aka: ADVENT, Colossal Cave, Colossal Cave Adventure, The Original Adventure
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Buy on Windows


Hoping to reconnect with his estranged daughters following the collapse of his marriage, in 1976 programmer and spelunker Will Crowther rigged a text parser to interact with a narrated simulation of the Bedquilt region of Kentucky's real-life Mammoth Cave system he and his wife Pat had explored and mapped together.

Starting with a faithful reproduction of geological formations he upped the gameplay potential (oh boy... rocks!) with an injection of period "Frodo Lives!" pseudofantasy tropes (including angry dwarfs and that first great video game magic word "xyzzy") and stocked the cavern complex with a series of treasures to be collected and deposited back topside.

The formula was later built and improved upon by a host of others over some 30 (!) years now, most notably by Don Woods, but an August 2007 rediscovery of March 1977 backups of Crowther's original source code reveals how many important elements of the game's design were already present in the earliest versions.

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Credits (Mainframe version)

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Average score: 100% (based on 1 ratings)


Average score: 3.5 out of 5 (based on 4 ratings with 1 reviews)

Great piece of gaming history

The Good
One of the first text adventure games, which is surprisingly deep. Has adequate content, which can last almost an hour. Command words are easy to figure out. There are helpful hints sprinkled throughout the game and there are some really humorous lines in there. All in all, really deserve a playthrough if nothing else, at least to experience a significant piece of gaming history.

The Bad
The text parser is really basic. Doesn't have contextual understanding of commands. But that is understandable.

The Bottom Line
It is the first known work of interactive fiction and, as the first text adventure game, is considered the precursor for the adventure game genre.

It has the player's character investigate a creepy cave that is reputed to be loaded up with fortune and gold.

To investigate the cavern, the player types in a couple of word commands to move their character through the cavern, interact with items in the cavern, get things to place into their inventory, and different activities. The program acts as a narrator, portraying to the player what every area in the cavern has and the consequences of specific activities, or on the off chance that it didn't comprehend the player's orders, requesting the player to retype their commands,

Windows · by Sam Vulcan (18) · 2020


Subject By Date
Unix port? Ryan Armstrong (4990) Dec 10th, 2017


Mammoth Caves

The Mammoth Caves complex in Kentucky constituting the setting for this game are also the setting for the early H. P. Lovecraft short story "The Beast In The Cave."


  • The Strong National Museum of Play
    • 2019 – Introduced into the World Video Game Hall of Fame

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Related Sites +

  • Adventure @ Baf's Guide to the IF Archive
    A comprehensive listing of ports and variants, freely downloadable.
  • Adventure @ Wikipedia
    An article about the game, its history and legacy.
  • Original ADVENT source
    Recently (summer 2007) rediscovered ADVENT source files by Crowther shared and compiled.
  • Somewhere Nearby is Colossal Cave
    <moby developer="Dennis G. Jerz">Dennis G. Jerz</moby>'s groundbreaking paper on the game for the Summer 2007 issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly, <i>Somewhere Nearby is Colossal Cave: Examining Will Crowther's Original “Adventure” in Code and in Kentucky</i>. Includes the first original source code analysis and photographs of game locations.

Identifiers +


Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Pseudo_Intellectual.

CP/M, Heath/Zenith H8/H89 added by Kabushi.

Additional contributors: Kabushi, Patrick Bregger, SoMuchChaotix.

Game added September 15th, 2007. Last modified August 25th, 2023.