I first discovered the delights of this game at age 7 or so, when my older siblings were mostly off to college or with their friends and I pretty much got custody of our well-worn 2600 and cartridge stash. By that time the game's instruction manual was lost for good, but I had seen the family play it so many times that I thought I could handle it, especially after my sister said it would be too hard for me. Without the booklet I had no way of knowing the backstory (i.e. WHY the chalice was hidden in that miserable black castle) or what the dragons' names were so I gave them my own: Picklepuss, Pizza, and Mustard. The item-stealing bat was christened Lunchmeat, because I wanted to make lunchmeat out of him every time he stole my key/sword/chalice. Eventually the other items took on names and personalities as well, and instead of a mindless quest it became personal: I had to save Chally the Chalice (original, no?) from the evil Pizza Dragon or else what kind of brave heroine was I, anyway?
20 years later I can still sit down with Adventure trying to skewer Picklepuss with Swordon the Sword, and be shocked to realize 2 hours have passed.
Fairly crude, occasionally mysterious. Your "character" is a square dot which always matched the sharply angled walls of the room. The dragons looked so much like Big Bird, especially Mustard, that I was shocked to find out they were really dragons, although that did make more sense than the notion that my brothers and sisters were chasing after Big Bird with a sword. The bat looks more like an upturned handlebar mustache than a flying rodent. While the three keys do look like skeleton keys, the sword and chalice are bizarre. It still feels odd to be killing a dragon with something like a yellow arrow from a One Way sign, and I still don't quite understand why the chalice was designed to look like a wineglass sliced down the middle that also keeps flashing like a Christmas light.
There were some nice touches, like the way the dark mazes in the black castle and near the white castle would show "you" in a pool of orange, as if you were carrying a torch, and the dragons died and stayed onscreen rather than exploding in pixel dust or just vanishing, as killed/shot critters in video games normally do. Not to mention how "you" neatly fill in a dragon's empty stomach when it eats you.
Practically nonexistent. Sound effects are limited to a bleep when picking up or dropping an object and a "boom"ish noise when a dragon attempts to eat you, and of course the satisfying "skewer!" noise when you stab a dragon with the sword. Music, for lack of a better word, only happens upon winning the game by bringing the chalice into the Gold Castle and is a bloopety bleepety sequence lasting about 10 seconds, though by hitting "select" in the middle of it the notes would be flattened and drawn out into a cool creepy alien sounding noise. The rest of the game is eerily silent, though of course I made up my own soundtrack. A nice loud rendition of "Gotta Get This Chalice Back To My Palace" was sure to annoy everyone within earshot.
Iffy. This game has a terrible problem with screen flicker, and if more than 2 or 3 objects are present in one room at a time they blink on and off. This can be incredibly annoying, as it makes it hard or impossible to kill a dragon guarding an important object, and since it also affects castle gates the key won't unlock the gate if they are blinking too fast. When they are extremely blinky it's even hard to pick up an object; the one upshot is you can run through a blinking dragon without getting eaten.
One thing that still annoys me is that random placement of items must sometimes put the gold key INSIDE the gold castle at the beginning of the game, resulting in a game that is unwinnable.
I am very pleased to announce, however, that I was the first in my family to uncover the fabled "Easter Egg" using the Magic Dot, located in a tiny room in the black castle that must be reached using the Bridge. Ironically this makes use of the screen flicker phenomenon which otherwise bugs the living daylights out of me.
It was also refreshing to play a game where you don't run out of lives; if you get eaten or stuck in a wall (bat steals bridge while you're taking a shortcut) you can hit Restart and keep playing the same game.
Pretty much flawless. Your little square body goes in the direction you point the joystick and stops when you stop moving it. Picking up objects or the bat is as easy as running into them (which is not always easy in the bat's case) and to drop something either run into another item or press the fire button.
I don't care about the spartan graphics, the lack of sound, or the simple plot. I give this game 100% overall because it is one of the three videogames I can play and play without getting bored or frustrated (the other two are Ballblazer and Solaris.) When I play Adventure I almost feel 7 years old again, playing Atari without a care in the world and letting my imagination run wild.