Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Pirate Adventure: Victory!

Well, that didn't take long.

At the end of my last post, I had just constructed a pirate ship and was ready to sail to Treasure Island.  I took a break there, because I had assumed that the bulk of the game lay ahead of me.  As it turned out, there were only a few locations left to explore, and just a couple of puzzles to deal with.

Treasure Island consisted of a mere four locations: the beach where my ship landed, a graveyard, a barren field, and a monastery.  (This was incorrectly spelled as "monastary" but I'm going to have to stop now when it comes to pointing out bad spelling in text adventure games.  I'll just say that there's a lot of it to come, and leave it at that for the sake of my own sanity.)

Before I took off for Treasure Island, I made a point of loading my ship with every inventory item I could find.  Everything from maps to tools to a parrot to a mongoose to a big pile of sand got shoved in the cargo hold.  I was convinced I would need it all.  The pirate from earlier in the game, who was now serving as my sole crew member, refused to take off so long as the magic book was aboard.  The book was the only way I had of returning to my flat in London, so I was reluctant to leave it behind.  I had no choice in the matter, so it became the sole item left on Pirate Isle as I set sail.

I disembarked on Treasure Island, and the pirate followed me into the beach.  He looked expectant, but at this point I had nothing for him, so I headed south.

He didn't follow me into the graveyard, which was full of broken glass for some reason.  I did a bit of digging with my shovel, and turned up some mouldy bones, which I dutifully added to my inventory.  I considered trying to rebury them, but couldn't come up with any verbs that would work.  The upside of having a simple two-word parser is that you can rule out any actions that seem too complicated.

I headed east, into a barren field.  There was nothing here, and digging didn't help.  There was nothing for it but to head north.

There I found a monastery, and the first of the treasures I needed: a pile of "dubleons".  (Funnily enough, if you google this spelling of the word, a walkthrough for Pirate Adventure is one of the first hits.)  Alas, they were being guarded by some deadly mambas, and any attempt to get them resulted in my death.

My first instinct here was to release my mongoose; as soon as this guy showed up in the game I knew there would be snakes.  It was a red herring though.  My mongoose was actually a squirrel, and the snakes poisoned him to death.  This was a momentary head-scratcher, but then I remembered back to the snake in Colossal Cave Adventure, which was dispersed by a bird.  I threw my parrot at the snakes, and sure enough it drove them away.  The "dubleons" were mine, and I had just one more treasure to claim for success.

Swerve!

There weren't any places I hadn't explored, and there was no obvious location for the second treasure.  I tried digging everywhere.  I tried dying, and dropping the mouldy bones in Never Never Land.  Nothing worked.  It was only when I started examining my inventory that I remembered the treasure map, and the message scrawled on it: "30 paces then dig!"  I was in the graveyard at the time, and I typed GO 30.  Rather to my surprise, I got a positive response, but upon digging I found nothing.  When I tried the same thing in the barren field, though, I found the second treasure: a set of rare stamps.

I still can't quite believe this worked.

With both treasures in my possession, all I had left to do was to return to my flat in London.  For this, though, I would need the book, and the book was back on Pirate Isle.  I couldn't sail back, because the pirate was waiting around on the beach for some sort of payment.  The solution was actually quite simple: all I had to do was dig on the beach, which uncovered a cache of rum.  The pirate drank some, then went for a nap in the graveyard.  I woke him up, we sailed back to Pirate Isle, I used the book to return to London, and placed both treasures in my living room.

Totally worth it.

So that's the underwhelming ending to Pirate Adventure.  I shouldn't complain too much about it, as I only devoted about three hours to the game in total.  A short game can get away with a lackluster finish.

All in all, I feel like Pirate Adventure is a very slightly better effort than Scott Adams' first game, Adventureland.  The progressive structure makes it feel like it has a more in-depth story, even though it doesn't.  My only real complaint is that the game felt far too short, and too easy.  I was just gearing up for it, and it was over.  I'm interested to see where this falls in my ratings, so let's do it.

Story & Setting: The progression of this game from London, to Pirate Isle, to Treasure Island made it feel like there was a story, but in retrospect it was just another treasure hunt.  The pirate vibe was refreshing, and the setting was much more cohesive than that of Adventureland.  I'm tempted to rate it higher than that game, but that would put it on equal footing with Colossal Cave Adventure, which doesn't feel quite right: the setting of Colossal Cave had a lot more atmosphere.  Rating: 1 out of 7.

Characters & Monsters: The annoying parrot and the wicked-looking pirate are the sole characters in this game, with some snakes and crocodiles serving as obstacles to victory.  The pirate shows a bit of personality, but his one character trait is "pirate", so I can't exactly award extra points for that.  Rating: 1 out of 7.

Aesthetics: It's a text adventure game with no sounds and minimal descriptions.  The pirate setting gives it a modicum of atmosphere, but not enough to elevate it.  Rating: 1 out of 7.

Mechanics: This has exactly the same parser and screen layout as Adventureland, but despite its simplicity it works very well at what it sets out to do.  I rarely had trouble figuring out which verb to use in a given situation, and that's always a bonus for me in any text adventure.  Rating: 4 out of 7.

Challenge: This game was short, and it was easy.  Perhaps I have an advantage in that I've played the only two text adventure games that precede this one, but none of the puzzles troubled me for more than about ten minutes.  I like my games to be a bit more challenging.  Rating: 3 out of 7.

Innovation: This one is a bit hard to gauge.  It's a very early game in the text adventure style, and it's the first such game in the pirate milieu.  That said, it's derivative of Adventureland, and doesn't offer much new aside from the setting and some structural flourishes.  I think I'll split this one right down the middle.  Rating: 4 out of 7.

Fun: Again, the brevity and ease of this game bring it down.  It started well, and never became frustrating, but it didn't last long enough to really engage me.  Rating: 3 out of 7.

I won't be returning to this one, so it doesn't get the bonus point.  The scores above add up to 17, which doubled gives a score of 34.

Final Rating: 34 out of 100.  This puts it significantly below Adventureland, which was unexpected.  I guess the areas in which it exceeded that game weren't improved enough to gain it extra points, and it lost out on innovation, challenge and fun.  At least it rated higher than Space.

NEXT: It's back to the world of proto-RPGs, with a look at Dungeon Campaign.

DND v8 Update: I'm still conservatively grinding away during the times I watch pro-wrestling.  Strider is level 22, and advanced enough that I can farm XP without any danger.  Only a lack of patience can stop me now.

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