Is That A Dragon or a Duck?
January 7, 2005 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Adventure - based on the classic text game of the same name - was the first game ever to contain an easter egg. It seems laughably primitive these days, but when it first hit shelves, Adventure was a programming masterpiece. The text version of Adventure (by Willie Crowther and Don Woods) required hundreds of KB and a mainframe computer to operate, so much that Atari brass told Warren Robinett not to even bother with a 2600 version. He did anyway, and the results are near legendary. The 2600 version of Adventure went on to sell over a million copies at $25 a pop. For his effort Robinett recieved absolutely nothing beyond his $22,000/year salary. Play the 2600 Adventure. (Flash) If you're one of those who requires some eye candy, why not download the Quake 3 Adventure Map, instead?
posted by absalom (40 comments total)
*snif* beautiful post.

I got the "10-in-1" joystick with Adventure and was amused/surprised that the easter egg says . . .


posted by petebest at 9:49 AM on January 7, 2005

Somehow, I never managed to get any further in that game than having a duck chase me around.

It was many years before I found out it was supposed to be a dragon.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 9:58 AM on January 7, 2005

Good stuff. Thanks.

/lays down bridge, sneaks into previous post.
posted by yerfatma at 10:01 AM on January 7, 2005

"Somebody get this freakin' duck away from me!"
posted by sourwookie at 10:07 AM on January 7, 2005

sourwookie beat me to it...

But man, I'd forgotten how damn hard that game was!
posted by bardic at 10:14 AM on January 7, 2005

great post! Damn duck!
posted by chaz at 10:21 AM on January 7, 2005

posted by caddis at 10:34 AM on January 7, 2005

Man, I've still got the cheapo Colossal Cave version on my box at home. I think I have a half-finished map of the place somewhere too. Maybe I'll scrounge 'em up and play later.
posted by sciurus at 10:39 AM on January 7, 2005

And, of course, the kids of today found "Adventure" a wee bit perplexing.

"Bobby: Stupid duck. I hate the duck. The duck is evil.

Parker: Go left, go left, go left. Grab the arrow. That's the only way you can kill the duck. You have to run that into the duck.

Garret: It's a spear or something.

Bobby: [Enters castle] I'm just going to store all my keys and all my useless stuff in here. I'm going to store my duck in there.

Electronic Gaming Monthly: Would you want your parents to buy this for you?

Everyone: No!"
posted by GaelFC at 10:41 AM on January 7, 2005

GaelFC: Thanks *so* much for dropping that link! I remember reading it a little bit ago and wanted to add it to the post, but I couldn't find it.
posted by absalom at 10:43 AM on January 7, 2005

Sour, I believe that was "fweakin'."

Another classic adventure game was Raiders of the Lost Ark, which was fweakin' hard. I still have this game, and my Atari 2600, and, you know, my virginity.

posted by dougunderscorenelso at 10:48 AM on January 7, 2005

dude, the tetse flies...and the ankh...and the crazy 'grappling hook on the mesa '
raiders of the lost ark...
posted by das_2099 at 10:51 AM on January 7, 2005

The mesa thing was the crazy part. I got onto the rainbow bridge ONCE, but I fell off. Apparently, it had a pattern of invisible holes that you had to memorize.

The second screen shot, if memory serves, is the 'black market,' where you buy guns from shifty pink Egyptians.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 10:55 AM on January 7, 2005

Raiders of the Lost Ark made me want to smash my Atari...that game was pure evil, and no fun to boot.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:56 AM on January 7, 2005

I was stuck with playin' this.
posted by manicroom at 10:57 AM on January 7, 2005

My friends and I could do the 1st difficulty of Adventure with our eyes closed. The 3rd one was a challenge even for the sighted though.

Definitely one of the best games for the 2600- only River Raid got more play on the systems in my neighborhood.
posted by Four Flavors at 11:02 AM on January 7, 2005

Bobby: I like the whole dot idea, but it should be a 3D dot with laser arms that can do Matrix moves. Pachoo! Pachoo! Pachoo!

stupid kids! Get offa my platform!
posted by petebest at 11:07 AM on January 7, 2005

Platform? These kids should try it on the PDP-11.
posted by caddis at 11:12 AM on January 7, 2005

You want a classic Atari 2600 game? I give you E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial! Never before and never since has falling into holes, over and over again, been so enjoyable. It was enough to make you long for that freaking duck.
posted by turaho at 11:14 AM on January 7, 2005

Wonder what those kids would think of the ol' cup and ball? Five minutes with that thing and they'd be begging for some 2600 time.
posted by Stonewall Jackson at 11:15 AM on January 7, 2005

If Raiders of the Lost Ark was pure evil, E.T. was the fucking Devil. Never before or since has one game been responsible for the ruination of so many Christmas mornings.
posted by Stonewall Jackson at 11:17 AM on January 7, 2005

E.T. was just. Wrong. Even with all the agents and stuff turned off, it was horrifically depressing and impossible.

But I'll admit that I enjoyed the Atarification of the Williams theme.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 11:22 AM on January 7, 2005

A sign of misspent childhood: I won both ET and Raiders.

The funny thing (to me) is that I did it with zero skill. I never had any real strong grasp of the rules or anything, yet managed to get to see the end screen (once) by nothing but trial and error, like monkeys typing Hamlet. I cannot even begin to imagine how many hours that took.
posted by absalom at 11:26 AM on January 7, 2005

then, ironically, E.T. himself was cast down into yonder hole.
posted by glenwood at 11:26 AM on January 7, 2005

I'd seen the flash Adventure on here before, but it's still a good post with all the other links. I spent way too many hours of my youth on this game. I wish the flash programmer would get around to putting in levels 2 and 3 though.
posted by fungible at 11:49 AM on January 7, 2005

the developer (original)
has links to an emulator and the roms from his page.
now that is cool

posted by das_2099 at 12:09 PM on January 7, 2005


Finally, fond childhood memories.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:21 PM on January 7, 2005

Absalom, I'm just curious -- did you find the link to the flash version of Adventure through my recently-posted game geek quiz? Not that I mind if you did, I'm just curious, because of the timing.
posted by peterb at 12:57 PM on January 7, 2005

Credits: via Memepool. Meant to put it in the post, slipped my mind by the time I finished writing it.
posted by absalom at 1:24 PM on January 7, 2005

wow, do i feel old now. great stuff, i'm especially fond of the E.T. game.
posted by poopy at 1:32 PM on January 7, 2005

If you'd like to see what's become of the modern descendents of Adventure and other text adventures, you can get a good introduction to the flourishing interactive fiction commuinty and their annual competition here.
posted by straight at 2:52 PM on January 7, 2005

I remember this and Raiders -- LOVED Raiders and was over the moon the day I finally solved it -- but even more nostalgic for me are the mainframe text adventures I used to play at my Dad's office in the late 70s. He worked for a tech firm, and used to park me in front of a flickering green terminal on weekends while he got extra work done. Zork, Dungeon, and Adventure were mesmerizing to me as an 8-year-old, setting the stage for all sorts of future fantasy exploits, not to mention, they got me to learn to construct logical statements really early on. No wonder I'm such an odd girl today.
posted by Miko at 3:02 PM on January 7, 2005

In the early 80s, my family used to sit around as a group and do all the old text adventures. We'd take turns typing, and cover an entire wall with hand-drawn maps on taped-together sheets of paper. As an adult, I credited my parents with giving us cooperative games to play, instead of competitive, and felt it gave me the good sportsmanship and ability to have fun without winning that I still possess.

As it turns out, this wasn't a mistake -- I found out much later that my father's family used to play competitive games (board games, mostly) and would get so frustrated and angry with each other that they'd never finish the game. When my mother got sick of this, she forbid competitive games from the household.

As a teenager, I visited a girlfriend's father and mother-in-law, and they were the same way my father's family was. My girlfriend and her father got so worked up (one because he was losing, one because she thought we were letting her win) that they stormed off to their respective bedrooms. Her mother-in-law and I, both cooperative by nature, spent a few hours talking about what nice people they were when they weren't playing games. Heh.

Bottom line: my kids will be exposed to these text adventures before they see any other kind of video games.
posted by davejay at 3:34 PM on January 7, 2005

DaveJay: Right on. You remind me that I played Raiders and the Adventure graphics game that cooperative way, too -- collaborating with friends and trying as a group to solve the puzzles. I remember lots of trading off of the joystick - some people were better at jumps, others better at avoiding the snakes, etc.
posted by Miko at 3:50 PM on January 7, 2005

Plugh. And the so very aggravating You are in a maze of twisty little, passages, all alike. Thank you, absalom, for such a nifty post. I loved this game (the text version) and played it for hours with my dad. It's the only computer game I liked. I can't imagine it as a video game--seems like a movie version vs. the book. Using my imagination was a big part of why I liked it. Infocom released a partial collection of their interactive games in the early 90's. It looks like you can download Mac versions of the Zork series.
posted by lobakgo at 4:32 PM on January 7, 2005

Don't let's forget that Colossal Cave is a real place.
posted by mwhybark at 5:35 PM on January 7, 2005

Thanks for re-introducing me to the same frustration I felt in 1982 as I was again contantly eaten by the yellow dragon. Its good to know that as far as I've gotten in life, I still suck at Atari.
posted by brucec at 5:57 PM on January 7, 2005

Don't let's forget that Colossal Cave is a real place.
Also, Willy Crowther was a caver; an early member of the National Speleological Society.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:45 PM on January 7, 2005

I got the "10-in-1" joystick with Adventure and was amused/surprised that the easter egg says . . .


No, no, no ... When this game was new I spent many, many hours with a friend figuring out Adventure's easter egg. It's a screen with the name of the game creator running vertically down the screen in flashing multicolor letters. I always wondered about this guy, because it takes some effort to find the dot, and then a lot of creativity to figure out you're supposed to use it to pass through a wall in a specific place. If he was only making $22K then it sorta makes sense he'd want to stick his name in there somewhere.

BTW, the dragons really do look like ducks. I remember thinking as a kid that the graphics were horrible, even for those days, but the game was engaging enough for me to spend way too much time playing it.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:05 AM on January 8, 2005

Level 2 Adventure brought about the most annoying enemy, the flying bat of doom. Maybe it wasn't a bat, but it was annoying.
posted by litghost at 12:19 PM on January 8, 2005

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