Text Adventure Game Still Has A Secret Ending After 32 Years [Update: Mystery Over!]

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Some secrets truly stand the test of time.

There's plenty of nostalgia around Apogee Software, the shareware publishers of classic platformers and action-adventures like Biomenace, Rise of the Triad, Wacky Wheels and Wolfenstein 3D. Most of those games have been well and truly beaten by the internet, but one of Apogee's first creations still has some mysteries left.

Supernova was a text adventure released by Apogee in 1987, two years after the company's founding. It was a text adventure co-written by Scott Miller and Terry Nagy, starring a miner in a remote part of space. Apogee was still releasing games as oldschool shareware titles back then — send us some money to "register" the game, in other words. But after discovering that most people played the game without paying to register, the company developed the episodic shareware model which Apogee would become famous for.

Supernova is a fairly rudimentary text adventure, lacking the visual stylings of something like Shogun or the better writing and design in games like Zork. The official instructions, which you can still read through the freeware file on the 3D Realms site, lists all the verbs and adverbs that you need to know to perform any action. "COMMANDS or VERBS - shows a two screen list of possible commands," the readme says.

So maybe it's not surprising that the game still has a secret ending, 32 years after it was released. The official Apogee Software account mentioned that the shortcut, which allows players to skip from the beginning of the game to the end Far Cry-style (but almost two decades before Far Cry did it), had gone unsolved.

The hint has to do with a "Special Cheat" that's mentioned in the fan-written walkthrough. The walkthrough mentions a way to bypass a good chunk of the gameplay — so I won't mention it here, but you can Google it if you want — but the actual secret ending is related to that pathway. Fans have worked out half of the solution already, so it's only a matter of time before Supanova's final puzzle is unravelled.

Question is: what other secrets lie in the Apogee vault? (Please say Biomenace has a few. I'd love to replay that game.)

Update: So Apogee has confirmed that the final ending has been solved by Leland Kirk on Twitter. If you want to find the solution for yourself, head no further, but otherwise, this is what the mystery was.

The first part was a shortcut at the beginning of the game that wasn't a spoiler as such. You buy a beer at the start of Supernova, drink the beer, leave the bar, and continue heading west — 41 times! — until you discover something unusual:

That shortcut gets you directly to the ice planet and spaceship, where a robot basically scans (cleans?) you and then allows you to put on a spaceship suit. From there it's a matter of resolving a reactor regulator room puzzle, which Apogee says Kirk was the first to do:

You can read the rest of the walkthrough here. The game's also playable in a browser here, if you're keen.


Comments

    As a kid I loved buying those Apogee Shareware games from KMart. It was always pocket money well spent even if it was only ever the first episode of a series.

    I always wonder when I read articles like this though how they know the mystery is unsolved. Not everyone is going to put these things on the internet, especially if they worked it out back in the days before the internet was a thing.

      Oh my God, those shareware floppies! We've come a long way since then... I remember as a kid getting these shareware copies for like... five bucks in heat-sealed packaging, and if you wanted the full game you had to send a bloody cashier's cheque in US dollars to some physical address via snail mail.

      A long way in some ways. Not so far in others... at least those first episodes were usually very chunky. And given those early hurdles to full payment, dedicated importers were clearly the only way to go, but the import distributors locked themselves into a self-serving middle-man role that single-handedly invented the god-forsaken 'Australia Tax' that persists to this day. (Looking at you, fuckers responsible for Terraria on Switch.)

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