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A bold adventurer descends into the enormous labyrinth of the Cretan King Minos at Knossos, hoping to part seven mythical monsters (including the terrifying, titular, Minotaur) from sixteen treasures and escape with his life, helped only by a handful of arcane spells acquired while navigating dead ends and the enigmatic ramblings of an inspired Oracle wandering the maze.

It's not entirely fair to blame the period hardware limitations for this game's poorly-aged VERB NOUN text parser, as Infocom first launched home versions of Zork I a year earlier, but at the time its grammar was still industry-standard par for the course. What made this title stand out is also what kept its adherents on their toes (... for decades) -- inconstant internal rules and conditions that changed every time the game was played.

Much like the colour of potions in Nethack shuffling their associations with spell effects between games, this game not only jumbles the relation between spell names and their effects, but also the conditions that must be met in order to learn them! Similarly unpredictable are the locations and vulnerabilities of monsters and treasures. Add to that a huge (four floors of 64 rooms each) maze full of one-way passages, bogus "dummy" treasures, realtime monster movement, unreliable and abstruse room connections and you end up with a devious dungeon indeed.


Madness & the Minotaur Dragon 32/64 Beginning the adventure
Madness & the Minotaur TRS-80 CoCo Exploring the area
Madness & the Minotaur TRS-80 CoCo Introduction
Madness & the Minotaur TRS-80 CoCo Loading screen

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Alternate Titles

  • "Madness and the Minotaur" -- Alternate spelling

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Topic # Posts Last Post
Complete information and commented code 2 Pseudo_Intellectual (63482)
Jul 06, 2009


Release history

The TRS-80 Coco version was originally published and sold by Spectral Associates. In the 2nd half of 1983, Radio Shack took over selling it (after successfully re-selling Spectral's Color Meteoroids as Microbes months earlier). This began a long relationship with Spectral, who eventually only sold through Radio Shack/Tandy in the late 1980's during the Coco 3 years.


John Gabbard describes how this game formed the backbone of his own game Keys of the Wizard:
I met Tom as Spectral Associates was just forming, right around 1981. ... I ran across Tom while in the local Radio Shack Computer center looking for games. We started talking and Tom saw how excited I was about the Coco and offered to teach me how to write games in assembly language. The first program I wrote for Spectral was Keys of the Wizard. I use the term “wrote” very loosely, because the underlying code was from Madness and the Minotaur and most of the “writing” I did was in the form of map changes, dictionary changes and room descriptions changes. There were a few code changes and additions that changed the way battling creatures worked, and that gave a few of the creatures the ability to “catch your scent” and follow you, but it was mostly Madness code.

Contributed to by Kabushi (257040) and Pseudo_Intellectual (63482)