Thursday 19 November 2015

Missed Classic: Adventure Quest - Beeb beeb

By Ilmari

Yonder and Back Again for Tea, by Gumbo Baggins, Chapter 2: Size Doesn't Matter, If You Know How to Wave Balls of Silver

Oliphants and talking trees, I say! Tales of my ancestors seem so childish now. If they just would have seen all the wonders and monstrous things I have witnessed - the beast with a human face, the ghost made of smokeless fire, the hairy man living in cold and the nameless terror from the distant places where space is all wrong - they would have run away from these stones to Shire with nothing coming out of their mind except maniac laughter and drips of drool.

Hello hello moshi moshi everyone! Last time playing this game, set on Middle-Earth, I learned that I am about to destroy an evil demon AGALIAREPT with a Talisman of Life, but first I should find four elemental stones. I had some difficulties in crossing a desert, mainly because sand worms stopped my exploration quickly. For a moment, I entertained a thought that I should ride one of them, but after a while, I noticed a more mundane solution. Whenever I moved in the desert, the worms came nearer, but whenever I spent a round doing something else, they went away. In other words, all I had to do was to move one screen at a time, wait and then move again.

Land beyond desert

The first thing of interest I met after crossing the desert was a pyramid guarded by a sphinx. What has this to do with Middle-Earth, you wonder? Wait for it, you haven't seen the worst yet...

Sphinx, you say... I bet it can't riddle what's in Mr. Baggins's pockets
I arrived at rocky outcrop and a wadi with oil seeping out of ground. I could fill my bottle with oil - now, only thing I required was a rusty door. Moving west, I found only dead ends and an oasis with a djinn guarding it (J.R.R., try to remain calm!). Every time I tried to enter the oasis, the djinn teleported me to some arbitrary location - and if it happened to be underwater, I died.

Moving east, I faced a mountain I could climb. Going up, I found a stone staircase, which led me finally to a tower guarded by orcs. Was I already at my final destination? Hard to say, since I was promptly killed by the orcs, if I dared to approach the tower.

I noticed that before the tower, there was a sheep trail moving around it. Walking few screens, I met a giant, who quickly killed me.

What next? I had met four obstacles: the sphinx, the djinn, the orcs and the giant. Out of these, the sphinx was easiest to deal with. The pyramid it guarded was still on the area where the sand worms patrolled. All I had to do then was to time the arrival of sand worm by waiting and walking, so that it would eat the sphinx, but I would have had enough time to run to the rocky outcrop. Problem solved!

Entering the pyramid was now quite easy. Or actually I had to first deal with some snakes. Luckily, I had the pipes from the forest, which I could use for playing and so command the snakes away. Here I was in a pyramid, then.

Sun god? Well, I guess there's Arien
A sun-dial near oasis? All I had seen there was some apparent dead ends, but perhaps there might be a way to get through them. With some failed attempts to solve this puzzle, I moved my attention to the other obstacles.

The next thing I tried was the giant. I got sling and a silver ball, so the solution for this Goliath was pretty evident. The only thing that eluded me was how to phrase this act with the two-word parser. Should I just have the sling in my possession and throw the ball? No, that didn't seem to work.

At this point I turned on to a nice feature included in the Level 9 interpreter - it allows you to see what vocabulary the game accepts. Yeah, I know it's cheating to rely on such a thing, so one minus point for me (- 1).

The only thing even remotely connected to slings was waving. So I waved my sling (and the ball in it, I guess).

Yeah, you just fetch your helmet...

...but I am sure the graphical version paints the true picture
Getting rid of the giant, I could continue my journey round the tower. At least the graphical version calls it the guard tower, so it is probably not yet the place of final boss battle. I really do have to wonder what it is guarding, since it is so easy to go round it.

Further up in the mountain I could find some boulders, but I had not enough strength to do anything with them, so I just had to continue my trek. Finally, I reached the top of the mountain. Naturally, I found an abominable snowman.

The snowman was chained to the mountain, so it couldn't harm me. I checked out it's cave, but it was all dark. Well, since I had this set of keys, I might as well let the beast run wild. Surprisingly, the snowman did not smash me, but jumped around in joy. I could even carry it around. So, the next thing I did was to take the snowman to the boulders downhill and try to use his strength to my advantage. Together we managed to push the boulders down.

It could be one of Lossoth, so this might actually be canon

With orcs gone, I could now enter the tower. In the ground floor, all I found was a piece of rope in a guard room. I guess that's always useful in adventuring so I took it with me.

I then followed stairs going to the top of the tower. With every step I took, I was told how a strange smell was becoming stronger. At the top of stairs, a door opened into a gloomy room. Stepping in, I was told that a dark shape made out of tentacles was coming at me.

What kind of trashy author would invent such a ridiculous thing?

...aaahh, that would be me

Needless, to say, the thing out of H. P. Lovecraft's nightmares ripped me apart in a second. That avenue closed, I was left with nothing to do. Time to look up the official clue sheet.

What hint should I take, I pondered. Let's see this one about the location of the sun-dial I was supposed to bring to the priestess. "In the sun-Dial Cave" (- 2). So, where's the sun-Dial Cave, then? "Behind the Slab of Rock, north of the Dry Canyon" (- 3). Well, that didn't help me much and I am really stacking up negative points! So. one more hint: what to do with the Slab of Rock (- 4)? "Say Open Sesame".

Is this thing done by C. S. Lewis?

I know J. R. R., this was my reaction

It's not just that the game is moving fast away from canonical Middle-Earth, but also the whole puzzle stinks. How was I supposed to know that I should say "Open Sesame", especially as I am not playing a game set in Arabian nights?

But this wasn't all. In the graphical version, I got easily to the sun-Dial Cave, but not so in the text version. "Please be more specific" was all I received as an answer. I tried varying the words, since the game has been rather creative in its spelling, but to no avail.

It's nice that they give a hint by referring to Ali, but shouldn't it be outside?

I thought for a while just abandoning the text version, but then I got the bright idea that people had already suggested I should use some emulator to make it all more authentic. I quickly searched for an emulator of another legendary British computer: BBC, known also as "The Beeb", from which the emulator also gets its name "BeebEm".

I suppose some Korean girl band loves this machine too

Now this looks authentic!
Now things were moving fast forward. I returned the Sacred sun-Dial to the priestess of Sun God, and she gave me a ruby as a reward. A little bit of experimentation revealed that throwing the ruby to the Lovecraftian monster banished the thing into some other realm. I could now search the alcove in the gloomy room. I discovered an emerald eye and a bag that made some strange noises. Opening the bag let out a strong gust of wind. I knew exactly where to use it.

That djinn is going to get what it deserves

Opening the bag at the oasis produced a strong wind that blew the djinn away to a lamp, which I pocketed. In the oasis itself, I found a trident (a wild guess: I'll find a clam to open with it).

Now that I had a lamp, I could finally shed some light on the dark cave of the abominable snowman.

I wonder what all these white spots mean

Picture does no justice to the place

The next step was obvious. I tied my rope to a stalagmite in the cave and descended. I arrived on a ledge, which crumbled under me and I was caught in a rapid river.

This seems to be a good place to stop this time. Although I might have sounded quite critical with all my Tolkien purism, I have surprisingly enjoyed the experience more than I first expected. There has been one awful puzzle and some dubious parser problems, but overall the progress has been fun. We'll see if my mind changes when I try to get myself out of the river.

Hints required: - 4

Session time: 3 and half hours
Total time: 6 hours

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


  1. Man, that korean girl band video was a pure torture for the ears! (for the 20 seconds I could endure it)

    1. Yeah, them Korean MVs in the pre-2010's era were terrible.

      Now, it's all sexed-up to be anything but.

  2. Hilariously, the BBC emulator images are far clearer (I tend to view this site on my phone) to read than the comparably far more modern layout of the other emulator.

    This really is an obscene mishmash of cultures. I'm betting on facing a Mongol horde next - they were near some deserts too, weren't they? (This is my view into the minds of the developer, naturally)

    1. It might be something do with the contrast. White text from black background stands out a bit better than black text from white background.

      Well, yes, there's figures from Egypt (pyramid and sphinx), Arabia (djinn and Open sesame), Bible (Goliath-style giant), Tibet (snowman), Middle-Earth (orcs), Dune (sand worm) and Lovecraft (tentacled monster), so Mongol horde would just make sense!

      Seriously, I think I've put the desert behind me now. This seems to be quite linear game, where you move from area with one theme (desert) to another (underground river/lake), without ever returning to the earlier area.

    2. Colors and fonts are completely customizable in the interpreter, by the way. I have mine with white text on a black background, and a monospaced, larger font.

      I also prefer to use a window taller than it is wide (so the picture is on the top, but most of the window is text, instead of the picture using half the window like we see here), but this is just a question of personal taste.

    3. I haven't really explored the opportunities offered by the interpreter, except the obvious one of playing the games. Perhaps I'll do it with the final installment of this trilogy.

  3. Errr, there was a tentacle monster in Tolkien:

    1. Yes, that's true. Then again, that tentacled monster (some sort of octopus?) lived in water, but this tentacled monster lived in a room. (I think there was something more in the description, to make it more Lovecraftian than Tolkenian, but it's been so long since I played the game that I can't be sure.)

    2. No worries, such are the dangers of getting out of the habit of reading for three years and then trying to catch up!

    3. I'll just hope there's enough good material to keep you interested.