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Transylvania

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Released: 1982

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: Apple II

Publisher: Penguin Software

Developer: Antonia Antiochia

Submitted by: Rob Roemer

The walls in the computer rooms back when I was in junior high school were lined with nothing but Apple IIe’s, and the ever-present phosphorous green glow of the monitors usually emitted the same old Bank Street Writer prose and VisiCalc data – dreadfully boring fare to be sure to the eyes of any normal sort of 12 year old. Once in a while though, there would pop up on the screens the only game allowed to be played on any of the systems in the school (as presumably it was deemed to be educational by the teaching fraternity) and that was one of the excitingly progressive, new kind of graphic adventure games in Penguin Software’s “Transylvania”. A classic two-word parser-driven adventure but with the tremendously-welcome new addition of full-colour, high-resolution graphics, it sent a kid like me into near hysterics and forced me to try and find ways to remain locked in the room after-hours just so I could get a proper go at the thing (needless to say, I did manage to obtain myself a copy and get to play it at home as much as I wanted – actually I must make a note to return the box to the school one day when I get time).

The basic premise of the game was to rescue a certain ‘Princess Sabrina’ by dawn as she was held hostage by a vampire in his tower for whatever reason, but before confronting him with your usual vampire-eliminating tools you had to contend with such things as a menacing werewolf who simply refused to leave you alone, a raspberry-blowing goblin who’s grin you’d dearly have loved to smack off his face, a cackling witch that you didn’t get to see but heard frequently during your stay and who’s broom you also got to ride, and bizarrely, a UFO you got to summon and enter, just to make sure, no doubt, that this was one night you most certainly wouldn’t be forgetting with any haste.

Stunning, atmospheric hand-drawn graphics with excellent use of colour and shading; a curious, everything-including-the-kitchen-sink story that meant things certainly never got boring, and precarious – basically non-existent – educational values ensured that this adventure game would become an all-time classic and is one that is indeed still enjoyable to boot up and play for a good few hours today. Essential.