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!