• Graeme Mason

Text Adventures on Antstream Arcade


What Now, Brave Subscriber?


While its name may conjure up images of fast-paced action games, there’s so much more to Antstream Arcade than shoot-‘em-ups and platformers. One of the perennially popular genres of retro gaming is the humble text adventure. Beginning in the Seventies, this is one of the oldest types of game and involves inputting commands to the computer directly as the game sets out locations, characters and items in written form, usually with accompanying images. Each one requires logical thought and a keen mind to solve, and there are plenty of these games to try out on Antstream Arcade. Whether you’re an old hand or discovering them for the first time, here’s our magnificent seven of graphic text adventures for you to play right now!


Jack The Ripper – Commodore 64 and Spectrum


What’s it about?

Jack The Ripper sees the player framed as the titular serial killer. Having found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, they must fight the law and the Ripper himself in order to clear their name.


Why should I play it?

With its evocative Victorian-era setting of a smoky London, terrorised by the infamous Ripper, there’s lots of spooky prose in this CRL game, as well as a few chin-stroking puzzles to solve. Beware: it’s not a game for the faint of heart!


Any tips to get started?

After the tumultuous events at the start of Jack The Ripper, the player finds themselves in their room. Try examining the fine table, grabbing the pen and putting it into the slot. Don’t forget to wash the knife, and try having a shave – it might help you avoid getting recognised!



The Very Big Cave Adventure – Commodore 64


What’s it about?

It’s a mirthsome spoof of the famous mainframe adventure, Colossal Cave Adventure. Set below a primordial forest known as Epping, there’s a huge collection of underground areas to explore, all in the company of your guide, Trixie Trinian.


Why should I play it?

While it’s a perfectly decent adventure in its own right, it’s the comedic element to The Very Big Cave Adventure that makes it so fun, endlessly poking barbed jabs at the fantasy genre, gaming icons and other media. Mind out for the Triffids and… Jeff Minter?


Any tips to get started?

Don’t forget to get the penny and wellies, and in order to defeat text Space Invaders, just keep moving, firing, then moving.


Bugsy – Commodore 64


What’s it about?

As the introduction handily summarises, it’s the struggle of one small rabbit to build a successful career in the fascinating world of organised crime. In other words, hand ovah dah carrots ya punk!


Why should I play it?

There are japes galore in Bugsy, a charming and hilarious spoof on noir crime literature and the Melbourne House classic, Mugsy. Full of hoodlums, newsboys and other larger-than-life characters, there’s also plenty of knowing winks to prohibition, tropes of crime fiction and life in general as a killer gangster rabbit.


Any tips to get started?

Dis rabbit has ta lay down his rep. Get in that bar and hit the goons that attack him before talking to Louie and buying a mask. Den ya need to get ta Chicago ya dirty big-eared hoodlum!



Star Wreck – Spectrum


What’s it about?

It’s another comedy adventure, this time from the prolific Charles A. Sharp. As you might gather from the title, this time the target is Star Trek, and the player assumes the role of Captain James T. Cake, commander of the Starship Paralysed. You’re on a mission to the planet Dandrox before things start to go wrong – can Mr. Spark help, or is he just going to continue attempting to mind meld with the juke box?


Why should I play it?

Let’s face it, if you’re a fan of Star Trek, you’re probably used to people having a laugh at the expense of your favourite show. For retro gaming Star Trek fans, it doesn’t get any more rib-tickling than Star Wreck.


Any tips to get started?

Here’s a list of useful commands: Energise, Disarm, Tell, Taste, Stroke, Stun and, erm, Kiss. Go, captain Cake!



Federation – Spectrum


What’s it about?

A more serious space adventure, beginning on the stricken spaceship Quann Tulla. Evil scientist Erra Quann has the ship’s secret engine design in her back pocket, and you must stop her selling it to the evil Empire.


Why should I play it?

Federation is an advanced text adventure, and includes many features above the usual Quill-created games. The number of turns and points scored is logged in the top right corner and there’s a complex parser ready to take your commands.


Any tips to get started?

At the start of the game, the Quann Tulla is already in a death spiral, and all the oxygen has whizzed away into outer space. Go east and then north towards the docking tube; there you will find a mask to help you breathe.


Mugsy – Spectrum


What’s it about?

Muscling in on da action, ya dumb hood! Mugsy transports the player back to the roaring Twenties where they can organise protection rackets, put out hits and rob to their heart’s content. Watch out for da rival gangs!


Why should I play it?

Mugsy occupies a middle ground between text adventure and arcade gaming, so if you you’re looking to take the dip into this genre for the first time, it’s a good start.


Any tips to get started?

A balance between too much and too little is key in Mugsy. For example, buy too many guns and you’ll go broke, but not buying enough can result in your guys taking a trip in a Chicago overcoat.



Paradise In Microdot – Spectrum


What’s it about?

It’s one of Automata’s crazy games… so your guess is as good as ours! What we do know is that professor Norden has been brainwashed and become your guide through the strange land of Microdot.


Why should I play it?

There’s plenty of amusing scenes parodying everything from the seaside to theatre performers, with loads of weird locations to discover. Working out what you’re actually supposed to be doing is probably part of the game…


Any tips to get started?

Just explore and see what you can find. Pick up all the items you discover and see what they can do in combination with another item. Maybe – just maybe – the disembodied head of professor Norden will then show you the SECRET OBJECT!


Wait – that’s not all! There are even more text adventures on Antstream Arcade including space adventure Stranded, the jovial Football Frenzy, horror story Castle Of Terror and the murder mystery Murder Off Miami.


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