Atari 2600 Friday’s #15 – Swordquest: Earthworld
I have been waiting for something exciting like this to show up. It’s one thing to talk about the next of a hundred shooters or something, but it’s a complete other thing to talk about something like Swordquest: Earthworld. The first of what was supposed to be 4 puzzle adventure games, which only turned out to be three with the third game being very rare now. Atari also held a contest surrounding these games, which I will go into in a few weeks.. This is about Earthworld specifically.
The Story: Earthworld is the first of four worlds you must travel through on your quest for the Sword of Ultimate Sorcery.
From the Manual: “WARNING: All you who enter EarthWorld will encounter danger, trials, tests, and obstacles. All will have an equal chance to decipher the hidden message. Welcome to EarthWorld. This is the first in a series of four world that you must pass through on your quest for the Sword of Ultimate Sorcery. As you explore EarthWorld, you will traverse 12 rooms, each named after a sign of the zodiac. You will encounter danger such as the horns of a charging Taurus bull, and you will be called upon to demonstrate your skill and ingenuity. A variety of magical objects will assist you in the challenging journey ahead. These are strewn about the various zodiac chambers. Carrying certain objects along with you helps with game play. For example, the lamp allows you to see the charging horns in the dark bull pit of Taurus. By leaving the right combination of objects in the right zodiac chamber, you’ll discover illuminating clues. These clues may: 1. Refer back to the enclosed comic book and hint at the solution to the EarthWorld puzzle. 2. Refer to the next world in the SWORDQUEST series, FireWorld. 3. Help you solve the final puzzle of all four SWORDQUEST cartridges combined. Be off with you! EarthWorld awaits your careful exploration.”
From the Box “Armed with a comic book and 16 magical objects, you descend into a fantastic world below the Earth. Your quest is for clues that are pieces of a mysterious puzzle. Solve the puzzle to win prizes.”
What the comic’s about: Two orphaned twins Tarra and Tor after their natural parents were killed by King Tyrannus’s guards, spurred by a prophecy from the wizard Konjuro, are raised by thiefs as commoners to avoid their parents’ fate. They are interrupted by Konjuro summoning a demon to chase them, and escape by diving into the ocean and swimming to shore as it attacks their shadows. However Tarra got away with a magical jewel, that breaks and reveals two robed figures who reveal the four worlds and five magical items (the real life prized to the Swordquest contest) to the twins. Thus they begin their journey to find the Sword of Ultimate Sorcery.
The Game Play: First of all, I’m going to mention that as far as I can tell, the whole point of this game is to get the secret phrase which is done by collecting all the clues and getting the sword. How you entered the contest was that each clue referred to a page in the included comic book. Now if you don’t have the comic, you can’t find the phrase but I believe you can still try to get the sword. Anyways there are twelve rooms based on the zodiac, your job is to move between rooms collecting items and finding the right places to use them in order to get clues. You can carry six objects, out of the total of fifteen, at one time and leaving them in the right rooms will unearth clues. There are 11 clues, but only some of them are real. One clue even seems to relate to the next game Fireworld. Scattered around are action rooms with require things like raft jumping, but usually end in the reward of an enchantment. You can always leave the room by pressing the red button. Once you do the right things with all 15 items you get transported back to the title screen which holds the final clue. Once you push the red button, you get to run around with the Warrior’s Sword and are ready to move on to Fireworld. It is worth note that if you read the comic, the game basically follows the events that happen in it.
The Controls: Are simple, obviously up/left/right/down/diagonally makes the character move. Pick up objects by moving over them and pushing the button. To use an object go to the bottom of the screen, position your cursor over the object, and press the red button. You have to be in a zodiac room to leave an object. You move through doorways by going to them and pressing the button, but until you get a certain magic item you can’t go through the left or right doorways. Apparently Earthworld has a kind of screensaver, after twenty minutes it returns to the title, but pressing the button lets you pick up where you left off.
Post Review: Waiting to get the whole group together to conquer these games.