My first computer was an Apple ][+. I can’t remember exactly when we got it; some time around fifth grade (1982), I suppose. I used it through the time I graduated from high school (1989); I got a Mac (SE/30, woo-hoo!) when I went to college.

I have very fond memories of (among other things) many games for the Apple ][+. Some of my favorites were various Infocom games (with their glorious packaging!) and Ultimas 1-4 (with their glorious packaging!) But there were many others that I enjoyed. (A piece of trivia: in Temple of Apshai (I think that’s the right game), the levels were generator from a random level generator with fixed seeds, because that used less disk space than storing the levels whole.)

I didn’t have a lot of money to buy games – mowing laws helped, but I couldn’t just go down to the local video game store whenever I got bored with my current game, like I do now. (Not that video game stores really existed back then, but never mind that.) Fortunately, my mom was willing to buy games for me if they somehow qualified as educational. Including games that were in French; fortunately, there was a publisher out there that took others’ games and translated them into French.

And it turns out that some of the games that have stuck most in my mind fell into that educational category. One was The Prisoner, a rather bizarre graphics/text adventure game. I originally played it in French, and my French wasn’t quite good enough to make it all the way through it – conversational skills and reading skills are somewhat different from the skills necessary to convince a primitive computer parser to do your bidding, especially in as surreal a game as that one. But what I played of it has stuck with me through the years. Another was Robot Odyssey, a graphical adventure game (English-language) to teach you about circuit design; I’m not an electrical engineer, and circuit design wasn’t really my thing, but that game was awesome. (I never finished it either, alas – I couldn’t get through a puzzle at the start of the last level, and this was before the days of GameFAQs.)

Some time last year I looked into playing these, but I couldn’t get any Apple ][ emulators to work under Linux. (Incidentally, why doesn’t Apple just release the system rom images for those machines? It’s not like they’re making any money out of them any more.) But I took note that several seemed to be available for the mac; I’ve just downloaded OSXII, and I am now a happy person.

It actually turns out that somebody has reimplemented Robot Odyssey in Java, and even added a bit: see Droid Quest. Maybe I’ll play that version, or maybe I’ll play the original; I’m not sure yet. And I’m also not sure if I’ll play the original Prisoner or its reimplementation Prisoner 2. Either way, I should be able to nicely make it through the summer game lull…

(Or, as has happened more frequently in my recent experience, I’ll discover that old games don’t hold up so well in reality as in my imagination. We shall see.)

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