Friday, May 10, 2013

Game 99: Odyssey: The Compleat Apventure (1980)

Look familiar? More on that below.
Odyssey: The Compleat Apventure
United States
Synergistic Software (developer and publisher)
Released 1980 for Apple II
Date Started:
8 May 2013
Date Ended: 9 May 2013
Total Hours: 6
Difficulty: Moderate (3.0/5)
Final Rating: 21
Ranking at Game #404: 142/404 (35%)
Odyssey: The Compleat Apventure is the third "campaign" game from Robert Clardy and Synergistic Software. I covered Dungeon Campaign (1978) in January and Wilderness Campaign (1979) in March. The evolution of the series in these two short years is a amazing: a testament to Clardy's rapidly developing skills as a programmer, to the possibilities allowed by rapidly-expanding computer memory (Dungeon Campaign required 16K; Odysssey required 48K), and to the overall evolution of the CRPG, strategy, and adventure game genres during this period. Dungeon Campaign is barely playable today, but I found Wilderness Campaign fun, and Odyssey...well, it has its moments.

Like Stuart Smith, who I just blogged about, Clardy was introducing twists on conventional CRPGs that never quite made their way into the mainstream. The primary driving mechanism of the three "campaign" titles is the control of an army rather than a single character or party. There are no "characters" in the Clardy games; there are "men," and the loss of men in nearly every battle is expected and unavoidable. This description might make some wonder whether we can really call these games "CRPGs," but the men share a collective series of attributes and a collective pool of equipment that mimic the experience of playing a single character. As such, the men become analogous to hit points in a conventional RPG.

Wandering bands of men join the quest.

"Attributes" in this game apply to the entire party of 20 men, not just a main PC.
We see a very similar mechanic, minus the equipment, in games like Pirates! and various strategy games, but Clardy's games are the only ones I know that use armies as the central unit of an otherwise conventional RPG experience.

Like Lord of the Rings, Odyssey presumes to be set in an ancient time on Earth called the "Hyborian Age" (a term invented by Robert Howard for his Conan books; this is notable because Clardy would later go on to develop an action game called Conan: The Cimmerian). A mighty wizard/warrior known as "The High One," seeing that the nascent race of men was threatened by the elder races and monsters of the world, used magic to seal off an archipelago in the "Sargalo Sea" from the rest of the world. The High One thought that if he could eliminate threats to man within this contained area, mankind could grow powerful and be in a better place to dominate the world when the barriers came down again. Unfortunately, while he was mid-way through his plan, the enemies of man sacked his fortress, stole his magic orb, and killed him in combat. A usurper named the Caliph of Lapour now sits on the High One's former throne. The mission of the PC army is to recover the orb, return it to the fortress, defeat the Caliph, and continue the High One's work.
I respect the innovations obvious in Odyssey, but as a whole the game doesn't work very well. It proceeds in three or four major sections. The first, the longest, is almost identical to Wilderness Campaign in its basic design. The party of 10 warriors begins on an island map with three visible towns. Unlike the previous game, other structures (ancient temples, tombs, castles) are not visible from the outset and must be found via walking around, although they are fixed at the same location from game to game. [Later edit: Per Robert Clardy's comments below, I'm wrong about this. Something about the Apple II emulator I'm using isn't designating the random seed properly. There were multiple wilderness maps.]

There are also a host of random encounters in the wilderness. Successfully navigating the random encounters and the dungeons involves employing a variety of items that you purchase at the towns or from wandering caravans. Where in Wilderness Campaign the solution was automatic depending on whether you had the right piece of equipment (e.g., a plank to cross a chasm), in Odyssey you have to spend a little time figuring out what item works best and (U)sing it appropriately. Examples include:

  • Lockpicks to open the bronze doors on an ancient temple
  • A small boat to cross a dangerous bog
  • A net to rescue men stuck in quicksand 
  • A machete to hack up a rotten tree trapping two men
  • Lamps and torches to enter dark dungeons
  • Crowbars to pry doors with no latches or locks
  • Shovels to dig out men buried by avalanches
  • Ropes to rappel down sheer cliffs

This is where you want to have a machete.

Some problems have multiple solutions: tomb doors may be pried with crowbars or shovels, and either a rope or net can get men out of pit traps.

Buying at least one of everything the shops have to offer is a key to winning the game.

There are several random encounters in the wilderness, including wandering bands of fighters who join the group, wandering merchants, wizards who alternately help by providing a magic item or get annoyed and attack, bandits posing as friendly warriors, and a variety of monsters. As in Wilderness Campaign, "exploring" dungeons is all text-based from the main screen, and they usually contain some variety of traps, monsters, and either gold or a magic item at the end. Once you find the dungeon's treasure, it kicks you out, the door seals, and you cannot return.

The primary purpose of the island section is to build and equip the party, gather the items needed for puzzle-solving later in the game, and increase attributes with magic lamps and potions. The section ends when the player purchases a ship from the far northwest town and heads out into open sea.

The party builds its ascension kit.

The opening section is rendered difficult by a few regrettable programming choices. Combat, while sticking to the basic mechanic of Wilderness Campaign, actually provides less feedback. Enemies "level" with the party in lockstep, so you can never really get a major advantage over them. If the party size increases from 10 to 20, the enemies increase from around 10 to around 20. As the party builds experience, the enemies get tougher. As the party buys better equipment, the enemies are better equipped. There's a random number roll that affects combat, but it's worth so little compared to the equipment and experience score that every battle is essentially a foregone conclusion from the outset.

The game's combat screens lack the complexity and detail of the previous Wilderness Campaign, and the game mechanics ensure that you're almost always evenly matched, or even at a slight disadvantage.

If you're not careful about money, you can wind up in a situation where it's very hard to purchase the $2,500 ship. Random encounters eventually wind down, and after you've explored each dungeon, there are few gold hauls to be had. I had to resort to attacking friendly parties just so I could get enough gold to continue. This put me into negative alignments.

The party flees just ahead of the law.

Once you purchase the boat, you're launched into the second phase of the game: sea navigation and combat. The interface changes dramatically, with commands for setting sails, dropping anchor, landing on various islands, firing the cannon, and hailing ships.

A rare calm moment at sea.

Special problems and encounters during this section include sea monsters, pirates, merchant ships, ships full of mercenaries who will join you, hapless men adrift on rafts who are alternately truly helpless and members of a pirate gang pulling a ruse, whirlpools, scurvy (you need to have stocked up on fruit), fog, and various calamities that damage your sails and require you to have brought replacement sails.

Most of the time, they turn out to be liars.

"Combat" at sea is mostly a matter of repetitively hitting the (F)ire key, after which you can sometimes loot the enemy ships for goods like sails and fruit.

It turned out these items had no purpose.

It's not hyperbole to say that navigation in this section is the most annoying interface I have ever experienced in a CRPG. The wind changes constantly, screwing up the direction you're trying to go, and often propelling you into reefs or off the edge of the world. In most places, the water is too deep to drop anchor and wait until the wind turns to a favored direction. The game constantly adjusts the direction you've painstakingly set your sails. And it's almost impossible to find the "sweet spot" between "too far from land to disembark" and "so close to land that you run aground."

Alas, the crew does not end up in Ambrosia.

You can't really "explore" the islands here; you just get some text when you land on one that you found fruit. On a couple, there was a special encounter with a wizard I was unable to get past.

The manual is upfront that the purpose of this section is to find a magic Orb, which is either in a dungeon or at the bottom of the sea. In some games, you have to explore a small dungeon on one of the islands with graphics and gameplay similar to Dungeon Campaign; in other games, a god appears and if you sacrifice a magic item overboard, he'll give you coordinates for the orb at the bottom of the sea.

Firing cannons is a bad idea at this point.

If you can get to the coordinates, you can (d)ive for it, but you can imagine how hard it is to hit the right pair of coordinates when you can't stop the ship and the wind is constantly changing. In my game, I got the bottom-of-the-sea option, so it took me over an hour of screwing around and reloading before I could get to the coordinates, dive, and get the Orb.

The endgame occurs on the far northwest island, but you can't maneuver freely around it like on the first island. There's really only one navigation command: (A)pproach the castle. The game gives you three random item-based encounters, and you have to dig through your pack to find, say, a mirror to defeat a medusa, a machete to chop through poisonous brambles, or a monkey--yes, a monkey--to unlock a door.

When I finally got through the special encounters and reached the castle, I found the ending anticlimactic.With the orb in my possession, the caliph's men simply surrendered, and I became the new High One. I was expecting a big final battle or something. Maybe that happens if you go to the castle without finding the orb first.

I was really looking forward to, you know, killing the evil wizard.

As I say, I can respect the innovations. The programming that went into dynamically adjusting monster levels based on PC levels, the random encounters, the inventory-based puzzles, and even the sea navigation are like nothing else in CRPGs in 1980. But innovative doesn't mean good, and I found the gameplay frustrating and ultimately not fun--really a step backwards from Wilderness Campaign. In a GIMLET, I'll give it:

  • 3 points for game world. It has a decent story and a persistent world.
  • 2 points for character development, which features both attributes and total number in your army.
  • 0 for NPCs
  • 4 points for encounters. We have to give the game due credit here. There's not much else like it in the era, with random merchants and bands of warriors showing up, and the player's disposition towards them tied to an "alignment" meter.

Encounters in the game offer real, if limited, role-playing and tactical choices.
  • 1 point for magic and combat. While the complexity of the statistics is innovative, there isn't a single tactic, and the dynamically-adjusting difficulty level makes it impossible to get a leg up on the enemy.
  • 3 points for equipment, both weapons and armor and special items needed to solve puzzles.
  • 3 points for economy; gold sure is precious, and finding it feels like a real reward.

  • 2 points for having a main quest.
  • 1 point for graphics, sound, and interface. I found the sea interface truly horrible, and just about everywhere it's cumbersome.
  • 2 points for gameplay, and these are based on its replayability. I'm slightly tempted to try again and see if I get the dungeon option this time, because I wanted to check it out. But overall, it's too linear and frustrating to be truly enjoyable.

The final rating of 21 isn't horrible for a 1980 game and it reflects Odyssey's complexity, but it's several points lower than what I gave Wilderness Campaign; I had more fun with the predecessor.

The game gave me a rating, too.

As I blog about these older games, I am increasingly indebted to the efforts of the Museum of Computer Adventure Game History to collect, photograph, and scan images of disks, boxes, and manuals from this era. They have a full scan of the Odyssey manual, the front page of which has an amusing image that makes little sense in the context of the game.

This is precisely why I don't SCUBA dive.

While we're talking about images, the dragon picture that opens Odyssey: The Compleat Apventure is nearly identical to the one that appears on the welcome screen of Eamon:

Killias2 clued me in to this in the comments to my Eamon posting. It seems to have been created by a University of Michigan professor named Richard L. Phillips, who specialized in Apple II graphics. Blogger Jimmy Maher tried to solve the mystery during his Eamon postings last year and one of his commenters managed to track down Mr. Phillips, who understandably didn't really remember anything after 32 years. Eamon seems most likely to have been published first, but then again, Robert Clardy had included well-drawn dragons on his main screens since Dungeon Campaign, which unquestionably pre-dates Eamon.

We should note that they aren't the same image. There are stark differences in both the tail and the right wing, as well as some minor differences in the pattern of spines on the dragon's neck, and of course one is in color and the other is in white lines. These differences may seem trivial in the post-PhotoShop era, but I'm not sure that they are for 1980. Neither is clearly a hack job of the other. We can't discount the possibility that the artist himself created more than one version from the same template. Either way, the evidence seems to be that he posted the image or images in a public forum for anyone to use.

I had enjoyed Wilderness Campaign enough that I was hoping for a clear upgrade in this one, so I'm a little disappointed, but we're not quite done with this series yet: Apventure to Atlantis came out in 1982. It picks up the plot from Odyssey and seems to offer many of the same gameplay elements while also introducing some features typical to adventure games.

The game starts on the island you conquer at the end of Odyssey.

I look forward to giving it a try later this year; for now, let's see if I can finish up Knights of Legend.



  1. This was one of the very first games that I ever played on the Apple II, and it just blew me away. I couldn't believe how much there was to it, and this is the game that set me onto a long road of gaming.

    1. I can see where it would have been relatively astonishing in its day.

    2. Wow, great review! While the interest in gaming history fascinates me as well, it is hard to believe that anyone could stand to play through some of those old games after what we have all been offered in the years since then. Odyssey was pretty cool at the time, but I doubt I could make it through a whole game now. The sea game does sound thoroughly cringe-worthy. It was supposed to be a massive, stand-alone game akin to what Sid Meier did with Pirates. But, he got it right and I don't believe I came anywhere close.

      But, there were other things about Odyssey that were of interest....

    3. First, about that title art with the dragon. I, too, cannot remember the source exactly. But, I can guess... First, at the time, the tools for doing graphics on the Apple were primitive. Well, maybe that is being too generous. They were non-existent. I started with the low-res Dungeon Campaign because there were no tools to do "High-Res" graphics (280 by 192 pixels!!!). When I started work on Wilderness, the first thing I had to do was write "Higher Graphics", a utility program for creating high-res shapes and such. Super primitive, as the image shots above suggest. But, that was how we did it. First you write the tools that would let you write the games. Ugh.

      So, the next step in that direction was a wonderful new tool by Ron and Darrel Aldrich called "Higher Text". It was a font editor and we used it to do fancy text, then foreign languages, then finally game art for the Apple. The title screen for Odyssey includes some "Old English" font that the Alldrich's did. Love that tool and working with those programmers. They were both under 16 at the time....

      Anyway, I think it was Ron that brought me the outline sketch for that dragon. I thought he had done it. He might have. Or, he might have "found" it on the net. Both Eamon and Odyssey came out that same year, so I have no idea which of us got the art first. The difference in the tail, wing, and color, though, looks like me. I am a total hack as an artist. But, cut and paste, alter slightly, and such - that I can do. And, it was about then that I wrote a flood-fill feature for Higher Graphics and that was clearly used to colorize that sketch.

      As has been noted elsewhere, it was a different time then. Synergistic could not afford either employees or to hire real artists for original work. So, art was hacked. Today, hard to imagine actually publishing anything with such uncertain ownership...

    4. Regarding the picture on the front cover, hmm. Forget what I said about not being able to hire an artist. For that one, we did. Pretty lame. But, the concept is right from the game. When you are at sea, looking for the orb, it would either be found in some island dungeon, or by diving in open water. That's the diver. Orb on the sea floor. Sea serpent infested waters. It all makes perfect sense. Oh, except that the diver is in a wet suit, with fins, and looks like a woman. Obviously, we always used cute, women divers in such locales.....

      Any time you hire an artist to work for you, they will try to put their own creative spin on their work. We ran into that a lot over the years. The "ornithopter" in "Apventure to Atlantis" is certainly not what I ever envisioned. But, the way it worked was - we offer money to an artist to do some custom artwork. We describe the game and hope our description is complete enough that they can figure out the sex of the adventurer. They accept our payment and do their best, submitting art that we may or may not like, but cannot waste since we are super-cheap, relatively inexperienced in such things, and could not afford better. Whatever they gave us, we were generally thankful for as it was so much better than what we could draw ourselves. I did the sketches used for Dungeon and Wilderness user manuals and decided such skilles should never be inflicted on a game buyer again. So, we settled for better art that had less to do with the story than if I had done it. Ah well....

    5. Regarding the locations always being the same on the first island game - au contraire. That's a problem with your Apple II emulator. The locations of everything in the adventure were setup at the start of each game, using a random number generator that one could seed with a start number. Same start number provides the same adventure world. But, I never, not ever, believed that there should only be just one adventure world. Yuck. When you first run Wilderness, it samples a memory location that changed over time. Time and date stamp? I don't remember, but I found some location that could be counted on to change constantly, grabbed that number, built a world. Thereafter, I could duplicate that world using that number as the game seed. It was how the saved game was kept small enough - only had to save the party stats, not the world definition.

      Looking at an old user manual for the game, I was struck by two oddities of the game. The opening page includes the helpful advice that if you manage to crash the game somehow (pressing Ctrl-C would do it), you could re-enter it by typing "Go to 32000". Pretty impressive error handling there, right?

      The other oddity was that my then home address was on the title page and back cover of the user manual. We certainly had fewer privacy concerns in those days. Yet another change of the times..

    6. It's a good thing you don't live there anymore!

    7. Thank you so much for these extended comment, Robert.

    8. Bob, thanks again for coming by to offer your recollections! I'm glad you didn't mind the review even though it wasn't overwhelmingly positive. Your descriptions of the development and software limitations of the times really helps establish a context for the games that's otherwise hard to understand 30 years later.

      I appreciate the correction on the randomization of the island locations; I made a note in the entry above. As for your solution to "error handling," I certainly prefer it to a host of other games from this era that offer NO recourse for crashes!

      Developer's home addresses in the manuals are how I've tracked down several other game authors lately, so I'm grateful for your lack of discretion!

    9. Unfortunately reviews don't capture the personal impact games had on the people who played them. Today my brother sent me a text while sailing off the California coast. It was a picture of another sailboat with torn sails. His text read - "Your sails are in tatters!". That one line from so long ago brought back a flood of memories - hours and hours with my dad and brother, crammed into a closet, playing Odyssey and other games on the Apple ][. Odyssey was always one of my favorites - it really felt like an Apventure. Thank you Mr. Clardy.

    10. "Unfortunately reviews don't capture the personal impact games had on the people who played them." Indeed. That's why I appreciate comments like this one.

  2. That's too bad that this game is a suckfest when compared to the previous games in the "series". I'm-a sorta thinking of-a trying the previous-a games, but not-a this-a one.

    Cheesy offensive Italian accent off.

    1. I hope Bob comes back to comment on this one. Something that was kind-of a problem in Wilderness Campaign is that after a few difficult initial combats, the PC army could get so powerful that it was essentially unbeatable. The random number generator ensured that you still lost a few men now and then, but you didn't have to worry about complete annihilation.

      I think Bob tried to solve that problem in this game by having the enemies keep up with the experience and equipment level of the party. The problem is, he went too far in the other direction and essentially punished leveling up.

    2. I sent the article along to his son, so he might be showing up to comment on things again.

  3. Oh dear, "Quadroon" is actually a racial epithet meaning 'One-quarter black'.

    Then again, I'm from Australia, the land of inappropriate names for things:

    1. Didn't we already have the "Quadroon" discussion on the Wilderness Oddysey? I think the developer said he had no idea about this other meaning, and it was just a play on "doubloon" which was a type of coin from back in the day.

    2. It was in the Dungeon Campaign discussion:

      He just meant to suggest that quadroons were twice as valuable as doubloons.

    3. Funny video, by the way. I've never really heard much of his comedy. I like him.

  4. Ha, if you think the leveling of enemies was bad in this game, wait 27 years until you hit Oblivion. I know how I'm going to deal with the enemies respawning as more difficult adversaries in my blog, but damn if it isn't a bizarre design decision.

    1. Yeah, but I see it as very different. In Oblivion, there's essentially no enemy who's unbeatable, no matter how "leveled" he is. The player has so many options when it comes to spells, poisons, potions, enchantments, sneaking, fleeing and returning, and so forth that you're bound to win every battle given time.

      This game is more analogous to a game of War in which for every card you play, the computer decides that the opponent's card is the same value as your card +/- 2. There are no tactics that will get you out of a loss if you play a 10 and the computer decides the enemy has a jack.

  5. Never heard of this one either, but it does bear a bit of resemblance to stuart smith games like Ali Baba and Return of Heracles. Perhaps you would review these too?

    1. They're on my second list for sure. Eventually, I'll have to come up with a plan for fusing the "second" list with my primary list.

  6. I'm sure I played this game as a kid, but I don't think I had any of the manuals. I don't think I had any idea about the main quest. All I remember about the game was trying to build up the biggest army I could. Actually, my strongest memory about the game was that I had bootleg copy of the game, and I had written the name of the game on the label. My older brother and his friend endlessly ridiculed me because I misspelled the name of the game as Odessey. A fair number of my childhood memories are about my brother ridiculing me.

    1. When I was a kid and I was first exposed to 2001: A Space Odyssey, I somehow got it in my head that "odyssey" meant "awesome phenomenon" rather than "journey." I spent about a year using it entirely wrong ("Jim's birthday party was a total odyssey!") before a teacher corrected me.

      Building the "biggest army" is a bad idea in this game because of how quickly it burns through food. I learned that the hard way.

    2. It would seem, based on that film, and Homer's book, that Odyssey should actually mean 'nightmare'. :)

    3. At least you had the name of the game right. I've spent the last 25 years or so swearing this game was called Hail. Couldn't find ANYTHING on it for ages and wasn't sure why. Even asked family more than once and they confirmed the game was called Hail. Yet, here I am seeing this called Odyssey, and it is definitely the game I remember playing. Now if I could just find a fully functional rom of it. One I found didn't work at all, the other keeps throwing errors at me after I've wandered around a little.

  7. Very interesting, didn't know this one. Looks like a primitive version of Sid Meier's Pirates! with more CRPG elements thrown in.

  8. Destiny of an Emperor on the NES is an RPG that uses the concept of large armies to represent character hit points. You actually split your army between different generals in the party, and in place of magic or strategies and formations. I haven't played it, but this is from what I've gathered. I don't know of another game that does this.

    1. Yeah, I thought of DoaE when he was playing Wilderness Campaign. There aren't a lot of games that do that, but that's certainly an example.

      Also, arguably, in "simulation" strategy games descended from Daisenryaku, troops represent hit points.. sort of. In Langrisser, a descendent with some RPG elements, you -sort of- have an RPG-ish thing with men as hitpoints.. but I'm really stretching it. DoaE is probably the closest.

    2. Heroes of Might and Magic (Heroes 3 is the best of the series) isn't quite this, but the basic idea is that the hero leads an army of creatures which fight (the hero can also cast a spell each turn). The hero's attack and defence attributes are added to those of all the creatures under his command, while his intelligence and power attributes control his mana and how effective his spells are. (It's quite well-balanced given that the attributes matter a lot.)

      But anyway you could think of the hero's attributes, at least the attack and defence ones, as applying to an army. Conversely, maybe in Wilderness/Oblivion you are the leader and your attributes affect the performasnce of your men.

  9. Thanks for the mention! It really is curious how this could happen, two games with the same artwork, without anyone really remembering the how or why. What a different era...

    1. Occasionally, today, you'll find books or advertisements that use the same stock art for their covers. I think this is just an early example of that.

    2. The Caustic Cover Critic has an entire category about duplicated art on book covers. See this post as an example:

      [Note that while the above link is safe for work, several parts of that blog are not.]

  10. I played the hell out of this game on the Apple ][ back in my youth. At the time, the sailing section was challenging in a fun way. Then again, I was probably about 13 at the time so what did I know?

    1. It's probably one of those things where something that's "fun" when you only have a couple of games and a lot of time to play them becomes "annoying" when you have a list of 1,000 of them and you're just trying to win the game so you can finish the damned posting.

  11. Sorry if I sound like a broken record, but thank you, thank you again for the archeological coverage!

    1. I'm glad you like them, but I'm not sure why you see these postings as fundamentally different from my regular ones. I'm reaching back to an earlier era, sure, but I don't mean for them to have a different approach or tone.

  12. Has Knights of Legends cured Chet's addiction?

    1. I think so.

    2. Heh, only if you mean his addiction to rapid blog posts.

      I think its more our addiction, to wanting more musings from our dear addict, that is causing the twitches and delirium currently afflicting us.

    3. I had a conference. I should probably tell my readers when I'm going away for those things, but you never know. Sometimes they're boring and I get MORE playing done than when I'm at home.

  13. Wow, when did you get so many commenters Chet? It is taking me longer to read through all of them then the post itself!

    1. Is it really that many more? It looks like 35-50 is about average for my postings since the beginning of the year. CSB sometimes got into the 80s.

    2. It probably just looks like more, since I'm behind and thus seeing them all at once and not spread out over days.

  14. I just finished this game, and wanted to comment on the part of the game you mentioned missing (finding the orb in the dungeon). You saw the wizard on one of the islands, and he would not let you past him. You need to Offer (key O) him something. He would not accept run of the mill items, but will apparently take magical items. I Offered him a flying carpet. He accepted, and I started the Dungeon Adventure style scenario. Boy, were the controls ever clunky.

    First, you get a message saying something like "It's really dark.!" Then there is a noticeable lag time where nothing you hit does anything. Next, I tried to Use an item, intending to Use my oil lamp, just as I would in the ruins during the first (island) part of the game. However, when I hit U I immediately got the message "It's too dark." Instead, you have to hit L for Light. It makes little sense. Then, there are basically two types of traps and two types of monsters. The first trap is a cave in, which was hard for me to figure out how to overcome. I kept reloading my Save State every time I got a cave in, until I figured out you could Burrow out (hit B, if you have a shovel). The second trap is a pit trap, which actually helps you. If your men fall in, you can Use a rope to either help them back up, or to let the rest of your guys climb down. Since the goal is to get to the bottom of the dungeon, it makes sense to climb down.

    The monsters are the same / similar to Dungeon Adventure. The first type is slow moving and turn based (you move a square, then they move a square). The second type is a fast moving, ignore the walls, make a beeline for you type of monster. They manage to convey an ominous feeling, and I ran from them as fast as I could. None of them ever caught me, because I would invariably fall into a pit, and climb down.

    Around the fifth level, I think it was, I found a large room with an altar. The orb was on top of it. You need to Get the orb. Incidentally, there are other minor treasures you can Get scattered around the dungeon, but they are the same types you can find elsewhere (I found some leather armor, some mirrors, etc.). Once I found the orb, I thought I needed to find the stairs up (I used a pit on the way down). I ran into another pit trap, and you have the option of going down again. I have no idea what happens if you do, as I helped my men up instead. I never found the stairs, and instead found an exit. Silly me, I hit E for Exit, forgetting of course that E meant East. East took me back the way I came, and into a cave in that wasn't there before (sigh). I found out you need to stand on the exit and hit O for Out. Then you're back to the ship.

    Overall, I'd say the dungeon isn't bad, once you learn the quirky commands, which I never really got the hang of. It's hard to figure them out with all the turbo monsters chasing you, and the lag time. If you do manage to catch your breath, you can hit a non-used key (I think I used K) which will pull up all the acceptable commands.

    1. Brilliant. Not having experienced the dungeon part of the game has always bothered me, so thanks for filling in that hole.

  15. So glad I ran into this page. odyssey was my favorite game on the Apple II. Even after I upgraded to Wimdows, I still kept the old Apple around just to play the games. In fact, I didn't toss out my Apple IIC until two months ago. How's that for a Geeky confession?

    One addendum to this discussion, regarding the High One's orb. It was a requirement for successfully ending the game. If you landed on the High One's island without the orb you had no chance of seizing power. In fact, a warning would appear telling you that you didn't have a chance. I tried it just for the hell of it, and even though I defeated the obstacles (burned the thorn forest, opened the spiked door with the Gold Key, neutralized the Medusa with mirrors) the High One's troops massacred my men.

  16. Seems this one -

    was an ASCII graphics CRPG for the Dragon/TRS-80 inspired by this series of games. Must have been my first CRPG as a child, when I still had no idea more advanced varieties of the genre existed.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Hi. I came across the blog trying to figure out whereas the original game was shipped in a carton box. Some of games of the era came in a plastic bag. I am a collector and i have the oportunity to buy the game but it comes in a plastic bag and i dont know if it is complete. Robert clardy himself commented on the blog so maybe he or someone else that has the original game can answer. In any case an amazing and revolutionary game.

    1. We won't know for sure unless Mr. Clardy himself returns to comment, but I would suspect the plastic bag is original, mostly because the disk and manual had such low production values. See the materials on the game at the Museum of Computer Adventure Game History. None of their "exhibits" show a box, just crudely printed manuals.

  19. Update on my previous comment. The game came indeed in a plastic bag. That is certain. The manual though doesn't look like it is one of the known versions. The cover of the manual is a monochrome version of the colored version that appears in the website of the museum of computer adventure game history. I have already contacted robert clardy. I dont know if he will respond but in any case if someone has relevant info please share.

  20. Playing this with my 10yo in 2023. The blog post itself is somewhat archival at this point, but it brings back a ton of memories of my childhood. I do remember the terror of the tunnel borers after hours and hours of what's essentially a turn based game.

    Right now we're trying to figure out how to stop the crazy flying rug we got very early in the game. (I haven't looked yet, but I'm pretty sure the odds of getting it so early are pretty low. Not sure if it's rare always or there's some sort of time/development built into it but it can ruin the fun of the game getting it right away.)

    1. I'm curious how a 10-year-old regards a game like this. Is he authentically interested or kind of a captive audience?


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