Missed Classic: Labyrinth – Minotorious

From The Adventure Gamer

by Will Moczarski

Modern (Awkward) Theseus Diary #2: I’m running out of paper! Without a whole book of maps anyone would be lost in this amazing labyrinth. I’ve stumbled over all sorts of obstacles, too, without finding much treasure yet. I even met the minotaur but don’t seem to be a match for him yet. A cave gnome, a bear, an ugly little man and a wraith also demand my attention – I wonder if my ancient predecessor could have had it any harder.

Recap and More Mapping

So here’s a short recap of my first hours in the Labyrinth: I started out by mapping the first level where I found a book containing the word “PTOOII” which teleported me to a closed-off section I couldn’t escape from. I also found a sword there but without a way out it’s no use to me. I also found a pile of salt and have no idea what that means. Teleporters seem to be in three of the corners of the first level, all leading me to different levels, respectively. To the west of the level, a swathe of magic fog hinders my progress. I cannot see anything there and am unable to map the section because after a few moves the maze is beginning to rumble and the minotaur rips me asunder. In another part I find a pit that only leads me to another pit – as that seems complicated I won’t go down that road for now. Instead I use the long east and north corridors to measure the size of the labyrinth and my initial hypothesis that it’s 11 by 10 rooms per level appears to be correct, making it so much easier to spot the otherwise hidden teleporters.

After my efforts on level 1 I set out to map the next level by taking the closest teleporter just to the southeast. The flip side of the sheer size of the place means that I travel through a lot of empty spaces – at least the labyrinth feels emptier than the deathmaze of the previous game. I find a basket of food, a torch, a hole in the ceiling I can’t interact with and two enemies that kill me: a cave bear and an ugly little man. As I have no weapons apart from the unretrievable sword I cannot defend myself like the game tells me to.

Another teleporter leads to another level I don’t seem to know yet. As some pits and the mentioned enemies won’t let me progress elsewhere I’m off to that third level and resume mapping right away. This place seems pretty empty, too. I find some roller skates and a torch. Behind the torch there’s a pit leading down to yet another level. By dropping down and mapping the “new” level I find that it’s a match for the not-yet-mapped parts of the 2nd level: great, progress! There’s a cream pie and when I accidentally return to the hole in the ceiling, I find a kerosene lantern but am seemingly unable to light it: “With what, pray tell?”, the game’s passive-aggressive narrator asks me. “Light lantern” doesn’t work, neither does “Lantern on”. Beyond the cream pie (is it meant for the ugly little man?!) there’s the pit that had hindered my progress previously. I try to “fart” across it – I’m not crazy, this actually worked in Deathmaze 5000 – but this time it’s not the solution. At least I’ve got a comprehensive map apart from two empty rooms behind the cave bear and the ugly little man.

Back on the third level I get killed by a cave gnome who seems to be watching over a box I cannot open. He sets me on fire with a motion of his hands and I have to restart once more. Upon returning to the area, I find a vending machine with the instruction “INSERT COIN —>” written on it. Having no coins (and no knowledge thereof) so far, I can only turn back. This is all that I can find here. According to my map, behind the vending machine would be a possible place for the “PTOOI” section containing the sword but I cannot be sure because it’s a bit larger than the missing part. I cannot walk through the vending machine as I could through a similar painting in the deathmaze. Fortunately, there’s a third teleporter on my starting level, so it’s on to another level (no. 4) for more mapping. I’m only able to enter a small portion of it, though, and it’s looping back to the third level – moreover, to a part I already know. I drop down into another pit and find myself in a place I recognize by comparing it to my map – after a few turns I’m squashed by the “moving walls” on the starting level so I have found another connection between levels that may come in handy later. I have this far managed to map the entire second level, about two thirds of the starting level (safe for the magic fog portion), only a small part of the new (4th) level and about two thirds of the 3rd level up to the vending machine. I’ve got some pits and some teleporters left but so far there is no trace of the 5th level. Hopefully, there won’t be a calculator involved in getting there this time.


Feels like progress

After a fair bit of studying my maps (this is really complicated) I come up with another yet unused teleporter on level 2. Let’s see where that gets me! I map this level diligently until I know by its size that it’s either the new level 5 or the second half of the “new” level 4. As I can access almost all the parts (only a pit can and does stop me, again) it can be identified as the latter and I am now able to map the fourth level almost completely (lacking two rooms). Still no trace of level 5 and no real leads except for a lot of items but no puzzles. I find a “haunted jar” – no idea what that even means but I’ll take it. Examining the jar comes up with nothing but trying to open it results in a message that “The top is stuck!” Aha, my first puzzle, I reckon. Still no coins, and no weapons except for the isolated sword.

As I’m running out of things to do, I try to explore the fog. I don’t die right away when I enter it, so maybe mapping is not as out of the question as I think it is. Time for my 30th restore (no, I didn’t actually keep track but the number seems likely).

It turns out that it is possible! Progress is painful because I can only start by mapping what I can make out from a vantage point outside the fog (it only comes up when I enter the rooms across the invisible border) and once inside the fog it’s trial and error as I cannot see the walls. Only “SPLAT!” messages guide my way. After a few turns the maze begins to rumble violently and a stench engulfs me as it darkens. And then…“It’s the minotaur. You are ripped asunder!” Aha, this is where the beast would dwell. Wait, my starting point is really on level 5? Can this be true?

It leaves a convenient little window for the parser messages, though. Nice, fog.

Mapping the foggy passages is REALLY painful and slow – every four or five turns the minotaur drops in to casually kill me, and the fact that apart from running into walls there is no feedback when I change rooms makes it really easy to lose your sense of direction. When I stumble upon a fog-free part at first I think that something has gone wrong, map-wise. Then I realise that it’s another teleporter and I immediately take up mapping again to find out which level I’m on. The teleporter is in the nastiest of all locations, too, as it takes exactly the amount of steps before you get killed by the minotaur to get there. Still, I’ve got some new rooms to explore. The fun is short-lived, though, as I’m confronted by a wraith after only a few steps. My next move is to try out all of the pits to find out where they lead and with which holes in the ceiling they correspond. The labyrinth is positively Escherian as I can fall down from level 1 to level 2 and back up – similar constructions apply for some of the other levels, too. My map is still lacking everything behind the vending machine as well as most parts of level 5. I decide to turn to my potential inventory and the puzzles instead. Lots of enemy “puzzles”, one vending machine and one haunted jar, it seems. Time to get cracking.

As I’m not carrying anything I restore (once again) and pick up some things on level 2 before trying them out. My first intuition is to go back to the book and try to get the sword out of its predicament. I try to walk into each of the walls but all I get is a lot of “SPLAT!” messages. Saying “PTOOII” again doesn’t get me out of there, either – neither does reversing it to “IIOOTP”. Oh well. What about those roller skates, though? Doesn’t my jail seem an awful lot like an arena? Fortunately, something else comes up on the way and stops me from testing my stupid theory. I take a detour to the third level using two pits instead of the teleporter, meaning to pick up a torch and some food along the way. At this point, I usually navigate through the labyrinth blindly, looking at my map instead of looking at the screen. Because of this I accidentally take a wrong turn after the first pit and “SPLAT!” into a wall. Disoriented, I try to get back to the hole or to advance to the next pit (they are very close to one another) and notice that I have overlooked an item. It’s a secret to everybody, though, as it’s hidden underneath the pit and you’d never think to check there as the next pit is just around the corner. What a nasty design decision! Inside the box I find a steel rod and immediately know what it’s for: the moving walls trap. This is very counterintuitive, I’ll admit, as I don’t remember the traps in Deathmaze 5000 to be stoppable but it somehow comes to mind right away and turns out to be correct, too. When I enter the trap again it even works without me having to type anything: “The rod holds the walls open.” Hmm, why would I need them to be held open for me? There obviously is no new exit here. Of course, the jar! I’m too weak to open it myself, so maybe the walls will do. I drop it and step out…success! The walls crush the jar and a ghost evaporates from the jar, un-haunting it in the process and muttering “Mevar!” I jot it down because voices uttering strange phrases were very important in that original Crowther&Woods Adventure if I remember correctly. But more importantly I have solved my first puzzle!

Saying “Mevar” doesn’t do me any good where I stand but maybe it will come in handy later. I’m sure it will, or have I not solved the haunted jar puzzle correctly after all? I don’t have to wait very long to find out as my intuition turns out to be correct once again: I enter the sword room once more (and find out that I don’t even need the book to do it, just say “PTOOII”), pick up the sword and say “Mevar” and – oh joy – I am “teleported to another part of the maze”. Hooray! Now to find out where I am…

…somewhere on the 4th floor, it seems. The best news, however, is that I can use the new knowledge against the game. When I restart once more, I can say “PTOOII” and “Mevar” right away, equipping myself with the sword practically from the beginning. It’s time to slay some beasts and try my new sword on the cave gnome, the wraith, the cave bear and the ugly little man. “Mevar” has dropped me right in front of the pit leading down to level 2, so the bear and the man will learn to fear the taste of cold steel first. I successfully kill the ugly little man (“You hack him to bits!”) and find another box right behind him. Inside the box there is…a beautiful maiden. Right. Not sexist at all. I can and should actually carry the damsel in distress with me? But I’m actually in for a surprise. The maiden turns out to be a witch after a few turns, transforms me into an ugly little man (now I know where the other one came from) and an adventurer comes along and hacks me to bits. Karma’s a bitch. And the self-encounter is pretty Zorkian, is it not, Joe Pranevich? Don’t you meet your alter/former ego, the adventurer with the brass lamp, in Enchanter and even have to interact with him for a puzzle?

99 Problems and the witch IS one.

Another restore and I go straight to the cave bear this time, sword in hand. The bear still rips me to pieces, however, so there seems to be a point in killing the ugly little man and picking up the maiden/witch. I make a mental note and decide to carry on with my killing spree first. The next two journeys are much longer and are not very successful. The cave gnome on level 3 still blasts me with his magic while the wraith is just as unimpressed by my sword. I’ll have to tackle them in a different way and especially the wraith is troubling as it’s still blocking my mapping process. I recount the items I’ve got. Hmm, the maiden/witch is suspiciously close to the bear and I can just barely not reach it while carrying the maiden. Maybe I can pick up the box without opening it just like I did with the snake in Deathmaze 5000 and let the bear and the witch have at it (another thing that the original Adventure taught me, just think of the bird and the snake). Furthermore, I have found no use for the salt, the roller skates, the cream pie and the kerosene lantern. Should I set the wraith on fire? I decide to try out these two trains of thought next. Not opening the box does not work – the witch still transforms me, the adventurer still kills me. I cannot set the wraith on fire either but throwing every item I’ve got (including the roller skates) eventually works. The solution is to throw the cream pie at the wraith. Why? Your guess is as good as my trial and error.

“There’s nothing like a little bit of slapstick to lighten up my ancient labyrinth of death”
– King Minos

Session time: 4.5 hrs
Total time: 6 hrs

Original URL: https://advgamer.blogspot.com/2018/12/missed-classic-labyrinth-minotorious.html