Hunt the Wumpus

If you were like every other kid in my neighborhood growing up, then you were likely playing Atari. But if you were like me, then you were rocking the Texas Instruments instead and being laughed and pointed at by the kids playing Atari.

We had a TI-99/4A, and one of the first games I remember mastering was Hunt the Wumpus. For the purposes of this review, I’m going to focus on the version that was programmed by Kevin Kenney for Texas Instruments in 1980. However, it should be noted that in the 1970s, Gregory Yob created the original Hunt the Wumpus, which was entirely text based. So instead of being able to see that you were near the slime pit, the game would just tell you in words that you were near the slime pit. So yeah, graphics. The hunt is all in the graphics.

After the ominous intro music (a Casio version of Grieg’s n the Hall of the Mountain King), the game begins with you, little yellow man, standing in one clear blue circle. Then, it’s up to you to move up, down, left or right using either the keys E, X, S, D respectively or the joystick. I favor the keys they make it easier to move one cell at a time, and if you go too fast or move multiple cells at a time, you increase your chances of running smack into the Wumpus without warning.

So how do you find said Wumpus, and what do you do with him once you find him? Well, as you move up, down, left and right, you’ll find that you sometimes may land in cells that have specific markings, or clues. If the outline of your current cell is green, it means the slime pit is nearby so beware. If a cell contains a bat, and you return to that cell, the bat can pick you up and dump you into whatever cell he damn well pleases which can either help or hurt you. If your cell contains a red dot, this indicates one of the Wumpus caves, so he’s likely very near. The Wumpus is living in one of the cells, and he remains stationary. When you are one hundred and three percent positive that the Wumpus is lurking right in the cell directly above, below, or next to you, draw your arrow and fire. But choose this moment wisely if you aim and fire and he’s not in an adjacent cell to yours, he hears the shot and comes to eat you.

This is a fairly simple game of memory and strategy, but do not underestimate its addiction factor. For as simple as the game itself is, there’s just something about the Wumpus self righteous and maniacal grin each time he catches and eats you that will keep you hitting reset for hours on end. I could never rest until I shot that smug, one dimensional monster, and neither will you.

Gameplay Video

Sass Wagon

Sass Wagon (or Dana, if you prefer formality) grew up in Pennsylvania in the 80s and 90s. She kinda needs a haircut.

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