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keithbk

Swordquest ... reconsidered

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I remember as a kid my excitement when the first Swordquest game was released; I was a huge fan of Adventure and I had been waiting FOREVER for something to come out similar to it.

 

I loved Superman because it was an open-world environment, but was disappointed in Dragonfire because, in spite of it's lovely graphics, you just went over two screens and there was no quest.

 

Then, I played Swordquest... and wow, what a disappointment. You're doing all this to find words in a comic book and the storyline/purpose simply did not make sense to my child-mind. Even today, reading the plot, it all sounds so convoluted.

 

Now, I enjoyed some of the mini-games and thought these showed promise, but what each game in the Swordquest series needs is a simple, easy-to-understand objective (similar to "find the chalice stolen by the evil magician and return it to the gold palace") and not THIS:  "Tarra and Torr's parents were slain by King Tyrannus's guards, prompted by a prophecy by the king's wizard Konjuro that the twins would slay Tyrannus. The twins were then raised as commoners by thieves to avoid being slain by the king. When they go to plunder Konjuro's sea keep, they accidentally reveal their identities to him. The twins then start running from a demon summoned to kill them, but it appears that a jewel they stole attracts it. After smashing the stone to avoid the demon, two of Tyrannus's old advisers appear and tell the two about the 'Sword of Ultimate Sorcery' and the 'Talisman of Penultimate Truth.' They are then transported to Earthworld. After defeating many beasts of the Zodiac and another thief (Herminus) in Earthworld, the twins are transported to the central chamber where the Sword of Ultimate Sorcery and the Talisman of Penultimate Truth are kept."

 

Because I have mixed emotions about this game, I always thought it would be interesting if someone hacked it. Keep the mini-games intact, but give it a simplified objective. Remove the need to reference a comic book, and make it more of an Adventure-style storyline.

 

Has anyone attempted a hack of the Swordquest games along this end?

 

If it were to be hacked, what would you do differently?

 

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I also agree that the Sword Quest games were way too complicated. Adventure, Superman, & Haunted House were the initial 3 from the “Adventure Territory” that we enjoyed as games to play for exploration.

 

Raiders & E.T. also contributed to this category.

 

Needing the instruction manual to learn more about the game mechanics and/or get hints & tips is one thing. But having to read a comic book? I despised comic books. Always have. Still do. Not my cup of tea. When Yars Revenge included one for example, I was like whatever man, I’ll never read this crap.

 

All I ever did with the Sword Quest games was run around trying to find the mini games. Never understood, nor cared to try, the whole “comic book clues” thing.

 

i still remember in Earth World (which I got after Fire World mind you) that if you plugged it in, started the game, and just moved UP on the joystick, it would enter a room & make a cool sound. Had no idea what or why. Didn’t care. Still don’t.

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My friend got this game back in the day and we stayed up later than I ever remember staying up, up to that point. (Like 1am!) 

Looking back it is crazy repetitive and I'll admit we never really knew what we were actually doing other than trying to get the page/panel numbers to appear.

We had so much fun that night because we were sure we were going to "beat" the game, but afterwards I never dedicate much time to it. It would be cool to have a more structured adventure with actual goals. 

 

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Convoluted sounds about right. BITD, I had both Earthworld and Fireworld - must've bought on clearance and was drawn to the artwork for sure. The 80's pop culture equivalent to purchasing an album based on its crazy cover. ha

 

As most people were, I too was disappointed in the gameplay and never really cared for comics. I can't even remember really being aware of the contest or figured I'd ever win, so didn't pay *any* attention to that aspect of the games. As a kid, I just wanted to pop in a game and have fun! Too much running around, hoping to find some lame mini game or something to do. Too tedious for my tastes.

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I invite you to read my thoughts on the possible Airworld comic (conclusion of the series) that I speculated on a few years back.  Can be found at this link...

 

 

 

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I was very angry about the Swordquest games back in the Ferg.  IMHO, the real issue is that Todd Frye completely missed what made all the previous Adventure Zone games great.  

 

Consider Adventure:  the objective is crystal clear, and every object in the game has a very specific use and purpose.  Object stuck in the wall?  You need the bridge or the magnet.  Chased by dragons?  You need the sword.  Keys open specific castle gates.

 

In contrast, in SQ the objective is to put random objects into specific rooms in specific combinations so you can get a number that referenced the comic books. The specific objects have zero in-game purpose at all and could have been replaced with squares with alpha letters to tell them apart.  So except for the Mythicon-quality minigames, “solving” the game is either just random guesswork OR tedious process-of-elimination object grouping.  

 

TERRIBLE!  I’m as irritated now as I was when I blew a precious birthday gift choice on the whopping turd that is Earthworld at age 13.  WTF Todd Frye?

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Just my opinion... any game that makes it s sales numbers off of a contest is not worth playing. Crud..... I was hoping for a "Ready Player One Game". Foiled by my own line of thought.

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23 hours ago, edladdin said:

I was very angry about the Swordquest games back in the Ferg.  IMHO, the real issue is that Todd Frye completely missed what made all the previous Adventure Zone games great.  

 

Consider Adventure:  the objective is crystal clear, and every object in the game has a very specific use and purpose.  Object stuck in the wall?  You need the bridge or the magnet.  Chased by dragons?  You need the sword.  Keys open specific castle gates.

 

In contrast, in SQ the objective is to put random objects into specific rooms in specific combinations so you can get a number that referenced the comic books. The specific objects have zero in-game purpose at all and could have been replaced with squares with alpha letters to tell them apart.  So except for the Mythicon-quality minigames, “solving” the game is either just random guesswork OR tedious process-of-elimination object grouping.  

 

TERRIBLE!  I’m as irritated now as I was when I blew a precious birthday gift choice on the whopping turd that is Earthworld at age 13.  WTF Todd Frye?

 

Your feelings reflect mine, which is why I end up thinking (from time to time) WHAT WENT WRONG???

 

You've got cool items, some cool mini-games, and a series of rooms... could it be re-worked? Could it be tweaked to be fun?

 

Unlike Sssnake, which is TERRIBLE in every conceivable way, SwordQuest has interesting elements that need to be salvaged. The opening screen, for example, is great... room transitions are interesting, the minigames are a step in the right direction, and the sprites for the objects are eye-catching (even if they are completely useless as usable objects).

Edited by keithbk

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On 9/26/2019 at 10:34 AM, Supergun said:

I also agree that the Sword Quest games were way too complicated. Adventure, Superman, & Haunted House were the initial 3 from the “Adventure Territory” that we enjoyed as games to play for exploration.

 

Raiders & E.T. also contributed to this category.

 

Needing the instruction manual to learn more about the game mechanics and/or get hints & tips is one thing. But having to read a comic book? I despised comic books. Always have. Still do. Not my cup of tea. When Yars Revenge included one for example, I was like whatever man, I’ll never read this crap.

 

All I ever did with the Sword Quest games was run around trying to find the mini games. Never understood, nor cared to try, the whole “comic book clues” thing.

 

i still remember in Earth World (which I got after Fire World mind you) that if you plugged it in, started the game, and just moved UP on the joystick, it would enter a room & make a cool sound. Had no idea what or why. Didn’t care. Still don’t.

I have nothing against comic books, but I absolutely loathe games that you can't play without manuals. The first time I played Earthworld, I hand no idea what was going on, how the controls worked, nor how to beat the game. I just randomly wandered around until I decided I was wasting time and quit. I still don't understand how the game works, but I still think the idea of the game is cool(only the idea).

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I bought Earthworld like probably every other 2600 owner did. I didn't think it was anything great and I believe I ended up trading it to a school friend for some other game. I still wonder on occasion what happened to the prizes that weren't given out. There's always to story that Jack Tramiel kept them after his 'purchase' of Atari but never substantiated. 

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I had a friend who loved the Swordquest games, even though he didn't get any of them until after the contests were over. He just liked running around and playing the minigames. I never liked them, but if I were going to remake them, I'd ditch the whole place the objects in a room to get a clue angle and replace it with something simpler, like win a minigame to get a key that opens a new area with a new minigame to find. The goal would simply be to find the titular treasure (Talisman of Truth, Chalice of Light, etc.) in each game.

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I spent a lot of hours trying to figure these games out as a kid. I just knew there was something cool hidden in them.

I finally, years ago, downloaded the solution and actually spent like several hours and beat Earthworld one rainy saturday. I have seen the actual winning sword and it was... not worth the hours it took to get it.

I've always felt the concept for these games was great, but the execution was terrible.

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Finally figured out how to play it, and almost beat it! The thing is, I have a strange habit of getting addicted to annoying or hard games like E.T. or Dragonfire. Now I'm getting addicted to this!

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Some of my most vivid memories of playing Atari are of playing Earthworld.  I was only five or six at the time, but the bizarre story logic was unlike any other game I'd played.  I don't recall ever making heads or tails of the comic books, and I never finished the game, but it certainly toyed with my imagination. 

 

I think if you simplified the objective, it might become more playable, but it would also become less distinctive.  I don't know that the mini-games alone were good enough to make it stand out over the scads of other 2600 games.  I would probably just ditch the comic book angle and put all of the necessary clues in-game.

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On 10/1/2019 at 11:26 AM, KaeruYojimbo said:

I had a friend who loved the Swordquest games, even though he didn't get any of them until after the contests were over. He just liked running around and playing the minigames. I never liked them, but if I were going to remake them, I'd ditch the whole place the objects in a room to get a clue angle and replace it with something simpler, like win a minigame to get a key that opens a new area with a new minigame to find. The goal would simply be to find the titular treasure (Talisman of Truth, Chalice of Light, etc.) in each game.

I think you are on the right track with this idea...

 

Drop the Zodiac idea altogether; irrelevant to gameplay.

 

Instead, you begin easy, able to navigate through a small number of rooms with a handful of items.

 

You have some rooms (redesigned) that serve as "clues" as to which item needs to be brought to the room (for example, one room is designed to look like a LOCK and you have to drop the KEY). Once you bring that item and drop it in that room, you enter a minigame to proceed to unlock the next series of rooms.

 

Only certain rooms are "Clue Rooms" where an item can be dropped. For example, a room that looks like a CHASM for the ROPE, or a dark room for the LAMP, and these are the only rooms that lead to a minigame. Other rooms contain objects or are (perhaps) empty.

 

You have, say, 10 lives to get it all correct, or you lose the game. There is loss of a life upon dropping the wrong item in wrong room or losing a minigame.

 

Once you beat all the minigames, you get to a final screen that gives you an image of the treasure you were seeking in that game.

 

What do you think about that?

Edited by keithbk
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I didn't care for the Swordquest games at all. We got them at a garage sale for pretty cheap so it wasn't a big loss. That said, I do have nostalgia for it and I like the sprite icons - so much that I made an animated gif for use on a 32x32 LED matrix display.

 

Edited by Ramses

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Some items do affect the game, folks.

 

The biggest problem is the core concept.  It's not fun. 

 

The item placement is completely random.  This is poor design and a complete failure.  There are no clues; items in the comic book aren't clues for tem placement (for instance, the minotaur has a ring on his horn).  Missed opportunity, there. The placement of the items has no rhyme or reason.  It's botshot crazy.  

 

The minigames are boring and repetitive.  Given the amount of time players must perform them (while shuffling items around), they need variation.

 

There is little reward for acquiring items.  There is little substantial trade off to specific "load outs" in your inventory.  There is a potential for the properties of items to make getting clues easier--or make getting one specific clue difficult, but it's never realized.

 

There is no payoff for getting clues.  Clues don't help me solve a later room.

 

Swordquest is busywork and I don't need something to keep me busy.  It's the worksheet that lazy teacher handed out when she had a hangover.

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On 9/26/2019 at 8:32 AM, keithbk said:

I loved Superman because it was an open-world environment, but was disappointed in Dragonfire because, in spite of it's lovely graphics, you just went over two screens and there was no quest.

I haven't played Superman yet, but I find Dragonfire super addicting, because of it's high paced gameplay.

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I think we all agree the concept of randomly dropping items in rooms with no rhyme or reason as to why were these games biggest failure. I wonder if this game wasn't tied to contest with prizes...  would the gameplay be more polished?  

 

You guys recall the contest "Treasure of the Golden Horse"? Another convoluted contest involved a certain prized horse statue. Damn thing was intricate, the company holding the contest went belly up before anybody found anything...

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