Castlequest: 1980 text adventure recovered

I’m a bit behind you, got 155 (of 300) pts at the moment and have just finished the second maze.

Are you running directly from Windows or from a command prompt? If you open a command prompt and run the game from there you can see the last message before the window closes.

I’m starting this morning on my Rust translation.

Of course. I normally double-click on the exe. I’ve just written a little batch file with a pause, so I can double-click on that and see the end game messages.


End screen
  You feel the elevator jump as you are wisked up towards
  ground level.  You emerge in the open air in the village
  square amidst cheers from the local villagers.  Banners
  proclaiming the death of count Vladimir hang from most
  of the old buildings around the square.  The mayor
  presents you with a key to the city and makes your
  birthday a holiday.  You watch the sun rise as you
  bask in your newfound fame.

  You scored  300 out of  300 points.

  This qualifies you as a "CLASS A" MASTER!

The vocabulary is certainly limited. You need to use THROW and WAVE in many places when the parser don’t understand more suitable verbs.
Both the end game and “the last lousy point” are not very logical and I had to look at the code to solve them. (You use BREAK DOOR when the elevator gets stuck between floors and you need to WAVE HATCHET to get the clues for the last verb. The “last lousy point” is earned when dropping the empty bottle on the island.)

The light source is also a bit limited and to earn max score you need to solve the game in under 250 moves.

The game borrows heavily from both ADVENTURE and ZORK and in places makes a Scott Adams game seem polished. But despite this I found that the game is quite charming and in my opinion have a good balance between the above/below ground parts.

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I think you summed it up nicely. I thought the puzzles were quite spread out, considering the scope of the landscape. It did feel a lot like ADVENTURE, except with a vampire theme in the first part of the game. There was a lot of guess-the-verb and some illogical stuff. From the cyclops onwards, it was just plain silly. However, that was compensated for by a couple of clever puzzles.

The end game was particularly mean. For anyone else reading this, make sure you save the game when the elevator breaks down.

I’ve done a breakdown of the scoring in case anyone’s interested. It’s extremely complex and could have been simplified a lot, particularly towards the end.

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I also have a scoring breakdown + map in Trizbort if anyone is interested.

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I’ve rebuilt the Windows executable again with Arthur’s latest “patches” branch, and the executable is now here:

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I made an entry in the IFDB for this game. See this as a placeholder and please improve it!


Arthur O’Dwyer has made a couple of blog posts about Castlequest. Especially the last one could be useful for those of you that make their own adaptation.

  1. Castlequest exhumed!
  2. Making Castlequest compilable
  3. Playing Castlequest (1980), Part 1
    (contains lots of spoilers!)
  4. Playing Castlequest (1980), Part 2
    (contains lots of spoilers!)
  5. Observations on Castlequest ’s code

He also made a walkthru for optimal score.


The downloads sidebar says you need an interpreter to play. That’s not accurate, is it? You can run the executable directly in whichever OS it was compiled for.

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Thanks for the update. It makes interesting reading.

Regarding the kitchen door, there is definitely a bug in the original game. Arthur O’Dwyer observed that he could unlock the door with the key even though it was boarded up, whereas I didn’t have the key, dropped the hatchet, chopped the boards with my bare hands and didn’t unlock the door at all. I just double-checked:


I'm afraid you don't have the key.

The door can now be opened.

The door opens to a brick wall.

The game is chock full of bugs like this. I’m fixing them as I go in my Inform 6 port.


Hah! I just downloaded the Windows executable from IFDB. Starts up fine.

-Would you like instructions?

-Please answer YES or NO

-Please answer YES or NO

[introduction and instructions follow]

This game is so oldschool it demands you to type in ALL_CAPS.

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Yeah, that was probably the norm back in 1979-1980.

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The system it was written for almost certainly didn’t have the concept of upper and lower case - uppercase would be all there was. Those were the days, etc. etc.


And here we are, 40 years later, still typing GET LAMP by convention if we want to show it’s a command.

[sniffs nostalgia] Aaah…

The hatchet need to be in the room, though. I havn’t looked this up in the code recently but in my recollection the game only cares if the object is in the room. It doesn’t care if you’re carrying it or if it’s lying on the floor.

That you can unlock the kitchen door with the key even though it’s boarded up fells to me like an original bug. It’s hard to say but I think the intended action is to BREAK or CHOP the door with the hatchet.

That’s true. You utter the magic word ‘chop’ and the hatchet sprouts wings and chops the door of its own accord. :rofl:

As I hinted at an Inform 6 port earlier, I thought I should give an update.

I’ve done an enhanced version in Inform 6. By ‘enhanced’, I mean fixing all the bugs, full sentence parser, ability to examine objects (including scenery), proper doors and containers, support for UNDO, ability to save and restore from within the game and so on.

The puzzles, scoring, wandering monsters, resurrection and the bulk of the original text are maintained, although there’s a few things that I may still change. For example, the resurrection seems pretty pointless, as you can only be resurrected twice and each time you’re resurrected, your belongings are scattered at random. Because of the resurrection mechanism, you can’t undo on death. Personally, I’d prefer the undo, as you get killed a lot in this game and resurrection costs you 10 points.

I’d also like to improve the hint system to ‘smart’ hints. The current system is quite cumbersome and costs you 5 points per hint, but the hint might tell you something that you’ve already done.

The enhancements aren’t finished yet and it hasn’t been tested. I’ve had to put it on hold for a few months because of various game jams and competitions, but I’ll try to get back to it later this year. As the port is 40 years overdue, I didn’t think a few extra months would matter.

As this is a derivative work, I’ll also have to make some enquires about permissions and so on, so as not to upset the original authors.


Well done Garry. Hope you find permission to release this. Sounds like a very high quality port.

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Due to other commitments I haven’t been able to work on my Rust port. I don’t know when I’ll get back to it. :frowning: