Hunt the Wumpus

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Hunt the Wumpus
Ti hunt the wumpus boxart.jpg
TI-99/4A boxart showing the visualization of the Wumpus and the graphics-based labyrinth
Developer(s) Gregory Yob
Designer(s) Gregory Yob
Platform(s) BASIC, TI-99/4A
Release Original BASIC Version
TI-99/4A Version
Genre(s) Adventure game
Mode(s) Single-player

Hunt the Wumpus is an early computer game, based on a simple hide and seek format featuring a mysterious monster (the Wumpus) that lurks deep inside a network of rooms. It was originally developed as a text-based game written in BASIC. Due to the source code availability the game has since been ported to various programming languages and platforms including graphical versions.

Development history[edit]

4.3 BSD man page for Hunt the Wumpus ("wump")

Hunt the Wumpus was originally written by Gregory Yob in BASIC while attending the Dartmouth campus of the University of Massachusetts in 1972 or 1973. Out of frustration with all the grid-based hunting games he had seen, such as Snark, Mugwump, and Hurkle, Yob decided to create a map-based game.[1] Hunt the Wumpus was first published in the People's Computer Company[2] journal Vol. 2 No. 1 in mid-1973, and again in Creative Computing in its October 1975 issue. This article was later reprinted in the book The Best of Creative Computing, Volume 1.[3] Yob later developed Wumpus 2 and Wumpus 3, which offered more hazards and other cave layouts.[4]

By the release of Version 6 Unix (1975), the game had been ported to Unix C. An implementation of Hunt the Wumpus was typically included with MBASIC, Microsoft's BASIC interpreter for CP/M and one of the company's first products. Hunt the Wumpus was adapted as an early game for the Commodore PET entitled Twonky, which was distributed in the late 1970s with Cursor Magazine. A version of the game can still be found as part of the bsdgames package on modern BSD and Linux operating systems, where it is known as "wump."

Among the many computers it was ported to is the HP-41C calculator.[5] The 1980 port of the game for the TI-99/4A differs quite a bit from the original while retaining the same concept. It is a graphical rather than text-based game, and uses a regular grid equivalent to a torus rather than an icosahedron. In this version, the Wumpus is depicted as a large red head with a pair of legs growing out of its sides.[6]


The vertices of a dodecahedron illustrate one common shape of the labyrinth in the Hunt the Wumpus game.

The original text-based version of Hunt the Wumpus uses a command line text interface. A player of the game enters commands to move through the rooms or to shoot "crooked arrows" along a tunnel into one of the adjoining rooms. There are twenty rooms, each connecting to three others, arranged like the vertices of a dodecahedron or the faces of an icosahedron (which are identical in layout). Hazards include bottomless pits, super bats (which drop the player in a random location, a feature duplicated in later, commercially published adventure games, such as Zork I, Valley of the Minotaur, and Adventure), and the Wumpus itself. The Wumpus is described as having sucker feet (to escape the bottomless pits) and being too heavy for a super bat to lift. When the player has deduced from hints which chamber the Wumpus is in without entering the chamber, he fires an arrow into the Wumpus's chamber to kill it. The player wins the game if he kills the Wumpus. However, firing the arrow into the wrong chamber startles the Wumpus, which may cause it to move to an adjacent room. The player loses if he or she is in the same room as the Wumpus (which then eats him or her) or a bottomless pit.

Game elements[edit]

Yob's original program had these features, while later programs differ here.

  • Objects:
    • Wumpus: your target; a beast that eats you if you ever end up in the same room.
    • Super Bats (2): creatures that instantly carry you to a random room.
    • Pits (2): fatal to you if you enter the room.
  • Actions: There are two possible actions:
    • Move: to one of the three rooms connected to your current one.
    • Shoot: fire a "crooked arrow" a distance of 1-5 rooms; you must name each room it will reach.
  • Warning messages: Give you information about the contents of adjacent rooms.
    • Wumpus: "I smell a wumpus"
    • Bat: "Bats nearby"
    • Pit: "I feel a draft"

Reception and cultural impact[edit]

  • The card game Magic: The Gathering has featured several "Wumpus" cards. The Wumpus seen on Magic cards is a beast with a characteristically-shaped head, jaw and mane. Mercadian Masques featured Hunted Wumpus[7] (reprinted in several core sets, including 10th Edition), as well as Thrashing Wumpus.[8] Planar Chaos, a set concentrating on new takes on popular cards, contained Shivan Wumpus.[9]
  • The Wumpus is also found in the open source game NetHack and the game M.U.L.E.[10][11][12][13]
  • An interpretation of Wumpus called Grand Theft Wumpus is built up gradually in chapter 8 of Land of Lisp.[14]
  • The Wumpus is mentioned in the "Thy Dungeonman" games in
  • The Wumpus gets his revenge on hunters in the audio-only game Be the Wumpus.[15]
  • A zone in Kingdom of Loathing inspired by the game was introduced in June 2009.[16]
  • Wumpus is the inspiration behind and project name of Nicholas the Traveler, an evermoving character in Guild Wars.[17]
  • Wumpus, an homage to the original game, was released for iPhone and Palm Pre in 2009.
  • The complex maze structure of Hunt the Wumpus was a direct influence on the random sector link system of Trade Wars.[18]
  • Hunter, in Darkness, an experimental interactive fiction work by Andrew Plotkin, was heavily inspired by Hunt the Wumpus.[19]
  • Dungeons & Dragons Computer Fantasy Game was a 1981 LCD handheld game with gameplay influenced by Hunt the Wumpus. Differences were that the rooms were arranged in a 10x10 grid identified like spreadsheet cells like 'A1', and the goal was to find a dragon rather than a wumpus.
  • Cory Doctorow uses wumpuses in his book The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.
  • Treasure of the Wumpus in the Azimuth Cave, a 5.1 surround sound only audio game inspired by the original was created by Jared Bendis and presented at the 2011 & 2012 Ingenuity Festivals in Cleveland, Ohio.[20]
  • In 2012, Hunt the Wumpus was listed on Time's All-TIME 100 greatest video games list.[21]
  • Chat Application Discord shows Wump-themed notices when there is no information.[22]


  1. ^ Hunt the Wumpus in The Best of Creative Computing, Volume 1
  2. ^ The People's Computer Company, founded in October 1971, was a small non-profit group of independent educators who met in a small storefront on Menalto Rd. in Menlo Park, California during the 1970s. The first issue of their journal, People's Computer Company, was published in October 1972.
  3. ^ The Best of Creative Computing, Volume 1
  4. ^ Wumpus 2 in The Best of Creative Computing, Volume 2
  5. ^ Librach, Hank (February 1981). "Hunt the Wumpus with Your HP-41C". BYTE. pp. 230, 232. Retrieved 18 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Hunt the Wumpus - TI-99/4A Screenshots on MobyGames
  7. ^ Hunted Wumpus at
  8. ^ Thrashing Wumpus at
  9. ^ Shivan Wumpus at
  10. ^ NethackWiki: Wumpus
  11. ^ NetHack Gazetteer: Ranger Quest
  12. ^ NetHack Experience Values Spoiler
  13. ^ M.U.L.E. for Commodore 64 - MobyGames
  14. ^ Land of Lisp
  15. ^ Be the Wumpus
  16. ^ Kingdom of Loathing Wiki
  17. ^ Feedback talk:John Hargrove - Guild Wars Wiki (GWW)
  18. ^ History of TradeWars Variants
  19. ^ Hunter, in Darkness
  20. ^ The Azimuth Cave
  21. ^ Grossman, Lev (November 15, 2012). "All-TIME 100 Video Games". Time. Time Inc. Archived from the original on November 18, 2012. Retrieved September 20, 2016. 
  22. ^ "Isaac Reid-Guest on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-03-18. 


External links[edit]