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Shamrocks & Shenanigans, January 20, 2011
A couple of years on from The Black Sanctum Bob Withers and Steve O'Dea released a game called Shenanigans (1983). You start off, as typical in many adventure games, in your bedroom: but what cracked me up early on was the landlord standing on the stairs, blocking your progress. The primitive featureless sprite seemed to make him all the more menacing. I was surprised that one of the early commands I tried was both needed and implemented.(Spoiler - click to show)
LOOK UNDER BED? Under What? ..
At this stage I thought, "never mind", but typed BED. Hey I found something!
And a little pair of boots appeared on the screen.
Play, and responses, were very similar to Scott Adams games. I found the odd spelling mistake here and there, even a couple of phrases which seemed as though the author's first language wasn't English. These didn't affect the play much, but it seemed incredible to have a mistake on the first screen ("efficiency" rather than "efficient"). The game reminded me in a vague way of Leisure Suit Larry. You could buy beer in the local pub on tap: Highenbrau, O'Shaunasee or a pint of Blitz. And if you lose your money it is always possible to go back to get some more, which gave it a LucasArts feel years before LucasArts. What I couldn't understand was the need for magical movement of the character when it wasn't necessary: okay, so the game background story appears to have a slightly magical content, but if you enter the tube station, why not get the tube train? Why suddenly reappear in another location by magic? Also unfortunately there is no conversation implemented at all, but surprisingly you can GET ALL and DROP ALL (and it works fffast).
Puzzles in general weren't too strenuous. At one point it seemed that I had to find some sort of musical instrument. This was where creativity came in.. If I dropped wrapping paper near the police officer would he blow his whistle? And then could I steal it somehow? However, progress actually just meant figuring out the slightly awkward game map. The HELP command did actually prove useful when I'd ran out of ideas... The input to deal with a certain lady was a bit tricky to get, but it did crack me up with a cry of "No way!" (That feeling of pulling a command out the bag is a great one.)
On the Baf scale, it was merciful in its early stages, but it was much easier to die in the endgame, including a phrase which it was well worth dying just to see. (Spoiler - click to show)"Your bare feet slip on the rainbow and you fall to your death. This adventure is over." This then led to an headache of a puzzle to complete the game, but I felt a little bit of an anticlimax because I had been barking up the wrong tree. (Spoiler - click to show) It was a hunt-the-wumpus ordeal to try to get the pole into the cave, but actually all you need to do is find the trapdoor, which was my mapping/attention mistake . This was a shame because the route I was pursing was an interesting one, but I guess I was trying to conjure up more difficult solutions, the likes of which began to appear (generally) a little later in interactive-fiction history. The game gave me a nice nostalgic feeling of the innocence of early adventure games, and was genuinely fun to play.