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Tarturian was a follow up to Highlands Computer Service's first game, Oldorf's Revenge. It was largely an expansion of the ideas introduced in Oldorf's Revenge. This was a very early hi-res vector graphics and text adventure game of the same era and style as Mystery House. Intriguingly, Tarturian, like Oldorf's Revenge, allowed you to choose to switch between various types of characters, such as the Wizard, Thief, Strongman, Elf, etc. The game has two mechanics limiting the number of times you can "change" into each character, which layered on an element of resource management that was unique for an adventure game of its day. Each of these characters allowed certain specialized text parser commands. For example, only the Wizard can "cast" (a spell) while only the Thief can "unlock", "pick", "open", etc. This list of text commands is only knowable if you have the instruction manual for the game. This also allows for multiple solutions to the same puzzle. For example, the initial door can be unlocked by the Thief, or blasted off it's hinges if the Wizard casts a spell. This is very much unlike more popular games of the era like Mystery House, which allowed for only one solution to each puzzle.

Additionally, the manual provided other info about how to play that is essential knowledge for gameplay. (Unlike the modern gaming era, in 1980 it was expected that players would read everything provided with a game.)

From that point on, Tarturian becomes a graphics + text adventure game, with some interesting elements not commonly found in more standard examples of the era. For example, the game introduces randomized monster encounters that can instantly kill the character you're playing as, forcing you to switch to another character to proceed.

The game finishes with what is one of the very first "boss monsters" found in computer gaming, with a very satisfying animated conclusion.


The Tarturian Apple II The first room
The Tarturian Apple II The title screen
The Tarturian Apple II Character creation

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Easter Egg: You'll find a dark room and meet a creature and can only see its eyes. You can say things to it and it will respond (and eventually tell you how to get out). If you type "say sex", the eyes will jump up and down and the you'll read text that indicates the creature said "ooga ooga".
John Romero (1465) added The Tarturian (Apple II) on Jun 04, 2005