From CRPG Adventures
I covered most of what Treasure Hunt has to offer in my last post, and I’d hoped that it would be a one-post game. Lord knows I need a lot of those if I’m ever going to make any progress on my list. I just couldn’t beat the game in time. I had located all of the treasures, solved every puzzle, and pinpointed every danger, but there was one small thing that was stopping me from achieving my goal.
The magic carpet. For some reason, it would randomly disappear whenever I was carrying it. I’d pick it up, move towards the exit cave, and POOF! It would vanish. Initially I had thought that it would reappear in a different cave, but I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good, and the game becomes unwinnable.
As I was playing the game I realised that, as with most computer-based “randomisation”, it’s not truly random at all. When you run Treasure Hunt, the objects in the first game you play will always be in the same locations. The second game will have them in different locations, as will the third, and so on, but the layouts always run in the same sequence every time you run the game from scratch. So the first game is always the same, as is the second, and every game on down the line.
The magic carpet is always in Cave 30 on the first game, so I spent a lot of time repeatedly going to that cave and trying to get it to the exit. I never managed it, although I did get it to Cave 1 on a couple of frustrating occasions. I also couldn’t figure out a pattern to the disappearances, and a look at the game’s source code left me none the wiser. It was beginning to look like I’d have to stretch this to a three-post game, somehow.
That’s when I remembered that I had played an earlier game where the magic carpet was in a cave not far from the entrance. So I started cycling through games, exploring the first few caves and quitting if I didn’t find it. Eventually I found a game where the carpet was in Cave 3. Very nervously I picked it up, and moved to Cave 1, dreading the POOF message that I was sure would come. It didn’t, and the carpet stayed in my possession. I half expected it to vanish out of my inventory in Cave 0, but it stayed there as well, and I was finally able to deposit the magic carpet safely, much to my great relief.
From there, it was a simple matter to hoover up the rest of the treasures, avoiding the pits and the pirate, and admire my complete collection.
It was relieving to finally finish the game, but I will admit that I was disappointed that it doesn’t acknowledge the victory at all. I don’t think I missed anything, unless there’s a way to kill the pirate. Regardless, I would have liked some sort of affirmation. I could use the ego boost.
Treasure Hunt was an interesting look into a branch of adventure gaming that didn’t really take off. I’m not sure that there was much else that could be done with such a format, though, as it’s very limiting. I enjoyed it for what it was, at least up to the point where the disappearing carpet started to get on my nerves. Time for a Final Rating.
Story & Setting: This is 1978, so naturally this game has you hunting for treasure in some caves. Neither the story nor the setting gets more fleshed out than that, so I have to give it the minimum rating. Rating: 1 out of 7.
Characters & Monsters: Again, this game is very minimal when it comes to the creatures and characters you meet. There’s a dragon, a pirate, a wizard, a bat, and an invisible man searching for an invisible dog. You can’t really interact with any of them, aside from solving their puzzles or getting killed by them. Rating: 1 out of 7.
Aesthetics: It’s a text-based game, with very minimal descriptions. Admittedly, sparse descriptions serve the kind of game it is quite well, but it still doesn’t make for an aesthetically pleasing game. It’s also full of spelling errors, which I find baffling considering just how little text it features. My computer made all sorts of horrible screeching noises for as long as I had the sound turned up while playing. I’m not sure if this was part of the game, or part of the TRS emulation, but it wasn’t pleasant. Rating: 1 out of 7.
Mechanics: The game is mechanically very simple, but those mechanics do exactly what they’re meant to do. I think the word “adequate” sums it up pretty perfectly. Rating: 3 out of 7.
Challenge: After the initial phase of mapping and experimenting with the game’s various dangers, it’s pretty easy. If it wasn’t for the disappearing magic carpet, I would have finished it in a couple of hours. That carpet, though, has to bump the score down, as it makes the game simultaneously too easy and too frustrating. Rating: 2 out of 7.
Innovation & Influence: Treasure Hunt seems to have been lost to time, so it’s influence is effectively nothing. I suppose it’s mildly innovative in that it develops on the framework of Hunt the Wumpus while adding adventure game elements, but there’s not a lot here that wasn’t in that earlier game. Rating: 2 out of 7.
Fun: I was mildly amused and distracted by this, and I did enjoy the process of mapping out the caves and figuring out the areas I should avoid. That carpet really sucked the joy out of things though. Rating: 2 out of 7.
This game doesn’t get the bonus point, as I’ll never play it again. The above scores total 13, which doubled gives a Final Rating of 26. This puts it very low in the rankings, down in the mix with several of Greg Hassett’s adventure games. The only games lower are King Tut’s Tomb Adventure and Library, both of which were buggy or unfinished. Treasure Hunt is more polished than most of the games around it, but it loses out due to simplicity and it’s questionable adventure game status.
Next: My next game is Mystery Mansion, which I’m rather dismayed to see is another mainframe adventure game. I’m hoping against hope that it’s smaller than Zork, Acheton, and its other contemporaries.