution of cyanide-laced Flavor Aid to all 909 of his followers. Some refused to drink and were given cyanide by syringe, with the end result was that all of them died including 304 children, so yes, Jim Jones richly deserves his place in hell.

Jim Jones said he saw sin in me and I could not pass. While being judgmental he dropped a spare pair of sunglasses, and I was also able to swipe the contents of the skull I had tossed off the ledge: a lamp.

If you try to KILL Jim Jones this happens and you get teleported back to the start. This is not a game over.

The sunglasses I knew immediately to take back to the “word” from the very start which was too bright; with the sunglasses on I was able to read LUCIFAGE. I then flailed around quite a bit more and somehow came across a DAGGER and a SWORD that were along the way to see Satan while I was wandering. I don’t know if the two items just appear after a certain amount of times, or if I really missed LOOKs in the right rooms somehow.

I beat upon all the various rooms in case I missed something else before returning to the pesky rock-on-opening. While testing things out I tried (more by rote process than thought process) the command GO OPENING, which worked! I guess the rock on top of the opening was not meant to be a complete covering even though it was drawn that way.

If you don’t have the lamp, this room is too dark to see.

This led to an ancient chest which read “the word is the key”. Given I had learned all about LUCIFAGE, I tried it out, and the chest revealed a disk marked DEECULA — this was the thing Hitler was wanting.

This looks a lot like a ping-pong paddle, especially when Hitler is holding it later.

I didn’t find it my first, second, or even third time through, but I’ll save time and mention there’s one more item hiding here, if you LOOK BLOOD: an oil can.

With the disk in hand, I took another visit to Jim Jones — knowing Hitler wanted the disk — and Jones stepped aside to let me through, commenting that Hitler wanted to see the disk. This led to a room with sleeping bats, and a squeaky door.

The game has been pretty good at avoiding softlocks, given that death isn’t really death, but if you see this screen, you’ve softlocked the game. The bats are awoken by the squeaky door and can’t be calmed.

The oil can is obvious once it is in hand, but I first tried a bunch of ways of scaring off the bats, even though I did have in the back of my mind the whole situation would be avoided if the door didn’t squeak.

I then encountered a very dark room that was only made less dark once I took off my sunglasses.

If you try to wander in the darkness while sunglasses-clad you get this scene of falling into a pit, which looks like it was rendered from a photo rather than drawn.

With visibility, there’s a chain you can climb up (and take with you) in order to make it to Hitler’s room.

The guard asks who sent you, you have to say EICHMANN (who said earlier to mention his name).

Arriving with the disk results in a very enthusiastic Hitler, and I’m just going to give the whole sequence of images.

Are we the baddies? (I mean, going to hell means the answer is “yes”, but I mean in the sense of I thought we were supposed to be stopping Hitler, not helping. This seems to be the only way to make progress though, this is an “intentional” story beat.)

I’ve made it a smidge farther but this seems like a good cliffhanger. In a way the setup feels very tight and modern, but the awkward ability to miss basic items has been quite a drag. I suspect I’m at a halfway point (at least, I switched from disk 1 to disk 2) and — depending on how hard the rest of the game is — should finish by my next post or the one after.

Just a quick reminder, do check out Will Moczarski’s write-ups, as he is playing this game also in the text-only version.

Posted March 19, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

Tagged with

Lucifer’s Realm: Let’s Kill Hitler   4 comments

Well, not “kill” because he’s already dead, but it was about as satisfying.

From Mobygames.

I left off last time giving Hitler a piece of some sort of crucial magical object. As Beelzebub indicated earlier, however,


The crystal is going to come up fairly shortly.

After the scene with Happy followed by Raging Hitler, his goons tossed me down a slide and onto a pillar which was slowly lowering while being surrounded by giant spiders.

The pillar had a “beam of light” and I was able to look up to see a hook and an opening. I had fortunately grabbed the chain I had used earlier to clamber up to the Hitler Area so I threw that up and caught the hook, and was able to climb to safety.

This led to an vent with a wall covered by a canvas. I used the dagger (which was randomly stuck in a door from last time) to cut through and find a giant crystal with a slot. At the same time I collected the dagger I had collected a sword with blue jewels in it, and it seemed about the right size, so I did some reverse Sword in the Stone action:

Crystal in hand, I went down farther in the vent and found a grate I was able to push open leading to Hitler’s office. Crawling in led to, well, let me just show you:

Notice: “stunned”. Hitler had a crown on him which I yoinked, and I was able to retrace my steps all the way back to John Wilkes Booth and Satan’s room, but John Wilkes Booth was now gone.

Technical aside: on the Apple II version you need to sometimes swap disks. The Hitler area required a disk swap, as does walking through this door. There’s still a decent amount of back-and-forth with already visited locations so this isn’t a scenario where the game is neatly partitioned off. Unfortunately, on the emulator I was using (AppleWin) I wasn’t getting any kind of disk swap message and the game locked up instead, so the only way I could keep playing was to swap the disk before entering one of the thresholds (either hopping from disk 1 to 2 or vice versa). Having to anticipate swaps wasn’t part of the original experience but I figured someone in the future might want to re-trace my steps and would like the locking-up mystery resolved.

Exploring farther, I found a giant snake that wanted the crystal. Dropping the crystal led to the snake swallowing it.

You still need the crystal. I’ve always liked the puzzle structure of an item getting lost that needs to be retrieved. It gives sort of a liveliness and dynamism to what normally are static tools.

Incidentally, I tried to KILL SNAKE after the crystal-swallowing scene and was told I didn’t have the right weapon (the dagger doesn’t work), which was a custom message. I mentally marked the location to return to later.

Just above the snake was an unpassable fire.

After some experimentation (and realizing I wasn’t getting through) I figured now was the time to re-re-re-visit ever location to see if a new item had popped up (like when the dagger appeared).

Fortunately, it didn’t take too long to find something new, as shown above. That valve wasn’t visible before! Turning the valve and rushing back (remembering to swap disks yet again) I found that the fire was off.

The Black Mass looks pretty metal, although if you try to talk you get “slain for sacrilege”. Ow.

Here I was stuck a very long time — I could refer to the pews but couldn’t see anything, and started to get the strong intuition that I was just getting stymied by the parser. I took a hint, which told me to SIT DOWN. (I had unsuccessfully tried SIT earlier, so yes, parser issues. What made this spot doubly galling is the parser quite often lets you use verbs without nouns and you can even inadvertently hit a puzzle solve by just testing verbs alone.)

Moving on! The right action here is to PUSH the door (another tough one to find, although it is drawn with no handle) which leads down to a corpse-ridden basement with silver coins and candles with a ball of WAX. There’s also a crystal door with a slot…

…and this was the moment I realized I needed the crystal back.

The WAX needs to be melted, but there is weirdly a shortage of hot things in hell. I originally tried tossing the WAX in at the flames at the very beginning (where the LUCIFAGE keyword was shown) but was rebuffed. I had just recently found a fire I could turn off and on, though! I delivered the wax to the fire-grate room, went back to the valve, cranked the valve up, checked the fire room again, and found a CLUB. (You need to make one more circle to turn the valve back off.)

The CLUB, of course, counts as a weapon, and I already knew I needed one for the snake.

Did I do it … wrong? I wasn’t sure if it was destroyed, but I thought perhaps I could hike all the way back to the original big crystal and cut off another chunk somehow.

One hike across the map later (although to be honest, it still isn’t a big map) and I found what turned out to be the original crystal returned to where I found it. Nabbing it and hiking all the way back — past the bat cave, past the entrance to Satan’s area, past the Black Mass — and finally used it on the slot that needed a crystal. This pulled me into a black forest.

A maze! So exciting!

I mean, a maze, ick. Fortunately not a complicated one. While I mapped it already, I think this is a good spot to stop, although a brief preview:

Jesus, hanging out in hell.

So close I can taste it. Almost certainly next time for the (apocalyptic?) conclusion!

Posted March 22, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

Tagged with

Lucifer’s Realm: The Princes of Peace and Darkness   4 comments

This is my finale post on Lucifer’s Realm, so if you’ve arrived from elsewhere, you should read my prior posts first.

The UK edition of the game, from Retrogames. They’ve tossed Mussolini in the lower right, there. Despite the mention in the ad copy Mussolini shows up nowhere in the game.

I left off last time in a forest, which is a (mercifully small) maze.

Out to the west you can find the Prince of Peace himself, Jesus.

There’s a little bit of a catch with the whole “Satan sets you free” arrangement, you see — your soul has still been damned by your actions and Heaven won’t let you in. So the whole idea with meeting Jesus is to get absolution. His hint is to go back to the well of Beezlebub (?!) and try the vapors again. This doesn’t toss you in the dreamlike state again, but it does give a hint:

The verse in question here is “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” You need to go back to Jesus and CONFESS SINS.

Now you’re almost ready to take on Satan, but there’s one really nasty puzzle remaining. Going the other direction from Jesus on the other side of the maze you can find a crack in a wall.

The crack does not let you take an inventory items in. If you drop everything and go forward you find a stone door (which doesn’t want to open) and Judas the betrayer himself.

The silver coins seem like an immediately obvious bribe (it also seems like a wondrously appropriate hell-punishment for Judas to be wandering in eternity gathering more and more silver coins) but the crack makes it impossible to bring the coins over. I admit to being completely stumped here and had to look at hints.


a.) the word LUCIFAGE lets you open the stone door and get into a cave, which contains nothing

b.) to get the cave to contain something, there is one exact room in the forest you can drop items which will teleport over to the cave, for no clear reason

Part b does have a clue of sorts. At the start of the maze there is the message


which sort of hints at this might be something that happens. The appropriate room to drop things is at the very end of the maze but by then I was out of objects to drop and had figured out the form of the maze was mostly regular, anyway. If I had mechanically put something down and kept on moving I might have run across the trick by accident.

The trick with the magic cave let me grab the coins for Judas, and the crown from Hitler I still hadn’t used yet.

I finally arrived at a “SATANIC PALACE”…

…where I was able to KNOCK to be let in.

I mean, Jesus dropping by to absolve a sinner, sure. But an angel (that’s still angelic) opening the gates of Satan’s palace? Nuh-uh. The “angel” asks you to drop the crown.

It’s a trap!

No, you can just ignore the angel and move on to Satan himself.

If you give him the crown he will meet his end of the bargain (better than Hitler, that way) and let you free, and assuming you’ve made yourself proper with Jesus, you can ascend to victory.

Well, sort of? Satan getting his crown back allows him to kick Hitler’s army out of hell, but they still have the Deecula statue (remember us helping Hitler activate that?) And so… they try to invade Heaven instead.

It’s a 1982 game, so it won’t be terribly long (I’m estimating 3 months or so) before I get to the The Paradise Threat. Text-only this time, alas, but I’m still interested in having a final showdown with Hitler.

It’s not often that I invoke deeper themes here — as lovely as all the games have been, we’re still scratching the surface of artistic achievement. I thought The Institute had a promising setup that didn’t follow through; it vaguely indicated something about father issues and had a couple nice dialogue bits with the psychologist but the vast majority of it was a random glob of puzzles.

While Lucifer’s Realm still suffers some in a gameplay sense, I’d say it doesn’t have the same complaint: it sticks the landing on trying to say something with its story. Our protagonist has evil unmentioned deeds that go unremarked, but they (us) are clearly willing to go to extremes to help. What point is someone past saving and what point does redemption make sense? The encounter with Jesus indicates that, in some circumstances, past deeds can be forgotten.

At a simultaneous level, the whole plot involved helping the Prince of Darkness. Is this a paradox or reconcilable?

Is Judas, still desiring more silver coins even in Hell, essentially causing his own punishment?

Was giving Hitler the final piece to the Deecula statue worth it; that is, by helping a great evil, have we caused too much unintended consequence?

Or if you want to approach from the ludic angle, what was the significance of the final obstacle being a demon pretending to be angel trying to steal the crown from Satan?

Don’t forget Will Moczarski has been playing along the same time as me here, using the text-only TRS-80 version. I haven’t seen his final post but I was curious if any puzzles would come out differently, and if he had any different reactions in general to the events of the game. A few quotes of interest:

It took some time to get the parser to cooperate in almost every situation and so far I’m not exactly fond of the game.

It’s about as fussy as the previous Jyym Pearson parsers, but the thing I found trickiest was the occasional inconsistency. For example, at the very start, when you land in hell, you CLIMB down to a room with water and then pull a drain. (You can’t GET DRAIN either, it says you can’t see that here.) This automatically send you down a level. If you go back up again (absolutely necessary for the game, since the starting room requires the sunglasses to see LUCIFAGE), trying to CLIMB down and then CLIMB DRAIN just goes back up again rather than in the drain. The command is ignoring the noun. You have to GO DRAIN in order to keep progressing. There’s no real logic why the verb is different. Just one extra piece of friction to keep moving. (I believe the TRS-80 version is different again here, although I’m not remembering the exact commands; I tested it when I was first booting up the game.)

It works but he asks me why. I really don’t know, so I say “kill him”. Eichmann doesn’t react to this but the game tells me “You’re too kind.”

If you try to kill Eichmann in the Apple II version, he vaporizes you. Relatedly, Will had a lot of trouble getting past:

My next task will be to find the exact right words to get past Eichmann. I try “join him”, “warn him”, “aid him”, “talk to him”, “give him something”. Nothing works. “Join his army” does, as I find out after quite a while. “O.K., tell them I sent you”, says Eichmann, then leaves. It’s a bit ludicrous but I’m happy to finally be able to move on.

JOIN ARMY is the first phrase I tried (it seemed strongly implied by the poster). Just a matter of luck, really, but it makes for two rather different play experiences.

I can’t figure out what to do with the well and assume that I need to either smell the vapours (which doesn’t work) or drop something down the well (I might be missing the right item). Oh well.

SMELL works in the Apple II version, Will had to come across BREATHE.

I’m in doubt for a moment. Shouldn’t I be helping Satan instead of Hitler?

From the department of pair-of-sentences-I-wouldn’t-expect-anyone-to-write.

Looking reveals a smiling snake. I try talking to the snake and it gives me a hint to drop the crystal here. Or is it a trap? Anyway, I drop it and the snake swallows it. I have a bad feeling about this!

Because I’m unable to save my game I don’t try to proceed without feeding the snake. If you want to give it a shot and report back in the comments, by all means: please go ahead! Or maybe Jason smelled a rat and avoided dropping the crystal?

I think the picture helped here. It looks like the sort of snake aching to have its belly cut open and dug through.

As it turns out, that’s not exactly how it went — the snake disappears when you kill it at the crystal goes back to where it came from — but that was at least my thought when the snake ate the crystal, not that I had made a mistake, but that I commenced on immediate plotting to cut it open to get it back.

There was, on the opposite end, a spot where a picture hurt rather than helped. There was a spot (next to John Wilkes Booth) where using SMELL led to a rock, and there was an opening under you could get into. Will’s issue when he was playing is he had found the dark area below before he had found a lamp. My issue was knowing that you could even go in the opening in the first place:

That does not look like you can just crawl under the rock and go in; I have vague suspicion there might have been miscommunication with the artist here.

Speaking of the artist, yes, I’m in general agreement with the comments that Rick Incrocci’s artwork is fabulous, especially compared with Time Zone and other works we’ve seen of late. Some of this is technical: he had access to the Penguin drawing software (first published in 1981) whereas Time Zone was in development before it came out, and I don’t think anything else we’ve seen (other than The Institute) has had a chance to use it, either. Of course, the raw skill as an artist is in play here as well, and don’t be too sad about the sequel to Lucifer’s Realm not having art; he worked on other games that we will be getting to in due course, like Masquerade, which (due to the author Dale Johnson publishing an early version in 1982) we will be arriving at later this year.

For now, though, I have a couple of curious one-offs to get through (including an ultra-obscure adventure-roguelike), before we arrive at Infocom’s first game of 1982, a detective game I have never played before. Much excitement!

Posted March 27, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

Tagged with