EarthWorld Game Reviews

Here is an early magazine advertisment for the Swordquest Games.

Note: this picture is large ! (800 kb)


Soft Spot Column "A Few of Ken Uston's Favourite Games'

The following article is condensed from Ken Uston's Home Video '83 - The 20 Best New Games and How to Beat Them... Plus 5 Great Classics. By Ken Uston, copyright 1982. Reprinted by permission of the New American Library.

Swordquest I (aka EarthWorld) is the first in a highly imaginative and unprecedentedly challenging series our four adventure-type puzzles, similar in concept to the myriad adventure games that are currently perplexing owners of personal computers. Swordquest is not unlike Atari's Adventure and Superman games, except that the puzzles are far more complex.The basic objective is to solve the puzzle in each of the games by progressing through a series of boards, applying logic and also eye-to-hand coordination to overcome game obstacles. Clues are located both in the cartrdige and in the comic book that accompanies each game. The treasure seeker must go back and forth between the two to solve the puzzle.

According to the folks at Atari, there are only three people in the world who know the solution (which is worth $25,000 to the first person who can solve each of the Swordquest puzzles, plus a jeweled sword with $50,000 to the strategist who can unravel the "final puzzle").Even the programmers don't know the answers!

Obviously, I don't know the answer any more than you do. However, in experimenting with EarthWorld, I discovered certain clues that may help. Here's one: See the light green house? When you enter it at the beginning of the game (move five houses upward or seven downward), you'll notice a colourful rainbow display with a "16" and "4" indicated therein. This undoubtedly is a meaningful clue. Good luck!

from VIDEOGAMING ILLUSTRATED - February 1983 :

CLOSE UP: "SWORDQUEST... Innovation or Enervation?"

The scene is a murky, mist-shrouded enclosure. Above are eerie lights that are at once blinding and muted. Below is a sand-strewn floor. Upon it are etched the signs of the zodiac in such a way as to create a circle. In the middle of the circle is a strange symbol.

A runic code? Not quite.

The symbol consists of three vertical bars. The centre bar is straight. The two bars that sandwich it are curved, flaring out at the base. Beneath this symbol are five letters. They spell a word that has taken on a quasi-mythical stature.

They spell the world "Atari".

And just where does this scene take place? On some imaginary isle of a videogame player's dream? In the mind of a great fantasy filmmaker? On the grounds of some multi-million dollar amusement park?

No. This enclosure and five others could be found on the ballroom floor of the palatial Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

The Sunnyvale CA company put together its own sword and sorcery show to introduce the press to its newest and most unusual home videogame project: Swordquest.

Swordquest is both the title and intent of the combination videogame, comic book, contest. And the formal introduction of the game began in the astrologically decorated room.

The guests were induced by an Atari guide to stand near their own birth sign, just as hidden speakers began pumping out the prerecorded dialogue of two actors.

"You may call us Mentorr and Mentarra," they intone. "We would tell you your destiny -- a destiny that will take you across four worlds. A world of Earth Spirits. A world of Fire. A world of Water Sprites. And lastly, a world of Air.

"On each world you will encounter a challenge -- perhaps more than one. Surmounting these challenges will make you stronger, wiser, more courageous and, in the end, will give you your heart's desire."

It sounded corny, like something justifiably left on the cutting room floor when they were making Hercules Unchained. But looking past the melodrama, Atari had the makings of an interesting adventure project.

The Waldorf-Astoria tour continued. From the zodiac room, reporters were herded to an area vordered by screens. Each wall suddenly came alive with drawings and photos as the prerecorded actors detailed the "SwordQuest Challenge."

In order to use your brain to solve the puzzle, you have to use your reflexes first. This is just one test of skill.

Swordquest, you see, isn't a game at all. It's a blanket title for four home videogames. The object of these games isn't anything as mundane as rescuing Donkey Kong from Mario or blowing up Pookas with an air pump. Atari is literally giving home players the chance to go for the gold.

Four cartridges are being released at six month intervals. Instead of gathering points, five clues must be found -- clues which are hidden in the games and in the comic books which come packaged with them.

The comic books are being written by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, two comparatively literate figures in the comic book field. They're being published by DC Comics and packaged with the games; DC, as it happens, is owned by Warner Communications, the parent company of Atari.

The comic books flesh-out the videogaming adventure. In the printed scenario, Tara and Torr are seeking vengeance against King Tyrannus and the wizard Konjuro for having framed their parents, subsequently killing them as traitors. (Never mind that the potentate and his mage should be slain for having such hackneyed names; maybe in another adventure).

The player, of course, is enacting the mission vicariously, but there is a tangible reward; an aggregate of $150,000 worth of prizes.

If the player is sly enough to ferret the clues from the six red herrings in each game, that person will be flown at Atari's expense to the company's headquarters to play against other medieval detectives for various prizes.

First up is EarthWorld, which is now on-sale. The reward for the victor of the hunt is a gold medallion worth $25,000. Waiting in the wings is FireWorld, which comes complete with its own $25,000 platinum chalice prize, followed by WaterWorld which has as a reward a $25,000 gem-studded crown, and AirWorld which offers a $25,000, eighteen carat gold box covered with emeralds and rubies.

That only accounts for $100,000 you say...

Well, Atari figures that there will be four different winners, one for each game. The quartet will face off atainst each other for the really big booty: the $50,000 Sword of Ultimate Sorcery.

So much for those who say that playing videogames doesn't get you anything.


The reward for solving EarthWorld is this gold, gem-studded pendant worth $25,000.

The prizes automatically set SwordQuest apart from the other videogames on the market. However, aesthetically it is also a break from anything else in the videogame field.

But is it good or bad? That's difficult to say.

Although the player is "magically transformed" into a skillful rogue" according to atari literature, he or she is a rogue without threat or conflict. Nothing chases the player, nothing can hurt you, and you cannot be destroyed. The quest is one of pure logic with a minimum of traditional, visceral involvement.

Whether that's a refreshing change or a conceptual miscalculation is for the public to decide. It all depends on how many people out there are as interested in using brain cells as elbow grease. Regardless, it is a bold experiment which may open new avenues for the videogame field.

SwordQuest is daring not only in that it's different, but Atari isn't just testing one game: there are four of them tied up in a two-year-long contest.

Judging from an early reaction -- initial sales, not to mention the looks on the reporters' faces as they were shown to the room where the prizes were on display -- Atari has a good chance of pulling SwordQuest off.

from ELECTRONIC FUN - June 1983

"Letters to the editors: TIPQUEST"

I was wondering if you could give me some hints on how to play the Atari cartrdige Swordquest: Earthworld. I have read through the directions thousands of times and do everything they say. All I have been able to come up with are two clues on the game and dozens in the comic book. If you're not able to give me this information, can you tell me someone who can -- and their address?

Sorry, Mike, but were're just as stumped by Earthworld as you are -- and with several thousand dollars in prizes awaiting the winner of the Swordquest contest, there are probably few who'd hand out free answers. But if anybody out there does have a few hints they want to share, send them along to Readers' Tips and we'll try to print them all.

from VIDEOGAMING ILLUSTRATED - September 1983 :

"Swordquest Earthworld Solution!"

According to Atari Age, the Atari news magazine, eight videogamers submitted the correct solution to Swordquest Earthworld to Atari before the March 15 deadlne. Those eight will compete for a $25,000 prize in California, and the winner of that contest will compete with the winners of the upcoming competitions, those involving FireWorld, WaterWorld, and AirWorld. The ultimate victor will walk off with a jewel encrusted sword woth $50,000... and probably a migraine as well.

Following is the solution; those of you who are still struggling with the game (this means you, Steve Ungrey!) for love rather than money will not want to read further.

If the player correctly placed the enchanted objects in the corresponding zodiac rooms, a series of numeric clues revealed page numbers and panels in the DC comic book where the key words to the solution could be found. However, ten words in all were given and only five were needed for the correct solution.

To separate the wheat from the chaff, the player had to refer to the eight line poem on the first page of the comic. The poem was printed in brown ink except for two words in purple: "prime' and "number.' a prime number is one which cannot be divided by any number except itself and one: 3,5,7,11 etc. It is the prime numbered pages that hold the correct clues, which read 'Quest in Tower Talisman Found."

The poem held the crucial clue.

I am looking for more magazine articles and reviews of Swordquest EarthWorld.

If you have one you'd like to submit, please e-mail me --

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