Final Fantasy VIII and Tomb Raider 3 may be cutting
edge games that have sold in vast numbers but they are only the
latest games to transport you to another time or another land.
Let me now type N to go north and we will enter the realm of the
The first adventure was written on a mainframe computer in 1978.
The authors, Crowther and Woods, used up a huge
200K. Named Colossal Caves (or sometimes simply Adventure),
this was a simple text only affair that rapidly spread around
the mainframes of universities and large companies.
Using simple two word commands you were transported to a place
where you could kill dragons, find treasure and bribe trolls.
At first text adventures can be confusing and annoying as the
part of the program which interprets what you type (the parser)
can seem really stupid. Many commands will be returned with, "I
don't know how to do that." Gradually however, you get used to
the sort of words it is expecting and can begin to be involved
in the story.
The same year Scott Adams encountered the game on his work's
computer. After staying late for a whole week he completed it
and was inspired to construct his own. Using his shiny new TRS-80
he created Adventureland in just 16K. He followed this
with Pirate's Cove.
With the attention these programs gained him he formed his own
company, Adventure International. Over the following six
years he wrote 14 classic text adventures. In the UK the first
five adventures were available on cartridges for the Commodore
Vic-20 but took quite a while to become available for the
C64 and Spectrum. Computer & Video Games
magazine readers nominated Adventure International's Claymorgue
Castle as the best adventure game of 1984. That year Adams
gained the licence to write a series of games based around the
heroes of Marvel comics. Unfortunately after completing
just three of these his company went bankrupt.
Inspired by these games UK coders created some of their own. From
1981 Artic Computing created a series labelled Adventure
A to E which sold many copies, especially when later marketed
through Sinclair. Espionage Island (Adv D) was probably
their best. As a secret agent observing an enemy island you were
shot down and then had to discover the secret the island held.
October 1982 a company named Automata released Pimania.
The prize for solving this was the magnificent Golden Sundial
of Pi (worth £6000). The prize could be claimed by being at
a certain location on July 22nd (because Pi is 22/7). The prize
remained unclaimed for years leading C&VG to claim it was
all a con. Then in 1985 two women who had been playing the game
for nearly two and a half years won it. They stood at the mouth
of a horse carved in a chalk hill in the Sussex downs and a man
dressed as Pi Man emerged from behind a nearby bush holding
the Golden Sundial.
The Hobbit by Melbourne House is a true classic.
It was based on the novel by J.R.R.Tolkien, which came
packaged with it for £14.95. The game received a score of 10,
9, 9 in March 1983's C&VG. It was created in Australia by a team,
headed by Philip Mitchell, of programmers, artists and
even a linguistics expert.
graphics for each scene slowly drew themselves out apparently
using the Spectrum's PLOT and DRAW commands. Areas of colour then
gradually filled in. The bottom third of the screen carried the
description of the scene and your entries were made there. The
parser was the most advanced one thus far. It could understand
surprisingly long sentences and used a large vocabulary to good
effect. As it was played in real time, characters could act on
their own and could even wonder off and get themselves killed.
It was great fun to play and sold by the bucket load. Just thinking
about it makes me want to sit down and sing about gold.
termed their game Valhalla the first computer movie. Despite
all the hype it wasn't that good. Inevitably when you got bored
you'd type in something rude. The game would then reply with the
message, "Mary is not amused". A small character came in from
the side of the screen and poked you. This made me spend the next
10 minutes entering in all the rude words I could think of to
see how many the game recognised.
The UK company Level 9 was founded by Pete Austin
and his brothers. He produced well crafted games with huge numbers
of locations including the classics Colossal Adventure
(his version of the original), Lords of Time, Snowball,
Jewels of Darkness and Red moon (which won C&VG
best adventure of 1985 and Crash magazine's Best Graphical
in America produced many disk-based games. Once again these never
had much exposure in the UK (where disk drives were rarer) until
the mid-eighties. Notable titles include Moonmist, Planetfall,
the adult toned Leather Goddesses of Phobos and the famous
in the UK Mike Singleton created Lords of Midnight.
This came with a book full of background material that while not
vital to play the game enhanced the experience immeasurably. It
blurred the boundaries between an adventure and a strategy game
with a hint of war gaming thrown in. It was superb.
waged a massive campaign against the evil armies of Doomark
over a huge playing area. Your main character, Luxor the Moonprince,
had to take the citadel of Ushgarak. This would break the
magic spell of cold known as the ice fear. Using nearly ever key
on the keyboard you controlled many characters and co-ordinated
their efforts to achieve victory. The graphics were very impressive
showing all the terrain and features of the game world. Every
direction you looked in had a different view. In the June 1985
edition of C&VG, Lords of Midnight won Best Strategy game
in the Golden Joystick awards.
This document is copyright 1998-2001 Keith Ainsworth and can be found
have several adventure games for a wide variety of computer for