Archive for the ‘sorcerer-castle’ Tag

Sorcerer’s Castle Adventure (1979)   Leave a comment

More Greg Hassett! (Previously seen: here, here, and here.)

sorscreen1

Not much preface or plot: looks like we’re at a castle and just here to rob the guy of his treasures. He’s probably evil. Or we are. Or both.

sorcastle

The map above looks fairly logical, but it has just enough trickiness with the endless loops and the turns that I had to map it like a maze; in fact I had to randomly wander until I got out, grab some items, and then use them as a breadcrumb trail to go back and map. But it doesn’t really look like a maze! The layout still forces the player to stall. I’m starting to suspect this at this phase in adventure games mazes were a technique to extend play-time, and when mazes persisted all the way to the late 80s they just became an expectation. I put them in the adventures I wrote when I was a child without thinking. It’s a sort of ritual.

Once getting inside the castle, there are two more mazes besides, both of the “twisting maze of little passage” kind. Mr. Hassett’s having a hard time getting over Adventure.

sorscreen2

What I’ve enjoyed most so far are random appearances by Chester the Jester (seen above) dispensing hints. He reminds me strongly of the jester from Zork Zero. Just that single addition made the game better for me; somehow his presence made the minimally-described rooms feel like a real environment.

There’s also a “black knight” who appears quite briefly but is easily shot down by a pistol. I am presuming the sorcerer is somewhere as well.

There’s not been much in the way of puzzles, just exploration. I don’t think this one will take long to wrap up, because I’m only facing a few issues:

1.) A vault that I can’t open.

2.) A spell book with a word “ALAKAZAM” that I haven’t found the appropriate place to use (alas, it doesn’t work on puzzle #1)

3.) I still have to finish thoroughly mapping one of the mazes.

Posted January 21, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Sorcerer’s Castle Adventure: Version variation   Leave a comment

All the issues from my last post have been smoothed over and I just have to put everything together into a single winning run. Before I do that, I’d like to discuss an issue that cropped up here and elsewhere during this project.

On many of these games there is not one canonical version. While Sorcerer’s Castle Adventure was originally for the TRS-80, it’s been ported for C64 (see cover above) and possibly other systems. Even if I focus on just the TRS-80 original, there are three different versions in BASIC.

I’ve been playing “sorcast3.bas” from the above website, with the logic it was the latest revision, but I found out that any interaction with the vault crashes the game. “sorcast1.bas” works correctly (although sorcast3.bas was rather more enjoyable in that it didn’t have an inventory limit).

There’s another very odd difference you can see by comparing the title screens (sorcast1 on top, sorcast3 on bottom).

sorcastletitle

Poor Mr. Hassett’s name is mispelled in sorcast3.bas (which explains why I was misspelling his name in my last post). The name change, the removed inventory limit, and the vault bug suggest to me that sorcast3 is actually some sort of hacked version as opposed to one of the originals.

What about sorcast1 vs. 2? 2 has some strange word wrap in the descriptions which isn’t in the other two versions.

sorwrap

This means I’m going to stick with sorcast1. All this makes it irritating when I just want to find the most representative version and play.

It can get much worse. The upcoming game Dog Star adventure has 7 TRS-80 versions in BASIC and 1 in binary.

Posted January 22, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Sorcerer’s Castle Adventure: Finished!   2 comments

From the Captain.

From Robert Liddil’s Captain 80 Book of Basic Adventures.

I have reached a glorious 225 out of 225 points by depositing all the treasures in the area just outside the castle door. This took some searching because this is not the room you start at, nor does it seem like the most logical place to store a treasure, so I had to wander the map a bit and do >DROP OPAL >SCORE >TAKE OPAL in each room until I found the right one.

sorend

It also remains for me to do the celebratory dance, as there is no ending message. Some trivia about the game’s characters before my final analysis:

The Knight: I mentioned earlier that the knight is defeated by a shot from a gold pistol. It’s also possible to simply luck out.

sorscreen3

This is fortunate because the knight can reappear after being defeated, a fact I only found out near the end of my run when I had ditched my gold pistol already to have more room for treasures.

The Pirate: The pirate from Adventure makes yet another appearance here and behaves identically: he takes your treasures and stashes them in the maze. However, on my winning run he never appeared. Here’s the relevant line from the source.

112 IFZZ>2ANDRND(100)=50THEN5500
5510 PRINT”WELL SHIVER ME TIMBERS! NOT ANOTHER ONE! HAR HAR HAR, I’LL JUST SNATCH ALL THIS BOOTY AND HIDE IT DEEP IN THE MAZE. WITH THAT, HE STEALS ALL OF YOUR TREASURE!”

It is in other words a straight 1 out of 100 chance. Note this is different than original Adventure, where the pirate has a physical location which travels the map and it is very hard not to run into him (which is good since in Adventure the pirate has his own treasure you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise).

Chester the Jester
: He’s got a 1 out of 27 chance of appearing. Here’s everything the jester can say.

51135 C$(0)=”PAY ATTENTION IN THE MAZE, TO THE WORDING OF THE PHRASE! IF YOU DO YOU’LL BE UN-MAZED.”
51140 C$(1)=”GULP GULP GULP, DRINK IT DOWN, I’M NOT SUCH A STUPID CLOWN!”
51145 C$(2)=”OUT OF A WINDOW YOU MAY FALL. JUST LOOK OUT, THAT IS ALL!”
51150 C$(3)=”THE KNIGHTS CAN’T BE KILLED, AS FAR AS I KNOW. IF YOU FIND THEY CAN, PLEASE TELL ME SO!”
51155 C$(4)=”DON’T BRING THE SWORD TO THE SORCERER’S PLACE. IF YOU DO, HE MIGHT CONFRONT YOU FACE TO FACE!”
51160 C$(5)=”HOCUS POCUS, ALAKAZAM! DON’T READ THE BOOK OR YOU’LL BE SORRY! (YOU TRY TO RHYME ALAKAZAM)!”
51165 C$(6)=”PASSAGES THAT SEEM ALL ALIKE CAN SEEM QUITE DIFFERENT, JUST HOPE YOU’RE RIGHT!”
51170 C$(7)=”NOT ALL TREASURE LIES UNDER A ROOF. SOME MIGHT BE UNDER A TREE!”

The Sorcerer: For a while I thought I might never meet a Sorcerer in a game called Sorcerer’s Castle, but based on the hint C$(4) from Chester the Jester I took the gold sword to the study/sitting room part of the map and met the sorcerer in the Dungeon.

sorslay

Well that was… anticlimactic. What I found most interesting is how even though the Jester gives a clue he also simultaneously gives bad advice. (The game only recognizes the first three letters of each word as a method of saving space, which is why I typed “SOR” instead of “SORCERER”.)

The inside of the castle. Hand-made maps can be fun once in a while.

The inside of the castle. Hand-made maps can be fun once in a while.

I’ve officially finished the four games listed in this Mad Hatter catalog, so they definitely represent Greg Hassett’s first four games. Of course he was still 12/13 years old at the time, but it’s enough to spot trends.

In the case of Journey to the Center of the Earth, it seems like he was determined to write real descriptions for rooms (just like Adventure had) but ran into the TRS-80 memory limit and just found a stopping point and barely added any semblence of puzzles. By Sorcerer’s Castle Mr. Hassett has taken the same minimalist description tack as Scott Adams allowing him to add many more rooms but still not much more puzzles. It’s like he has discovered the freedom of space but doesn’t know what to do with it yet.

What’s common between Mr. Hassett’s later three games (House of the Seven Gables, King Tut’s Tomb, and Sorcerer) is randomly appearing characters. Seven Gables had the ghoul, ghost and cat; King Tut had a mummy, and this game had the menagerie listed above. They’ve currently been the only strength and interest (I’m still curious what’s going on with the cat from Seven Gables) and you can see the author slowing adding to a template. When he returns with Voyage to Atlantis we’ll see if he’s developed any further.

Posted January 25, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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