Format reviewed: Atari 2600
Developer: Warren Robinett
Submitted by: Mat Allen
It's hard to believe this is almost thirty years old now. Your mission, as the heroic dot, is to retrieve the enchanted chalice and return it to the golden castle. Standing in your way are confusing mazes, locked castles, a kleptomaniac bat and three ducks, erm dragons determined to eat you.
Based upon Colossal Cave, Adventure was one of those truly landmark games in history. Somehow Warren Robinett managed to cram the whole program logic and keep track of all the items and variables within the paltry confines of the console's memory. 4k for program code and 128 bytes of RAM is all that he had to work with, and needless to say I gained a whole new appreciation of just what an accomplishment it was after listening to Robinett talk about the game many years back.
The fact the game works logically much like a text adventure is one of its strengths. The dragons will come after you unless you are carrying the sword. One of them is afraid of the gold key and will run away from it. Keys are needed to open the castles, and the magic bridge enables you to traverse parts of the maze to get elsewhere. Once all these factors are understood, you only then have to worry about that blimming bat and its desire to nick things from you…
For such a radical concept, the game does not throw the new player in at the deep end either. Game 1 removes one dragon and one castle, plus the blind maze and bat, making it fairly simple to complete and gets the player familiar with the basics. Game 2 is the full fat experience with everything in place but the items are always in the same locations each time. Game 3 is truly for the master, where everything is randomly allocated. This option ensures quite some longevity to the game, although it can sometimes metaphorically stick two fingers up at you by placing the gold key… inside the gold castle!
Like many 2600 games it doesn't look much but it sure plays well.