Swordquest is an unfinished series of video games produced by Atari, Inc. in the 1980s as part of a contest, consisting of three finished games and a planned but never released fourth game. Each of the games came with a comic book that explained the plot, as well as containing part of the solution to a major puzzle that had to be solved to win the contest, with a series of prizes on offer that were worth together to the value of $150,000. The series had its genesis as a possible sequel to Atari's groundbreaking 1979 title Adventure, but it quickly developed a mythology and system of play that was unique. The comic books were produced by DC Comics, written by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, and drawn and inked by George Pérez and Dick Giordano. A special fan club offer was provided, allowing those who wanted the game, to also get a T-shirt and poster for each game.
The games of the Swordquest series (along with Atari 2600 Raiders of the Lost Ark) were some of the earliest attempts to combine the narrative and logic elements of the adventure game genre with the twitch gameplay of the action genre, making them some of the very first 'action-adventure' games. However, the series was unable to hold the last two contests along with the grand finale contest, as well as release the final game in the series, due to Atari's financial problems leading up to and being a part of the Video Game Crash of 1983.
Atari planned four interrelated Swordquest games, one each based on earth, fire, water, and air. The company intended that playing all four games would be necessary to win the final prize. Each had essentially the same gameplay: Logic puzzle adventure style gaming interspersed with arcade style action gaming. The character wanders through each screen, picking up and dropping items, playing simplified variants of current 'twitch' games of the time between screens. If the correct items are placed in a room, a clue shows up, pointing the player to a page and panel in the comic book included with the game. There, the player would find a word that was hidden in that panel. If the player found all five, or in the case of Waterworld, four, correct clues, amongst all the hidden words (hinted by a hidden clue in the comic), they could send the sentence to Atari and have a chance to compete in the finals and win a prize. During the playoff, which ran on special versions of the games, the person who managed to find the most clues within 90 minutes would be considered the winner. The winners of the four game contests would go on to a final competition where they would compete for a sword valued at $50,000. However, only two of the competitions actually took place before Atari cancelled the contest in 1983.
Earthworld was the first of the four games. Its room structure was based on the signs of the zodiac. While the basic creative direction of the game was provided by Swordquest Lead Tod Frye, the game was coded by Dan Hitchens. Sounds from Swordquest: Earthworld were used in the 2002 film Solaris directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney. The sounds are used to represent the spaceship breaking up.
The games follow twins named Tarra and Torr. Their parents were slain by King Tyrannus's guards, prompted by a prophecy by the king's wizard Konjuro that the twins would slay Tyrannus. The twins were then raised as commoners by thieves to avoid being slain by the king. When they go to plunder Konjuro's sea keep, they accidentally reveal their identities to him. The twins then start running from a demon summoned to kill them, but it appears that a jewel they stole attracts it. After smashing the stone to avoid the demon, two of Tyrannus's old advisers appear and tell the two about the 'Sword of Ultimate Sorcery' and the 'Talisman of Penultimate Truth.' They are then transported to Earthworld.
Out of 5,000 entries, only eight people managed to find all five of the correct clues. Of those eight, Steven Bell, who was 20 and lived near Detroit at the time, took first place and won the 'Talisman of Penultimate Truth.' The talisman was made of 18K solid gold, with 12 diamonds and the birthstones of the twelve Zodiac signs embedded in it, as well as a small sword made of white gold attached to the front. At the time of the contest, the Talisman was valued at $25,000.
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3 different online emulators are available for SwordQuest: EarthWorld. These emulators differ not only in the technology they use to emulate old games, but also in support of various game controllers, multiplayer mode, mobile phone touchscreen, emulation speed, absence or presence of embedded ads and in many other parameters. For
maximum gaming enjoyment, it's important to choose the right emulator, because on each PC and in different Internet browsers, the individual emulators behave differently. The basic
features of each emulator available for this game SwordQuest: EarthWorld are summarized in the following table: