Archive for the ‘pirate-island-hopesoft’ Tag

Pirate Island (1981)   18 comments

Can you get your treasure back to your ship ? Beware of the crocodile and the natives ! Don’t dig for treasure till you’ve read the map !

— Ad from Your Computer Magazine, January 1983

Paul Shave’s third release for 1981, like Atom Adventure, used his Create Your Own Adventure system.

Via Everygamegoing.

Also like Atom Adventure, the goal is to gather all the treasures, and many of the objects are randomly scattered. Unlike that game, it doesn’t have super-tight timing (although I haven’t gotten a full score yet, so maybe I’m wrong).

Most of the game is set outside, so a light timer isn’t really an issue. (There is a tinderbox you can light for the purposes of one room.)

There’s an initial “short-term” timer with a crocodile that eventually shows up and starts following you. The crocodile has a ticking sound (yep, it’s a Peter Pan reject). Eventually, the crocodile bites your head off, but if you have a knife, you can kill it and cut it open, revealing a clock.

Note that by bad luck you may run into the crocodile before you get the knife and just die on a particular run (this is another similar element to Atom Adventure).

A “long-term” timer is formed by “natives” that show up at random and shoot poison darts at you. There’s a village where you can buy antidote from other (different?) natives for TWO PIECES OF EIGHT and you can APPLY ANTIDOTE in order to avoid dying.

The antidote is not well described, so this is a likely result from first trying it out. I admit being more amused than frustrated, since this wasn’t far in.

However, the antidote only has so many applications, so you eventually will succumb to a poison dart if the game goes on long enough.

Additionally, the antidote is considered one of the treasures, and there’s a pirate that shows up at random that will swipe all your treasures and take them to his “lair” which is just a spot in the forest. It’s possible to have very bad timing and get the antidote swiped from your inventory right before getting shot with a poison dart, so the pirate inadvertently does a combo special with the natives conspiring to kill the main character.

As noted in the screenshot above, there’s a place marked GRUD OMASSI. If you say these words anywhere on the island you get teleported back to the GRUD OMASSI spot and have all wounds healed. This makes for a nice backup plan for getting stuck by poison where the antidote is too far away. (It works twice, but the third time kills via a lightning bolt, so it’s still an emergency-purpose-only situation.)

The natives that sell an antidote also have an idol which counts as a treasure, but if you try to steal it, they cook you over a pot.

I’ll save some extra commentary on this for the end of this post.

I mentioned getting a clock from the crocodile already. If you give them the clock they gather around it, fascinated, which distracts them enough you can steal the idol.

To win you need to sail away, but the catch is there are two ships. Observe on the map:

There’s a “ship” both on the north side and south side, with a shore and rowboat conveiently placed. You need to LAUNCH BOAT, ENTER BOAT, and ROW BOAT to get to the ship, at which point you may find the HISPANOLA (good!) but it may be the SANTA MARIA (bad!). If you board the Santa Maria you find pirates who make you walk the plank: game over. The placement of the two ships is random, so you have to check and may need to turn around to go to the other ship.

Assuming you do get on the correct ship, you can RAISE ANCHOR and SET SAIL to victory. (The game doesn’t tell you about RAISE ANCHOR; just like drinking the antidote, it expects you to step into a losing game once. “Dying from things that are realistic and logical but in gameplay terms unfair” is sort of a running gag for Pirate Island.)

You may notice a lack of 16 out of 16 in the screenshot above. Each treasure is 2 points, and I’ve managed to max out at 12 with a RUBY RING, GOLD NUGGETS, JEWELS, IDOL, ANTIDOTE, and SILVER BAR. (The first four are randomly placed, the antidote is always bought at the village, and the silver bar you get from a gorilla by trading a banana.)

I sometimes end these with “whelp, the game was too painful, that’s it” but for some reason, the missing points here really gnaw at me. I think it has to do with the advertising blurb I quoted at the top of this post, which you might notice mentions a map for digging. I have found a SPADE in the game and tried digging the ground in every location, so no dice at random luck: I think the map is necessary to find whatever treasures remain. But I have no idea how to get the map! In addition to what I’ve mentioned, I’ve found a PARROT (which perches atop the player’s shoulder), some WOOD SHAVINGS, a BOTTLE (which can be filled with WATER), and some CHEESE. I haven’t been able to make use of any of them. I had strange notions of “reconstituting” a map by combining wood shavings and water, but no luck (at least with the parser commands I tried).

(If you’d like to take a crack, download the Atom Software Archive here, the program Atomulator here, drop the archive files in the “MMC” directory, then start the emulator and pick shift-F12, which jumps to a menu that accesses every available Atom game, including PS3A, Pirate Island.)

Oh, and the natives. They are definitely just old-timey cartoon stereotypes. I especially felt uncomfortable stealing the idol. The pieces of eight (which you use to buy the antidote) incidentally count as a treasure, so it’s possible to get a full point spread you need to steal the antidote in addition to the idol. This makes me tempted to just bail out early for story purposes like I did with It Takes a Thief. But really, where is that map?

ADD: You can see in the comments I missed a location, so I found the map and an extra treasure. No idea on the last treasure; I still have to spend the pieces of eight to get the antidote, and haven’t found a way around that.

Posted August 2, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Pirate Island: Finished!   4 comments

Back on my Pirate Island post where I was stuck at 12 out of 16, Tom Shave (one of the sons of the author) showed up and gave some hints.

Now this is going back a while so I don’t have all the answers (my Dad wrote this game when I was about 8 years old and my brother and I used to play test it. I think we got 29p for any bugs we found!). The wood shavings I’m pretty sure are to make some sort of tinder box. A light to help you down the well perhaps. The cheese is to give to a Ben Gunn type of castaway in exchange for treasure or a map. I can’t remember where he is though (perhaps down the well). There is indeed a map and it gives you a location to dig. You won’t find it by randomly digging though.

I admit I’m quoting the whole thing just because I love the “29p for any bug” story.

While this did not tell me exactly where to go, it strengthened my suspicion I was missing a room exit (a mistake that long-time readers of mine should be familiar with). After poring over each room in turn, I finally hit the Sandy Beach, and right there in the room description, it mentioned both a west and a south exit.

I may have been fouled up by the physical position I used on my map of the connection to the boat. When there’s more than one way of drawing a map, it’s possible to get a slightly different mental image than the author; I was imagining the boat more or less being to the “south” and only drew it to the side for compactness sake.

This led me to a cave that required using my tinderbox for light. Inside I found a man with a paper; I handed over some cheese and he became friendly.

Picking up the paper revealed it was my long-sought-after map:


Going back to my list of things I hadn’t used: the spade (which clearly is about to show up), the bottle (which I could fill with water, although I didn’t know what yet), some wood shavings (it turns out these can refill the tinderbox if it burns out) and a parrot. Ah, the parrot!

It had been hanging on my shoulder. I had not been able to interact with it at all, but the message from the game hinted at a verb; I tried ASK PARROT and it said “PIECES OF EIGHT.” (This led me on a long useless side attempt to get the parrot to steal the pieces of eight back I had already spent for the last treasure; we’ll get to that.)

I took the parrot over to a suspicious-looking tree and typed ASK PARROT.

Hurray! I dug the X with my spade, revealed a treasure chest …


… and found … that I had gotten thirsty from the digging, and the chest was too heavy to pick up without a drink of water. On that particular run I hadn’t got the water yet.


Unfortunately, leaving the X mark means you can’t find it again, so I had to reset and make sure I got the water first before digging. Amusingly, on my “winning run” the pirate stole the chest before I could pick it up; I don’t know if that “short circuits” the puzzle so you don’t have to drink water. (It does work on the puzzle with the gorilla that you need to give bananas so you can take a silver bar; one time I ended up with both the bananas and the silver bar because the pirate stole the silver for me. Accidental emergent puzzle solve ahoy!)

This let me get 14 out 16 points, but the last 2 remained elusive. Sneakily, the two pieces of eight used to buy the antidote from the natives can count as a treasure, so I spent a long time trying to either steal the antidote or steal back the pieces of eight with no luck.

redhighlander, who has helped on a previous treasure-laden island, managed to sleuth out the missing 2 points. You may remember I cut open a crocodile to get a clock, but the crocodile wasn’t done being useful yet.

I’ve been trying to reverse engineer how I could have figured this out myself. I’m not sure, other than perhaps the relatively elaborate descriptions of cutting the crocodile were intended as a clue.

Incidentally, the “I am your puppet” idea where you are “remote controlling” a character shows up in full force here, with the line “THIS ISN’T THE SORT OF THING I ENJOY.” It’s like the player character is only reluctantly carrying out your orders. Except, the player character is also the computer, somehow. I find the clash disconcerting. (Also, when we return to Michael Berlyn, we’ll see he plays with this player character vs. computer relationship in the game Cyborg.)

I’m winding down on Mad Venture (it really isn’t a “large” game) so hopefully, by my next post, you’ll see victory there as well.

Posted August 6, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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