Versions of Acheton?

An offhand comment in another part of the forum led me to download Acheton. That page on the IFDB includes a zip file with the Topologika manuals. The manual (html) for Acheton clearly references a version that is not the z8 version on IFDB. There’s also an MS-DOS version, but it won’t run in Windows 10.

Is there an alternate version that corresponds to the html information?

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There’s this online version (for the BBC Micro) if you just want a quick play in browser:

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My understanding is that there are two main versions: the Phoenix version, originally developed on the Phoenix mainframe at Cambridge, and the Topologika version, adapted into a commercial product and sold by Topologika. (I believe Acheton was one of the ones only sold by Topologika, not by Acornsoft, but I could be wrong about this.)

The Z8 version was made using a translator that converted the original TSAL code to Inform 5, so that’s the modern way to play the original Phoenix version. (Note that it’s a direct translation, rather than a reimplementation, so it has the original Phoenix parser rather than the Inform one.) The Topologika version was written in, I believe, assembly language, so you’ll need a BBC Micro or DOS emulator for it; ahope1 has provided a link to a Micro emulator online, and for DOS you can use DOSBox.

The major difference is an extra puzzle in the Topologika version: you have to collect the items you need for the endgame as you play, while in the Phoenix version those are all provided within the endgame itself. Apart from that, there are only minor differences. The Topologika version also considers parser errors to take a turn, if I remember right, while the Phoenix one doesn’t.

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There were at least two distinct versions of the original mainframe game too… according to Professor Partington, he was the first player to solve the initial Seal/Thackray game and then contributed to the “final” version that was twice the size. That original Seal/Thackray 1978 “release” is lost.

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Acornsoft released a “cut-down version”, whatever that means.

Huh, hadn’t heard of that one! I also have no idea what “cut-down” means here—if they simplified the puzzle structure or just pruned out some whole areas.

The Topologika version is also available for Amstrad CPC, PCW and ZX Spectrum. The Amstrad versions of the Topologika games were quite good ways to experience such verbose adventures, due to the better screen resolution. (Presumably the Archimedes version is similar)