A Little Background.
When I was but a wee young man in elementary school, I was introduced to my first computer, the Commodore PET 2001. As seen above, it had a green, monochrome screen and a tiny, chicklet keyboard. I was fascinated by the device and started learning how to program in Commodore Basic. Long story short, I was eventually introduced to the game Dungeon coded by Brian Sawyer and distributed via Cursor Magazine # 15. I loved it and played it on the school machines whenever I could.
Now, at the time, I had no idea what Cursor magazine was or where the game came from. Thus, later on, when I was out of elementary school and had purchased my own Commodore PET 2001 second-hand, I couldn't find the game anywhere for sale. I tried to program my own version of it on my machine, but I was never able to make the monsters effectively track and follow the hero.
Jump forward almost 40 years(!) and I had the nutty idea to revisit the possibility of writing my own version of the game. You can play it above. This version of the game is based on what I remember from playing and from a couple of youTube videos of people playing on an original PET. I have taken the liberty of making a few changes to the gameplay which I will discuss below in no particular order:
- In the original game, the hero would not only be restored to full hit points upon killing a monster, but would also gain additional hit points. I have eliminated this mechanic. When the hero kills a monster, his/her hit points stay right where they are.
- In order to offset the above change, I added food scattered throughout the dungeon. Eating food restores the hero to full hit points.
- There are no doors in this version. Doors were basically just floor spaces anyway, so I figured I'd just do away with them.
- I do not remember all the different types of monsters there were in the original game, so I pieced together my own monster menagerie that I think works. There are currently 8 monsters:
Now, having read that, I'm sure some of you are wondering what a "Ruby Boobies" is. Back in grade school, some of the guys I used to play with figured out how to get into the code and change the names of the monsters. One of these guys thought renaming the Dragon as "Ruby Boobies" was absolutely hilarious. I don't remember his name but I am proud to immortalize his childish humor in my version of the game.
One thing that remains the same is that as far as I know, the experience points you gained in the original game were meaningless. They continue to be meaningless in my version, much like the points racked up during a level in Super Mario Bros.
I have removed the mechanic where simply moving through the dungeon would cause you to lose hit points. Every three steps you would lose one point. I found this tedious in the original and have no idea why it was part of the game. Out it goes.
All the dungeons in this version are hand made. The original game had randomly generated dungeons. Unfortunately, the random dungeons of the original tended to be buggy and require the use of the shift key while moving to get to inaccessible rooms that did not connect to the rest of the dungeon. On a related note, the monsters, gold, food and placement of our hero are still random like the original.
During the course of your adventures, you may find that you are being chased by two or more monsters at once. During that chase, you may find that one of the monsters chasing you inexplicably disappears. This, as it turns out, is a quirk of my choice to make this game look and feel as much like the original as possible. Only one thing can be displayed in a space at one time. While you are being chased, the monsters are occupying the same space at the same time, but only one of them is visible. Suffice to say, if you think you lucked out and can turn around to just fight the one you can see, you will be in for a rude awakening.
Speaking of fighting, you cannot move or do anything else while a fight is active. In the original game, you could move while the monster attacked you. However, all that meant was that the fight would end with one of you dead in a different space than the fight started in. This felt somewhat pointless to me, so I made fights start and finish in one move.
Continuing to speak of fighting, whoever attacks first gets a bonus to damage on their first hit. It can be extremely advantageous to attack first, even if you feel the fight may not be in your favor. It is possible with luck on the behind the scenes "dice roll" to one-shot many monsters. I wouldn't count on it, but it is possible. It can therefore also be quite deadly to let the monster attack you first.
I tried as much as I could to mimic the original look and feel of the game. I think I have succeeded quite nicely. However, the font I found online is not quite the same as the original PET font from back in the day. For one thing, it's too bold. If anyone knows of an available font that correctly mimics the Commodore PET font of the seventies, please let me know.
- Cute Bunny Rabbit
- Giant Snake
- Goddamn Spider
- Obnoxius Grue
- Ruby Boobies
- Scaly Dragon
- Scary Wyvern
- Sexy Succubus
For a little more information about the game I recommend checking out a review by The CRPG Addict.