Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fountain of Dreams: Won! (with Final Rating)

Fountain of Dreams
United States
Electronic Arts (developer and publisher)
David Albert and Robert Hardy (design and programming)
Released 1990 for DOS
Date Started: 5 December 2014
Date Ended: 8 December 2014
Total Hours: 15
Difficulty: Hard (4/5)
Final Rating: 35
Ranking at Time of Posting: 110/165 (67%)
Ranking at Game #431: 316/431 (73%)

Well, Fountain of Dreams got measurably worse before the end. Or maybe it was always really bad, and I was just so desperate for the CRPG experience again that I viewed my first session more charitably than normal.

The plot dissolved into something so nonsensical that even a day after finishing, I can barely recall what happened. Stymied by the lack of anything else to do in Miami and unable to survive the mortar-filled steps to the Killer Clown Kollege, I decided to roam around through the Everglades,  figuring that there must be something there. Eventually, amid razor grass that sliced up my characters every step and occasioned a lot of reloading, I found an intelligent frog named "Roger Ribbet." (This momentarily confused me, as I could have sworn Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was in theaters like 10 years ago at most, but apparently it's over 25 years old. The relentless, unforgiving nature of time's arrow makes itself known once again.) He was accompanied by an Obeah Orders man named "Wilfred" who joined my party and insisted I take him to see "Big Daddy."

An NPC who skirts the edge of the culturally-sensitive.

I brought him to the OhOh temple, where Big Daddy was overjoyed to see him. Wilfred related that he'd been kidnapped by the Beachcombers and traded to the mutant frogs in exchange for Dream Water. Apparently, since the Dream Water temporarily reverses the effects of mutation, the mutants need human slaves to bottle it (if they touch it, they forget how to talk or something). Meanwhile, the humans in Miami want it to prevent their own mutations, so they buy it up. Why the two groups just don't trade places is unexplained. Apparently, the mutants contracted with the Beachcombers to kidnap OhOhs specifically, because, and I'm quoting Wilfred here, "dey no can use Bahia punk or dey no can use General Store." Wilfred's solution was to convince the local healer, Doctor Brewhoe, to sell Dream Water directly to the Beachcombers if they'd agree to end their deal with the mutants. This worked, I guess, and I kept getting screens where instead of getting attacked by OhOhs or Beachcombers, they gave me high-fives and thank-yous.

In the meantime, however, was a bizarre sequence in which Big Daddy put my party through an obstacle course, for no reason that I could understand. This was one of two obstacle courses used by the game--the second was in the Clown Kollege--and both were just frustrating excuses for trial, error, and reloading. I don't know if there was supposed to be some way to suss out what objects, doors, and floor panels were trapped and which were not, but I never figured it out and I simply got through with a lot of save-scumming.

After this episode, there seemed to be nothing left to do but to assault the Clown Kollege, although I didn't have any particular quest that would take me there. Entering the Kollege requires getting pounded by artillery at least three times, for up to 30 hit points' damage per hit, so my 60-HP characters couldn't survive. (Seriously, if there was some way around this, someone please tell me because it drove me crazy.) This is normally where I'd settle in for a bit of grinding, but grinding is complicated in this game by a few factors. First, leveling slows to a near-standstill after Level 8 or so, no matter how much fighting you do. I suspect this is because the experience point requirements double between levels, but this brings me to the second problem: there's no way to tell how many experience points you need for the next level, or indeed how many you've already earned. It simply doesn't show up as a statistic.

Third, there really aren't any good enemies to grind against. The Clowns are too hard. Everything else is the same enemy you've been fighting since Level 1. Fighting mutated animals brings the risk of getting exposed to mutagens (and you get no money, which is as important to grind as experience), but there aren't many groups of human enemies to fight--especially after you mend fences between the OhOhs and the Beachcombers. Eventually, I found a part of town that would reliably deliver large Beachcomber fights (some nonsense about the people in the area not liking people who peer into windows), but combat is slow and boring in the game at the best of times, and I only rose a couple of levels.

Improving "evasion" in a battle against Beachcombers.

During this process, I did find something interesting, however: the "evasion" skill levels rapidly as large groups of enemies miss you. After a couple dozen battles with Beachcombers, I reached a point at which they stopped hitting me. Ever. This proved vital for the endgame, as high "evasion" is the only thing protecting you against Killer Clown attacks that can wipe out even a high-level party in a few hits.

Failing my evasion check.

Eventually, my characters had hit point totals closer to the 80-100 range, and I decided it was time to try the Kollege again. It still wasn't easy. I had to reload a few times before the damage rolls were low enough to get me through the door alive.

This whole area of the Kollege had no purpose that I could discern.

The Kollege was large and nonsensical, as you might expect. It was full of areas in which I was sure I was missing some kind of encounter or opportunity, including an entire garage full of cars that seemed to have no purpose, and numerous locked chests that no amount of lockpicking would open. For the first time, I encountered chests trapped with bombs, only to realize that no one had the "disarm" skill, forcing me to ignore them. Occasionally, I'd get unlucky with the hit rolls in a random Clown attack and have to reload. Sometimes, I'd just reload to avoid going through a random encounter at all. I was basically scumming my way through the game at this point. (Later, I was amused to read Scorpia's review and see that she did the same thing.) Even with high evasion, I found that the only way to reliably survive Clown attacks was to lob explosives (which damage every enemy) every round. These are pretty expensive, though.

At one point, I freed a Clown from a cage, and he told me about the Kollege's leaders, including the seemingly-immortal Kermit Eli, the founder, and his second in command, Kiwi.

Towards the end of my experience, I wandered into a house where I got captured by some Clowns (the alternative was to fight 2 dozen of them) and relieved of all my weapons except some .45 pistols. This triggered the next obstacle course, which had things like an electrified floor, an exploding phone, an alarm clock so loud it damaged eardrums, and a giant eight-ball that went crashing through numerous walls and opened up the exit. Again, a lot of trial, error, and reloading.

Honestly, what kind of choice is this? When the results of such decisions just have random effects, it simply annoys the player.

I got out and made my way upstairs to something called "Kermit's Big Top," a ring where the Clown's founder first sent two tigers at me (they were easy), then attacked me himself, only he turned out to be a robot, then attacked me for real. None of the combats were terribly difficult.

Later, wandering through a house, I discovered "Granny Astor" imprisoned. My guess is I was supposed to get a quest to rescue her from Gramps Astor back in Miami, but I never did because he refused to speak to me after BL Astor died in my party. Anyway, Granny joined and I returned to Miami to bring her back to her husband. This triggered the endgame sequence.

I assume "N" makes the game unwinnable.

Gramps had me take Granny to the Miami Police (the building stopped giving me quests and just became an NPC dropoff point about midway through the game) and told me to make room for him and Doc Brewhoe. This meant that I had to also get rid of longtime NPC Enrique Ochoa. When my party, Gramps in tow, got to Doc Brewhoe's house, they said it was time to go see the mutants in the Everglades and "put an end to this mutation business."

Through more razor grass we trekked, back to Roger Ribbet and his intelligent animals. Ribbet claimed that Gramps "betrayed" him and threatened to detonate a nuclear bomb, but Gramps relayed how our party wiped out the Clowns and brought law and order to Miami. He offered the same peace to the mutants, saying, "We'll forget about your slavin' if'n you but forsake doin' it and join up with us. We wont' try to make you drink the Water and be voiceless again. But you got to show us where the water comes from so's we can save our race."

Why does the mutated frog appear to be wearing a police uniform and riding a bicycle?

The frog relented and told us that the Fountain was two paces to the north. Of course there was a final battle, against Kiwi Eli and some of the remaining Clowns. It was bloody impossible. Even with my high evasion skills, they wiped us out in the first two rounds every single time. It didn't help that the razor grass had sliced my characters to half hit points before the battle even started. I don't think there's a way to avoid this.

Fountain of Dreams is probably the only RPG where the final battle is against a clown. Let's give credit where it's due.

Eventually, I reloaded, went back to Miami, and stocked up on grenades and plastic explosives. I had to swap out NPCs and sell all the equipment from the extra NPCs to even be able to afford it. Back in the Glades, I finally won the battle on the fourth or fifth attempt by having every character throw explosives every single round.

An earlier version of the battle equipped with "Clown Mega-Uzis" and melee weapons went poorly.

Here's the endgame text:

Before your eyes is an astounding sight. Out of the sheer rock a stream of bright water pours into a pond. The healthiest creatures you have ever seen frolic on the shore. Brewhoe wades into the water and drinks deeply. When he emerges, he is a young man. Gramps grins and says, "I always suspected it was the Fountain of Youth. The bombs must have brought it to the surface. My friends, there may just be some hope for the human race after all." His smile is as warm as the clear, tropical water itself.

Cue the image at the top of this post, a quick "See you later....!," and the DOS prompt.

The smile of a minor, barely-explained NPC is all the reward I need.

Let's get on with my first GIMLET for a long time:

  • 4 points for the game world. Absurd, sure, but you can't say that it's not original. It's the only RPG I know that's set in Florida (I'm sure there are others; I just don't know what they are), and it clumsily attempts to blend elements of Florida history, legend, and culture. It all would have worked in the hands of better story-tellers. I also give the game a little credit for how the world evolves in response to the players' actions, though it's not big enough to really take advantage of this.

I love the idea that a nuclear apocalypse somehow made Miami more ordered and lawful. The game could have done a better job with this theme.

  • 4 points for character creation and development. The skills system is probably the best part of the game, but just like everything else, the creators bungled it a bit. Leveling was badly balanced and skill development was horribly uneven. My "gunsmith" skill increased every single time I used it to unjam a rifle, but "lockpick" and "medic" stubbornly refused to increase, and I ended the game at Level 3 in both. The system of mutations is at least interesting, though I confess I kept forgetting about them. They might have helped in the final battle.

Towards the end of the game, this was a rare but welcome message.

  • 4 points for NPC interaction. Again, they're dumb caricatures, but the system isn't so bad. You learn a lot from NPC conversations, there are cross-NPC relationships that affect the gameplay, and you can enlist a surprising number of them into the party.

I give the game credit for NPCs who respond in various ways to the party's actions.

  • 3 points for encounters and foes. There really aren't enough types of enemies. Most are uninteresting. The non-combat encounters sometimes call skill and inventory use into play, but most are illogical and don't offer any role-playing opportunities the way they did in Wasteland.
  • 3 points for magic and combat. I have never found Interplay's approach to Wizardry-style combat--used in The Bard's Tale, Wasteland, and Dragon Wars--to be very good, and this game copies it exactly. It's slow, boring, and mostly bereft of tactics except deciding whether to expend an entire clip or just a burst. Games that don't feature magic need more weapon and defense options to compensate, but neither Wasteland nor this game went far enough.

I don't think I've had many pictures of non-human enemies, so here's one.

  • 4 points for equipment. Decent selection of arms, armor, explosives, and such. Much like in Wasteland, I ended up carrying a bunch of items around that never seemed to have any purpose, like canteens, empty bottles, ropes, and various toolkits.
  • 4 points for the economy, which was surprisingly strong. Cash disappears quickly enough that I was grinding even towards the end of the game to afford an extra grenade or two. It would have even been tighter if the game had let me purchase some of the skills offered by NPCs, but every time I tried, I was told that it was "unavailable to you at this time."

  • 3 points for quests, which consist of a main quest with several steps, although generally I was confused most of the time as to what they were, and I made my way through the game just by bumbling around until something happened.

The PCs' home gets destroyed at some point during the game. I forgot to mention it along the way.

  • 3 points for graphics, sound, and inputs. The graphics are just okay, stuck in that awkward phase between decent abstract graphics of the mid-1980s and decent realistic graphics of the mid-1990s. There is virtually no sound except an occasional random beep. The controls were intuitive enough.
  • 3 points for gameplay. I give it one for being somewhat nonlinear, though in a game world too small for that to matter. I also give it one for being a bit "replayable" in the sense that I think I missed a lot of stuff and it would be interesting to try again with a walkthrough. It gets one final point for not taking forever to finish. But I can't give it anything on the difficulty scale. It's way too hard--and in a completely random, unpredictable way.

The sum is 35, the score that I generally consider the cutoff between recommended and not recommended. That reflects how I feel. The particularly annoying thing about Fountain of Dreams is that there's a nucleus of a good game here. The story is mostly nonsensical, but it has some decent elements, and it could have been turned into a compelling and interesting plot. The Wasteland-inspired engine and skill system is mostly solid, just poorly used. As such, I must concur with Scorpia's comment in her January 1991 review: "It is the perfect example of grasping the form, but not the substance, of a superior product, and coming up a loser."

I'm having trouble finding an original advertisement for Fountain of Dreams, and I'm very curious how EA marketed it. If they intended the public to see it as a sequel to Wasteland, they were certainly quiet about it, as there's no reference to the previous game in the Fountain manual, on the box, or in the gameplay. My understanding (and this comes from poorly-referenced online sources) is that EA held the copyright for Wasteland--that's why Interplay named its sequel-in-everything-but-name Fallout--so why wouldn't EA have slapped a bit sticker saying "sequel to the #1 hit of 1988!" right on the box?

The game is credited to David Albert and "Banjo" Bob Hardy. Albert has some solid RPG creds. He's listed as the "producer" of Wasteland, so it's not like he had no connection with the previous game, and he was apparently on staff at Origin in the 1990s, with minor credits on Autoduel, the re-release of Ultima I, and Ring Quest. Most important, he wrote the Book of Wisdom for Ultima IV, so it's not like he didn't know how to tell a decent story. I can't find him credited as a programmer or designer on many games, however. Penguin Software's 1982 Transylvania is the first (and he was just one of three); Fountain of Dreams is the second; and there are only a handful after it, none of them RPGs. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, he moves to a more executive/management role, with credits all the way through 2007, though never another RPG.

"Banjo Bob" has a shorter c.v., with conversion credits for a series of Penguin Software and Origin games before Fountain of Dreams appears as the first project on which he seems to have taken a lead. Afterwards, he shows up as one of the programmers on the Sega version of Doom, and that's it. In both cases, a lack of strong RPG design experience plus a lack of strong experience as a primary developer or programmer suggests that both developers might have been slightly out of their league when it came to crafting a Wasteland sequel. But this is all just speculation, and I'd love to see a source that describes the design process in more detail.

Between the two of them, do you agree that it's more likely the one nicknamed "Banjo" who came up with this?

It's not going to be long before we see a second attempt to make money on the Wasteland engine: EA's Escape from Hell will be coming up within a few months, designed by a completely different team (although with Albert as a producer). It will, alas, be a long time before we come to an actual sequel--either Fallout (1997) or Wasteland 2 (2014), depending on how technical you want to get.

For now, we're going to have a one-shot on Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Treasures of Tarmin (1983) before moving on to another low-rated RPG of 1990, MegaTraveller I. Is there any light on the rest of the 1990 list? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.


  1. I am not so certain on the "sequel-in-everything-but-name" line regarding Fallout that I now hear everywhere. I followed the development of Fallout from the very beginning because it was originally connected to the GURPS system which I was a big fan of, and the post-nuclear setting was only supposed to be the first one out of multiple GURPS settings. (Eventually they dumped using the GURPS license but kept some of the mechanics.)

    I mean, sure, it has Wasteland similarities, but no more than between fantasy genre games. Is Bard's Tale really a sequel to Wizardry?

    1. I recall hearing again and again about how the developers of Fallout were trying to recreate the way Wasteland implemented a wide rage of skills that could be called upon to solve puzzles and the puzzles could be solved in multiple ways. I remember that point of comparison very strongly.

      Other than that though, I think you're right. Wasteland was only one of a handful of influences on Fallout. I even vaguely remember one of the developers talking about watching the movie version of Harlan Ellison's "A Boy and His Dog" over and over again.

    2. The difference is that Fallout was created by the same company that made Wasteland, and originally started AS a direct sequel called GURPS Wasteland. Due the the complex mess that is developers and studios (for a more recent comparison, Richard Garriot cannot make a new Ultima game because that name is held by EA), they couldn't use the Wasteland name, causing it to be renamed Vault 13: A GURPS Post-Nuclear Adventure. After a disagreement with Steve Jackson (allegedly over the ludicrous gore levels) led to a revocation of the GURPS license, the name was changed to Fallout. Naturally, the plot was whitewashed to remove any direct elements of Wasteland's plot in the backstory to avoid lawsuits and keep from confusing players.

    3. I may be wrong, but I think I remember reading some interviews in which Brian Fargo (who was involved in the game's production) clearly stated that "Fallout" was supposed to be a spiritual sequel of sorts to "Wasteland".

    4. I guess Brian Fargo's intent was clear, as evidenced by Wasteland 2, but other developers might have had different ideas. Maybe there are several correct explanations.

    5. Not that you will ever read this, but my dude, the Fallout game box itself's first line of text is "Remember Wasteland?"

  2. I remember seeing that cover art and was insanely excited about it. My young impressionable mind then didn't even try to relate it with Wasteland. I could have stood out on its own with just the concept itself. Mutant heroes? FIRST! But, boy, was I disappointed.

    It's a good thing that we still have Entomorph to take over the Mutant Heroes mantle.

    1. Entomorph was not a name I ever expected to hear again.

    2. I... I finished Entomorph. Such a weird game. Felt like a mechanical sequel to Al Quadim.

    3. Entomorph has one of the best game soundtracks I ever heard. I carry the CD with me just because of that.

    4. I think it's on Chet's list, ain't it?

      Also, regarding Escape From Hell which is also using Wasteland engine, I'm not sure why but... I loved that concept too.

      It suffers the same thing that plagued Fountain Of Dreams too. Namely; great concept, piss-poor execution.

      Imagine leading a group consisting of great famous sinners (Napoleon, Stalin, Genghis Khan & etc.) and non-Christian philanthropists (for not believing in Christ) to do battle against legions of infernal troops in the depths of Hell itself.

  3. Where is the little "stat block" with game producer, hours played, difficulty 1-5, etc which usually starts off these posts?

  4. Congratulations! Well, I like it when it's possible to finish the game even if one has lost the thread somewhere. The rest of it strikes me as a disjointed mess. I wonder if the game had been easier if you had followed the main quest perfectly. A game is too hard if your victory depends on nothing but the luck of the roll.

  5. I could never get past the first five seconds of MegaTraveller 1, always lost the initial battle due to a combination of poor controls and the oddly implemented real-time combat system.

    1. megatraveller 1 was pretty cool, but most of my attempts to play it again suffer the same fate as yours, the first combat is really really harsh

    2. First-time players need to run the hell away during the first battle of MT1; the enemies will stop chasing you when they lose sight of you, and you're likely to get TPK'd otherwise.

      Experienced players can (and should) fill their party with well-armed combat-monsters possessing the bare minimum of ship-related skills (which requires a non-superficial understanding of MT's chargen process). Such a party can gank the thugs, assuming that the player wants that.

      Unfortunately, the loot drop isn't worth it, so all you get for your trouble is pride and lulz. (A lot of MT's fetch-quest "dungeons" are that way.)

      But it was already inexcusable that the devs threw new players into a nearly unwinnable, (virtually) non-pausable real-time battle with a poorly designed UI (and oh yeah, a total betrayal of MT's rules system).

      As I've said before (and will no doubt keep saying), Paragon made some astonishingly bad design choices for this game.

    3. Christ, it never occurred to me that I wasn't meant to win the very first battle. Time to try the game again, I guess.

    4. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HopelessBossFight

    5. A hopeless boss fight is one thing, even ones where you literally cannot win. Hopeless boss fights that can actually kill you are considerably worse. Hopeless boss fights that can actually kill you and occur at the start of the game? That is an awful, awful thing.

    6. @Noman: Yep! What's more, MT1 is full of those from start to finish! Most of them aren't even necessary, and most are highly unrewarding, but you usually need the cash. So make sure that you put everybody in Battle Dress and pack lots of grenades, rocket launchers, and fusion guns!

      I wish that I could credit Paragon with getting the Traveller metagame right -- that combat is routinely lethal and best avoided unless you can get ruthlessly get the drop on people who really need to die. If they had grokked it, that could've accounted for an introductory battle that you're all but obliged to flee in desperation. But I just don't think the devs were smart enough for that. This is ordinary incompetence, not metatextual brilliance.

      Anyway, once you manage to get enough capital to start interstellar trading, you should just grind on that for your ready cash. The dungeons are all rubbish. The last battle is all that matters.

  6. "Fountain of Dreams is probably the only RPG where the final battle is against a clown."

    Technically, Final Fantasy 6!

    1. I knew even as I was writing it that someone would come up with another one.

    2. Technically, Kefka in FF6 wasn't a clown, just a mass-murdering psychopath wizard.

    3. I think one of the Penny Arcade rpgs has a clown endboss as well.

    4. The first Penny Arcade end boss is a mime, which isn't quite the same as a clown.

    5. when did penny arcade come out, ff5 has a mime boss :)

  7. If I remember correctly, there IS a way to take out the klowns on the towers of the klown kollege. From the overland map, you use the one thing that was consistently effective against the klowns: explosives. It's not intuitive, and I don't think many people ever figured it out.

    1. Son of a BITCH. I loaded an earlier save and it works. You (U)se plastic explosives or a grenade and target it at the corner of the compound. Neither of two walkthroughs I consulted (after I won) had this knowledge, and neither did the bloody official clue book for the game.

      Thanks for the intel.

    2. I know, right? Almost worth taking away a point just for that.

      If it wasn't in the clue book, then I don't know where I got the idea from, since I definitely didn't figure it out by myself.

    3. Maybe you take this clue from some magazine?

    4. You can do the same thing with machetes in the Everglades to cut down the sawgrass and save your HP. It was in the hint book. You can actually cut down the entire Everglades if you want. Just commenting this 7+ years later in case anyone's stuck and finds this page when searching.

    5. I am with you, anonymous; I have NO doubt that one of the reasons I enjoyed this game more than many is that I pretty much bought every clue book for any game I was playing back in those days, so infuriating things that were nigh-impossible to figure out for the average gamer never stopped me, and it was not until years later I appreciated what a weird position of, like, gaming privilege this really was for me. But boy I really did hate getting stuck. I was truly ahead of my time, as even in the 1980s I had none of that supposed great patience and stick-to-it-iveness that gamers are claimed to have once possessed

  8. What's up with the ridiculous triptychs? Are they loading screens or something?

    1. Not really loading screens. Just cut screens in between areas. Thanks for the vocabulary lesson!

  9. One of your captions made me think of this Jack Handey gem:

    "If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins the most? I'd say Flippy, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong, though. It's Hambone."

    1. I think I actually had that on my mind when I was writing it.

  10. What a trip! Great post, great to have you back, and looking forward to Tarmin (did you play it on the Intellivision or Aquarius?).

    1. I haven't played it yet, but I downloaded the Intellivision version, since I was already familiar with the emulator.

  11. I'll say one thing for Fountain of Dreams: that cover art is AMAZING.

  12. Thanks to the fountain of youth the world becomes overpopulated, resulting in another apocalypse

  13. If it wasn't for this blog, never in my life would I have thought again about the Beachcombers.

    I have never played it and never seen it being played.
    I just remember the Beachcomber picture from a PC games review magazine I read in the 90ies and found it disturbing already then.


  14. Oh, you are back. Great! But:

    In this moment (as alternative for your hiatus) i found a good story:


    1. I saw a discussion of this article on Slashdot today, and I did think of this site. Working through computer games in vaguely chronological order? Who does that?

  15. The different gangs remind me of this movie:

  16. "Between the two of them, do you agree that it's more likely the one nicknamed "Banjo" who came up with this?"

    That picture is so funny. I can envision the devolution of the Clown College into the Killer Clown Kollege. His facial expression barely changes, so I suppose it was a natural transition.

    1. It doesn't take much effort to make a clown look evil. Just a slight change in context. A clown in your den for your child's birthday party? Fun! A clown in your den in the middle of the night? The scariest thing ever conceived.

    2. It takes even less effort to "rip" an already evil clown from somewhere else, doesn't it? The game came out in 1990, two years after "Killer Clowns from Outer Space" movie was released. If you search for the movie, you'll find enough proof, like here:

      BTW, I highly recommend the movie: it's stupid, it's funny, it's crazy - all the best weirdness you can get :)

    3. Just found out that someone wrote a comment on this in the previous post... :)

  17. Some billionaire with too much time on his hands might think immortalizing You to play every rpg till the end of time would be just fabulous. Beware, be very very ware...
    And if You spend months to win Rogue, you'll like Moria (or not?).

    1. If there are any billionaires out there who want to pay me the equivalent of my full-time salary to play RPGs all the time, I'll be glad to talk.

      I've already sunk a lot of time into Moria. I keep kicking it down the list because I was hoping to win before I posted about it.

    2. Well, there may not be a billionare out there, but what about setting up a Paetron site, or the like? There's probably at least a few folks who'd be willing to pay you for playing and writing about the games that we wish we had time to play.

    3. Because I do that anyway. It's flattering and humbling that people would like to see me write more often, but I don't have any more time to do it that I already spend, so I'd be taking their money for no additional content. The only way I could devote more hours is to give up one of my real jobs and, jokes about billionaires aside, I don't really want to do that.

  18. knew this game inside and out, I wrote the original cheat sheets and stuff for it. you can still find my hex address offset sheet / save file format on my blog I think.

    the game was very bad. there were ways through the 'mazes' in the cultists rooms etc but I forget the clues now.

    I think your start point house blows up as soon as you leave IF you have talked to the doctor guy or got free healing once.

    the game was pretty bugged, if you leveled enough, enemies leveld too, so you could finght a single snake or mute spider / mute wolf and be throwing 10s of sticks of explosives at it and not kill it and have an hour long fight. LOTS of bugs.

    and the clue book, worse written clue book ever, its like a 2 page novella/story that reveals next to nothing.

    oh found my link;

  19. There is a walkthrough in German which also mentions taking out the towers (it says the two upper ones are sufficient), though I don't know when it was created, could even be after this blog entry:

    According to the Wasteland Wiki, it seems there were plans for a game with a bigger scope: "[T]here are numerous commented out skills and functions in it, including skills both active (Forgery, Electronics, Cryptography, Pick Pocket) and passive (Boating, Gambling), as well as mutations (Corruption and Mutant Recognition). Three more conditions were programmed as well. Beyond hex editing, Alan Murphy, who worked on the game's graphics, also released several assets showing a cut entry scene for Tragic Kingdom (parody of Disney World's Magic Kingdom) and numerous portraits for NPCs, including more clowns, a dolphin-headed mutant, and a cybernetic chimpanzee."

    The mentioned images can also be found in Alan Murphy's portfolio here: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/OWo3J.

    Two other contemporaneous English language reviews, one more positive, one also critical, though I'm not sure how far into the game either played:

    Theo Clarke in "Strategy Plus" No. 4 (January 1991, Page 26) thinks "[t]he post-holocaust environment is a well-worn concept but this wry interpretation is beguiling and the cumulative effect of the smiles arising from small jokes, such as Slap-Fu, make for an entertainingly distinctive game." He closes by saying: "The inflexible saving is irksome, but it is not sufficient to mar the quiet pleasure that this quirky, but challenging, game can afford the experienced role-player."

    In his short piece in "Compute!" Magazine (Issue 133 / September 1991 / Page 135), Jeff Seiken notes, less convinced: "radiation levels may be high, but the silliness indicator jumps off the meter". He considers that "this is an adventure where brawn rather than brains will carry the day" and "if one of the bizarre beasties or bad guys doesn't get you, the tedium of resolving the interminable battles might".


I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) This also includes user names that link to advertising.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters. I will delete comments containing profanity on a case-by-case basis.

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I read all comments, no matter how old the entry. So do many of my subscribers. Reader comments on "old" games continue to supplement our understanding of them. As such, all comment threads on this blog are live and active unless I specifically turn them off. There is no such thing as "necro-posting" on this blog, and thus no need to use that term.

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