by Keith Bergman
a TI BASIC game for the unexpanded TI 99/4A computer (emulator in Overdrive Mode recommended)
NEW MANUAL ADDED 8-15-2017
You are the keeper of the Crystal Garden, a timeless and mystical place of energy and light. The balance of the crystals has been maintained by you and your ancestors since time immemorial. But now, intruders have entered the Garden, seeking to dim the light and leach away the energy. Only by opening three portals, one of which is hidden from your view, and absorbing more of the Garden's energy than your foes, can you banish them and restore the Crystal Garden to its balance and splendor.
How to play:
Crystal Garden takes place on a screen full of multicolored gems, interspersed with some white and black spaces. You are at the top left corner of the Garden when the game begins, and one of your foes (we'll call him the Visible Foe) is on the bottom right corner. You are represented by a black stick figure on a white background, while the Visible Foe is your mirror image.
Your goal is to reach the top right corner of the Garden (the first portal), then the bottom right corner (the second portal). Once you've done this, you must find the third portal, which could be anywhere in the Garden - even under a black square. Once you've opened the first two, an indicator number will appear below your score - the number of columns away you are from the third portal. While this number will not give you an exact fix on its location, you'll also be shown the color of the space you're looking for. This will help you narrow down your search.
Keep in mind that the portal square will probably change color during the match, due to shifts in the Garden or attacks by the Rogue Foe. Sometimes noting the changed color of the portal square will help you identify its exact location (as your indicator square will also change color).
In each turn, you move one square in any of the four cardinal directions, or stay put. You can not move onto a black square. You score points for each move you make, depending on the color of the square you land on -- the lighter the color, the more points that gem rewards you. Squares you have traveled on become white squares, which you may revisit, and which will also provide points when you walk on them.
After you move (or elect to stay still), you may use your powers as the keeper of the Garden to shift one horizontal row of gems one space to the right. This will allow you to clear black squares from your path, block your Foe, or just give you a path of lighter gems and more points while on your journey. You cannot shift the row the Visible Foe occupies, but you can shift your own row -- a way to move further to the right (or wrap around the screen to reappear on the left side of the Garden). If you are both in the row, you cannot shift it.
The portals are fixed points - shifting rows and columns do NOT change their location, only the color of the gem or space above them.
You move with the classic ESDX keys, or press SPACE to stay put. When the indicator arrow appears on your left, use E and X to scroll to the row you wish to shift, then press ENTER.
After you move, the Visible Foe takes a turn as well. The Visible Foe leaves a path of black squares in his path, and absorbs energy from gems in reverse proportion to you. The Foe is unable to walk on white squares.
After you and the Visible Foe have each taken a turn, the Garden itself takes a turn, shifting several rows (or columns -- the Garden, unlike you, can also shift vertically). Due to the poison of conflict within its boundaries, when the Garden shifts a row or column, the gem at the end of the shifted section disappears, and a black square forms at the beginning. Thus, more black squares are introduced as the match progresses, further threatening the survival of the Garden.
(The Garden will only shift rows to the right and columns down.)
Similar to your objective, the Visible Foe must reach the left top and left bottom corner of the Garden before he can pursue the hidden third portal.
Every time the Visible Foe scores another 250 points, the Rogue Foe is unleashed. This monster can only enter the Garden from the edges, and can only traverse black squares. It will rampage across as much of the Garden as it can, until it reaches gems it cannot touch, and then it explodes, turning adjacent squares black as it dies.
NOTE: if the Rogue Foe finds you during its rampage, it vanquishes you instantly and the game is over. It is important to avoid large sections of black spaces, especially ones connected to an edge of the playfield.
After the Rogue Foe's rampage, the Garden is in a state of turmoil, and a random number of gems across the Garden will spontaneously "explode" into black squares. After a few moments of this, the turmoil will pass, and the next turn will begin.
For either you or the Visible Foe to open the third portal, you must have the higher score. Thus, if you've unlocked your first two portals, and land on the square of the third portal, but your score is lower than the Visible Foe's, the portal will not open and the game will still be active. You must increase your score, then return to the third portal, before you can win the game.
If the Visible Foe unlocks the third portal and has a higher score than you, the Foe wins, the Garden is lost, and your game is over. If you achieve this feat with a higher score than the Visible Foe, your score stands and you are the winner of the match.
The Rogue Foe cannot open any of the portals during his brief attacks.
Remember, you must always be conscious of your point total. The longer the match goes on, the more of the Garden will be black squares, and the faster the Visible Foe's score will go up. You must play a mixture of offense -- moving toward your portals -- and defense -- using your limited row-shifting abilities to change the terrain to lower the Visible Foe's score, thwart his movements, and cut off paths the Rogue Foe could use to catch you.
Neither of your Foes are particularly intelligent. They react on primal instincts. The Visible Foe can be tricked.
By the time you reach the second portal, the Garden will look very different than when you started. The path to the third portal may seem impossible, but remember, the Garden shifts with every turn. Try to create pathways toward open spaces -- move toward the bright colors and avoid, as much as you can, dark edges where the Rogue Foe can surprise you.
Remember that you can "wrap" from one side of the Garden to the other when you shift rows. If the third portal is far to the left side, this might be easier than trying to pick your way across the Garden one row at a time.
Using your row-shifting ability is an essential part of the game, whether hemming in the Visible Foe or clearing your own path through a darkening Garden. But shift rows when the time is right. Too soon, and the Garden's own shifting changes may undo your work. Too late, and you may not have enough turns to make the changes you need.
Edited by InfernalKeith, Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:46 AM.