Friday, August 15, 2014

Game 158: Quest 1 (1981)

Quest 1
Brian Reynolds (developer), SoftSide magazine (publisher)
Published August 1981 as code for three platforms
Date Started: 14 August 2014
Date Ended: 14 August 2014
Total Hours: 3
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate (2.5/5)
Final Rating: 12
Ranking at Time of Posting: 12/158 (8%)

My readers, bless them, aren't really good at just letting things go. To be fair, it's not always clear when I prefer that they just let things go--not even to myself. For instance, if I report that I'm unable to do something because I had "emulator problems," it's not a lie--I probably did have some emulator problems. But those emulator problems might be technically solvable, and I might be using them as an excuse to get out of playing a game I didn't want to play. I don't really expect my readers to pick up on such nuance, so when they respond in glorious detail about how to solve the emulator problems and link to web sites where people have solved it and link to other versions of the game that use different emulators, all I can do is groan, face-palm for a few minutes, and then try to appreciate that I have such dedicated readers.

A similar situation has come up repeatedly as regards my "Master Game List." For the record:

  1. It is the mission of my blog to play every RPG released for a PC platform in a western language.
  2. My "master list" thus needs to be as comprehensive as possible. If there are omissions on the list, I want to know about them.
  3. I don't really want to know about them.

#3 seems like a paradox with the first two, but I really do mean all three at the same time. Again, I don't expect everyone to juggle the nuance there. It's my problem, and I should be grateful rather than resentful when someone writes and has 15 new games to add to the list. If you do that, seriously, thank you. And if you do that, seriously, f#$& you. You've got to be willing to accept both reactions.

That brings us to Quest 1, which I had a number of excuses not to play, but people wouldn't just let it go. It was published as code, not a complete game. Then someone had to find a compiled version for the Atari 8-bit. Fine, I said, but I haven't learned that emulator yet, and I'm not going to learn it for a 400-line game. But, someone said, it's a really important game whose author went on to fame and glory, and here's how to use the emulator! Groan, face-palm, smile, thank you, etc.

Exploring the Quest 1 dungeon. I've entered a room occupied by a giant. There's a treasure (the *) in the room. The edges of the screen tell my current inventory and attributes.

But Joe Pranevich was probably right that it needed to be played, if only because I just finished playing Super Quest, which builds upon it. Also because it was written by Brian Reynolds when he was 13, long before he would go on to win fame as the lead designer of Civilization II, Alpha Centauri, Colonization, and a host of other strategy games developed under the direction of Sid Meier. It should probably be my policy to play the first games of anyone with a Wikipedia profile.

Like Super Quest, Quest 1 was published in SoftSide magazine, though two years prior, in August 1981. Unlike Super Quest, Quest 1 was small enough that the magazine could simply publish the code for readers to type rather than require them to send for a disk. Reynolds wrote the original version for the TRS-80, but the magazine also offers versions for the Apple II (by Rich Bouchard) and the Atari 8-bit (by Alan J. Zett), the latter being the one I'm playing.

The magazine offers illustrations that have nothing to do with the game.

There is, admittedly, quite a lot packed into these 400 lines of code, and in general I'm more impressed with Quest 1 than with some of the other titles published in gaming magazines. Oh, it's not going to rate high on the GIMLET, but it it's an impressive effort for a 13-year-old, and it has at least one idea that I haven't seen anywhere else in my chronology.

The game takes place in a dungeon of 58 rooms through which the player traverses with the WAXD keys (perhaps for the first time in CRPG history), fighting monsters through one of four mechanisms: melee combat, shooting them with regular arrows, shooting them with magic arrows, and throwing a vial of holy water. There are eight different monster types: skeletons, orcs, zombies, ghouls, spiders, mummies, giants, and wraiths--listed here in order of difficulty. Various attacks work better on some monsters than on others; for instance, holy water only works on undead, wraiths aren't affected by normal arrows, and giants can't be defeated in melee combat.

All of this ought to sound familiar for those of you who read my entries on Super Quest, as Jeff Hurlburt kept essentially all of these core features and mechanics. The one feature that didn't make the translation is perhaps the most original that Quest 1 has to offer: the effects of dexterity. The game actually slows down for characters with high dexterity, giving them more time to move and react to threats, which Joe characterized as an early version of "bullet time." It's an interesting mechanic, and the differences are quite palpable, though everyone's game speeds up as the character accumulates experience (which, come to think of it, is another original idea).

By affecting your speed relative to the monsters', a high dexterity score also enables a different method of gameplay by which you run around collecting treasure and escaping rooms before the monsters can even get to you. The magazine article suggests the player may want to adopt a fighter approach or a rogue approach depending on how the statistics roll.

Character creation is entirely random; the game chooses your strength, dexterity, race, and starting arrows, magic arrows, holy waters, and healing potions. It's very possible to get an essentially unplayable character. Assuming you don't restart, you give yourself a name and immediately find yourself in a shop, where you can use your gold to buy more of anything.

The brief character creation process.

Followed by shopping.

After that, it's out to the dungeon and its associated monsters and treasures. At any time, the player can return to the shop to cash in and buy more equipment.

Returning to the shop after a successful expedition.

By operating at a slower pace, the game is a little easier than Super Quest, although it compensates with a few additional variables affecting difficulty. First, random monsters can spawn right next to you instead of always entering from an edge of the room. Second, the number of enemies increases as you gain experience. Third, you're always limited to twice your strength in arrows, and there's no way to increase your attributes.

I have to say, I think the animation is a little impressive given the sparseness of the code. When you fire an arrow, a line of ++++++ shows it streaking from the character to the enemy. When the enemy dies, a jumble of random characters heralds its death. These aren't commercial-quality animations, but they're nice touches for a 1981 game by a 13-year old published in a magazine. (Super Quest had them, too, though I don't think I commented on them.)

My arrow streaks towards an orc. It took me a while to screen-capture it in-flight.

Alas, the game offers no main quest: just a general goal to get as high as possible. (It also doesn't offer the slightest attempt at a framing story.) Rooms don't respawn in between saves, so I suppose you could consider it a general goal to clear all 58 rooms. I trust you'll forgive me if I don't play long enough to do that. My best character got to 307 experience points before he died because I was typing this entry and failed to notice a giant appear on the screen.

It's nice that I get to go to heaven, though.

If nothing else, Quest 1 served as a good base for a more elaborate game, which is what we got in Super Quest. In the second game, Jeff Hurlburt kept the core mechanic but added a main quest, a much larger dungeon, more monster types, special rooms, the ability to develop the character with strength potions, the dragon armor sub-quest, a scoreboard, and generally a faster, deadlier gameplay experience. With the exception of not porting over the dexterity statistic (and associated effects on game speed), everything is very similar, including the layout: the area around the bazaar in Super Quest seems to use the same layout as the 58 rooms of Quest 1.

In a GIMLET, I can only give Quest 1 a 12, but it's an interesting piece of the past with some original ideas and at least two CRPG firsts. It also forced me to learn an Atari 8-bit emulator (Atari800Win, if you care), which will come in handy for some future games.

In an interview with his elementary school, Reynolds indicates that he wrote Quest 1 during the week of spring break in 1981 and got $100 from SoftSide for it. The title suggests that he had other Quest ideas for the future, but we never saw any sequels from Reynolds; in fact, it appears he never worked on another RPG at all. He has a couple of adventure games that Trickster will probably play.

This is a short review, but really there isn't a lot of game to cover. We'll get back to the regular program with alternating postings on Captive and Keys to Maramon. Incidentally, Secret of the Silver Blades just popped up on the "upcoming" list, so I have something to look forward to.


Further Reading: Make sure you read my full series on Super Quest, which I published before this one. But it turns out that Super Quest wasn't the only spawn of Quest 1: in 1984, we had Dungeons, Dragons, and Other Perils, which manages to under-perform Quest 1 despite being released three years later.


  1. Something I learned today: 400 lines of code written by a 13-year old is still better than "Ultima: Escape from Mt. Drash". (And this game will almost certainly take the title for best lines of code to GIMLET ratio.)

    Thank you for humoring your over-excited readers! It does stand to reason that the type of people attracted to a guy who has an obsessive compulsion to play cRPGs would also have some obsessive compulsions of their own...

  2. You're missing the Ultima clone Sin'geom-ui Jeonseol from 1987 for Apple II.

    (Just kidding. It's in Korean so it doesn't count on the list.)

    1. I checked out some screenshots. It looks like those developers did what the UK developers did in The Ring of Darkness.

      From the screenshots, I see that the title screens are in English. It seems that a lot of Asian games did that. For instance, a while ago, I tried to play the first JRPG, Dragon and Princess, but I was stymied by an inability to translate the text-heavy game. (I even downloaded and figured out a PC-88 emulator.) I was amused that the title screen was completely in English, including the title, "KOEI Adventure game series," "presented by," and "Please hit any key" at the bottom, and the chose of "N)ew game or L)oad data." Everything after that, though, was in Japanese characters.

    2. By the way, Courageous Perseus, which you have has 1985 for the MSX, was better on the PC-88. See:

      If you dig back there's also a Dragon and Princess post, but that author didn't get too far due to the difficulty.

    3. There's an app (or probably several) that machine-translates Japanese text in games into English. The results are, as you might expect, rather hilarious.

    4. Can you elaborate? Is that something that would be an add-on for the emulator or...what?

    5. HERE's a link to such an app.

      I haven't used this myself, but as far as I understand it hooks into the running game, it scans for calls to Japanese text, it dumps the text it intercepts to another part of the app which then uses dictionaries to machine-translate it.

      I don't know much else, but I'm pretty sure it's supposed to work with emulators or, at least, with some of them.

    6. English text in these early Japanese games isn't unusual, there are even some which are entirely in English, but I don't recall any RPG-like ones among them. Maybe the first Hydlide? I tried Phantasie IV a long time ago. The interface is English, and it seems navigable, but messages are still Japanese.

      To my knowledge the only tool that can capture text from an emulator is AGTH, which is also what that linked ChiiTrans app uses. Emulator-wise it's restricted to PC-98 emulation though, primarily it's rather used with Windows games.

    7. I tihnk Anex is the only PC-98 emulator that plays nicely with AGTH without having to mess around with H codes, which is unfortunate as people generally say Next is the better emulator. But, yeah, to get a machine translation of a PC-98 game as you're playing, just download the Anex emulator, then make a shortcut to it. Download AGTH, then change the shortcut so instead of saying "C:\anex86.exe" (or wherever you placed it) it says "C:\agth.exe /c C:\anex86.exe" (again, or wherever you placed agth). Now run the shortcut, and AGTH will automatically hook into Anex. After some text comes up on screen use the drop down menu to find the thread titled Anex, and it will then automatically copy any text that appears in the game to the clipboard.

      Now you just need some translation software that's set up to automatically translate anything placed on the clipboard from Japanese to English, for example Atlas (with its Quick Atlas utility).

    8. Now I have to ask- are there any such programs for console emulators (NES/SNES/etc.?)

    9. I don't remember exactly, but I think there might be a special NES emulator, maybe some variant of FCE Ultra which allows something like this.

      There's also a thread over at where somebody describes his efforts to hook console emulators, but it's not trivial compared to Windows/PC-98 computers. There have been some developments I wasn't aware of, instead of AGTH there's ITH now, which is easier to use. There's also a special version of Neko Project now, which opens up many more PC-98 games for this kind of translation.

    10. Based on what I know, such a thing would be very difficult to program for a console emulator.

      In a PC, text processing is handled by the OS. Consoles don't generally possess an OS, as the cartridge either has the entirety of the game into memory instantaneously with power-on, or has its own subroutines to decompress data. Thus, there's no memory register or system call that you can point to and always say "this is a 'の' character, and this is a '人', etc." You would need a program for each individual game, and that assumes that they stored the text in an easy character map, which is not guaranteed.

    11. Wouldn't realtime OCR be able to manage it? If not, you could make a table file for each individual game (takes maybe an hour or so if you know what you're doing,) have it read kana onscreen (which should be trivial with a table file, since with a table file the translator knows to look for tile 2E being output rather than looking for "か", for instance) and feed that into a machine translator. Granted, it would have to detect line breaks and such (unless it was being fed the control codes for the text, which aren't strictly speaking graphical tiles) but it should be very doable. Also with most 16-bit games, you'd have to code it for kanji, VWFs, and more stuff, at which point realtime OCR just seems more practical.

  3. A 13 year-old implementing another first in a CRPG! A goddamn haggling mechanism! This is sick! Damn you for being so freaking talented!

    1. I was thinking about this. The truth is, I was far more likely to accomplish such a thing when I was 13 than I am now. It is insanely tough to learn new things once you graduate from high school, especially if no one is paying you specifically to learn them.

    2. I was coding at 13 and I am a damn fine developer NOW, but I assure you I was not making things like this at 13. Given the limitations in the BASIC interpreter and the systems he was working on, this was great work both from a design and a coding perspective and well worth the "cover" status. I reviewed the code while I was considering typing it all in and it's pretty concise. I believe that the magazine provided some of the commentary and they may have cleaned it up a bit, but I was impressed!

  4. "If you do that, seriously, thank you. And if you do that, seriously, f#$& you."

    You're welcome :)

  5. Firaxis is going to publish an unofficial sequel to Alpha Centauri this year, so the timing is not all bad. Mr. Reynolds is not involved in it though. Alpha Centauri, or SMAC, was really a remarkable game in retrospect. It still enjoys a stellar reputation. So many new ideas, an overarching plot, designing your own units, terraforming, the whole vision of how technology would develop. Also, Civilization II is still regarded as the best Civ by the purists. And I also played Colonization to death, in fact, sometimes I still play it (Somehow, the remake is weaker). Glad to see that this little game here hints at Mr. Reynolds talent.

    1. I bought a Roland MT-32 just for Colonization, though the hardware really shines with Sierra games. I still play the original Colonization and Alpha Centauri regularly. Great games and I love Colonization's music.

    2. Civ II was the big one, but I don't think I'd ever choose to play it over Civ IV. I remember the local rag would have a weekly/fortnightly list of top computer games, and Civ II was the #1 game for 2 years or something.

  6. Well tbh. CIV III beats one and two hands down.
    Alpha centauri was a bit of a mixed bag and lacked both civilopedia and an in game tech tree which made learning the game arbitrary at best.

    1. I don't know what game you were playing but Alpha Centauri has a clear tech tree help and a Civilopedia like interface.

    2. I also played Civ III more than the others, because of multiplayer, actually. But the hardcore single-player gamers had a preference for Civ II. The later games in that series tried to put an end to endless expansion which makes the games more realistic, but somewhat less fun to play, in my opinion.
      In SMAC, there definitely was something like a civilopedia. Research had a couple of twists, mainly that you could not pinpoint the exact way to get through the tech tree, you just could decide on which areas to focus (you could out the research focus on 1-4 out of 4 fields, meaning you could not focus at all and let chance decide which technology you find next, or you could just choose one field of exploration, and narrow down the next possible technology to one or two choices). So there was always at least some chance involved, that's true, but I thought it was a cool mechanism. And the really great addition that came with the Alien Crossfire expansion was that you had to acquire alien technology to advance, either by diplomacy, espionage or war. That was fantastic.

    3. Civ's II was terribly crippled by it's AI that was so dumb that it literally couldn't keep city higher then 12 alive and also it was so stupid that scenarios didn't actually work at all.
      Also barbarian in some scenarios attacked you and you alone among other things.
      Civ I was so easy that if you didn't had musketeers by 0 A.D you were a bad player and should be ashamed of your self ...

      III fixed some issues mostly by having an AI that wasn't a complete push over.
      As multilayer of any of the civ's including V aren't something I would call fun, especially III was giant pain in the ass for not shoving movement (barbarians etc,) "between" turns so each turn you first wasted time by scanning your territory for pirates and such and then actually played the game.

  7. Something off-topic, but fitting: I just read through Sid Meier's Wikipedia article. The decision to use Sid Meier's name as a marketing strategy was made after an idea by .... actor Robin Williams. He was quite the gamer...

    1. Interesting. I thought for sure this would have been some recent Wikipedia add, but it has a legitimate reference to an interview from 2013. Cool stuff.

    2. That's a great bit of trivia. I found out about Robin Williams's gaming when he did an AMA on Reddit last September.

      I love how the anecdote starts, "We were at dinner at a Software Publishers Association meeting, and Robin Williams was there." I mean, presumably they paid him to entertain or something, but I love the idea that he just wandered in.

  8. quite an entertaining read mr bollingbroke.
    BTW to get the texas instruments calculator emulator to work....


  9. One tiny note that you missed: this was one of the games selected in 1983 for a "Best of SoftSide" compilation disk. I tried to find that one, but didn't manage it so I am not sure what else is on it or if there was any further text around the game and its genesis.

    And just to nitpick one tiny point-- and it is just a definition thing-- Quest 1 was not "compiled" onto the disk, rather it is just interpreted using the built in BASIC interpreter. BASIC is a ton easier to code in, but on these old systems tended to be quite slow compared to a true compiled application. By the time DOS computers became mainstream it was unheard of to distribute software as source and the idea that a PC would boot into a programming language rather than "DOS" doesn't even exist in that world.

    But I spent a TON of my time as a kid writing BASIC programs using the versions of BASIC that came with MS-DOS (GWBASIC for DOS 3.3, if I remember correctly, QBASIC for DOS 5(?) and above...) and it's sort of a shame that modern operating systems do not have a way for young coders to get into coding. Even the old Macs had HyperCard that anyone could pick up and learn to code with.

  10. @Joe Pranevich
    "it's sort of a shame that modern operating systems do not have a way for young coders to get into coding."

    Learning to code is easier than ever. FreeBasic is available for a modern OS and there is also which teaches you logic in by making mini games. My 10 year old son uses it all the time at school and for his homework.

    It's way easier to learn to code today than it was when I was a teenager 20 years ago.

    1. To be clear, I agree: there are LOTS of programming languages and compilers available for free. More than there have been at any point in the past, and perhaps that makes it "no big deal" that a programming language is not shipped by default in a modern OS.

      That said, Apple does provide XCode free now and so it almost qualifies. Microsoft has tons of languages available for Windows, but they do not hand out copies of MSVC to anyone that wants one.

      I remember being a kid trying to learn C and having to download "djgpp" off of BBS systems at 14.4 kbaud. It was MEGABYTES large and had to be distributed in a number of separate packages.

      Kids these days don't know how good they have it! But still, there are no kid-friendly (or learner-friendly) programming languages shipped with modern OSes.

    2. IBM was still dumping GWBASIC into a boot ROM long after GWBASIC had been overshadowed. I have an IBM PS/2 Model 25/SX (386SX CPU) from the early nineties that will still boot into GWBASIC if you bypass the request for a boot floppy. I believe some Tandy desktops would boot into a version of GWBASIC modified for Tandy ("Tandy BASIC") similarly.

      Microsoft's move to provide QBasic with MSDOS was a great boon to budding programmers back in the day.

    3. The problem isn't som much that there are no kid-friendly programming languages nowadays. The big problem is that the computer you are programming on is so much more complex.

      It was entirely possible to learn most everything there is to know about C64, Apple II, TRS-80 or the Spectrum. But trying to understand the modern computer is so much more complex what with graphic cards, comples CPU:s and a much, much more complex OS.

    4. "[A] programming language is not shipped by default in a modern OS."

      Use *anything* other than M$ drivel and you'll find that they do, indeed have a variety of languages shipped with the OS. Perl, Python, and Bash being the most common.

    5. It has nothing to do with available tools.

      The thing is that with the old systems, code was constantly in your face. When you turned on the Commodore 64 or Vic-20, you didn't get a GUI, you got a cursor. IIRC, you needed to know a couple of SYS commands to even be able to kick off some games.

      A lot of the early commercial games like Telengard, you could actually look at the code and the way BASIC is written, it was easy to see what was doing what, and that encouraged playing around.

      Also, if you worked on a piece of code for a while, even a teenager could put together a game that wouldn't look all that much worse than the stuff he would see in magazines or on the shelves at Egghead Software. Today, it took me an embarrassing amount of time just to put together a really low-end app, most of which was spent on music and graphics. And don't get me started on how much fun it is to deal with Apple.

      It's not that kids can't learn this stuff or that the tools aren't out there. It's that the tools aren't directly connected with gaming and fun anymore. They're work. And it takes a long time to get good enough to make anything worthwhile.

  11. Also apparently Java is easy to code with.
    A friend of mine did a program that alerts and takes a screen capture from a video feed based on what's changing on the screen ie, a door opens on a camera etc.

    He said it took him less then an hour to code.

  12. I just realised that I've been helping my girlfriend get emulators up and running so she can play some early games she missed as a kid. So if you need help getting NES and SNES emulator up and running.... (Just kidding. They are dead easy to run. Far simpler then DOSBOX. We've been using puNES and SNES9x on her computer and BSNES on my gaming machine.)

    On the other hand: CHET! I DEMAND YOU PLAY ALL THREE RPGS ON THE N64! *Gets a sign and pickets the outside of the blog* *Fails to notice the sign says 'half off pork buns'*

    1. To further the joke while I'm on break:
      Quest 64: One character trying to avenge the death of his father. 5 stats that level with use (One for each type of elemental damage, plus strength. Not sure if HP goes up, I only rented it once.) You can find all sorts of items, lots of healing ones.

      Aiden Chronicles: The First Mage: One main character, poisoned at the start of the game. On a quest to get cured before he dies. You get various NPCs to join your quest. Class/level system. Movement in real time, attacks are stats based. Lots of gear and equipment.

      Hybrid Heaven: Modern day conspiracy setting. You play a clone who screwed up a mission to replace the president with a clone. Lots of healing and attack items. Stats level by using them, as do body parts. Has some (easy) shooting segments, but most combat is via martial arts and is mostly stat based, but with real time movement. The only RPG you'll see with a variety of kicks, throws and pins to level up!

      and sorry, it turns out there are FOUR English language RPGs on the system: Ogre Battle 64, my favourite game for the system counts via your definition: Dozens of NPCs with one main character (Magnus), all of which can level. Inventory is several hundred items types. You can also recruit pretty much any creature in the game into your army. If you only played one N64 RPG, I'd probably say this one, even though it is more of a stratagy game. It is one of the first games with multiple endings: If you play through without a guide you WILL get the "You care only for battle" ending. Even WITH a guide I wasn't doing very well as a kid, which is why I never beat it.

    2. You forgot Paper Mario :P

      Also, does Pokemon Stadium let you use items? If it does it might count by Chet's defenition.

      And there's some Ultraman RPG or something in Japan, I think.

    3. Obdurate Hater of Rhythm GamesJune 25, 2015 at 2:42 PM

      You should also get her a Genesis emulator: That system has a lot of awesome games, most of them made by Treasure. Sega's games age very poorly, unlike Nintendo which is great at any time but there are a few exceptions like Phantasy 4 and Shining Force.

    4. OHoRG: Shhhh, I'm making a joke. I don't want Chet to snap and beat me to death with a giant 1990s CRPG manual.

      はかせの外人: I did forget Paper Mario. Pokemon Stadium wouldn't count, as you can't level your pokemon in it, you have to use them in the game for that, and it just provides an interface to the cartridge. I don't THINK you can use items, but could be wrong.

      Paper Mario: You play Mario, in a story book, so he is 2D. You level up as you defeat enemies. You can buy and find items. You get companions, and can use one at a time (switching whenever you want). Battles are on a stage (literally), and you choose moves from a list, which then have a fast timing game that lets you store multiple hits, critical hits, etc. You get badges which give new/better abilities and stat upgrades, the number you can have equipped is level dependent. Also you can use the fact that it is 2D in some cases, turning Mario into a paper airplane for example.

      The thing you won't like is that N64 RPGs tend to be very linear.
      I've watched a bit of a Hybrid Heaven Let's play: Person doing it tells that it is one of the most linear games ever,.

      Quest 64: Areas to explore, and you can backtrack, but only one way to move forward.

      Ogre Battle 64: Battles are on tacticle maps. Can pick what region to go to but are in a line. Sometimes there are branches. Can go back to old maps to find hidden items and such.

      Aiden: Not sure. There were areas you'd have to map, and places to explore, but I think the game overall is linear? I only had it for a weekend, and Nintendo Power only went to the end of the tutorial mission.

      Paper Mario: There are towns and dungeons. All side-scrolling, but with doors, elevators, side passages. However, you can't go anywhere you want, I don't think. Some free roaming.

      I think you'd find Ogre Battle interesting, but not your cup of tea, and Hybrid Heaven I think you'd find interesting to write about, but not play (Unique game mechanics: What other game do you level up your left and right arms speretly, and learn moves by having enemies do them to you? (None for the first, Blue Mages in some Final Fantasy games on the second).
      Quest 64 and AIden: I think you'd find them primitive true RPGs. I think you'd talk about the real time combat a bit, and breeze through them each with very little trouble, neither hating nor loving them. Paper Mario I expect you would find childish and hate.

    5. (For those wondering at me writing long comments at 3 pm: I'm home sick, and writing them in bits while I wait for images to save, and then for PNGGauntlet to squish them to a size I can use in a powerpoint)

    6. Paper Mario (at least the first two), for what they are, are some of my favorite games ever. They're cartoony and goofy, but they work well, and do things like make fun of the fact that they're games (and to a lesser extent, RPGs) sparingly enough to make it funny and surprising when it happens. Not to mention that with the badge system, there's a lot of depth to the gameplay; I just wish they weren't so easy.

    7. Oh, they are great games. However, I don't think they emphasis the things that Chet would enjoy. They have very little exploration, you don't need a map, you don't get any choices when levelling up except which badges to equip (To be fair, I think that can change your playstyle a lot), and you can't name your characters. Also, there isn't a ton of deep Mario lore to explore. I don't recall any puzzles worth mentioning either.

      Great game, but I don't think Chet would be a big fan; the circles between 'great game' and 'Chet will love this' are not perfect overlaps by any means.

  13. You do get to pick whether to raise your HP, FP, or BP at each level up (in fact that's the *only* benefit to leveling up) so you do have a lot of control as to how you develop Mario within the constraints of the game's system. (Although somewhat less in Paper Mario 64, since you can only get so many levels of each type total, and hitting max level by the end is very realistic.) Still though, I think the PM games would GIMLET decently but not spectacularly for things like enemy descriptions from Gombario/Gombella, customization through badges, Sound and Interface, the fact that the game world responds to your actions well (and is very consistent), and interesting NPCs with their own stories. Paper Mario is decent as an RPG, but better as a cartoony/actiony/silly game that's wonderfully fun.

    1. Ok, you do make a good point actually. I was thinking of it compared to Pool of Radiance.

    2. It still wouldn't GIMLET nearly as well as Pool of Radiance (my guess is in the 40's)- but not much would.

  14. This is really a wonderful write up for a game I never got to play enough. It was a difficult game!

    At the time, the game was cool for doing graphics without graphics, and having something to do with Dungeons and Dragons. I was glad to learn the nugget that it's only 400 lines of code. Amazed.

    The fact that it was written by a 12 year old is just stellar. What adult could code back then, though? VCRs anyone?

  15. I guess Quest 1 was important to a number of people. I've found another version of called "Quest for Gold" and a slightly enhanced version called "Dragonquest v3.14" by Matt Pritchard (both for Atari 8-bit).

    The Dragonquest one has a (c) of 1983 and a notice saying it was released into the PD in 1986.

    I wonder how many other variants there are?

    1. You're going to see at least one more quite soon.


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