The Crimson Crown
This sequel to the classic Apple ][ adventure game Transylvania has you returning to the same locations as the first game once again to fight the evil Vampire. The game is twice as big and is a bit more refined. I played the updated 1985 version of the game which runs on the Comprehend game engine which is probably the best implementation of a text/graphics hybrid adventure system. You can use a few prepositions and, in this game, you can command other characters to complete puzzles.
The game spans both sides of a 5.25″ floppy and offers around fifty locations to explore. There’s not much room for text on the screen, but the writing is generally pretty good within those three lines. You can always hit return and read the last six or so responses.
Unlike other games from this era, The Crimson Crown actually wants you to have fun and possibly win the game. During the early parts you will get visits from a sage who offers clues to puzzles you have not yet encountered. If that wasn’t enough, the game originally came packaged with a coded hint book too. As a copy protection there is a set of riddles to solve at the very start of the game that require the sealed letter from the game box. For the record, I could only get one of the three answers. But once you pass that challenge the game is more forgiving.
I think I managed to get about 85% of the way through without help. That seems pretty good, but that 15% came mostly from the very last set of puzzles. Feeling stupid is not a fun way to end a gaming experience.