text adventures in the mid-eighties, particularly text adventures
with graphics, was very much like working on a puzzle and not
knowing if you have all the pieces. This is why the main rule when
attacking a text adventure is to first pick up everything and
explore every location you're able to get in to. Once you've done
this, you'll have mapped out a pretty good chunk of the initial
landscape and even solved a few of the easier puzzles.
It's at this
point when the trouble begins. After this initial exploration, you
should have a good enough handle on the locations and items in the
game to start trying to figure out the next tier of puzzles. But as
you beat your head against each puzzle barring you from different
areas of the map, you can never be quite sure that you have the
right combination of items to solve the puzzle.
at this point, in the age of the internet, that people start
Googling for Walkthroughs. And it's a real shame that they do. Some
of my best memories of playing text adventures were those 'a-ha
moments', those sudden breakthroughs that came to you out of nowhere
while you were doing some other activity.
Masters of the
Universe really brought me back to those days of racking my brain
for some insight into how to get past the next obstacle. But the
hardest part of all was knowing that I might be trying to get past
certain obstacles and not even have the items needed to work it
By the way, in
my Fun Time Rating, it really did take me around two weeks to
complete this game. That doesn't mean it was two weeks of FUN TIME
though! Stupid Red Herrings!
IMPORTANCE OF DOCUMENTATION
the Story/Walkthrough, I like to get as much background detail as
possible. I always search the internet for any manuals, documents,
or covers that came with the retail game I'm playing. If you're
familiar with Infocom's games, you know that their copy protection
was always part of the 'Feelies' that came with the game. For
instance, packaged in Bureaucracy was a small magazine for Paranoid
People. When you're trying to get into the house owned by the
paranoid guy, he'll ask you all kinds of crazy questions. And the
only way you can answer any of them is if you've read the magazine
that came with the game. Leather Goddesses of Phobos came with a 3-D
comic book. Within the comic book, you learn how to safely traverse
the Sewers on Mars by hopping, jumping or clapping at different
intervals. In the game, when you're in the Sewers, this knowledge is
essential to staying alive.
The Masters of
the Universe game didn't have anything that cool. But in the manual,
it did have a list of Verb Examples that clued you in to solving a
number of puzzles. One of their examples was 'fit minus manacle on
mirror' which is something you actually need to do in the game to
beat it. What's more, the verb 'fit' comes in very handy throughout
the game and it's not something I probably would have tried on my
own. The examples also say 'Enlist Orko'. I doubt I'd ever have
decided to use the verb 'enlist' if I hadn't read that in the
searching for this documentation, I found a few comments on the game
at lemon64.com. One said he solved it with the help of a
walkthrough. Another said some of the puzzles were infinitely
obscure. While I found two puzzles dreadfully tough (one that ended
my game just before defeating Skeletor by, I'm pretty sure, dropping
the Hexagon one last time!), most of the game
was well done and not too exasperating. But I only say this because
I read the Documentation and it made a number of puzzles I never
would have solved solvable. And I'm pretty sure that was
ON TO THE
Now, while the
game really was thoroughly enjoyable even though I was fighting a
lot of She-Ra's enemies instead of my own, I should probably point
out the biggest flaws in the game. In the first room, the first NPC
you interact with, your own father (since you are Prince Adam),
has his name misspelled. Okay. No big deal! Minor issue, minor
character! I shouldn't harp too much on that.
well, you'd think that Evil-Lyn would always be Evil-Lyn and not,
occasionally, Evil-Lynn. And maybe Mantenna shouldn't be called
Mantanna when he's attacking you. And I realize I still know I'm
fighting Two-Bad even if the room description says Two-Ba.
I've played so far has had this kind of lazy editing. Way too many
words are misspelled. And since Aztec Tomb Adventure was pretty
lame, having the Bean Stalk never spelled correctly was absolutely
entertaining. But when you base your game on a Classic of Literature
like The Three Musketeers (I'm using Classic wrong here), you expect
the writing to be coherent and correct. And while I don't need that
kind of absolute correctness in a game about an 80's toy line that
became a stupid cartoon, I'd at least like to think that you'd spell
the characters' names right since they are the main reason I'm
playing this game!
thing about the game is the sparse descriptions of the various
objects you find and the places you end up. This is to be expected
from a Graphic Text Adventure of the time, so it's not that horribly
detrimental to the game. But it would be handy if some of the
strange items you find would be a little more descriptive. I think
the writers didn't want to spell out any of the puzzles like when
you examine the Moleculator and it basically tells you exactly what
it's for. Although you still have to stumble on exactly how to
utilize the stupid thing since it doesn't say it has a trigger or an
on button or a pin to pull or anything!
is a pretty good example of the Graphical Text Adventure fare to
come out in the late-early to mid-late eighties. The map is a decent
size and enough of it opens up to you with every few puzzles solved
that you never feel too stuck.
part was that part I mentioned way back at the beginning. The part
where you're never quite sure if you have all the pieces to solve
the puzzle before you. But that's actually a really good way to
extend the play time in a game like this. Masters of the Universe
had no mazes to pad the play time. None of the puzzles were
extremely unfair although I just thought of one which I'll give a
small spoiler section at the end.
Most of the
points where you couldn't go any further were because one of
Skeletor's henchmen was blocking the way. So you knew what the
puzzles were. But you couldn't know if you had what you needed to
get past Beastman while Two-Bad, Evil-Lyn, Merman and Mantenna were
also still blocking parts of the map! But even if that might seem
frustrating, I implore anybody out there who still plays games like
this, don't give in to Google when you come up against the wall.
There are so
many games out there to download and play, new and old, emulated
across so many systems, that you can play more than one at once.
Don't feel like you need to finish the game you're playing before
moving on to another one. If you feel really stuck, put the game up
for a bit and play another one. Refresh your mind. Come back to the
old game later. You'll be surprised at how many games you don't
actually need a Walkthrough for.
And know this:
after you read the walkthrough, you'll bang your head on the desk
and think, "Ah, of course!" and you'll feel like you could
have solved that had you given yourself more time. That feeling is
what most players of text adventures now get when playing these
games because of the internet. But once you feel the rush of solving
that puzzle that stymied you for a week, you'll never go back to
Googling for walkthroughs again.
Also, the reverse, sadly, is too true as well. Too many games have
puzzles that when you see the solution, you'll just scratch your
head and go, "What? Fuck that game! How stupid!"
Did I say that
Masters of the Universe was actually a pretty good graphical
adventure? Well, I should have. It's pretty good. So there.
ONE PUZZLE THAT MIGHT BE UNFAIR!
It's the part
where you make the rope out of the reed. You actually do make a rope
out of the reed. But you can't say, MAKE ROPE FROM REEDS, because
that doesn't work. Why? I don't know! You have to MAKE NET FROM
REEDS or MAKE SLING FROM REEDS. How did I figure this out? Well, I
had a perfectly round stone and a whole bunch of people to defeat.
So I thought I'd make a sling to bust some heads with my nice round
stone. I also thought maybe a net would catch Merman. But, no. A
Rope. So then I tried making a rope. Couldn't do it. DUMB.
finishing the game, I checked out two other Walkthroughs, one by
Jacob Gunness and one by, one of my favorite internet ladies,
Dorothy Irene. They both solve this puzzle by typing PLAIT REEDS. I
have to say I'm glad now that they had the unfair solution I was
complaining about because I assure you I never would have thought to
CAN WE DISCUSS THE SIGN OF THE SPECULUM FOR A MOMENT?
locations in the game are decorated with the Sign of the Speculum.
If you're paying attention, you'll realize that these are places
where you can create openings with the mirror.
gagging yet? I'm not sure what age group this game was intended for
but I can make a guess being that it is based on He-Man. It's a good
thing the internet did not exist back then because I can assure you
that many kids playing this game would not have known what a
speculum is primarily used for. And, for the newer kids reading this
now, Analog Dictionaries do not supply the kinds of pictures that
Google Image Search does. That is not a suggestion to Google Image
Search 'Speculum'. That is a warning.