Saturday, April 4, 2020

Back-Tracking: Journey to the Center of the Earth & Voyage to Atlantis

I know I said that I'd start on Mystery House, but I've been so caught up playing Futurewar that I haven't gotten around to it yet.  So instead, I thought I'd use this post to clear up some minor issues that have been nagging at me.

Some years ago I played through Journey to the Center of the Earth Adventure and Voyage to Atlantis, both text adventures written by Greg Hassett.  For whatever reason I wasn't able to find these games for the TRS-80, so I played both of them for the Commodore 64.  It's been bothering me on a very minor level, but I'm at home for a couple of weeks now, so there's never been a better time to clear up niggling trivialities like these.


This was Hassett's first adventure, and I covered it in a post from four years ago.  The Commodore 64 version of the game was quite messy, with a lot of elements in it that served no purpose.  As I expected, the TRS-80 original is not much different.

Stark. Powerful.

The game begins by asking your name, which is something that the C64 version cut, because it never comes into play.  Otherwise the two versions of the game play almost identically, except for one thing: the location of the sword.

The sword is probably the most important item in the game.  Before you find it, you're at the mercy of randomly-occurring bugs that will show up and kill you.  Once you have it the bugs become a trivial nuisance.  The C64 version put the sword on the north side of a chasm.  This necessitated first finding the wand, and then using that wand to magic yourself across that chasm.  But in the TRS-80 version, the sword is found on the south side of the chasm.  It makes finding the sword much easier, and really takes the sting out of the frustrating first stage of the game.

Finding the sword in a surprising location.

I played through the whole game, and got a winning screen just for the satisfaction of it.

The C64 version mercifully changed "adventurerdom" to "adventuredom".

I also made a Trizbort map while I was at it.

Click to super-size it

The TRS-80 version of this game wasn't significantly different from the C64 port, so I'm leaving its RADNESS Index untouched.  It's perhaps a touch easier, but not enough for me to change the score.  I also tried to find the Commodore PET and Apple II version, but with no luck.


For some reason this was the first Greg Hassett game that I covered, as I had it mistakenly pegged as a 1978 game.  If you want to read more about it, read this post from four years ago.  It's one of the better Hassett games I've played, with decent puzzles and a relatively tight structure.

Greg has upped his presentation game a bit, as the title lowers from the top of the screen and his name comes up from the bottom.

The title screen mid-animation

This version of the game has just one difference that I could find from the C64.  There's a plaque in the C64 version that plugs Hassett's other games, and also causes the game to crash.  In the TRS-80 version it doesn't crash, and it also gives you a clue that makes finding one of the treasures even easier: there's an iron statuette that you have to SCRAPE to reveal that it's made of gold, and in this version the plaque says SCRAPE IRON.  It's a pretty direct hint, and one that wold have saved me some grief a few years ago.

Also, the game doesn't crash during the victory sequence, which is a bonus.

This should be a fairly concrete timeline of Hassett's games.

As with Journey, I trizbort mapped the hell out of this game.  It's really pleasingly laid out, and doesn't have any screwy messing around with the connections between rooms until you get to the Strange Room in the north-east.  That room is specifically flagged up as being weird, so it makes sense for it to have some weird geography.

A click makes it bigger.

Voyage to Atlantis is a slightly easier in its original form, but not so much so that I'd change its score in Challenge.  I'm was tempted to bump it up a point in mechanics, because it doesn't have those game-ending bugs, but I marked it as high as I can justify on my first pass.  So it's RADNESS Index for both versions remains at 28.  And as with Journey, I was unable to find the PET version.

NEXT: I'll probably have started Mystery House by then.  I've also got some other games I want to give another pass, just to clear up some minor stuff.  If this lockdown persists I'll get to them.  And I will, of course, continue plugging away at Futurewar.

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