The Game Geek is Stumped

Periodically I publish a little feature I call “Ask the Game Geek”, where I’ll take a vague description of a game that someone provided, and come up with the name. For example, I did this with the old Apple II games Sabotage and AWACS. And the Game Geek Quiz was one of our more popular articles here. I have faith in this sort of process, because “stump the librarian” web sites have solved my problems before: for example, from the description “gothic- seeming story about a girl living in Britain who has some sisters and there’s this evil doll”, a clever internet-based librarian was able to correctly identify Ruth Arthur’s A Candle In Her Room for me.

So here’s a game that has me completely stumped. Help me figure out what it is, and you will win a prize, and my undying gratitude.

The game was one that I saw at a computer fair sometime around 1980 or 1981. So most of the machines at the fair were probably Apple ][+s or Commodore PETs, with a smattering of TRS-80s. I don’t recall which platform the machine was on. I was watching someone play an adventure/dungeon sort of game. It had a first-person view of the dungeon – sort of like the dungeons in Ultima – but very sparse: no animation, of course. The player had a party of different characters with different professions. As he travelled through the dungeon he had to use his characters to solve different problems.

The one puzzle I specifically remember was that the way was blocked by some pipes that were spewing out hot steam (this was explained in text, not graphically). The player chose one of his characters, who was an acrobat, and had him throw his juggling balls into the pipes, which blocked the steam from coming out.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. A fragmentary memory from a computer fair before most of us had computers.

Any takers?