EarthWorld Game Reviews
Here is an early magazine advertisment for the Swordquest Games.
Note: this picture is large ! (800 kb)
from VIDEOGAMES MAGAZINE JANUARY 1983 :
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
- Mike Soulakis -- Bethel Park, PA
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.
- editor, Electronic Fun Magazine
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.
from ELECTRONIC FUN With Computers & Games - January 1984
Q: Lately, I haven't seen very much printed about the SWORDQUEST series nor the
supposed contest run by Atari involving all four puzzles. Was this just a phony come-on by
Atari to sell the games? Has anybody ever solved any of them? I haven't been able to solve
the first one and hesitate to buy anymore until I can at least do the initial game. In
other words -- Help!!
- Fred Hannon -- East Lyme, CT
A: No, it wasn't a phony come-on and yes, the contest is still going on. The
EarthWorld winner was determined last March. Both FireWorld and WaterWorld finals were
held in November and the AirWorld playoffs are scheduled for sometime in the first few
months of 1984. If you write to Atari, I'm sure they can give you the details you need to
know. The address is: PO Box 427, Sunnyvale, CA 94086.
- editor, Electronic Fun Magazine
I am looking for more magazine articles and reviews of Swordquest
If you have one you'd like to submit, please e-mail me -- firstname.lastname@example.org
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