Now Playing: Clyde’s Adventure

Clyde’s Adventure, a game so obscure that it doesn’t even have its own cover art, promo art, or even a “proper” title screen. I couldn’t even remember the name of this game for 20-something years, I just had vague images of it in my mind from having the shareware episode of it as a kid. I don’t think I ever even finished that episode, and playing it again today, I can see why.

Clyde’s Adventure initially looks like a pretty standard old-timey DOS platformer, but quickly begins to teach you that it won’t be making anything that easy for you. The goal seems simple enough, just find the treasure and go to the exit, but this is NEVER easy and there’s actually more to it. While you can technically successfully complete a level by reaching the exit with the treasure, you won’t be able to access the next set of levels until you’ve hunted down every single gem in each of the previous levels.

On top of this you’ve also got a limited supply of energy, which begins to drain whenever you move, and when you run out you die. Wait, there’s more! The gems and treasures are all hidden in sadistic mazes full of instantly fatal hazards and horribly convoluted pathways that must be navigated in just the right manner and order, or else you’ll find yourself too low on energy or trapped.

Yes, trapped. This game seems to take great delight in leading you into dead end areas that snap shut behind you and force you to restart the level. Sometimes there will even be little notes taunting you about it. One level even had a forked path right before the exit, after you’d gone through a whole big mess of hoops to get there with everything, and if you pick the wrong one (and of course you can’t see where either leads until it’s too late), you find yourself trapped right in front of the exit with a note that says “cheer up”. Urghhhh.

There are a lot of other nasty little mechanics to be found here too, like areas with gems inside that permanently lock shut if you do the wrong thing, invisible triggers that cause platforms to appear, or sometimes suddenly disappear (sometimes while beneath you), paths or teleporters that drop you directly into an unavoidable death, invisible teleporters, jump pads with no way to see where you’re being rocketed to, slippery ice blocks, and more.

It’s kind of like an early version of games like Trap Adventure. It doesn’t require the same quick reflexes, but it does seem to take perverse pleasure in killing you and trapping you in a multitude of groan-inducing, forehead slapping ways.

Clyde also carries around a little wand that can be used to temporarily dissolve certain blocks or light the fuses on bombs, much like the classic Lode Runner, though oddly enough, this feature isn’t used very often throughout the game, which is probably for the best because this game is already tough enough as it is.

All you can really do is keep bashing your head against these tricky mazes until you’ve memorized the proper path. If you can manage to do this over the course of 32 malicious levels without putting your fist through your monitor, then you might have what it takes to master Clyde’s Adventure. I can’t say I’d recommend it to most people though. You need to have just the right mix of masochism and retro obsession to tolerate a game like this. As it is, I’m going to have to take a long break before I try to tackle the sequel, Clyde’s Revenge!

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