Friday, March 16, 2012

Realm of Fantasy

A long, long time ago (about seven years), I discovered Eamon. It was a text adventure system for the Apple II, and a big cross between text adventures and RPG. You'd create a character and go on an adventure, using your weapons and skills to fight monsters, win treasures, and sometimes solve puzzles.

It was rewritten for MS-DOS as Eamon Deluxe, and I decided to take a whack at creating an adventure for the new version.

The game I created was titled "Realm of Fantasy" and instead of creating something new or adapting something I loved, I decided to throw a bunch of my favorite fantasies into a melting pot.

The adventurer was asked to look for a missing person, which leads you down a rabbit hole into a garden where you fight a wicked witch. Once she's dead, a house lands on her, and if you open it, you can get Dorothy as a companion. (I had Toto too, but apparently the editor thought it was too much and removed him.)

Travelling along the yellow brick road, you meet the Mad Hatter and the March Hare (who might be friends or foes depending on your charisma level), the White Rabbit, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, Jack Pumpkinhead, and Tip. Along the way, you fight crows, fighting trees, kalidahs, poppy sprites, the Jabberwock, and an army of "revolting girls."

Then, you come to a town where you meet Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, then you go south through the Fire Swamp, battling ROUSes, to get to Miracle Max's, where you can get a Miracle Pill and a holocaust cloak.

Heading back to the town, you can go north to a tower where you meet Fezzik before descending through levels of the Zoo of Death before battling Count Rugen and saving Westley with the Miracle Pill. Then you ascend through the tower and head up with a key to defeat Prince Humperdink and save Princess Buttercup.

So, yes. I adapted most of The Princess Bride as a computer game.

Heading out the window of the tower leads you to the Emerald City. And if you go through the plumbing, you meet Mario and Luigi and join them in defeating a horde of Goombas. West of the Emerald City (past the Unicorn) is a castle where you defeat Bowser, the Wicked Witch of the West, and save Princess Peach.

Then, using a key, you go back to the Emerald City, fight a giant head, then meet the missing person who tells you he's happy as is before you end your adventure.

I did start work on a sequel that would explain that the Realm of Fantasy is not Oz, Florin, Wonderland, or the Mushroom Kingdom, but a land created by human fantasies. I'm kind of glad I abandoned the sequel, because that sounds exactly like The Neverending Story.

Well, I submitted the game. The programmer made some extra touches and it was released. And a review never appeared on the official Eamon website.

That was 2006, and I'd hardly heard a thing since. Occasionally, I'd get the Eamon newsletter, but very little happened.

Then, just last Monday, I got an e-mail from the programmer titled "Realm of Fantasy and Eamon Deluxe revival." The Eamon Deluxe system is getting a new makeover so it runs without the assistance of DOSBox on modern operating systems, and they looked me up and let me know "Realm of Fantasy" would be converted to the new system.

I wasn't sure what to say, but it was obvious they wanted some reply, so I replied "Okay."

He replied with an e-mail revealing that my adventure had not been reviewed due to a mix-up as to who was reviewing it. Surprisingly, he told me someone had reviewed it, a college professor nonetheless. Furthermore, my adventure had received some nice feedback as well:
But from my naive position, (Visual Impairment Audio additions for text adventures) seems like a natural fit; it's not as if Mario Brothers is going to be accessible to the visually impaired. (Though, in a sense, by the artful hand of Jared Davis, Mario Brothers is so accessible...)
If the idea of having the likes of the White Rabbit and Dorothy duking it out with the infamous Bowser doesn't appeal to you, you will certainly not enjoy this Eamon, however if you have a surreal or literary mind there are definitely some nice touches, such as having the wicked witch of the West crushed by Dorothy’s house when she dies, or of freeing the Tin Man from two evil trees.
The review, despite liking my concepts, noted that I rushed to the ending and got less elaborate in my descriptions, and that I was unfamiliar with "the specials," all of which I had to admit was true. Also, there's the problem I even noted right away that your group of allies grows far too quickly so when you battle monsters, they mainly do it for you and you just have to keep everyone alive. They thought it was an interesting way to do combat, which I guess it is, making it more of a strategy, but with so many allies to carry the damage between them all, it gets pretty easy.

The programmer has suggested we do a few little changes, something I've agreed to. Well, we'll see how it goes.


Frank - Eamon Deluxe said...

(For the record: Jared misread a few things before he posted. Toto was never removed from the game, he is inside Dorothy's basket as he has always been since Jared first submitted Realm of Fantasy. The first quote was from an email I received from Thomas Ferguson (professor of Logistics) and the second quote was from a review written by Luke Hewitt. The official Eamon website is, Eamon Deluxe is: -Frank, Creator of Eamon Deluxe

Nathan said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who considers the Mario games to be modern fairy tales.

Bob Rivard said...

Well, I just played and mapped the game, and I thought it was great. I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of all the characters, and thought the descriptions were clear and well-written. The map was easy to make because the locations were logically arranged. I particularly enjoyed the up and down aspects of the Zoo and Castle. This really lent a "delving" aspect to the game.

My one criticism is also with the ending. Not especially particular to this game, but almost ALL Eamons. How do you KNOW you finished - i.e. did everything that could be done? Given the ending I got, it seems like I failed. Did I, or is that just how the game ends?

Jared said...

That is the ending. The guy you're supposed to save has decided he doesn't want to leave. He's in his right mind, so what else can you do?

I think Frank put in some more ending text reinforcing this point.

Bob Rivard said...

Thanks! That's not a bad ending, it just isn't clear that there wasn't some possible trick to change his mind. Eamon doesn't have any kind of "Point" display, so you never know you're really done.

I never knew about Toto in Dorothy's basket, but apparently it didn't affect the game.

BTW, I played the whole game with the Pile of Straw on my head. Because I got funny reactions from everybody about it, I thought it would be "worth" something, but nothing came of it. It was funny to do, though.