Cavern of the Evil Wizard

I’ve never really payed much attention to the text adventure games. The first experience i can remember having with them is that one scene in “Big” where the main character Josh plays a text adventure game in the beginning of the movie. Even as a kid with a PS1 in the mid-ninties, i thought this game looked cool. The very idea that the computer would respond to your inputs and progress the game as such was so interesting to me. When we started talking about text adventure games in class i was excited to find this game and revisit it. Unfortunately this game was created exclusively for the scene in the movie, so it doesn’t actually exist.

Fortunately, someone decided to make a version of this game that can be played online (try it here). I tried it out and it is more of a gimmick than an actual game. Still it was great to revisit this great memory from my childhood. A lot of the inputs that you type lead to humorous results, just like Josh in the movie. When you just stand there and  don’t type in anything the message from the movie comes up: Your Hesitancy has cost you dearly. The wizard, sensing your apprehension, unleashes a fatal blow from the ice scepter. With luck, you will thaw in several million years.

It becomes increasingly clear why Josh found this game so aggravating at the beginning of the movie, almost any input causes the computer to say some variation on “I don’t understand.” Obviously though this just a fun little flash game that is simply meant to recreate the feeling of the movie, and in that regard it absolutely succeeds. So far as i can tell though the only way to beat the wizard is the same way as the movie.

In the movie the game represents childhood, and since games have had such an influence on my own childhood, i found this very effective. Josh’s inability to complete the ice melting puzzle represents his frustration with childhood and how he feels stuck in one place. At the end of the movie he is able to complete the ice puzzle and learn to enjoy childhood. Pretty simple, but it is worth pointing out that rarely do you see an arc that is this memorable in more modern versions of the “Big” switching bodies storyline, or in comedies in general. It says something that this fleeting image stayed with me, and i still remember it to this day. I guess my final point being that even though i had Metal Gear Solid and Crash Bandicoot i still wanted to play this simple text game because it just looked so fun.


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