Z-Machine Wednesday: Scott Adams Is Awesome!

A big thanks to the awesome Get Lamp official site for the two photos you see posted below. I’ve gone on a bit on how much I like Scott Adams, especially his Marvel text/graphic adventures that I use to play on my Commodore 64. I wish I could get my photo taken next to that creature as well!

Of course make sure to follow that link up above to the Get Lamp site and make sure to secure yourself a copy of the amazing documentary by Jason Scott. If you have any love for the games we’ve shown on Z-Machine Wednesday you owe it to yourself to get your hands on that documentary.

Z-Machine Wednesday: Adventureland (1978)


A huge thanks to Moby Games for the above box art image for the classic Adventureland title by Scott Adams from way back in 1978. The very first text game to be published for personal computers and also the first adventure game made available for use on personal computers! It was the first of what would be 12 titles in the Adventure series, published by Adam’s Adventure International.

Tasked with collecting 13 lost artifacts, the player had to find:

1) A magic mirror
2) A Dragon’s Egg
3) A Golden Net
4) A statue of Babe, Paul Bunyan’s Blue Ox
5) A jeweled fruit
6) A golden fish
7) “Royal Honey”
8) A magic carpet
9) A diamond necklace
10) A diamond bracelet
11) Rubies
12) A Crown
13) The Firestone

In 1982 it was re-released with the addition of graphics.

I would like to thank Matt Chat for uploading the Scott Adams interview below:

Questprobe Featuring The Human Torch And The Thing

Just like the first Questprobe title featuring the Incredible Hulk, I had a difficult time finding the third entry in the series. I eventually stumbled upon it at my local K-Mart, just like the Hulk title, and soon I was ready to Flame on as the Human Torch and invest in some quality Clobberin’ Time as the Thing.

First up, I want to give a huge thank you once again to the fantastic Gaming After 40 Blog for not only most of the screencaps you see posted below but for reminding me of this great game series from my youth.

I will come right out and say I think this is possibly the hardest of the three Questprobe titles. I’ve mentioned in the Hulk and Spider-Man posts that there were some puzzles that really stumped me, and thankfully my Grandmother was by my side to help me with a few of them. Well, if you thought the Hulk transformation puzzle was tough wait until you see what the Chief Examiner (Actually the great programmer Scott Adams as Gaming After 40 pointed out) starts you out on in this title!

Questprobe #3 allows you to switch between the two members of the Fantastic Four team at will, something different at the time and honestly quite refreshing. The Gaming After 40 site does point out that this was merely part 1 of the Fantastic Four Questprobe series, that the second title would have surely featured Reed Richards and Susan Richards. The next Questprobe game in line was to be the X-men (I wonder what team members you would have played?), though sadly Adventure International went bankrupt in 1985 before it could be completed.

At the start of the game you learn that the Thing is stuck and sinking in a tarpit, which means you have to find a way as the Human Torch to free him…or so I thought when I first started playing. I cannot tell you how many hours I spent on this first puzzle and how many times I watched poor Benjamin J. Grimm sink to his death. Considering how much I loved the Thing, he is still one of my favorite of the Marvel characters…this was a tough thing to endure over and over again. So what could I do? Well, as the Human Torch I certainly could flame on and try to burn the tar…which sadly killed the Thing…I could fly, so I tried to grab the Thing while flying.

That worked, sort of. I could hold on to him but not pull him out of the tar. Next to the pit there was a shack, I could enter it and find a candle or when I was getting frustrated over watching the animated Thing drowning in the tar pit I could burn the shack to the ground in a fit of despair. That didn’t exactly help though.

Thankfully my Father who to be honest doesn’t have any love for gaming asked what I could do as the Thing, well typing ‘Switch’ I was now the Thing, stuck in tar. The obvious choices of Swim or when the Torch burned the shack down to reveal a chimney ‘Grab chimney’ didn’t work. My Father was the one who said the obvious, ‘Hold Breath’. Bingo. It all clicked at that moment. The Human Torch obviously doesn’t need a candle so I typed ‘Switch’ and gave the candle to the Thing, switched back and held my breath. Sure enough I went under the tar and received a message that states, “I’m being sucked down by something!”, but eventually that message stopped. Feeling around I was told that the Thing is feeling machinery…so it was obviously…Clobberin’ Time!

While you are still in the dark, you can now move about freely and eventually find a source of light, a wall of fire that can be used to light your candle and allow you explore the underground more easily.

There are a couple of guest appearances in the way of villains like in the previous Questprobe titles, this time you get to meet the Circus of Crime (Boy, Ringmaster really gets around a lot in these games.), Xandu, the Blob, and Doctor Doom…well, sort of Doctor Doom.

Questprobe Featuring Spider-Man (1985)

This Z-Machine Wednesday we are keeping with the fantastic Questprobe series by Scott Adams and I want to give a very big thanks to the Gaming After 40 blog for most of the images below as well as for jogging my memory concerning these Marvel Comic early text/graphic adventures!

I did far better at finding the second title in the Questprobe series than I had with the Hulk, almost as soon as I was done with the the Ol’ Jade Jaws adventure I found the Spider-Man game at my local Sears. No need this time to have to resort to my Grandmother, I was able to walk out of the store with a minimum of fuss, and less than an hour later I was back home in front of my C-64 and I was ready for my spider-sense to tingle!

I also found myself doing far better at the game than I had with the first Questprobe game. Of course by reading the copyright credits I learned I was going to be facing a pretty impressive roster of Spidey villains. With the likes of the Ringmaster, Electro, Hydro-Man, Sandman, Mysterio (Yay!), Doctor Octopus, and the Lizard. There was also a mention of the Chief Examiner and Madame Web, I had to run and go get my Marvel Universe comics to do some quick research on her, glad to read that she wasn’t a villain but a type of seer when you get down to it.

Yet again you are tasked by the Chief Examiner (Scott Adams) to collect the available gems that are hidden and protected throughout the building by various traps and dastardly villains. The game takes place in the Daily Bugle and while I did get stuck on some of the puzzles it seems like there was an upgrade in the parser recognition because it certainly seemed easier to use than on the Hulk, as Gaming After 40 points out on his site as well. It allowed for easier commands to get your tasks done.

I really enjoyed this title, I felt like I was actually helping Spider-Man in one of his comic book adventures. I did enjoy the Hulk but I guess I just feel that Spidey is better suited for a text/graphic puzzle game. Make sure to follow the link to the Gaming After 40 blog when you get the time, it is full of a bunch of entertaining items, like other classic text adventure reviews and even incredible things like Q*bert Merchandise!

Questprobe Featuring The Hulk

As most of you know, I am almost as big a fan of comic books as I am of gaming. While I started off reading Captain America and the Falcon comics, I quickly jumped to the DC universe when I picked up my first issue of Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew. It wasn’t until I was about 11 that I switched back to mainly reading Marvel comics (Please bear in mind this was a time when it seemed like you could only read one company’s line of books.) by being hooked on the X-Men. It probably also helped there was a five and dime store down the street that was chocked full of Marvel comic books, this is where I padded my collection of Micronauts and my first introduction to one of the greatest ‘horror’ characters in the Marvel universe…Man-Thing.

So around this time I had received my Commodore 64 and was having a blast with it when an ad on the back of one my comics caught my eye, because when you waited for things to load during the Bard’s Tale you had to have something to occupy your time.

The Hulk had a graphical text adventure available to buy in stores? By reading the ad I knew that Ultron and Ant-Man were obviously in the game but the small text and one of the pictures at the bottom left clearly showed Dr. Strange, wow, if they included Man-Thing in it somehow this would be the greatest game ever created!

The real problem came with trying to find the game itself, at that time the only places I could get software for my C-64 were at Sears, K-Mart, and a smattering at Montgomery Wards. I looked for the Hulk title for over a year, asked the salesman at the stores, and they just didn’t know when they were getting them in. Finally I stumbled on a copy of the game at my local K-Mart…and better yet it was only $4.99. I snatched it up and with just a small amount of begging to my Father…I had to leave it at the store. That was okay though, I had the back-up plan already in motion, the Grandmother!

That weekend my Grandmother and I picked up the game and like most games of my younger days we set about trying to solve it. Questprobe featuring the Hulk was to become one of the more challenging text games I’ve ever played, at least for the first puzzle. For example, at the beginning of the game you are tied and bound to a chair as Bruce Banner…so how do you transform into the Hulk to escape your bonds?

If you type in GET ANGRY, it asks you how you wish to do that? So on the first puzzle my Grandmother and I were stuck for probably 30 minutes, maybe even longer. When I’m trying to think hard, something that rarely happens, I have a tendency to bite my lip. So I typed in that very thing, BITE LIP and…

Unfortunately the gas quickly changes me from the Hulk back into Bruce Banner, but at least I was finally out of that chair.

I want to give a big thanks to Gaming After 40 for the awesome write-up on the Questprobe series especially with the realization that the game series shadowy character, the Chief Examiner, looks very much to be Scott Adams himself:

“If we examine what he’s doing in his office, he is writing the next QuestProbe computer program. And Wikipedia tells us that the Chief Examiner’s home planet is called Scadam, per the comic books. And while we never see his face, and he doesn’t appear to be wearing glasses, the hairdo certainly resembles Scott’s as pictured in the old Adventure International catalogs. And… aha! Smoking-gun puzzle tentatively solved — the parser recognizes SCOTT as a synonym for the CHIEF EXAMINER, which would seem to confirm my suspicions.”

Another big thanks to Matt Chatt for this YouTube video with a video interview with none other than Scott Adams!