Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Game 393: Adventure in the Fifth Dimension

Our next whale, Wishbringer, is the Infocom debut of Brian Moriarty, a celebrated game designer on whom I can only remark that his C.V. is curiously short relative to his fame, and that I'm liable to get his name mixed up with Steve Meretzky's.

I won't repeat too much information already stated nearly a decade ago in Digital Antiquarian's brief biographical account. Moriarty's first computer was an Atari 800, and his earliest adventures were published through hobbyist magazine A.N.A.L.O.G. where he worked as an editor. I'll be playing the first of them, Adventure of the Fifth Dimension, which was inspired by Scott Adam's text adventures, in particular Strange Odyssey.

It sure looks like a Scott Adams adventure.

The plot - and gameplay instructions - are all in the magazine. The Declaration of Independence is closely safeguarded in the Library of Congress, utterly impervious to theft or vandalism, but because us humans think only in three dimensional terms, fifth dimensional aliens just snatch it right through the bomb-proof display case with their *fingers*.

This won't do, so Washington has hired you, a private investigator, to find a way to break into the fifth dimension and get it back.

Reading the paper gives terse feedback, typical of Adams: "HEADLINE: Declaration Stolen! Police Anxiously Await Recovery!"

From here, I Trizborted out the streets of D.C. This is somewhat complicated by the inclusion of a small MOTLP (five four-exit rooms all with the description "Lost in a maze of streets") and the only items available to breadcrumb with are the newspaper and a rock found in said streets, but I was able to eventually graph it all out, and with the excision of a few nonsensical passageways, draw a mostly complete and navigable map of the area.

Three points of interest caught my attention:

  • The far west of the map has an alley where you can climb upward on a fire escape, past a locked window, and onto a roof where an "alien spheroid" sits.
  • Just east of the alley is a store, selling green batteries for $1 each.
  • On the east side of the map is the police station, where a dollar bill is found on the floor in the bathroom, and an alien symbol on the wall.

The order of operations next is pretty clear. I get the bill, buy a battery, and climb the fire escape, smashing the locked window with the rock.

Inside is a two room apartment where I find a broken radio in the bedroom and a teabag in the kitchen. The radio yields a blue battery.

Continuing upwards to the roof, I examine the spheroid and find a battery attachment. After some verbal sparring with the parser, "ATTACH BLUE" gives me some results.

I return to the police station's bathroom. Something changed.

Going through, the screen changes color!

It's another MOTLP, though apart from three "crimson void" rooms, every node changes colors and description, so this is no trouble to map out. An occastional "up" direction presumably navigates the fifth dimension, but let's be real. This maze barely makes use of three dimensions, let alone five.

Rooms of note:

  • The "crimson void" has strange gloves floating in one of its three rooms.
  • A gold void has a strange, shimmering mass.
  • A green void has a 5D beast and an alien cube.
  • A black void has the declaration, behind a force field.
  • Ascending from the white void takes us to a forest and a river bank, where a British soldier with a bayonet patrols.


The gloves are easily taken and worn. But attempting to interact with the mass, even while wearing them, only leads to tragedy.

The soldier accepts a teabag, and lets me take his bayonet. With the bayonet, I chase away the beast in the green void, and get the cube, which also has a battery attachment. After inserting my green battery, a "down" exit appears in the white void, returning to the police station bathroom.

Now the shimmering mass could be taken safely too, and I placed it on the force field. Backing up to the previous room, I tried "throw rock," and this worked.

I went back to the black void, got the declaration, and returned to my dimension where I surrendered it to the sergeant.

GAB rating: Below average. Moriarty's first game is inoffensive and solvable, but it's still just a dumb little type-in adventure that hardly does anything we haven't seen in Adams' 16KB adventures already. I guess the color maze is somewhat creative and appropriate given the Atari's inherent color abilities (as opposed to the TRS-80 which had none), but I'm reaching for positive things to say here.

My Trizbort map:


  1. "*fingers*"

    Ah great, you've put the best-worst music ever back into my head.


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