Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sanctum-onious Adventure

"Encounter the forces of black magic as you roam around an old 18th century monastery. See all the evil locations in this spooky adventure in full hi-res detail. If you like suspense, you'll love searching out and destroying the evil in this classic tale."
In mid-1980s, a small company called Mark Data Products release 6 parser-based graphic adventure games similar to early Polarware and Scott Adams titles. "The Black Sanctum" in particular is written as a text-only adventure in 1983, released with graphics for the TRS-80 Color Computer the next year, then ported to the IBM PC where it did not sell nearly as well. While the graphics are good for the time, the parser is quite primitive - only simple verb+noun constructs such as GET HAT are understood, and some verbs that are common in IF games such as SEARCH are not always recognized. Fortunately, the games make up for primitive parser with well-written plot, fun characters, and some clever puzzles.

I first encountered The Black Sanctum via a local Bulletin Board system, and as sometimes happened in those days, I downloaded it and played it never knowing it was a commercial release. Though I never bothered to finish the game, it occupies a place in my memory to this day. The authors have since given permission to use the game and source code freely, so now you can download it without guilt.

Many thanks are due The Home of the Underdogs.

See also, an interview with one of the game designers.

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