Adventureland is a text adventure video game for microcomputers released by Scott Adams in 1978. The game has no plot but simply involves searching for thirteen lost artifacts in a fantasy setting. Its success led Adams to form Adventure International which went on to publish thirteen similar games in the Adventure series, each in different settings.
I opted to play the Commodore 64 release of this game as it was a slight upgrade to the original text adventure format. This also gave me a chance to try out a new emulator - VirtualC64. If you’re an OSX user I would highly recommend this as Dirk Hoffmann has created an extremely intuitive user experience here (as he did with vAmiga).
The game’s “UI” is split into three parts. You have the visualization of the room on the top half and the text parser on the bottom half, but if you press
ENTER the visualization is replaced with a description of the scene.
Once you realize that this third view exists the game gets a lot easier as all exits and items you can collect become obvious. The goal of the game is to just pick up various “treasures”, which you’ll have to drop into a stump on one screen until you’ve found them all.
There’s no real plot to this game - it’s just a treasure hunt. Dropping and picking up items is pretty important though as you need to collect the various treasures, but you can only carry so many items at once.
Having the visualization of the scene is useful as it can give you clues as well. It’s not obvious that you “extinguish” the lamp when you’re not using it by issuing a
UNLIGHT LAMP command - until you enter the maze and see that verb on the wall. I’m assuming this would be presented in the original TRS-80 text adventure as just part of the scene description, but I appreciated this additional use of the “eye candy” to convey practical information.
Speaking of the TRS-80 version, SoftSide magazine’s July, 1980 edition included the full TRS-80 source code that you could manually type out yourself!
For a graphical adventure game released in 1982 the game is what you’d expect. The static scenes aren’t bad, the parser is extremely limited and some of the verb/object combinations are a bit cumbersome to come up with, but overall the game does a good job of guiding you.
There are no sound effects or music or story - and the game is incredibly short. It took me about half an hour to work through this, though the How Long To Beat timing is apparently only 5 minutes.
To make this game a bit more challenging there are a handful of ways you can die (ex: carrying the mud to the screen where the dragon is). When this happens you wind up in Limbo, where you just walk through a door that results in you “restarting” the game from the beginning. You can also reach a dead end by doing certain actions too early (ex: chopping down the tree before climbing it to pick up the skeleton keys).
This is a very early adventure game - and an improvement to an even EARLIER adventure game at that! It doesn’t really do anything new or innovative compared to other games released around this time so I can’t find any reason to recommend it. If you feel ambitious and want to type out the source code, go for it - or head on over to this GitHub repository instead ;) There’s a great companion article called “Digging up Adventureland (Scott Adams, 1980)” that details the creation of that BBC BASIC port of the TRS-80 code.
|Systems||TRS-80, Commodore PET/CBM, Exidy Sorcerer, Apple II|
Atari 8-bit, VIC-20, TI-99/4A, Commodore 64,
TRS-80 CoCo, BBC Micro, Dragon 32/64, Electron
See here for a refresher on how we’re scoring these games.