Saturday, August 14, 2010

Adventure, an Atari 2600 Experience (Part 2)

After my daughter had finished her game of Adventure, my son wanted to play. He's 15 and plays lots of video games. He didn't remember playing Adventure before, and wanted to try it as well.

I load the game and ask him 'So, do you want to play on Level 1, or a harder level?'

'I want to play on Level 1 until I figure out the game.'

[He starts playing... he didn't watch any of the game that his sister played, so only knows what I mentioned at the start about how to move, drop items, and to get the chalice. He grabs the yellow key and goes inside the castle. He immediately picks up the sword, shoves it deep into a side wall, and presses fire...]
'Heh, you can put things in walls.'

[I don't tell him he's just lost his only weapon, or that he can retrieve it via the magnet, I just keep watching. He grabs the yellow key, walks out and re-locks the castle, then drops the key and leaves to go to the hall towards the Yellow dragon.]
'AAH! What the heck is that? CRAP. Wait a second. are you documenting this? Seriously?'

[He runs away from the dragon and goes back toward the castle, reopens it and goes in.]
'Oh, I get it. You drop the key in here when you've opened it, and then it stays open.'

[He leaves back toward the hall.]
'Crap the dragon is following me! No... crap. I died. How do you restart?'

[He restarts and wanders the hall way, dodging the yellow and green dragons, and manages to grab the black key.]
'How are you supposed to avoid these?'
(I tell him about the sword. That he stuck in the wall.)

'Huh. a maze. This is kinda cool. Whoa I did not mean to pick up that barrier.'

[He struggles briefly with the bridge and the black key, managing to get the key back out of the wall and leave the bridge where it is. He enters the black castle.]
'What is that? A door?'

[It's the magnet. He ignores it and moves up into the treasure room.]
'I got the chalice! Oh, that's not cool... he ate me. I can't believe
I lost my arrow. Fail. Oh well, restart, I'm having fun with this!'

[Dies three more times trying to get the chalice out of the black castle.]
'Ok, I know the mechanics of this game now. I can beat this. Don't
put your arrow in a wall. That was an epic fail.'
(I still don't explain the use of the magnet)

[He dies four more times before getting out of the maze and into the gold castle with the chalice.]
Not a very exciting victory screen, is it?

'Ok, I got it. Let's play a harder level. Let's play level 3.'

[I get him started on level 3 and he complains about not having a key or anything...]
'Ok, I'm going to just go get the black key... there's a giant orange thing following me! CRAP A DRAGON. Oh my gosh it's some sort of maze NO!'

[He dies.]
'Ok, maybe I should start on level 2.'

[We restart on Level 2.]
'Ooh! I have a bat! With an arrow! I'm gonna go shank some dragons with my bat-arrow! WHAT? He flew away with my arrow... no no no, not cool.'

[Wanders into the maze and finds the bridge.]
'Cool, I have the gappy secret passage thingy.

[He wanders the maze for a minute or so, and finally complains about how he's holding the bridge. I tell him he can drop it and reposition it, and he decides to leave the maze completely to do so. He gets into the hall and drops the bridge.]
'What? NO. Stupid Bat. That's just stupid....'
(he sighs at the game as just as he set down the bridge, the bat flew in and swapped a dragon for it, which promptly ate him.)
Sister: The bat teamed up with the dragon. They're partners.

[He wanders a while, finds the maze to the white castle, gets the yellow key and gets out of the maze.]
'Ha! Now I can win. All I need is the chalice.'

[At this time, dinner is ready... he spends some time trying to kill dragons, but I eventually make him turn off the game.]
'I want to play this again after dinner. Wait. No, not really. I want to play Arkham Asylum.'


  1. While this is entertaining, too much of it reads like I would need to have played the game to know what you're talking about. A bit more explanation would certainly help.

  2. This is a good point. Adventure is a 1978 Atari 2600 game, that at the easiest level consisted of a gold castle (with key to enter), a black castle (with key to enter), a sword, a bridge, a magnet, a chalice, and three dragons.

    The green dragon guards the black key, the yellow dragon roams the maze, and the red dragon guards the chalice.

    You play as a small square that can move in all four directions, and if you touch an object you pick it up (swapping out the other item you're holding if you have one). Items can go through walls, but you cannot.

    Your task is to open the gold castle, open the black castle and find the chalice inside, and bring the chalice back to your gold castle to win the game.

    The dragons will attack and eat you if not careful. You can kill them with the sword. The magnet will pull items to you, even through walls.

    The bridge allows you to move through walls, and the keys of course, open the castles.

    Level 2 adds more mazes, included limited-sight ones, a white castle and key, 'meaner' dragons, and a bat that will fly around and pick up items.

    Level 3 increases the dragon speed a little more, and randomizes the placement of items.

    Hope that helps!

  3. I've been following your posts since Wil mentioned your blog in a Tweet.

    I LOVE this stuff!!! It brings back so many memories of my own Atari 2600 days. It is really amazing at what stuff kids pick up and what they don't.

    Any way you can get your kids to play Yar's Revenge or River Raid?

  4. Both River Raid and Yar's Revenge are on the list of games! I don't want to swamp them too soon, though...

  5. hehe, cool. Raiders of the Lost Ark might be fun in a co-op mode. I remember playing it with a friend, and since the inventory control was on the second controller and sometimes you had to switch fast from the whip to the gun, having a wingman made it that much more helpful.