11th November 2006
Nosferatu is an adventure game for the VIC-20 that I wrote in
1982 or thereabouts, heavily based on an unnamed and unpublished
game that I'd written together with Myles Kelvin the previous
year. That makes it a quarter-century old. Huh. That's weird.
Here, I have gathered everything of it that I've been able to
recover. I have:
The images above, showing the front cover of the cassette and
the inlay. These small images are both links to 150 dpi scans.
A 150 dpi scan of the
An image of the original game as
a .TAP file
which can be loaded into emulators such as VICE.
BASIC source code
that I managed to extract from the .TAP file by sticking my
fingers down its throat. Remember, I wrote this after three years
of BASIC and no other programming, so be gentle with it.
A scan of what I think is
the original map
that I drew when planning the game, and that I worked from as I
was writing it.
of the game as it actually turned out: very similar, but not
identical, to the original.
Also available in HTML at various sizes:
(Some of these may appear to be the same size, depending on
how broken your web browser is.)
to the game.
Nosferatu was my follow-up to
and like its predecessor was published by Terminal Software.
The game took its title from a Blue Oyster Cult song I was fond of
(and actually I still love it, and urge you get a copy if you can.
It's on the Spectres album.) To my eternal shame,
Nosferatu lacked Magic Mirror's save game
facility. I don't know what I was thinking, and I can't imagine
how Terminal let me get away with it.
This game took a lot of its puzzles from
the unnamed Dracula adventure
that I co-wrote with Myles Kelvin, and we went together to a
conference in Manchester organised by Terminal Software. That made
us feel very grown up at the age of fourteen or fifteen! Ah, the
thrill of being allowed to drink beer!
Some trivia about the game:
The most interesting thing about this game now is that I
forgot to take out the debugging code before sending off the
final version: the result is, anyone could type (for example)
``i= 5'' to teleport to location 5! The verb was
called ``i='' because the ``which location I'm in''
number was stored in the variable ``i''. You could
find out the number of your current location with another
debugging verb, ``?i'', meaning ``print i'',
because ? was shorthand for the print
keyword in Commodore BASIC.
The whole game gets by using just the four principal compass
directions: there are no UP or DOWN exits from any locations.
may be the most boring of any game ever.
start of the actual game
wasn't particularly dramatic either, but then nothing looks
dramatic in a 22x23 character screen.
Come to think of it, the ending lacked a certain drama, too.
Contrary to all expectation, winning the game didn't involve
killing the vampire, and the final screen you see on
winning the game
is in response to the decidedly unheroic act of buying a bus
ticket. Along similar lines, the game's witch could not be
provoked into doing anything remotely dangerous, despite the
rather melodramatic BEWARE THE WITCH carving on a
tombstone. In fact, the game's main danger is probably that of
falling into a disused cesspit.
Clearly I'd researched my vampire mythology pretty exhaustively.
The game has a couple of embarrassing typos: most notably
``crusifix'' for ``crucifix'', and ``inpenetrable'' rather then
``impenetrable''. Again, I blame the publisher.
When I wrote this, I'd never played Scott Adams's The
Count, which at the time I think was the only other
Dracula-themed adventure on the market. To my chagrin, when I
eventually did play it, I found that one of the first puzzles
involves tying sheet to a flagpole and climbing down it. So the
very first Nosferatu puzzle, of tying the rope to the
balcony rail and climbing down it would have appeared horribly
derivative to anyone who'd played The Count. Coincidence.
If all of this leaves you with the impression that I don't think
much of the game, I suppose that's true. But I still regard it
with affection because, well, I was fourteen. Cut me some slack.