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You Damn Kids With Your Fancy Graphics

Written By mista sense on Tuesday, May 8, 2007 | 5:02 AM

Everyone's excited that while it may have taken the majority of my lifetime to do, Atari's released a sequel to Adventure, titled, creatively, Adventure II. This is retro at its crux; many people remember the original Atari game as their first adventure "epic"; it was also the first game to contain the now-ubiquitous Easter egg.

Fab, but in the scuffle I haven't forgotten the original patriarch of adventure gaming-- the very first Adventure (aka Colossal Cave), the text-only forbearer of Atari's take. As it was for many, this was probably the first long-form, teeth-gnashing, brain-draining fantasy story I ever played-- and while I admit my hindsight may be glossed by the luster of nostalgia and the pristine virtue of old memory, I can cautiously say that even to this day, against the onward march of evolution, few games have approached the level of engagement and difficulty I used to wring from the original Adventure back in the day.

I never beat it. This bit with a maze, and a pirate, and a battery left me hopelessly lost and frustrated time after time. But I tried for years. These days, overstimulated, I frustrate easily. I'm impatient, conditioned for instant gratification; I'll grab a walkthrough. But something about Adventure-- and all other text adventures, for that matter-- won't let me cheat them. Every puzzle and paradox was lovingly crafted by some kinda greater mind than mine; no matter how primitive these games appear on first blush, it always seems a challenge to me to become a better gamer, a better thinker. The reward for cheating isn't a better ending, a secret movie or an ultimate weapon-- it's simply the empty feeling that you cheated yourself out of a hard-won sense of accomplishment.

When I can, I still play text adventures. Not that I've got something against graphics; there's just something fun, from time to time, about dreaming up your own. As this much-appreciated Escapist article highlights, the IF Comp, or Interactive Fiction Competition, continues to exist, as the parser-adept's best efforts compete annually for the title. This is the work of underground devotees, masters of an ancient art, toiling thanklessly in the annals of the internet, unseen and largely forgotten in a brand-new gaming era.

They do it for the love, and perhaps that's why their games are so damn good. And with no graphics, no CGI, no button mashing, no battles, there's no other reason to play but love.

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