Castle Of The Skull Lord

By Jacob Gunness

Originally published in EUG #57

Castle Of The Skull Lord for the Elk originally made news for all the wrong reasons: given away in Dixons' ten pack of Electron software, it crashed on location two with a "No Room" message! Not a great welcome.

Surprisingly though, a working copy from Samurai recently landed and, with the help of the Commodore 64 8bit Game Solutions webpage and six long nights of hair-pulling, it's been solved - although obviously this solution won't work on a bugged tape. (Incidentally, this 'new' version doesn't bear "Dixons"' cassette stamp so perhaps bugged and unbugged can be told apart.)

Be warned however that, although the game is completable, there are some bugs in the 'updated' code too. Most important is when you meet the dragon, you're carrying the necessary treasures to give him or you'll get stuck in the location. Watch out for little irks like objects disappearing if dropped in certain places and a torch that doesn't know if it's lit or unlit.

The combination of bugs, irks and confusing responses to misunderstood commands (by a dubious parser) make a very difficult adventure. In the C64 version (with many more locations and objects), there are uses for many of the useless items in this version and re-shuffling the solution to take all of these into account, plus the lack of a save game facility, was quite a trial. However, much material in the solution is a direct result of Jacob Guiness' original so he is duly credited.

Getting Started
GET SAW, N, UP, GET HIVE, DOWN, SAW TREE, GET OAR, S, DROP SAW, E, WAKE BEAR, GIVE HIVE, (he gives you the silver key he's been sleeping on), S, ENTER BOAT, ROW BOAT, S, E, D, GET SPADE, UP, GET TORCH, W, ENTER BOAT, ROW BOAT, N, N, W (back to the wide barren plain), DROP OAR

Visiting The Dwarven Castle
W, S, DIG SNOW (with the spade), W, W, GET ARMOUR, WEAR ARMOUR, E, OPEN DOOR, N, N, GET DAGGER, N, GET BOOK, S, S, E, GET BONE, E, GET KEG, GET LEAD, W, LIGHT TORCH, W, W (you will be locked in a cell), DROP KEG, LIGHT KEG (with the lit torch - if you aren't wearing the armour you do not survive the resulting blast!), REMOVE ARMOUR, DROP ARMOUR, S, GET ROPE, E, E, E, N, E (back to wide barren plain), DROP SPADE, DROP KEY

A Swim Across The Lake
S, GIVE BOOK (to the dwarf; he will tell you that its pages talk of a lost crown of Dwarven kings - so now you know that getting the crown is your main goal in this game), N, N, N, W

What Happened At The Village
(You will encounter a vicious dog which must be despatched with) HIT DOG, WITH BONE, DROP BONE, N, E, GET LENSE, W, W, GET TONGS, GET SPIKE, E, N, (you encounter a dying man but if you heal him he gives you a hexagonal coin which takes up valuable inventory space and can never be dropped and which you never actually need to use - ignore his plight, harsh adventurer), DROP BOOK, N (into the burning house), U, E, TIE ROPE, D (so you are hanging from the rope above a cart), DROP TORCH, D, GET EMERALD, D, S, W, S, W, N (there's a well here to descend), D (into the water!)

Gasp! Did You Get Stuck Here?
(There you are holding your breath in the bottom of a well and wondering why. The only way out, it seems, is the way you came in. Well, wrong. Type in...) OPEN TRAPDOOR (...and you will descend into a hidden underground tunnel. This has to rank as one of the most difficult puzzles of any adventure ever! There is no way of discovering the trapdoor's existence beforehand and no reason to suspect such a command would work!)

On With The Adventure Anyway!
DROP SPIKE, N, (there's a hole here) INSERT TONGS, REMOVE TONGS, DROP TONGS, GET DIAMOND, N, WAKE DRAGON, GIVE EMERALD, GIVE DIAMOND (the dragon escorts you through the passage to the east - and also tells you to return with four gems in order to get through to the southern passage again!), N, E, N, WEIGH LEAD (on the scales here - this opens a door), E, FOCUS BEAM (of the lense onto the rope which keeps the trapdoor shut!), DROP LENSE, GET RING (which can make you invisible), GET CLOAK (which allows you to fly), WEAR CLOAK, W, S, W (back to the mountain pass), N, FLY

At Last - The Castle Of The Skull Lord
DROP LEAD, WEAR RING (you only have a limited amount of moves before you become visible again), N, E, N, GET BOW, GET ARROW, N (you should be visible again by now and will note the ring has disappeared), E, E (you will see a jailer facing away from you), AIM BOW, FIRE BOW, DROP BOW, GET KEYS, W, OPEN CELL (the man starts to tell you about an orb then dramatically dies midstream!), DROP KEYS, W, N, N, D, D, DROP ARROW (for some reason you're still carrying this even though you fired it!), GET PIKE, DROP TORCH

The Destruction, Disguising, Looting & Escaping
U, U, E, HIT GLASS, WITH DAGGER, DROP DAGGER, GET ORB, GET GEMS, W, N, VAULT PIT (with the pike!), N, SMASH ORB (this destroys the Skull Lord - easy, isn't it?), GET CAPE, WEAR CAPE, GET CROWN, WEAR CROWN (this is so you can fool the guards into thinking you are the Skull Lord - yeah, like the way the glasses fool Lois Lane into thinking Superman is Clark Kent!), S, VAULT PIT, DROP GEMS (you have to go back for the key because the items you have are so heavy), VAULT PIT, N, GET PLATINUM KEY, S, VAULT PIT, DROP PIKE, GET GEMS, S, S, S, W, S, S, FLY, REMOVE CAPE, DROP CAPE, REMOVE CLOAK, DROP CLOAK, S, S, W, GIVE GEMS (to the dragon who will then escort you back south through the tunnel), E (what's this, a locked door?), OPEN DOOR (with the platinum key), E, S, E, S, E, S, E, S, S (back to the wide barren plain again!)

Returning The Crown
GET KEY, GET SPADE, W, S, DIG SNOW, W, OPEN DOOR, N, REMOVE CROWN, DROP CROWN (and bravo - it's all over and you're a hero!)