Archive for the ‘raaka-tu’ Tag

Raaka-Tu (1981)   3 comments

Raaka-Tu, otherwise known as raäka-tū, was published by Radio Shack for their TRS-80 and CoCo computers. It’s from Robert Arnstein, who we’ve seen before (Haunted House, Pyramid 2000, Death Dreadnaught) and who we will see again (Bedlam, Xenos).

For now, let’s travel to … Nepal?

You never thought that your Ph.D. project would send you to a remote corner of the world, but the research grant came through! You and your team of anthropologists began in India, sailing up the River Ghaghra where it departs from the Ganges. Last night, you entered Nepal on the river, but were forced to come aground when navigation was made impossible by the twisting, narrow stream.

I had some whiplash from the plot here; there’s some effort to put forth a real setting yet the scholarly work is Indiana Jones-like. The player character wants to find the “lost tribe” of the Khazhadim.

The old woman is seated beside you, where she unfolds an unbelievable story about the god Raaka-Tu and his temple of sacrifice. The woman tells of the treasure kept in the temple, the hideous monsters Raaka-Tu employs, and the Khazhadim who serve Raaka-Tu and guard his temple.

Rather than doing anthropologist things, we’re raiding a forbidden temple for treasure? What?

Look, fine: an attempt was made to frame the story somewhat in a real location, and it did lead to some rad cover art.

Via Figment Fly. The CoCo version has an entirely different cover, but I’ll save that for another post.

Arnstein shows some programming chops, for the system now understands indirect objects. Yes, the author of Haunted House has moved on to a four-word parser. (Having had practice helps!)

You start in a jungle maze…

…but fortunately not a rather large one.

MAZE STATS: Uses the Woods “all different” room trick of slightly altered room names. Only three connections are “normal”. The start location is a “sink” room that can be reached in more ways than any other room. Just repeating GO WEST will eventually get out no matter what the location in the maze. Most likely it was meant to be atmospheric rather than difficult.

Past the opening jungle is the outside of the Raaka-Tu temple, where guards rotate in a pattern and you can get shot if you’re not careful.

The “try again” and immediate restart with no prompt is novel. I can’t think of another text adventure example up to 1980 offhand.

The guards have some randomness to them, so you genuinely have to pay attention to their movement messages and not just hope you get lucky. (You want to wait until they disappear around a corner.) Eventually, you can find a coin on the ground and a wall with ivy that you can climb.

I’m going to stop here — I’ve made a little more progress, but I want to get a larger chunk before I write about it. I can say there are enough deathtraps I’m reminded of Death Dreadnaught.

Posted May 18, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Raaka-Tu: Limit Thy Powerful Greed   2 comments

Since last time, I’ve attempted to raid the temple of Raaka-Tu.

I’ve mostly died in creative ways.

From Figment Fly.

The game does a good job of advertising its traps ahead of time, but still having you fall in them nonetheless. There have been three so far. Here is the first:

If you stop to examine the door you can find the words DO NOT ENTER on it, and the rug is described rather oddly as spanning the entire room, so: not a shocking death? JUMP OVER RUG gets the same result; I suspect it is not possible to get by here at all.

The second trap is even more clever, in that it’s fairly obvious at first…

…in fact, the transcript above is for demonstration purposes, because a statue pointing a bow and arrow at a particular door is a strong enough warning for even me, your humble correspondent who blunders into everything.

If you drop a coin in the slot, the bow-and-arrow turns to face the west door; now the east door is safe but not the west.

The “Triangular Room” has the trap.

Here’s the clever part: notice the “T-Shaped Room” / “Grey Stone Walls” / “Round Room” that repeat shape on the map above. The second Round Room has a gold ring. If you pick up the ring, you get teleported to the first Round Room without any indication it happened. Then if you try to proceed as if nothing changed by going west, north, and east, you walk right into the Triangular Room, and get shot by the arrow that now points at the west door!

You can incidentally make your way past the issue by dropping the gold ring and picking it up again — it teleports you back. This reminds me of the truly awful puzzle from Arnstein’s Haunted House which leveraged a lack of feedback when going in a direction that wasn’t recognized; Arnstein managed to redeem the same idea in a way that makes much more sense.

The third trap involves a vault.

BE WARY THOUGH, NO MATTER WHAT THY CREED, THAT THOU HARNESS AND LIMIT THY POWERFUL GREED.

The door has a nice physicality to it — it closes behind you when you enter, and you have to re-enter to exit. (It also gives a hint as to what the trap is.)

There’s definitely a big danger sign on this one but to find out what’s happening, the lever still needs to be pulled.

I’m reminded of how good interactive fiction comedy is often participatory, not just telling a joke but having the player do an action that’s part of the joke. (A good example would be the opening of Mystery Fun House which coaxes the player into thinking a FIVE DOLLAR BILL is money.) The same idea applies here; there’s enough of a hint as to what’s going on with the traps that after each death I felt like I deserved it.

I haven’t made much more progress, unfortunately. I fought a serpent and won (just using a sword and a randomized battle system) and fought a gargoyle and lost (trying to use the sword again; even with save states I was getting torn apart).

Nepal is one of the places where human sacrifice did historically happen, and in modern times they still have a (controversial) festival where they mass sacrifice animals.

I’ve also found a lamp that says “something is written” on it, but when I try to read it I find the lamp is too covered with tarnish. RUB LAMP gets

THE LAMP GOES OUT. YOU MUST HAVE RUBBED IT THE WRONG WAY!

No hints yet, though (not even ROT13), but I’ll inquire next time if I’m horribly stuck.

Posted May 19, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Raaka-Tu: Finished!   Leave a comment

In the end, all you need to do is find five treasures from the temple, escape with them outside, and head back to the starting room; your score will double from 25 out of 50 to 50 out of 50. There is no victory message so you have to invent your own.

I ended up looking up two hints; one I regret checking, the other I do not.

From Mobygames.

The first thing I figured out from last time was the gargoyle. To give some context, here is what fighting the gargoyle is like. (I have added the > marks for clarity.)

YOU ARE IN A LARGE ROOM WHICH SMELLS OF DECAYING FLESH. THERE ARE EXITS NORTH AND SOUTH. THERE IS A HIDEOUS STONE GARGOYLE PERCHED ON A LEDGE ABOVE THE NORTH PASSAGE.
>N
THE GARGOYLE COMES TO LIFE AND JUMPS DOWN TO BLOCK YOUR WAY! THE CLAWS OF THE GARGOYLE RIP THROUGH YOUR ARM IN AN ATTEMPT TO REACH YOUR BODY!
>KILL GARGOYLE
BLOOD RUSHES FORTH AS YOU HAVE SLASHED THE GARGOYLE IN THE ARM! YOU DODGE THE GARGOYLE’S HORN.
>KILL GARGOYLE
BLOOD RUSHES FORTH AS YOU HAVE SLASHED THE GARGOYLE IN THE ARM! THE GARGOYLE LUNCHES AT YOUR FACE BUT YOU PULL BACK. HE BITES YOUR SHOULDER INSTEAD! YOU PASS OUT. WHEN YOU AWAKEN, YOU FIND YOURSELF CHAINED TO A BLOOD STAINED ALTAR. A PRIEST IS KNEELING OVER YOU WITH A KNIFE. IT LOOKS LIKE THIS IS IT. YOU’RE DEAD. TRY AGAIN.

There’s one item I didn’t mention, a candle, because I hadn’t played with it yet.

>LIGHT CANDLE WITH LAMP
THE CANDLE IS NOW BURNING, A SWEET SCENT PERMEATES THE ROOM. THE LIGHT FROM THE CANDLE SEEMS TO BE GROWING DIMMER.

If you stay nearby the “sweet scent” after you light it, eventually you fall over and die.

THE LIGHT FROM THE CANDLE SEEMS TO BE GROWING DIMMER. YOU PASS OUT.

The candle works on the gargoyle equally well! So you just need to light the candle, drop it with the gargoyle, leave for a bit, and wait.

A CANDLE IS BURNING DIMLY. THERE IS THE DEAD CARCASS OF AN UGLY GARGOYLE HERE. THE LIGHT FROM THE CANDLE SEEMS TO BE GROWING DIMMER.

Past the gargoyle is a treasure, a GOLDEN CHOPSTICK.

The second thing I solved in a meta-way. The manual mentions you can PUT THE —- UNDER THE —-. This implied to me UNDER worked as a preposition, so LOOK UNDER was a possible action.

I remembered the sacrificial altar from last time (where I fought the snake) seemed suspicious.

>EXAMINE ALTAR
THERE’S NOTHING SPECIAL ABOUT THE BLOOD STAINED ALTAR.
>LOOK UNDER ALTAR
UGH! WITH GREAT DIFFICULTY YOU MANAGE TO MOVE THE ALTAR AND YOU DISCOVER A SECRET PASSAGE.

The passage leads outside; since I had three treasures (the golden chopstick, a golden idol from the altar room, and the gold ring from last time that caused teleportation) I knew I just needed the last two in order to win.

Here is where I got horribly stuck. The hint I don’t regret checking at all is that there’s a hidden gem randomly placed somewhere on the map, so you have to EXAMINE ROOM in each and every room until you find it.

YOU ARE IN A DARK PASSAGE WAY WHICH SLOPES UP AND TO THE SOUTH.
>EXAMINE ROOM
YOU DISCOVER A PRECIOUS GEM HIDDEN IN A CREVICE.

The manual does not mention EXAMINE ROOM is even possible. I’ve seen it once before in Temple of the Sun, but there it was a command in the instructions and there are enough hidden objects it doesn’t take too long for the command to be useful. With Raaka-Tu I only found the gem after examining nearly every room in the game.

The “good” puzzle is at the vault, which I mentioned last time, but I’ll repeat the description of here:

YOU ARE IN A VAULT WITH A LARGE DOOR TO THE SOUTH. A BEJEWELED LEVER IS ON ONE WALL. THERE IS A PLAQUE ON THE WALL ABOVE THE LEVER. THE DOOR CLOSES BEHIND YOU.

Pulling the lever opens a trapdoor which kills the player via burial in gold dust. I tried various ways of moving the lever only briefly, or throwing something at it, but it does make some sense the lever wouldn’t react in that way (it’s meant to be a trap, after all).

Remember, our goal is simply to escape with the fifth treasure. What should you do? Assuming you’ve read this far, you know enough to solve the puzzle, so I’ll provide my map of the inside of the temple to give you time to think about it.

The lever is described as jeweled. The lever itself is a treasure. You can just take it!

GET LEVER
BEJEWELED LEVER TAKEN.

I think the fact BREAK LEVER doesn’t work isn’t quite fair, as the verb is unrecognized (although HIT LEVER works), but — I’d still give this puzzle a thumbs-up rather than thumbs-down.

As I said before, there’s no winning screen; to end, you just find the random jungle spot you started at and type SCORE.

OUT OF A POSSIBLE FIFTY, YOUR SCORE IS 50.

Including the lore from the manual about leading a team of anthropologists, the player character was oddly amoral (I mean, moreso than usual). The original goal was to find a lost tribe for “research” but the actual plot of the game involves sneaking in and stealing their goods, including a golden idol. If we point to the group’s use of human sacrifice as justification, then why isn’t the plot to try to stop them, or get some authorities involved?

The setting attempts to mitigate the story being a generic treasure hunt, but I’d argue the plot exposed the weaknesses of relying on treasure hunts. We’ve had some decent stories in the mold now (Zork II likely the best) but the form which could previously be put out without pretense starts to seem outdated when more substantial plot and character are required. There was still some juice left in the idea, most prominently in Infocom’s game Infidel (1983, by Michael Berlyn and Patricia Fogleman) which leaned into the amorality as an essential part of the main character. (Incidentally, if you haven’t played Infidel, and ever plan to, do not read anything about it — not Jimmy Maher’s essay, nor even the Wikipedia page — until you’ve tried it.)

“Limit thy powerful greed” does make me think Arnstein was thinking — at least in a minor way — along the same lines as Berlyn.

The back cover of the game, from Figment Fly. I’d like to know who the artist is but they aren’t listed in the manual.

Posted May 21, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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