At first glance, Mike's Adventure Game (which I will abbreviate MAG from now on) is the same game as Rogue (reviewed here), although you're trying to find the Sudbury Sapphire instead of the Amulet of Yendor. Check out these two screen shots, the top from MAG and the bottom from Rogue, and tell me if you see any real difference.
The textures are virtually identical. The games are the same in that you do not pick a particular class, and your attributes are only hit points and strength. Levels are randomly generated. You kill monsters represented by letters, you find unidentified potions, scrolls, and rings, and so on. There are secret doors that you have to search for, and traps that put you to sleep, teleport you, and hold you in place for a time. You can find riches, but there are no stores in which to spend them--they just add to your overall score. Like Rogue, it deletes your saved game when you reload, meaning that death is permanent.
Away from the surface, though, MAG has a number of innovations that distinguish it from Rogue and make it more of a transition between Rogue and NetHack. Though perhaps the game is simply derivative of Hack, which was also such a transition. I didn't play it. In any event, here are the new features I've found:
- Doors are sometimes stuck or require a key (found at other parts on the level) to open.
- Enemies can set off traps, and if they do, you hear the sounds of it in the distance.
- Like the nymphs in NetHack, there are fairies that steal your stuff.
- But there are also scrolls of genocide!
- I don't remember rings of resurrection in Rogue, although they may have been there. If you're wearing one when you die, you automatically get resurrected, although with no equipment, so you're very likely to just die again.
- If you see a torch on the wall, you can light it or extinguish it.
The developer also seems to have made the game slightly easier. The monsters respawn on each level, though not quite so rapidly. You need food and get hungry, but you find a lot more food than I remember in Rogue and you don't get hungry quite as fast. Unlike Rogue (but like NetHack), you can backtrack to previous levels. Monsters are more likely to drop food, so you can stay on a low level and grind for a while without worrying about starvation.
That doesn't mean the game is "easy," though. It is a roguelike, after all. Like most of them, escaping from battle is virtually impossible once engaged, and this screen appears frequently:
Nonetheless, in the first few hours I played the game, I managed to get a character (my sixth, I think) to Level 10 without dying, and the game notes seem to suggest that the Sapphire appears on Level 20 or so.
I'll give it at least six hours, but it's not yielding so many innovations over Rogue and other roguelikes that it's worth too much time. It's worth the $10 that developer Mike Teixeira asked for in 1988. The version I downloaded had a small instruction guide from Mike with two e-mail addresses, so he must have re-released the game after 1988; I'll see if he's available at either.