4 KBs of pure brilliance and an outstanding testimony of how well thought out gameplay exceeds graphical accomplishments

User Rating: 10 | Adventure 2600
It seems that the games I expect the least from end up being the greatest games I've ever played. There is just something so extraordinary when a game that you don't expect to get much out of flips your world upside down, shakes it up and then sets you back down leaving you breathless. Such is the case for Adventure.

I really don't know why I bought this game other than for its contribution to game history. Adventure is widely regarded as being the very first action-adventure game from where other titles such as The Legend of Zelda were inspired. I had just recently purchased an Atari VCS (Video Computer System or more commonly known as 2600) and immediately endeavored to trade out and buy the 10 best possible games for it, which I'm quickly discovering is both frugal and futile. I remember briefly glancing at several google images of Adventure while researching the "greatest Atari games ever" on the internet and commenting to myself on how terribly boring it looked. There was and still is nothing in its appearance that would make it desirable to play. Maybe, it was just the fact my girlfriend pointed in out to me at Monkey Punch and I recognized it among the masses of other less familiar titles. Whatever it was, I bought it nonetheless and never have I been the same sense.

It is completely reasonable for anyone to be immediately repulsed by Adventure's appearance. This is an ugly game with bland castle cut-out pasted onto a gray backdrop and confusing mazes of equally revolting colors. For your dragon-fighting, knight-in-shing-armor protagonist you have a simple pixel representing your character which is agilely controlled by your Atari joystick. No other game testifies so clearly that "Gameplay overrules graphics" like Adventure does. Upon first booting up the game, I was ready to trade it in for Yar's Revenge or something similar. I thought this game looked awful! And a little rectangle for your character?! What's up with that? However, five minutes of playing it, and I quickly discovered I had run across a true gemstone.

The game consist of three levels which are pretty much just one level that contains certian variables to distinguish them apart. Level 1 is more of a tutorial, which can easily be beaten with in 5 minutes or less. In the first level, you basically discover that your goal is to unlock all three castles (white, black, and gold) in order to capture a chalice and deliver to your home castle (the gold one) before a dragon eats you. It's kinda like Capture the Flag (only with mazes, puzzles, and eventually dragons). While the first level captured my attention, it wasn't until level 2 that I discovered how incredible this game really is and for one reason: the bat! The bat, named Knubberrub, is an ingenious addition to the game that changes up the gameplay ever time you play it. Pretty much the only purpose of the bat is to fly around and pick up important objects and then drop them in random places. He can't be killed or really manipulated (although wikipedia says there is a way to lock him up in the gold castle), but he is the reason why gamers will continue to keep coming back to Adventure even after beating its incredibly short campaign. You'll rarely find your items in the same place twice all because of Knubberrub. There is a glitch in the game making it unbeatable where Knubberrub will occasionally pick up the the gold key and drop it inside the gold castle, but this can be easily avoid if you try to unlock the gold castle first before doing anything else. The gold key may be guarded by a dragon, so it's always a good idea to bring along your sword, which is also found in random places thanks to the item-stealing, scoundrel Knubberrub. Fortunately wherever he drops the sword, it's usually near the begin of your adventure.

This is an incredibly short game. I beat it easily within an hour and 30 minutes, and if it wasn't for the fact that I kept dying in one section where the white key was guarded by two dragons, I could've probably beaten it a lot sooner. It doesn't matter to me though, because that was the best one hour and 30 minutes I've ever spent on my Atari. Just the fact its an Atari game that can actually be beaten is enough for me to appreciate it.

Not only is this the first action-adventure game ever created, its the first game to contain an easter egg. Evidently, Atari was notorious for publishing games without giving acknowledgement or recognition to the developers, which is how Activision was started. In 1980, Activision broke off from Atari and, since there was no patent on Atari games at the time, published their own games (most notably Pitfall!, which exclaimed David Crane as being the creator in bold letters below the title on the cartridge). This was not the case for Warren Robinett and he's brilliant game Adventure, created in 1978. So what did Robinett do about this? What you would expect any genius to do: "Something brilliant!" He created the first unlockable easter egg that contained a secret room with words written on the floor: "Created by Warren Robinett." I wanted to discover this easter egg for myself; but since its such a remarkable piece of history, I've decided to wait until my girlfriend and I can experience it together.

I think it's important to note that many people who cherish this game, cherish it for nostalgic purposes. Yet, I had never heard of this game until recently and was blown away by the content. I'm sure this game is just as awesome for the nostalgic, veteran Atari owners as it was for my first-time, virgin playthrough. Again, it is so easy to be critical of this game just because it looks so bad. But remember this game contains 4096 bytes of game coding (that's less than most of my Mircosoft Word documents!). The fact that so much variety and enjoyment can be found is something so small is in fact, to put it simply, beautiful.

Unless you've watched so much TV that your imagination is completely destroyed, you will automatically project in your head the vision that Robinett was trying to create with this game. Almost instinctively, I found myself portraying myself as a knight on a quest for the "Holy Grail," plotting and contemplating on how I would overcome the obstacles and dangers that lay ahead of me. Albert Einstein stated that "imagination is more important than knowledge;" and really, all the game did was provide the environment and the spark to allow my imagination to run wild. And in my opinion, that is the greatest "Adventure" of all.

P.S. "They couldn't have picked a better name for it!"