Adventure (1979 video game)
|Genre(s)||Maze game, Adventure game|
Adventure is a 1979 video game for the Atari 2600 video game console. As the best-selling early action-adventure game, it helped to establish the genre. In Adventure, the player controls a square avatar with the goal of retrieving a magical chalice and placing inside a golden castle. The game is also populated by dragons, which can eat the player, and a bat, which randomly picks up single items and flies them around the game world. The game's creator, Warren Robinett, introduced the first widely known Easter egg to the gaming world.
History and design
Despite discouragement from his boss at Atari who said it could not be done, game designer Warren Robinett created a graphic game loosely based on the text game. Robinett handed over the code for Adventure in April 1979 and left Atari soon afterward; he later updated the code (to add an attract mode graphics effect, and fix a bug) in June 1979 as an outside consultant.
The game was released by Atari some time later. In a 2003 interview, Robinett recalled the release date as being Christmas 1979, though in a later statement he noted that he "didn't truly know for sure", but that he was certain the game was definitely available by June 1980. The 1979 date is also listed in many other sources.
Atari's Adventure went on to sell a million copies, making it the seventh best selling Atari 2600 game.
At the time of the game's creation Atari did not credit any of its authors for their work. Robinett included a hidden message in the game identifying himself as the creator, thus creating one of the earliest known Easter eggs in a video game. It took up 5% of the storage space on the cartridge. Atari found out about the Easter egg when it received a letter from a fifteen-year-old player, but left it in the game, partially due to the expense of creating a new read-only memory (ROM) mask, or memory chip, which was $10,000 US in the early years after the game's release.
The total memory used by the game program was 4096 bytes (4 KB) for the game code (in ROM) and 128 bytes for program variables (in RAM). The Atari 2600's CPU was a 1.19 megahertz 8-bit MOS Technology 6507, which was a cheaper version of the 6502.
Because of a limitation in the Atari 2600's hardware, the left and right sides of nearly every screen are mirror images of each other, which fostered the creation of the game's confusing mazes. The notable exceptions are two screens in the black castle catacombs and two in the main hallway beneath the Gold Castle. These two hallway screens are mirrored, but contain a vertical "wall" object in the room in order to achieve a non-symmetrical shape, as well as act as a secret door for an Easter egg.
Adventure established the action-adventure genre on a video game consoles. It was the first video game to contain a widely known Easter egg, and the first to allow a player to have a stash of items, which required the player to select which one to use at any given moment, usually through keyboard or joystick input. Adventure allowed the player to drop one item and pick up another without having to type in any commands. The game was also the first to use a fog of war effect in its catacombs, which obscured most of the playing area except for the player's immediate surroundings.
Inside the black castle catacombs (on difficulty level 2 or 3), embedded in the south wall of a sealed chamber (accessible only with the bridge), is an "invisible" 1-pixel object referred to as the gray dot. One must "bounce" the player cursor along the bottom wall to "grab" the dot. The dot is not actually invisible, but simply the same color as the wall and is easily seen when placed in a catacombs passage or over a normal wall. The dot is not attracted to the magnet, unlike most other objects in Adventure.
Bringing this dot to the east end of the corridor below the golden castle while other differently colored objects are present causes the wall object to also become 'invisible', allowing the player to pass into a room displaying the words "Created by Warren Robinett".
The player's goal is to find the enchanted chalice and return it to the gold castle. The player character, represented by a square, explores a multi-screen landscape containing castles, mazes, and various rooms. Hidden throughout the world are a sword, keys that unlock each of the three castles (gold, black, and white), a magic bridge that allows the player to travel through walls, and a magnet that attracts the other items toward it.
Roaming the world are three dragons:
- Yorgle, the yellow dragon, who is afraid of the Golden Key and will run from it. He guards the chalice (whenever he can find it), or helps other dragons guard items.
- Grundle, the green dragon. He guards the magnet, the bridge, the black key, and the chalice
- Rhindle, the red dragon, who is the fastest and most aggressive. He guards the white key and chalice.
A dragon can be "killed" by touching it with the sword. If the console's right difficulty switch is in the "A" position, the dragons will run away when they see the sword.
When a dragon touches the player, it will "strike" (remaining motionless for a moment with its mouth open, (waiting for a shorter time if the console's left difficulty switch is in the "A" position) and then "swallow" the player, who becomes trapped in the dragon's belly. While the dragon's mouth is opened, it cannot be killed.
A black bat flies around randomly carrying any single object, including live or dead dragons, which it occasionally swaps with another object along its flight path. The player can catch the bat and carry it around. The bat continues to fly even after the player has been killed, and occasionally the bat will pick up the dragon whose stomach contains the player, giving the player a whirlwind tour of the Adventure universe. The player can sometimes trap the bat inside castles. The bat's name was intended to be Knubberrub, but that name never made it into the manual.
There are three different games available via the game select switch:
- Game 1 is a simplified version of the game and does not have the red dragon, the bat, the catacombs, the white castle, or the maze inside the black castle. The objects in game 1 are always in the same starting locations.
- Game 2 is the full version, having all the features described. The locations of the objects at the start of a new game are always the same.
- Game 3 is similar to Game 2, but the initial locations of the objects are randomized, providing a different game each time, though the location of the dot is consistent. The randomization of Game 3 makes its difficulty highly variable, and it is occasionally unsolvable.
When a player is eaten by a dragon, he does not have to start over. Hitting the game reset switch resurrects the player back at the gold castle and resurrects any dead dragons; the objects all remain where they were at the time of the player's death. This is one of the earliest usages of the "continue game" feature, now common in video games. Hitting the game select switch after death returns the game to the game select screen, losing the current game's state.
Ports and re-releases
Adventure has been ported to or re-released on several platforms:
- Jakks Atari Classics 10 In 1 TV Games (2002)
- Atari Flashback (2004)
- Atari Anthology (November 22, 2004) for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox
- Atari Flashback 2 (2005)
- Atari: 80 Classic Games in One (September 20, 2005) for Windows
- Game Room for Xbox Live Arcade and Games for Windows Live (March 24, 2010)
- Atari's Greatest Hits for iOS, released in April 2011 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
- A sequel to Adventure was first announced in early 1982. The planned sequel eventually evolved into the Swordquest series of games.
- In 2005, a sequel written by Curt Vendel was released by Atari on the Atari Flashback 2. In 2007, AtariAge released a self-published sequel heavily inspired by the original, called Adventure II. For the Atari 5200, it was used with permission from Atari Interactive.
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- Official Version of "Adventure" at Atari Arcade
- Adventure at MobyGames
- Adventure (1979 video game) at GameFAQs
- Warren Robinett's Adventure page including game map and software design presentation (PowerPoint)
- Adventure at AtariAge
- Quake 3: Adventure
- Of Dragons and Easter Eggs: A Chat With Warren Robinett at The Jaded Gamer