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Lost Classic 8-Bit Space Adventure, March 1, 2019
by jgerrie (Cape Breton Island, Canada)The Basic source code from the Sinclair Spectrum that I worked from to port this game to the TRS-80 MC-10 was very buggy and unwinnable. I used a scan from The Computer & Video Games Year Book (1984) of the original Dragon 32 version to help with the debugging. I got the impression this version might be unwinnable too. If that's the case, the MC-10 version might be the only working version available online.
There is a BBC micro version you can play online. I tried it using a playthrough I developed and discovered that it did not seem to recognize the command PUSH BUTTON in the hanger, which which would prevent the possibility of winning. There were also a number of minor annoying but non-catastrophic bugs shared with the Speccy version. For example, despite there being a REMOVE command, you can drop wearable items while wearing them, which results in them being listed as being (WORN) even after they are dropped. The interactions with the captain and the spy in the captain's cabin also don't work.
All the bugs and typos are probably why this program has no playthrough online and why it seems to be "missing" from so many games collections for various machines (See this thread: https://stardot.org.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=12062&start=30)?-- It might have been unwinnable all these years on all the systems it was ported to from the original Dragon 32 version. And maybe even that version is too buggy to complete?
If so, this is a real shame because it is an incredibly rich and subtle puzzle, with neat NPC interactions, good story and evocative mood created through many little flourishes. Definitely not something you could finish in an hour. It would have kept me occupied for many days, if not possibly a week or two back in the 80s. That being said, it is pretty brutal in it treatment of even the most minor mistakes on the player's part, such as forgetting to close a door behind yourself!
Despite its brutality, with careful attention to all the in-game story elements you can discover, you can obtain all the clues necessary to complete the game. Still, I added some additional instructions and story background to the MC-10 version just to help get players off on the right track, if there ever are any additional players. I hope there is because this is a lost classic 8-bit space adventure, which deserves to be played.
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