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 Edit this on Wikidata
Platform(s)BASIC, TI-99/4A
ReleaseOriginal BASIC Version
TI-99/4A Version
Genre(s)Adventure game
Survival horror[1]

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. It has been cited as an early example of a survival horror game.[1]

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 1975.[citation needed] 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.[2] Hunt the Wumpus was first mentioned in the People's Computer Company[3] journal Vol. 2 No. 1 in September 1973,[4] however the game listing was not published in this issue. The game listing was published in Creative Computing in its October 1975 issue. This article was later reprinted in the book The Best of Creative Computing, Volume 1.[5] Yob later developed Wumpus 2 and Wumpus 3, which offered more hazards and other cave layouts.[6]

By the release of Version 6 Unix (1975), the game had been ported to Unix C.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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."[citation needed]

Among the many computers it was ported to is the HP-41C calculator.[7] 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.[8]

At some unknown point it was ported to run on a UNIVAC 1219B used by the US Navy for firing solutions.[9]


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, the player fires an arrow into the Wumpus's chamber to kill it. The player wins the game if the Wumpus is killed. 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 (which he or she then falls into).

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[10] (reprinted in several core sets, including 10th Edition), as well as Thrashing Wumpus.[11] Planar Chaos, a set concentrating on new takes on popular cards, contained Shivan Wumpus.[12]
  • The Wumpus is also found in the open source game NetHack and the game M.U.L.E.[13][14][15][16]
  • An interpretation of Wumpus called Grand Theft Wumpus is built up gradually in chapter 8 of Land of Lisp.[17]
  • 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.[18]
  • A zone in Kingdom of Loathing inspired by the game was introduced in June 2009.[19]
  • Wumpus is the inspiration behind and project name of Nicholas the Traveler, an evermoving character in Guild Wars.[20]
  • 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.[21]
  • Hunter, in Darkness, an experimental interactive fiction work by Andrew Plotkin, was heavily inspired by Hunt the Wumpus.[22]
  • 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.[23]
  • In 2012, Hunt the Wumpus was listed on Time's All-TIME 100 greatest video games list.[24]
  • Chat application Discord shows Wumpus-themed notices when there is no information.[25]


  1. ^ a b Fischer-Hornung, Dorothea; Mueller, Monika (2016). Vampires and Zombies: Transcultural Migration and Transnational Interpretations. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 235. ISBN 978-1-4968047-7-8. A comparatively well-established subgenre of the horror game, survival horror aims to create an experience of entrapment, persecution, tension, suspense, and discomfort. Traditionally, the protagonist of such games is an ordinary individual trapped in some isolated, monster-infested location . . . Hunt the Wumpus, Sweet Home, and Alone in the Dark represent early examples of the genre.
  2. ^ "''Hunt the Wumpus'' in ''The Best of Creative Computing, Volume 1''". Archived from the original on 2017-12-20. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "People's Computer Company". People's Computer Company. Menlo Park: People's Computer Company. September 1973. p. 20. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  5. ^ "''The Best of Creative Computing, Volume 1''". Archived from the original on 2017-12-20. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  6. ^ Gregory Yob. "''Wumpus 2'' in ''The Best of Creative Computing, Volume 2''". Archived from the original on 2017-12-20. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  7. ^ Librach, Hank (February 1981). "Hunt the Wumpus with Your HP-41C". BYTE. pp. 230, 232. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  8. ^ "Hunt the Wumpus Screenshots for TI-99/4A - MobyGames". MobyGames. Archived from the original on 2008-11-07.
  9. ^ Vintage Computer Federation (9 October 2017). "Loading and running Hunt the Wumpus on Univac 1219B military mainframe". Archived from the original on 11 May 2018 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ "Hunted Wumpus". Archived from the original on 2018-01-31. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  11. ^ "Thrashing Wumpus". Archived from the original on 2018-01-31. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  12. ^ "Shivan Wumpus". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  13. ^ "Wumpus". NethackWiki. 2015-12-22. Archived from the original on 2018-01-31. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  14. ^ NetHack Gazetteer: Ranger Quest Archived 2008-09-05 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ "NetHack Experience Values Spoiler". 2002-09-05. Archived from the original on 2018-05-11. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  16. ^ "M.U.L.E. for Commodore 64". MobyGames. 2003-07-18. Archived from the original on 2017-08-24. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  17. ^ "Land of Lisp". Land of Lisp. Archived from the original on 2017-12-13. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  18. ^ "Be the Wumpus". Archived from the original on 2008-07-08. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  19. ^ "Kingdom of Loathing Wiki". Archived from the original on 2018-01-31. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  20. ^ "Feedback talk:John Hargrove – Guild Wars Wiki (GWW)". Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  21. ^ "History of TradeWars Variants". 2012-02-23. Archived from the original on 2018-01-31. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  22. ^ "Hunter, in Darkness". Archived from the original on 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  23. ^ "The Azimuth Cave". Archived from the original on 2013-05-21.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ "Isaac Reid-Guest on Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2018-05-11. Retrieved 2016-03-18.


External links[edit]