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The Adventures of Indiana Jones in Wenceslas Square in Prague on January 16, 1989

by Zuzan Znovuzrozený, Jaroslav Švelch, Martin Kouba, and Jana “Yuffie” Kilianová

Humor
2019

Web Site

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About the Story

This satirical game was released anonymously in 1989 as a response to police brutality during the Palach Week protests. In January 1989, several opposition groups organized demonstrations to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the self-immolation of Jan Palach, a student who set himself on fire to protest the post-1968 political developments in the country. On January 15, thousands of people gathered on Wenceslas Square, a traditional site of public events. Citizens’ efforts to pay respects to Palach and protest the oppressive regime were met with a disproportionate police response, including the use of tear gas and water cannons against peaceful protesters and curious bystanders. Undeterred by the police, people continued to gather for the following four days. The game takes place on the second day of the protests.

By 1989, Indiana Jones had become a popular character in Czechoslovak text adventure games, in part thanks to the popular series of unlincesed homebrew titles by the influential programmer František Fuka. As a result, the famous archeologist appeared even in this activist title. While geographically faithful, the game portrays Wenceslas Square as a battlefield where every careless move is punished by death; where tear gas, water cannons and policemen await on every corner. The game revels in spectacular game over scenes, which serve to highlight and exaggerate police violence. The game was released for the ZX Spectrum platform in the Czech language and spread among the users on cassette tapes, which were the default storage medium for 8-bit computers. Although its author remains unknown, it is possible that they were a participant in the actual demonstration.

How we reconstructed the game

Because the game’s source code has not been preserved, we observed its run-time behavior and documented all its locations, objects, and events. Then we rewrote the game for web technologies (JavaScript, HTML, and CSS) using our own custom engine. All the texts were extracted from the original game's binaries and translated into English. We aimed for a faithful reproduction of all the puzzles and mechanics. There are, however, a few changes made for the sake of accessibility and user-friendliness:

The original version did not contain intro graphics. The conversion’s title image was created in the resolution and palette of the ZX Spectrum platform, although we did not conform to its limitation of 2 colors per 8x8 square.
The conversion recognises several synonyms (PICK UP or GET instead of TAKE etc.) You can list the synonyms for a verb by typing ALIASES FOR [verb].
The conversion contains hints (using the HINT command), which were not present in the original.
The conversion enables saving and loading the game using the SAVE and LOAD commands.
The conversion uses a more readable font and a more user-friendly interface. It allows you, for example, to repeat commands using the cursor keys or auto-complete commands using TAB.
As opposed to the original, we have removed the screen that explains the game’s controls, replacing it with this help section and the DICTIONARY command.

Credits

Zuzan Znovuzrozený (pseudonym) – original author(s)
Jaroslav Švelch – game mechanics analysis; production, design, and translation of the conversion
Martin Kouba – programming and design of the conversion
Jana “Yuffie” Kilianová – pixel art

The Czech-language conversion was made for the November 1989: The Road to Democracy exhibition, organized in 2019 by the Institute of Contemporary History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, and appeared on the 100 Student (R)evolutions website. We are grateful to Jiří Hlaváček and Pavel Mücke for their support. Thanks to Daniel Dolenský for proofreading the English translation.


Game Details

Language: English (en)
Current Version: Unknown
License: Freeware
Development System: Custom
IFID: Unknown
TUID: wy1op3sedxr0b4de

Remake of Dobrodružství Indiana Jonese na Václavském náměstí v Praze dne 16. 1. 1989, by Zuzan Znovuzrozený
English translation of Dobrodružství Indiana Jonese na Václavském náměstí v Praze dne 16. 1. 1989, by Zuzan Znovuzrozený

Editorial Reviews

Ars Technica
How Indiana Jones, Rambo, and others ended up in 1980s Czechoslovak text-adventures: to mock the Communist regime, Czechoslovak kids made illicit video games supporting protests.
See the full review

ROMchip
Indiana Jones Revisits Wenceslas Square
Converting 1980s Czechoslovak Activist Games for Exhibition and Education
See the full review

Herni Archeolog
Hra 377: Dobrodružství Indiana Jonese na Václavském náměstí v Praze dne 16. 1. 1989 (1989) [Czech-language review of original ZX Spectrum version]
See the full review

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This is version 9 of this page, edited by jakomo on 11 May 2021 at 2:20pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item