An Argument


for the

Commodore 64

Published by Alligata Software, 1983.

Read the Walkstory!


  Game Title: Super Exciting!
  Puzzles: Negligible.
  Graphics: Blocky.
  Concept: Exploring an Aztec
                  Tomb? Awesome!
  Execution: Big Letdown.
  Fun Time: 1 Hour before
                    you solve it
                    easily or quit
                    in frustration.


Aztec Tomb Adventure was written in 1983 by A. Crowther of Alligata Software. It should have been named Search for the Aztec Tomb Adventure because you only end up in the Tomb right before the game quits on you and tells you to play Part Two.

Perhaps the documentation that came with the game explained the fact that you were searching for a tomb rather than exploring one, but I'm willing to bet the graphics on the box the game came in showed some really exciting underground scene with a torch or an adventurer swashbuckling and heroing all over the place.

See?! I was pretty close to the mark! At least the cover shows the Hero searching a Jungle instead of a Forest like in the stupid game.

That cover looks pretty exciting but the game actually plays like the introductory paragraph of a seventh grader's observational essay. You start off in your house and have to figure out how to get out by unlocking the door from the inside. How many people need a key to do this? When I tried to OPEN DOOR from the inside of the house and it told me it was locked, I thought, "Well sprackin' unlock it, Sir!"

The game doesn't get much better any time soon. You travel about the landscape around your house, eventually traversing a field (Exciting!) and then climb a Beanstork into the sky where you find yourself in a magical world of valleys, lakes, and forests! And yes, you climb a Beanstork. Also a Beanstolk. But never a Beanstalk.

The graphics in the game were most likely just added like every other graphical text adventure of the time. It was easier to draw a block bull than to describe one elegantly with text. And the pictures never help to solve the puzzles. Most of the time, the images in the picture are only slightly recognizable. The squarer and more rectangular the object, the easier it is to identify. But try making the sun out of a simple circle and all you get is a strangely glowing pyramid on the horizon.

Overall Puzzle Review

The puzzles in this game were fairly standard and easily identifiable for the most part since there were only limited locations and limited items. If you've ever seen a Looney Tunes cartoon, then you knew instantly that the bull wasn't letting you past because of your red cloak and that the elephant wasn't going anywhere until you showed it the mouse.

Since the puzzles were light on imagination, the programmer/writer had to create a bunch of really unfair puzzles that created the illusion of playing a long adventure while you ran around the same ten locations trying to figure out what to do next. Luckily, I stumbled upon all but one of them on accident and breezed through the game, not even realizing until I wrote the walkthrough that the Small Key couldn't be found in the cellar unless you were wearing the Red Cloak. Yes. First off, you have to think to Search Cellar. But if you do it before wearing the Cloak, you won't find the key. And why would you think to search again while wearing the Red Cloak? Because it's POWERFUL?

I also got lucky with the bridge over the stream although that one is at least a little bit logical. Since it was called a stream, I figured I could cross it. But then I drowned in it, so I assumed it was quite a bit bigger than I thought. So when I found the Piece of Wood on the roof which I carried while climbing down the side of the building, I wasn't thinking it was very big. But it ends up being the bridge across the river and I only discovered that by adjusting my inventory in the correct screen and dropping the wood so that the bridge was made. Awesome!

I also knew the Red Cloak was going to be used to torment the bull somehow but I wasn't making the connection that the Cloak was keeping the bull from angrily letting me pass. I was trying to wave the cloak and attract the bull's attention so it would run off or something. So I threw the cloak and got lucky there. I can see how the main puzzle here was that people would leave the cloak behind and then not have it to give to the dwarf. And the dwarf doesn't clue you in to the fact that he wants the Red Cloak! You just have to try every object you have. And many people probably gave up when nothing worked and they didn't remember the Red Cloak or even believe it was possible to get it past the Bull.

The last real puzzle was getting out of the lake and into Atzec Grounds. Yes, ATZEC GROUNDS. At least the cover art got it right. This one drove me crazy because not only does the game provide a huge red herring for you in the rope/cliff/dinghy situation, it also calls for you to JUMP OVER the side of the boat. While this isn't a crazy idea since you're wearing a life jacket, it is crazy that you need to type JUMP OVER! For players of the genre, this is just evil. These two word parsers generally accept VERB NOUN combinations, not VERB WHATEVER TYPE OF SPEECH OVER IS HERE! It's absolutely an unfair expectation in a game like this.

And before anybody argues that I eventually figured it out, I didn't! I stumbled upon a place early in the game where if you CUT BEANSTOLK, the game crashes. So I went back to this spot and typed LIST to scan the code and figure out what I needed to do. Hey, that's a way to solve the problem too, right? It's probably less unorthodox than expecting a player to type JUMP OVER!

Copyright 2006 NA!P