Adventure Island

By | 16 May 2023

After a little break we’re back in the saddle, and heading off to Adventure Island.

Adventure Island is a public domain game written by J.B.Cattley and playtested by none other than Ms Millard! This is the second time Dorothy Millard has popped up in this blog and I know it won’t be the last.

Adventure Island by J.B.Cattley

As I always like to get a little context and backstory on authors, I tried to find out a little bit about J.B.Cattley. There is a reference in a juggling group back from 1998 – I am making a huge assumption this is the same person, but somebody who used to enjoy writing text adventures on their beloved 8-bit computer is absolutely the sort of person who would end up on a juggling group.

Actually there is also a reference in a rogue like developers group from the same year too so pretty sure this is our guy.

A bit of a digression but I had no idea Google Groups was still going strong – this Commodore one (of which I am a member and have no memory of ever joining) is still really active!

But, the best find of all was an article in Adventure Probe from December 1994, volume 8 issue 12.

I’ll put a link for you to download the PDF at the bottom of this post – I just love magazines/fanzines like these from those days. There was a fantastic global community formed around text adventure games and you really felt part of a scene. Just reading through this issue got me quite emotional!

The pertinent paragraph is written by, once again, Dorothy Millard – how I could go all these years without hearing her name before is beyond me. Anyway, here it is…

OK, on to the game itself.

You start off onboard the QE2 and are none too happy with how things have been going. This type of holiday is obviously not for you! Not to worry, it is but a matter of a few lines of text and you can say goodbye to this vacation as you are thrown overboard, where you have to swim to the eponymous Adventure Island.

Once you have slept off your ordeal you can have a look around and see if you can’t sort this situation out. It soon becomes obvious you’re in a very bad mood. Irritated by the beach, the cliffs, the boredom. Even the parser prompts are a bit snarky ‘Any more Brilliant Ideas?’ it asks you.

Going up and down the beach seems the only options open to you at the moment, but references to the cliffs to the north are obviously supposed to make you think – so experiment here with the objects you have found so far and one will help you on our way.

You will find yourself climbing cliffs, navigating gorges, slooshing through muddy bogs and feeding the local wildlife, before they start eating you! There is even, as Mr Cattley says in the description, a thicket to find, as every adventure game needs a thicket.

This is a fairly logical problem solver of a game, and you should be able to think your way through it apart from a couple of areas where help may be required. The map isn’t too big but you do need to open it up by utilising the things you find. Without that you won’t get very far. Almost everything you find strewn around the island has a use – there is one red herring but I’ll let you find that for yourself. Keeping tabs on the map is essential though as there is a good deal of doubling back.

If you get stuck, HELP brings up a list of verbs which are extremely useful – almost cheating – but without that I don’t see how you would guess the right words to use. The bridge problem in particular doesn’t make much sense to me, and it had to be done in a specific order.

There is actually a subtle clue in the opening text as to what you need to do at the end, and those cleverer than me will work that out. I had to use the help system again!

If you do make it to the end your ‘reward’ is to find yourself in a tourist hotel – your worse nightmare apparently!

End Screen of Adventure Island

Incidentally, Escape from Adventure Hotel mentioned at the end here, doesn’t appear to have ever been written – or at least I can’t find a reference to it anywhere.

The parser for Adventure Island is pretty basic and none too clever, but it’s ok and does the job well enough. It’s also fairly slow but again, acceptable.

I really enjoyed this adventure game, it had a really old school feel to it and I enjoyed it even more because it led me to the wonderful Adventure Probe magazines, which I am now going to read in their entirety! As promised, see the issue in question below. The map I did during my play through is also at the end of the post.

Thanks for reading, and until next time, keep safe out there adventurers!

Adventure Island: A short but complex problem solver which packs a lot in to a small map. jon

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