Playing Castlequest (1980), Part 2

Previously on this blog: “Playing Castlequest (1980), Part 1” (2021-03-19). So far we’ve found eight treasures — silver cross, Cuban cigar, gold statue, champagne, jade figure, sapphire, crystal swan, large ruby — and our main (only?) unsolved puzzle was where to use this rope tied to a grappling hook.

But wait! Only at this point do I notice that the Cuban cigar’s description doesn’t feature an exclamation point, which means it’s not a treasure. So we’re down to seven actual treasures; plus one cigar, plus one grappling hook in search of a cliff.

The precipice in question is just south of the room where we found the sapphire. Throw the hook, then UP the cliff we go. Atop the cliff we find another bizarre grab-bag of rooms:

This is the disco room.  Multicolored lasers pulsate
wildly to the beat of badly mixed music.  A stairway
down is barely visible through the glare.  A large
passage exits south, and a smaller one leads west.
> S
You have entered the land of the living dead, a
large, desolate room.  Although it is apparently
uninhabited, you can hear the awful sounds of
thousands of lost souls weeping and moaning.
In the east corner are stacked the remains of
dozens of previous adventurers who were less
fortunate than yourself.  To the north is a
foreboding passage.  A path goes west.
> W
You are in a tall tunnel leading east and west.  A small
trail goes SE.  An immense wooden door heads south.
There is a fairly large cyclops staring at you.
> W
You are in a tremendous cavern divided by a white line
through its center.  The north side of the cavern is
green and fresh, a startling change from the callous
terrain of the cave.  A sign at the border proclaims
this to be the edge of the wizard's realm.

Well, there’s the cyclops and wizard I knew had to be around here somewhere! Being somewhat spoiled on the solution to the cyclops puzzle, I gave the game a sporting chance to hint me toward the intended action: fruitlessly.

Nothing happens.
You are not strong enough to break it.
That would be a neat trick.
Boy are you dumb!  A cyclops doesn't eat food.
The cyclops hurls you against the wall and chuckles quietly.
The cyclops flings you across the room and laughs hysterically.
The cyclops does not even feel the impact of the bullet.
I don't think I understand.
To aid you in your travels, you may ask for a hint by
saying "HINT object", where "object" is the item that you
need help with (e.g. "HELP CROSS").  Saying "HELP ROOM"
will give you some help concerning the room you're in.
It will cost you five points.
Do you still want the hint?.
Try "smoking" him out.

Fine. I have no idea how I was supposed to get here without the hint, but I’ll play along.

The cyclops turns to you and says:
   "Hey buddy!.  Got a light??"
You have nothing to light it with.
The light is burning dimly.
The cyclops chokes from the rancid tobacco, and
crashes through the door in search of water.
There is a cyclops-shaped hole in the door.

On the other side of the door we find an ivory-handled sword, which begins glowing dimly as we approach the wizard’s realm. Holding the sword, we’re able to pass through some sort of magical force field and confront the wizard. STAB WIZARD results in an ignominious death. Restore and THROW SWORD: ignominy. On the other hand, the wizard doesn’t react to THROW AXE and KILL WIZARD. Even

Nothing happens.

So the sword is the operative element here.

The walls of the cavern tremble as you unleash the
terrible power contained in the sword.
The wizard, sensing a stronger power than his own,
flees in a blinding flash and a cloud of smoke.
> W
You are in the wizard's cache, a large room whose walls
are inlaid with jewels.  A majestic marble walk leads to
the east.
There is lots of money here!

That makes nine treasures and 255 points, and now it really seems like we’ve seen all the puzzles. Unless we need to keep trying to get to the village?

Castlequest’s hint system is pretty neat. It doesn’t seem to notice when you’re “stuck” in a particular area for too long, the way Adventure does; but I like the context-dependent notes the butler gives you (you get one of these per game), and I like the HINT [item] mechanic. The problem is that at this point I don’t know which item or room to get a hint about! HINT ROOM in the vault produces the message “Sorry, not available.” So, I went and looked at the source code.

Cheating our way to victory

Looking at object.dat showed me that again I had misconstrued the treasure list. The Cuban cigar isn’t a treasure, but the skeleton key is one! So we need to drop the key in the vault as well. That rounds out our score to 264 points (the key is worth only 9 points, unlike all the other treasures), and then when we go back up in the elevator:

> U
The elevator has screeched to a halt between two floors.
Your axe is trembling slightly.
Nothing happens.
You can't be serious.
Jump from where??
There is no way to go in that direction.
I see no door here.
Sorry, not available.
Sorry, not available.

Well, I guess I shouldn’t expect HINT to work in what is clearly the “master game”…

I kick myself when I decipher the source code and find that what I should do with the axe, when trapped in an elevator, is obviously CHOP DOOR.

There is a passable hole in the door.
You are in a room of mammoth proportions which seems
to be some sort of warehouse.  On a nearby table are
several clipboards and a massive pile of order forms.
To your right is a large loading dock and a truck bay.
The room opens to the north, east and west.
Your axe is trembling slightly.

Okay, now

The letter "H" appears for an instant on the wall.

Waving the axe in each of the four corners of this warehouse reveals the letters of the magic word, coincidentally one of the few words I haven’t used from the game’s vocabulary list.

A large "K" emerges from the floor.
The floor erupts violently, swallowing you in a sea of molten lava.
You scored  256 out of  300 points.

Wait, wait, let’s try that again!

You are in the elevator, stuck between floors.
There is a passable hole in the door.
Your axe is trembling slightly.
You feel the elevator jump as you are wisked up towards
ground level.  You emerge in the open air in the village
square amidst cheers from the local villagers.  Banners
proclaiming the death of count Vladimir hang from most
of the old buildings around the square.  The mayor
presents you with a key to the city and makes your
birthday a holiday.  You watch the sun rise as you
bask in your newfound fame.
You scored  279 out of  300 points.

It turns out that the game rewards you for a few inessential tasks: you get 5 points for reading the butler’s note, 15 points for viewing the combination behind the kitchen door, and 10 points for waving the axe all around the warehouse at the end. (You also get bonus points for some essential tasks, such as getting the bedroom window open, opening the combination lock, and killing the Count.)

Finally, Castlequest has a Last Lousy Point. I don’t think it’s clued at all — but you get 1 point for leaving the empty bottle on the island. (Thematic, right? Shipwreck, message in a bottle… sure.)

Anyway, when you do all of these things in the right order, within 250 moves, you get the top score:

You scored  300 out of  300 points.
This qualifies you as a "CLASS A" MASTER!

Note that (just as in Adventure) some commands don’t count as “moves,” so even my 298-line walkthru counts as only about 210 moves.

Tomorrow: some observations on the source code.

Posted 2021-03-20