Saturday 19 August 2023

Missed Classic: Plundered Hearts - Won!

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back to Plundered Hearts and epic pirate romance! You read that title correctly and didn’t miss any posts: I won already! Even if it feels a bit shorter than most of the Infocom canon, it has been a ton of fun to play through. I’m not going to claim to have a new appreciation for romance fiction and I am not yet eager to buy books with Fabio on the cover, but I am glad that I experienced it. The game leans into Brigg’s fantastic “romance novel” prose and so I’ll do my best to share a bit more of that than usual in this post, to give you a better feel for what this adventure is like.  We will also have one more post after this for missed scenes, cut content, and the final rating.

Where we left off, we (the Lady Dimsford) had just escaped our pirate friends/captors on the Helena Louise and floated to shore in a barrel. We are now on the island of St. Sinistre with an invitation to a ball but nothing to wear. I’m expecting to explore the island to find Lafond’s mansion, buy a dress in a shop with the money we were given, and go and rescue my pirate boyfriend. I wasn’t completely wrong.

Not the comfiest way to get ashore.

Our barrel stops in the shallows, not far from the skiff that Captain Jamison took to shore. I suppose I could ride that back to the ship if I wanted, but having worked so hard to get off of it, I don’t want to row back there immediately. Instead, I head inland and quickly find a set of stairs leading up to a lawn at the rear of a bustling mansion. We hear music and voices. Am I at the ball already?

Two men stand whispering in the shadows. You catch an occasional word, “Davis dead… girl… Falcon on Sinistre.” The men separate, the well-dressed one going into the ballroom as the other slinks into the bushes. You see his face. Crulley!

Let’s pause and take this in because it’s not what I expected, at least not yet. I did not expect our barrel-excursion to take us straight to the villain’s lair! I don’t (yet) have appropriate attire for a ball. Even worse, we are greeted immediately by the worst rapist (that I know of) in interactive fiction: Crulley. What is a soaking wet member of the gentry currently dressed as a cabin boy to do?

Let’s dance! I walk up to the veranda and try the door, but it is locked. Judging by what we can see inside, the ball has started already and our only option is to explore the grounds. We can head either east or west around the house and I choose west to start. The area is not expansive and I quickly discover vines on the outside of the mansion that I can climb to reach a second story window. By an amazing coincidence, that happens to be the ladies’ dressing room! And someone left their spare ball gown on the bed! This all feels too easy. Is it a trap or lazy writing? I swap my boy-clothes for the gown and explore the upstairs of the mansion. Other than a stairwell down, the only other room I find is a sitting room furnished in Turkish decor with a pair of dueling pistols on the wall. Unfortunately, they are too high to reach. The game also makes a point to remind me that wielding guns is not “ladylike” and I’m not sure if that is foreshadowing or sexism. Avoiding the stairs to the mansion proper, I resume exploring the rest of the grounds. I am forced to change back into the boy-clothes to clamber down the vines.

Further around the west side of the mansion, I locate the trade entrance. I duck inside to find a kitchen and someone that seems to be expecting me:

   A blond woman huddles alone by the fire, as if cold.

   The woman smiles uncertainly, then rushes over. “Are you come from the village, boy? Dost thou know Lord Dimsford?” She sighs at your surprise. “So he sent you – I am his Lucy. It’s been so long since I’ve seen him. Lafond caught me eavesdropping and now I can’t leave the grounds.” 

What does “his Lucy” mean? I check back in the manual and realize that it doesn’t really say anything about our mother. Presumably, she is dead, otherwise dad will have a lot of explaining to do. Is Lucy the one that father was trying to rescue when he sent Jamison after me? What is Lucy’s relationship to my father? 

   “I haven’t found Lafond’s papers, I’m watched too closely. Tell Dimsford that I – I’m scared, and I want him to come get me. Give this to him – he’ll recognize it.” Lucy slides a garter down her leg and holds it out to you. 

That answers that question! I take the garter and try to tell her that I am his daughter, but the parser doesn’t recognize it. She expresses surprise and fear when I tell her that he’s been captured. She calls him “Dear Dimsy” and I’m not certain how I feel about dad moving on. I’ll deal with that later. I make note to find these papers that dad needs. Going further into the house gets me immediately tossed out by the butler as a “tradesman”, so I’ll have to climb in through the window if I want to explore more. I finish exploring around the house to discover that armed guards are patrolling the driveway and there is no way to leave the grounds. There is no path further clockwise so I must return to the veranda to plot my next move.

Another vocabulary word.

On the southeast side of the house, I discover a “folly”. I had to look that up in the dictionary, but it means a “costly ornamental building with no practical purpose, especially a tower or mock-Gothic ruin built in a large garden or park.” A bamboo slat at the back is loose and I consider exploring that when Jamison arrives.

   Captain Jamison enters the folly, stooping to avoid the flowers dangling over the door. “I thought I heard someone. What the devil are you doing here! Lafond is a dangerous man to play with!” Jamison sighs. “What an astounding girl you are, my dear. And so ingeniously dressed.” He plucks a flower from the tangle above the door, and sets it in your hair. “The beauty of this blossom is nothing to yours.” 

I try to tell him about Lucy, but he seems distracted…

    Catching his breath, Jamison pulls you against him, his hands circling your waist, crushing the flower between you. “Darling,” he whispers, leaning over you, “oh, my angel…” 

It goes on like this for a bit as I try to ask him pertinent questions and he wants… something else.

   “My lovely,” Jamison says huskily. His eyes burn intently, their blue like the sea on a summer's day. A shiver of warmth flows through you, and you tremble at his touch. The pirate’s hands, warm and exciting, caress you, searing through the thin linen of your chemise. His lips near yours, his breath softly scented. “May I kiss you?”

I’m not sure about 1670s sexual attitudes, 1980s ones, or even 2020s one, but consent is very sexy. I like that he asked first and it’s a nice contrast to the non-stop threats of rape in this game. The fact that he wants to kiss someone who is currently dressed as a boy with a flower in her hair is hot is a completely different– and no doubt unintentional– way. I hope no one catches us! 

> yes

Breathless, eager, you lean into him.

   Tender is his kiss, soft hips lips as his body presses hard against you. You drown in the tide of your passion, swept like the sea against the rocks of the shore.

I could quote more, but Jamison eventually tears himself away so that he can resume his revenge plot and save my father. He’s impressed by our pluck! As if to further demonstrate just what kind of tomboy-adventuring woman I am, I pry open the bamboo slat and climb into the hedges that make up the edge of the mansion’s property. (Did you know that there are species of bamboo native to the Caribbean and well-known to 17th century colonists? I looked it up!)

Working my way around the eastern edge of the house through the hedge, I come across an open window leading to a library and a familiar sight.

The other side of our banknote.

This scene explains why our feelie was a banknote instead of a coin. On the north wall of the library is the portrait that was used as a template for Lafond’s 50-guinea note. Even more, the room itself seems to be the same location from the portrait: we find his globe, the Treatise on Power on the bookshelf, and even his hat on a nearby hatstand. When we pick up the hat, we detect a low vibration in the floor. Something is going on… is it a trap? 

Pulling the book from the shelf reveals that it is a lever, causing a “mysterious scraping” sound from behind the wall. We seem to have found a puzzle, but what are we supposed to do? The answer is copy protection and unfortunately I was spoiled on it at some point, although I didn’t recognize the puzzle until just now. We are supposed to imitate Lafond in his money-pose: wear the hat, hold the book, and touch St. Sinistre on the globe. When I touch the correct spot, it clicks like a button, opening a hidden door in the north wall. I search the room for Lafond’s papers and do not find any. Perhaps they are downstairs? While I like this puzzle as copy protection, I am less sold that putting the secret to your hidden room on all of your money is a good idea.

Let’s discuss for just a second the Treatise on Power. I thought I recognized the title, but the book in the game, written by “Sir Michael Villiers”, is not real.  In real life, that title usually refers to The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, a book written in 1537 as part of the Reformation and argues against the need for the Pope’s approval to be a good heaven-bound Christian. I used to blog about religion and I vaguely think I read about that a decade or more ago. A different book written in 1556, A Short Treatise on Political Power, argues that subjects have the right to punish badly-behaving monarchs. Neither of these books seem like the type that Jean Lafond would have on his bookshelf and official portrait. In context, I expected something more like Machiavelli’s The Prince

Unfortunately, there is not much I can explore downstairs yet:

An anteroom to the south is guarded by a hungry crocodile. It seems to be interested in the pork, but feeding it does not let me sneak by. Throwing it also doesn’t help.

To the east is a hallway with two jail cells. The first has been converted into a guard’s room, complete with cot. I also find a key and a powder horn filled with “powder and shot”. That looks like it could be useful for the dueling pistols.

The second cell is empty and does not look as if it has been occupied recently. The guard’s key doesn’t fit the lock.

That is everything I can do for now. I have explored the full house and grounds plus the basement as far as I can go. The only thing I have left to do is put on a gown and go dancing!

The game describes a “cream silk” gown with embroidery on the “stiffened skirt and stomacher.” This at least is from the right era.

I get dressed and show my invitation to the butler. (He greets me as “Mrs. Davis.”) No sooner do I enter the dance floor than Captain Jamison sweeps me off my feet. We dance.

Our escapade is not all about dancing: as we pirouette, he updates me on his progress. He has been unable to find my father but believes that there is a hidden passage under the library. He hasn’t found the entrance yet, but I have. Sadly, we cannot seem to tell him about our discovery to ask for help with the crocodile. He also reminds us that we can summon help from the ship if we make a signal at an upper seaward window. The whole time, the game narrates our dance as we swoop around and turn to other dancers in a highly choreographed way, albeit one that our character is very familiar with. I’m not sure what kind of dance it is, but it feels like it would have been right at home in a Jane Austen novel. Jamison asks that we call him “Nicholas” and we have a great time until he discovers that we are being watched. As soon as the dance ends, Jamison slips back into the crowd, but not before suggesting once again that I head back to the ship.

Moments later, I am pressured into a second dance. It’s Lafond!

A fashionably bewigged man stalks up to you and bows deeply. “Will you dance?” he asks, with a light French accent. “Not that you have much choice. If you turn me down, your father dies.”

We dance and he admits that he is no friend either to my father or me. He admits that dad is in his dungeon and that’s two clues in the last five minutes that I’ll need to search for him past the crocodile. The dance doesn’t end without some old-fashioned threats of rape. Pirates, even “reformed” ones that pose as Governors, are so predictable.

Lafond’s eyes rake your body. “When I am ready, the butler will summon you to sup with me in my room; it may be some time. We will find much in common before dawn, I am sure. Then I may free your father.” Lafond bows as the dance ends, and kisses your hand. He cocks his head, curious. “You have far less spirit than your father credited you. He swore you would have him freed in no time at all. A pity, I prefer doyennes with mettle.” He moves to speak to the butler, then drifts into the crowd. 

Does his complaint mean that I should have fought more? He was revealing his master plan and I didn’t want to stop him. He intends to swap me as a love-slave for my father’s freedom, presumably because I am both nicer looking and more fun in bed. 

Once I am free, I resume exploring. I did miss two rooms upstairs on the eastern end of the house. The first is Lafond’s bedroom, behind a locked door. I try my key, but no dice. The second is a gallery overlooking the dance floor. A convenient chandelier, suspended by a rope, is nearby and I am immediately reminded of Errol Flynn. As the only “seaward” window seems to be in Lafond’s bedroom, I might need to let him catch me in order to signal the ship. Since my only obvious puzzle is the crocodile, I focus on that.


I’ll spare you the trial and error, but it doesn’t take me too long to work out the trick: if I put the sleeping medication (that I found on the ship) onto the pork and throw it at the crocodile, it will fall asleep in a few turns and allow me to cross the room.

Immediately beyond the crocodile is a torture room with manacles on the wall and a covered well in the middle of the floor. I die trying to climb down the well, a rare example where my fate is not “worse than death” in this game. Beyond that is a single locked jail cell, but the key that I found works perfectly. It’s dad!

   As you enter, a tall bony man moves out of the darkness. “Papa,” you cry, rushing into his arms. 

   “Why, hullo, my dear.” He hugs you tightly. “Nick certainly took his time about fetching you.” He squints in horror at your clothes. “I have always found the London fashions quite abominable.” 

Now that he’s free, we discuss the next part of the plan. He will fetch Lucy while I grab Jamison. We’ll meet at the beach and flee the island together. He asks me to lead him out of the dungeon.

Along the way, we have a strange interaction with the crocodile:

   Your father stops, smiling at the crocodile. “Hullo, chum, how are you?” He bends over the creature, and scratches its bumpy snout, muttering, “Never seen you sleep like this before.” It stirs to life as your father walks over to you at the entrance. The reptile, waking, lunges after him, choking on its chain. 

What am I supposed to make of that? Did dad know the crocodile? I thought this was Jamison’s mansion before Lafond took it over, so why would Dad be familiar with the crocodile? And if he did know the crocodile, why did he need me to lead him out of the dungeon? Something doesn’t add up, but I could be misremembering or misunderstanding a bit of the backstory. The important thing is that the crocodile is awake again. 

Back on the surface, Dad escapes out the window, but Jamison is not so fortunate. He’s caught immediately.

   There is a commotion from the west. A woman screams and a man yells, “Stop, Pirate!” You run to the foyer in time to see two dragoons dragging out the battered frame of Captain Jamison. 

   An officer quiets the guests, “This is the buccaneer who has been pirating our ships. He had the audacity to come here tonight intending to assassinate our dear governor. Do not worry, ladies, he was arrogant enough to come alone.” The officer marches after his men. The dancers return to their banal conversations.

There goes our escape plan! I’d be glad to rescue Jamison, but I don’t get far before the butler nabs me. It’s time for my dinner date with Lafond.

Not the most flattering picture, but I like it.

Upstairs, the door to Lafond’s room is now unlocked. What follows is chaotic, but it starts with an extended dinner scene that feels a bit out of The Princess Bride. He starts by pouring us both glasses of wine. I am immediately suspicious and refuse to drink mine, but he becomes frustrated and tells me that he will kill the ones I love if I do not cooperate. Before I can parse that (did he mean Jamison or my father? Or both?) Jamison bursts in. How did he get free?

   Suddenly, the door slams open. It is Jamison, coatless, sword bared, his shirt ripped. “Thank God I am not too late. Leave, darling, before I skewer this dog to his bedposts,” he cries. The scar on his cheek gleams coldly. 

   With a yell, Cruelly and the butler jump out of the darkness behind him. Nicholas struggles, but soon lies unconscious on the floor.

   “Take him to the dungeon,” Lafond says, setting down his glass. “You, butler, stay nearby. I do not wish to be disturbed again.” 

   “Now that we are rid of that intrusion, cherie, I will change into something more comfortable. Pour me more wine.” He crosses to the wardrobe, removing his coat and vest, turned slightly away from you. 

That was… disappointing. My knight in shining armor lasted less than 30 seconds! On the bright side, I realize now that Crulley and the butler were both standing watch and only the butler remains. One down, two to go.

The next bit dials up The Princess Bride style of comedy to eleven. Lafond now invites me to pour us both wine while he gets into more comfortable clothing. We have two cups: a green one that I was drinking from, and a blue one that he was. This gives me a chance to slip the sleeping medicine into one of the cups before serving. I put it in his cup, only for him to catch me out of the corner of his eye. He asks which cup is his, I tell him the poisoned one, and naturally he forces me to drink it. What follows is a very slow scene where I fall asleep after a few turns and everything goes as badly as you expect. If I try to lie about which cup was his, he also catches me that way. We have to be extra sneaky, putting the poison in our own cup and telling him the truth about what cup was his and finally he almost drinks it. Unfortunately, he claims that since my father is no fool, I might not be either. He gives his wine to the butler instead and searches us to discover the medication. He promptly tosses it out the window. 

While this was going on, a tray of food (spiced chicken) arrives from the kitchen. It’s from Lucy and Lafond reveals, conversationally, that he plans to kill her soon. Did she know the chicken was coming for me? I check and notice a pile of spices in the center of the tray. I pick up and toss the spice mixture into Lafond’s face, catching him in the eye. He howls in pain and runs out of the room. I try to escape but am caught immediately by the butler… immediately, but not successfully. No sooner am I in his clutches than he falls asleep (finally) from the spiked wine. 

Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!

The next part was quite a bit harder than I am going to make it sound. Even with Lafond temporarily out of the way (he will return to his room in a few turns so we need to be out of there), we still cannot get past the crocodile to rescue Jamison. I am convinced for a very long time that the solution involves the chicken: if I can just spike the chicken with the sleeping medicine before throwing it at the croc, I’ll be able to get by. The problem is that Lafond tosses out the medication. We then have to spike the chicken before he catches us with the wine, a tricky proposition that takes multiple attempts and only works if you do pretty much everything else in as few turns as possible. I finally (finally!) make it work… only to have the crocodile refuse to eat the chicken. My only guess is that he doesn’t like spicy chicken, though honestly he ate most anything else before. I have to find another path past the croc.

I am drawn to the idea that Lafond’s room looks out onto the harbor and we can see the Helena Louise in the distance. I am inspired to wonder if we cannot signal the ship, but I go about this in all the wrong ways. I try the pistols again, thinking that I could create a signal flare. No change with those, unfortunately. I look everywhere for fire that I can take or make, but ladies don’t play with fire. It’s a moon-lit night but it is night, so it doesn’t occur to me that I could have used a mirror to signal the ship. Eventually, I give up and take that hint– the only one I needed the whole game– and use the silver platter to reflect the moonlight towards the boat. They signal back that they saw the message and we’re on! I had the right idea, but spent too much time fixated on finding something bright instead of just using what I had in front of me.

Public domain images, old paintings, and AI “art”! We’re running the gamut today.

With the ship signaled, it’s only a few turns before the pirates arrive, led by our friend Cookie. He meets up with me downstairs and asks me to lead him downstairs to Jamison. When you have a pirate friend, crocodiles are less of an obstacle: Cookie just leaps into the pool and wrestles with the thing! While he’s distracting the beast, I continue past to find Jamison.

Unlike my father, Jamison isn’t in the cell: he’s manacled in the torture room.


   You sense, rather than see, the rusty skeletons of old cages and torture devices that line the walls of this cavernous room. One flaming torch, high on a wall, casts mad licks of light into the darkness. Passages lead north and west. Set deep in the rocky floor is an open trapdoor. 

   Nicholas is spread-eagled against the wall, shackled in the pair of manacles. 

   A rapier lies in the half-dark of a corner. 

   Crulley steps leering out of the shadows and cracks the whip near you, hopping you towards the open trapdoor. “What, afrighted of a lick o’ the whip?”

Despite the dire circumstance, there’s not too much puzzle to this situation and I only need to pick up the rapier and attack Crulley with it twice. Even though the game stresses that we “hardly know the tip from the hilt” (which cannot possibly be a sex joke), Crulley is enough of an incompetent pirate to let us hit him. He cries out “Avast me! Pricked by a woman!” (which also cannot possibly be a sex joke) before falling into the open trapdoor. He catches himself with his hook a few feet down, but I close the well cover and turn to Jamison.

My surprisingly incompetent beau is unconscious. I have no problem picking the manacle locks with the brooch (see? I knew it would be a lock pick) and wake him with the smelling salts that I’ve been carrying the whole time. 

You wave the smelling salts under Nicholas’s nose. He stirs, sneezes and looks at you blearily. “How –?” he says, bewildered. “Lafond, did he –?” He straightens. “Darling, you are an angel, to have gone through all this and then rescue me. Your ravisher will not go unpunished.” He squares his shoulders. “For my brother, his wife, and your honor, I will kill Jean Lafond.” 

   Nick kisses you briefly, a butterfly touching your lips, then seizes his rapier and runs off to the north. Cookie calls a breathless, “Hullo, Cap’n” to him as he races past. 

   Sounds of scraping hook against stone and curses echo out of the well, muffled by the trapdoor.

I race back upstairs and Cookie follows. It’s been only a few moments, but Jamison and Lafond are dueling in the ballroom. Cookie reveals that there is no way for Jamison to win in his condition, the two bouts of imprisonment and torture have taken too much out of him. If I do almost anything, Jamison loses the battle in a few turns. All I have time to do is race up to the gallery, untie the rope, and make that chandelier swing that I’ve been looking forward to. In a word, “Whee!”

Who hasn’t wanted to do this?

The scene is so good, let me recount it in full:

   Nicholas and Lafond circle each other intently, the one breathing hard, the other casual, sword tips almost touching. Jamison has lost copious amounts of blood and is no match for Lafond, cool and competent.

“You… must… pay for your actions!” Nicholas gasps.

> untie rope

Untied. The chandelier swings slightly, dribs of of hot wax spilling to the floor. 

   Someone calls out, “We’ve got the Dimsford girl, Governor.”  – lying, of course, since you’re obviously free. But Nick glances towards the voice, missteps, and slips in his own blood, falling backwards to the floor, his rapier skittering aside.

> swing on rope

“Aaieeee!” The cry comes uncalled to your lips as you swoop down from the balcony, petticoats flying, on the end of the rope.

Your timing is perfect: you slam into Lafond just as he steps into his lunge. His rapier stabs wildly, piercing Nicholas’s shoulder, missing his heart. You and Lafond roll into a snowball of petticoats and brocade, dropping everything between you.

   Nicholas shouts, from far away, “Let me go! Let me deliver Lafond to a ‘better’ world!”

   “A gentleman can’t kill an unconscious man!” That is Papa’s voice, “And you’re in no shape to continue, Nicholas. Rodney – help my daughter. I’ll take Nick.”

   Cookie leans over you. “We must get back to the ship, Miss. Dragoons surround the house.” Nicholas, injured but still arguing, is already on the veranda, half-supported by your father, shadowed by Lucy. Cookie helps you to your feet and rushes after them, expecting you to follow. Lafond lies nearby, apparently unconscious.”

Even if a gentleman cannot kill an unconscious man, can a woman? No, it turns out not. (Anyone hoping for an Éowyn moment will be sadly disappointed.) We are also too polite to search Lafond’s body or steal his wig. If we spend more than a moment looking around, the dragoons arrive and kill us so we quickly exit onto the veranda to get to the beach. 

Not going to need this anymore!

We race to the beach. I stop and cut my foot on a sharp stone (which I immediately pocket) and make it to the skiff, but not before Lafond is awake and coming after us.

   A shot rings out over the roar of the surf. Turning, you see that Lafond stands at the top of the cliff, a pistol in each hand. “Trying to sneak out the back, cowards? You will die like your brother, Falcon. Sniveling for mercy.” He hands one gun to Crulley, standing nearby, and levels the other at Jamison.

Now we know where the dueling pistols got off to! Or, perhaps the pirates just carry their own guns. Either way, that means trouble. 

   As the gun fires, Cookie throws himself before his captain. He cries out, blood blossoming on his shoulder, and falls face first into the sand. Lucy runs to him.

   Jamison yells up the cliff, brandishing his sword. “Fight like a man, Lafond. You have drawn my blood once tonight – let me draw yours.”

   Lafond sneers, “On one condition. If I win, your lady comes to me. You will have no need of her when you are dead.”

   Nicholas stiffens, glancing at the dragoons on the cliff above, and turns slowly to you. He says nothing, his face hard, but his eyes tell you what you want to know. “Answer, my darling. Yes or no?”

I, of course, answer “yes” because we’re going to beat Lafond. 

> yes

You have no breath to speak. You nod once, never taking your eyes off of Nicholas Jamison.

   Nicholas looks determined. “I accept. So long as my people go free if I win. Order your dragoons to obey us, then.” In answer, Lafond jumps off the cliff like a huge brocaded bat to land in front of Captain Jamison. “Die then, fool!”

   The pistol, spinning from Lafond’s grip, drops to the sand of the beach.

You’ll notice that he didn’t tell the dragoons to back off. I’m sure that’s just an honest oversight.

   Lafond immediately takes the advantage, forcing Nicholas in a retreat towards the foaming surf. But Nicholas fights hard, jaw set, ignoring his wounds. Lafond finally loses his smile.

   Behind the duellists, far away atop the cliff, you notice Crulley madly reloading the pistol. 

Watching the scene unfold, I grab Lafond’s dropped pistol for myself. Suddenly, the game doesn’t complain about a lady wielding a gun for some reason.

   Suddenly, the force of the duel turns, Nicholas advancing against Lafond’s retreat. Their blades silently flash in moonlight. Lafond is pressed back into the shadow of the cliff, sweat beading on his forehead. Abruptly, Jamison leaps forward, metal scrapes, and his rapier licks neatly into Lafond’s ribs, like a snake slipping into its burrow. The body of the governor of St. Sinistre convulses, as in amazement, then sags dead on the sword. 

   Nicholas removes a gold ring from the dead man’s finger, throwing his own cheap copy into the surf. 

   Far above him, Crulley moves down the stairs. 

I must have missed something important with Lafond and Jamison’s matched pair of rings. Maybe they were friends once? In any event, Crulley doesn’t seem to think that the battle’s over, or perhaps he just suspects that he was appointed governor by assassination. 

I load the pistol… except I cannot because I dropped the horn and shot when I swung on the chandelier. Nicholas joins me for a very brief celebration before we are both shot dead with no one even bothering with the “fate worse than death” nonsense. I reload and get the powder before I flee and try again. I wait until Crulley is just about to fire and then…

> shoot crulley

Trembling, you fire the heavy pistol. You hear its loud report over roaring surf. Crulley staggers, hit, and falls from the cliff. The gun falls from your nerveless hands.

   Time stops as you and Nicholas gaze at one another, adoring and amazed. Slowly he bows and offers his hand.

   Chestnut hair, tousled by the wind, frames the tan oval of his face. His eyes, twin seas of blue, devour you with a love deep and true-hearted, and you are pulled into his embrace, your mouth on his, lips parted, thirsting, arching into his kiss…


   As dawn breaks over the eastern seas, you stand with Nicholas on his ship, looking North. “I have nothing left in England,” he says. “There, I am but a destitute gentleman, wanted for piracy. Here – this isle holds too many memories; your father may have it. Mayhap my brother’s wife yet lives. I must try to find her, either way.” He takes you into his arms. “Come with me, my love? To America – they tell of endless fertile fields and strange beasts in that wild land. It won’t be easy, but we will have each other. Together, shall we carve a kingdom blessed with fair children and freedom?” 

   You wrap your arms around his waist and lean into him, and smile at the rising sun.” 

   In 821 turns, you have achieved a score of 25 out of 25 points. 

   Thus you have finished the story of PLUNDERED HEARTS, earning the title, “Happily Ever After”. 

I won!

Time played: 3 hr 5 min
Total time: 6 hr 15 min
Score: 25/25

We won the game! This has been great fun and I’m not sure at all why young boys in the 1980s would be opposed to playing it. The game is very textually rich, feeling more like their high-memory games (like Trinity and Bureaucracy) than their older canon, but the lack of memory space means that it’s text or gameplay. Amy Briggs chose text. I thought while playing it that it might end up being the shortest of the Infocom games, but I spent less time on Seastalker, Infidel, and Wishbringer. What is it about naval and island-themed games that make for shorter playthroughs?

Normally, I’d be jumping into the final rating here, but I will leave that for next time. Although I beat the game once, there are still three alternate endings that I want to find before rating. We also have a ton of deleted content to talk about. I have also started playing Beyond Zork as well and have enough material for the first post. 

What do you think about Plundered Hearts


  1. Plundered Hearts and the Princess Bride are both 1987 releases. It seems impossible that the drugged wine scene in the movie could not have informed the similar scene in the game, but if so that's a tight timeline to fit it into!

    1. Maybe it's because the book was released in 1973? But I'm not sure if it includes those movie lines.

  2. I'm glad that you enjoyed this game, and it is inconceivable that we have both been using Princess Bride quotes in our posts recently. :)

    But I'm looking forward to seeing how this pans out. I don't like playing text adventures, but I'm okay experiencing them vicariously.

  3. Torbjörn Andersson19 August 2023 at 21:05

    "What do you think about Plundered Hearts?"

    The way I like to think about it is that if I made a list of all the Infocom games that don't immediately come to mind when I hear the name "Infocom", then Plundered Hearts would be at the top. If I consider all their games, there are a couple I would rate above it but it would still be pretty high up on the list.

    It's just a fun game. Maybe the whole bit with the crocodile got a bit silly towards the end, but if so I'm willing to forgive it. I like that Jamison, while he's clearly not having one of his better days, still comes across as competent.

    1. The game is never particularly afraid to be a little silly and Briggs finds a nice tone that the crocodile fits into nicely. It really is the "kissing parts" from Princess Bride and its strange that they were released at the same time and one could not easily have inspired the other.

      I'm still giggling that the villain's name is entirely in the service of a fondue joke.

  4. It's not just alternative endings you should try to find; there are quite a few other things you can do slightly differently. For example, you don't need to take the pork with you as there's a different way to get past the crocodile. (If you were playing Jewels of Babylon, you could just kill it, but not in this game. Incidentally, JoB and the other Interceptor games would be good candidates for Missed Classics on this blog.)

    1. Yes, I realized this only when I was reading through the source. There are many alternate solutions for the puzzles, more even than are mentioned in the hint book. Using the garter to rubber band the crocodile's mouth shut is my favorite one so far, but there seem to be many such examples. I am considering that as part of the final rating.

      I am not aware of the Interceptor games but they sound fun. Perhaps one of these years, but I still have more Infocom in front of me than I care to consider... (I have a spreadsheet of everything I hope to cover. I have completed 37 items with 46 left to go, though the vast majority of the adventure games are well behind us now.)

    2. Torbjörn Andersson21 August 2023 at 05:38

      I like that the game lets you successfully defend yourself against Crulley from the start, even if you're not required to do so, and that other characters in the game react appropriately to what clothes they see you wearing. That little bit of extra polish helps the game come alive, I think.

  5. What do I think of Plundered Hearts? It’s one of my favorite adventures. In the Infocom canon I would rate it second only to Trinity. It just the right difficulty for someone like me and the writing (and setting!) is just brilliant!
    It’s really a hidden gem and Amy Briggs should really have made more games line that.