Lesson #1 in collecting computer games: Always look in the box.


A lucky find last weekend drilled the importance of this back into me. I'd come across a Hellfire Warrior (sequel to Temple of Apshai) box in a Goodwill store and was considering whether it was even worth picking up. Well, I thought, I'll at least check and see if the disk's there. It wasn't, but what was in its place was far more interesting. Inside that box I found a manual and reference card for Ultima (that's Ultima 1, the California Pacific version) and a manual for the Personal Software TRS-80 Zork (the one with the barbarian on the cover)! The cashier let the whole thing go for a buck.

So. Always look in the box. (Provided it's not wrapped, of course.)

Thanks to everyone who wrote me with advice on removing those obnoxious reseller labels. For those who are interested, here's what I've heard:

In case you missed it on UseNet, Emerick Rogul has been in touch with Steve Hale, author of Mindwheel, one of the Synapse / Broderbund Electronic Novels. (There are four of these: Breakers, Brimstone, Essex, and Mindwheel). According to Steve, three other titles in this library exist, unreleased, ranging from development to near-release states. The three titles are Deadly Summer, House of Changes, and Ronin. Having seen text excerpts from these titles in Broderbund's catalogs, and the actual cover of Ronin in print, I've long suspected they were at least partially completed. Currently I'm trying to confirm this, and will keep you posted.


New This Month

Mega-update this time. A few more folios have trickled in along with a number of RPGs and oddities, the most noteworthy being Perry Mason, the first Telarium package I've had in the Shoppe.

A little about Telarium: Same era as Infocom, but not as widely-known. Like Infocom, they had admired the original Crowther & Woods Colossal Cave and wanted to give the world new text games. Their first releases were in 1983-84, under president C. David Seuss (the company was called "Trillium" at this time) and I'm not sure how long they lasted or what killed 'em. Their games generally combine a parser and graphics, and most are based on existing works of science fiction, fantasy and mystery. Specifically, they gave us:

Their newsletters also mention the following, though they were never released: I can't actually comment on their games, as I haven't had time to play the few I've found in a format I can use. Like Infocoms, Telariums come in more than one package style, the most common being flat boxes similar to the Infocom folios. Thicker game boxes, slightly smaller than an Infocom gray, also exist. Early flat-box packages read "Trillium" instead of "Telarium". Except for Shadowkeep, which was Trillium-only, all of the games can be found in all three package types.

Props are few, though Rendezvous with Rama has a neat schematic. Each game is stored on two double-sided disks with green labels. Promotional items include newsletters (I have #1; not sure how many there are), a long-sleeve T-shirt, a jacket, and three varieties of caps based on Telarium titles. As my Infocom shelf is full, I'm quite eager to trade for any of these.

Do you collect classic cartridge games? If so, let me know and I'll send you a separate list of what I've got in that area. If you've got any spare Vectrex stuff, I'm always up for a trade.

I also have a huge supply of grey-box Infocoms, so hopefully there'll be enough to go around this time. Again, if you've repeatedly missed the good stuff, the mailing list gets updates to you the fastest. Don't forget my friend Manuel Schulz's Adventure Market. The more traders who post to his page, the better your chances of hooking up with someone who has what you need.

Another good source is Tom Hlavaty, aka TomMage, who seems quite prolific at digging up cool stuff.

Tom recently pointed out to me a package anomaly in Infocom's Wishbringer, for those of you keeping track of them. One wave of releases, either very early or very late, seems to have not included the glow-in-the-dark stone at all, and it isn't mentioned in the contents list on the back of the box. (The caption reads, "Specially delivered inside this and every WISHBRINGER package: your WISHBRINGER disk, mysterious sealed envelope, postal map of your home town, and The Legend of Wishbringer.")

Most releases include the stone and do mention its presence among the props ("your WISHBRINGER disk, enchanted stone that glows in the dark, mysterious sealed envelope...") Thus the stone seems to have been added as an after- thought following the first wave of packages manufactured, or perhaps Infocom eventually ran out, and rather than pay to produce more, they simply revised the box. Aside from the caption below the picture on the back of the box and the system information (later versions list all the systems supported by Infocom while the early packages simply state "Infocom interactive fiction is available for many personal computers. Call us at 617-576-3190 for availability information."), both variations are identical.

This is the only props discrepancy I'm aware of (not counting the intentionally unmentioned rubber centipede in Lurking Horror). Interestingly, though, I have a few duplicate packages in which the title and Infocom logo on the sides (not front and back) aren't in the same position. That is, one's is "indented" maybe half an inch further than the other's. Can't think of any reason for Infocom to have done this other than perhaps to enhance the aesthetic appeal a bit. I've noticed this with Enchanter specifically. If anyone knows any other cases like this, I'll gladly mention them in the next YOIS update.

On a related note, does anyone know how many different colors the Ballyhoo balloon comes in? I've seen them in red, orange, green and a dark blue, almost black. Anyone else have a different kind?


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