Looking at the calendar, the 26th of the month is once again upon us, which means we fans of the legacy of Atari spend the day sharing memories and helping others enjoy the delights that the company helped usher into reality. Like the groundbreaking Swordquest series of games that Atari released back in 1982, starting the whole series off with Earthworld.
Perhaps I was just at the right age and the title came along at that perfect time because I have many fond memories of laying on the living room floor beside my Grandmother as we tried our very hardest to solve the hidden message in the game, the message that would give us our shot to win the then estimated $25,000 prize, The Talisman of Penultimate Truth!
I’ve talked about Swordquest before on the site and the various podcasts I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited on, but for those of you not in the know, Atari back in the early 80s had designed four games each of them with it’s own style of mini-games based loosely on the four elements and each needing puzzles to be solved (Like which items to leave in a certain room) so that the Player would get a message. Like this:
This message was to be used with the handy DC Comic’s Swordquest book that was included with the game.
Written by Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas and illustrated by George Perez and Dick Giordano, the comic not only introduced Players to the vast story and mythology of Swordquest but was the key to deciphering the hidden message. For example, using that message in the game from above, means the Player is to turn to page 25 and look at panel 6 for the hidden word.
This style of gameplay while being incredibly difficult, proven by the fact that of the 5,000 entries to Atari only 8 were actually correct, it was ambrosia to me. Back in 1983 after those winners were invited to compete in a special version of Earthworld it was Steven Bell who ended up winning the Talisman of Penultimate Truth. Thanks to the August issue of Video Games we can read all about it!
Sadly the Video Game Crash took place soon after the competition began and the Swordquest series wasn’t finished but for those of us who were there for the beginning of the ride, Atari certainly delivered by leaving us with wonderful memories…and I suppose that is the true treasure, right?
I want to give a big thanks as always to the always impressive Atari Age for not just the scans of the Swordquest comic book but the box art as well.
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