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Chateau Gaillard - Review

Review by jgerrie


Last edited:
TRS-80 CoCo

I found the source code for this on an Atari site that has archived a whole bunch of published materials for early 8-bit computers. There seems to be something about the Atari crowd that inclines them to programming activities on their favorite retrocomputing machine. Their collective efforts to support this inclination are helpful for the rest of us 8-bit'ers.

One interesting book they have sought to maintain in digital form is Tim Hartnell’s classic Creating Adventure Games on Your Computer. In the course of my porting efforts I think I found some errors in the original listing. For example, the way the code originally worked the weapon you chose seemed to have no effect, whatsoever, on combat. There were elaborate routines for selecting and reporting which weapon you could choose, but when it came right down to it, the values were not tied in to the combat routine.
There were also some other bugs, such as the negotiation with the Dwarf (misreported the objects he was willing to accept) and the fact that you could simply “go up” back to the surface from the initial room you fall into, contrary to the claim that you are “now trapped.”

On the whole, the combat routine just seemed overly punishing and I found the game difficult to complete, so I adjusted it. Also, when you moved an excessive number of points were randomly subtracted from your statistics. I have changed it so that only your strength is randomly diminished as you explore, and at a much lower rate. Now you at least have a chance of finding the healing potion and replenishing your strength. I also added a routine to allow you to re-roll your character stats at the beginning of the game until you get a reasonably fair dispersal.

Parser/Vocabulary (Rating: 5/10)

As with most Basic two-word parsers there are some quirks. There is no shorthand N, S, E, or W for moving. The closest you can get is Go N, GO S, etc. Otherwise, three letters is all you need for either word to register. I added a single word “INVENTORY” command, because I didn’t like seeing my inventory automatically with every new screen.

Atmosphere (Rating: 6/10)

A basically coherent locale.

Cruelty (Rating: Cruel)

There are lots of arbitrary deaths in this game, so you’ll just have to play it multiple times and map it enough to learn where not to go. That being said, some meager clues are given to help you avoid these deaths.

Puzzles (Rating: 6/10)

Find the keys. Use'em in the right places. Avoid the traps.

Overall (Rating: 7/10)

On the whole, it is a fun little 8-bit Basic dungeon romp. The combat routine is quite unique in the way it allows you to choose which vital statistics you will draw on in your combat against the different creatures and their distinctive vital stats. In brief you should try to select your highest while also selecting the lowest equivalent stats of your opponent. Various clues about how to overcome dangers are also sprinkled throughout the maze, which is a nice touch.