By BERNARD TAYLOR
The Seven Skulls
Rubik's Cube of ancient Japan
The Seven Skulls is an evocative, challenging multi-level puzzle. Line up the rotating skulls to win--but every time you move one, two others move also. This BASIC program works on all 8-bit Atari computers with 32K and disk, or 24K and cassette.
Alas, bold seafarer! A tremendous storm wrecked your ship off the rocky coast of the 17th-century Japan. Overpowered by samurai warriors, you taken to the castle of Lord Tokugawa, the Shogun (supreme warlord) of all Japan. You are somewhat upset to learn that for the crime of being a "barbarian," the punishment is. . .death!
But wait! Lord Tokugawa's sister, the lovely Princess Tanuki, demands that you be given the test of The Seven Skulls, a challenge in logic which was devised to aid the Shogun in selecting or promoting the best and brightest warriors in his military regime.
Escorted by a cadre of guards, you follow Tanuki down into a cold, damp chamber beneath the castle. On the far wall is a row of seven human skulls...
Each of The Seven Skulls is positioned in one of four directions--chin pointing left, right, up or down. Your goal is to turn each skull clockwise until all seven have their chins pointing downward. Move you joystick left or right to center the golden "pointer" under the skull you want to rotate, then press the joystick button.
Sounds easy, doesn't it? But as you rotate one skull, the skulls on both sides also turn clockwise. Turning a skull at either end of the row causes that skull, the adjacent skull, and the skull at the opposite end of the row to rotate. Now you've got problems.
There are eight known levels of success in the test of The Seven Skulls---Shark Bait, Slave, Food Taster, Foot Soldier, Bowman, Castle Guard, Samurai, and Daimyo. But it is rumored that Princess Tanuki is looking for someone clever enough to help her overthrow her brother, the Shogun. Even Raden, the Japanese God of Thunder, would honor such a worthy individual.
Successfully aligning all the skulls makes their eyes spin. And after a short tune, the skulls will be arranged in a new pattern for you to solve--or die trying.
You have 30 moves in which to complete yout task on each level. Running out of moves ends the game and reveals the position you have earned in Lord Tokugawa's shogunate. Press [SELECT] any time during the game to restart the test. On rare occasions the Princess has been known to award a second chance to those showing exceptional promise. A gong will sound twice if you are to recieve a second chance and the current puzzle will be reset to its original position so you can try again.
But enough! The Princess Tanuki grows impatient. She strikes the gong once. Let the test begin! Type in Listing 1, SKULLS.BAS, check it with TYPO II and SAVE a copy before you RUN it.
Bernard Taylor is a bulk mailing specialist from Roseville, California. He enjoys programming strategy games and claims to have played (if not solved) every Infocom text adventure ever produced for the Atari 800.
Listing: SKULL.BAS Download