[[caption-width-right:350:The most expensive video game contest never completed.]]

->''"Come questing with bold siblings twain,''\\
''Prime thieves of ravaged Earth;''\\
''Next journey to the Fireworld,''\\
''Land of volcanoes' birth.''\\
''Waves without number- Water's realm-'' \\
''But 'ware of evils there;'' \\
''Last, ride the Air's winds heaven-high''\\
''To claim a prize most rare."''

In 1982, Creator/{{Atari}}, at the height of its power during UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfVideoGames, decided to do a sequel to ''VideoGame/{{Adventure}}''. The ideas they came up with were ''very'' ambitious: A four-part RolePlayingGame series, built around a [[FictionalMysteryRealPrize series of contests for big-buck real world prizes]]. They came up with a story about two brave young adventurers, Torr and Tarra, and their quest for the Sword of Ultimate Sorcery. They threw in every ancient and mystic [[FauxSymbolism symbol]] they could think of: The [[ElementalPowers Four Elements]], the WesternZodiac, the UsefulNotes/{{Kabbalah}} Tree of Life, the Chakra points, and the I Ching. They commissioned the Franklin Mint to make five prizes, worth a total of $150,000, and hired Creator/DCComics to make a comic book for each game that would set the story, and hold clues for the contests.

The games themselves would hold clues to the contest. You would find clues in the game in the form of a two number code, referring to a page and panel of the comic. In that panel, you would find a word hidden in the artwork. After you found all the words, you would try to figure out what the sentence was. Then you would send what you thought was the right sentence to Atari, and if you got it right, you would be entered into one of the contests. In each contest, you would play a special version of the game, and the one who found the most clues in a limited time would receive one of the prizes: A $25,000 Talisman of Penultimate Truth, a $25,000 Chalice of Light, a $25,000 Crown of Life, and a $25,000 Philosopher's Stone. The winners of these contests would then compete with each other for the grand prize, the $50,000 Sword of Ultimate Sorcery.

Ok, but what about gameplay?

* The first release, in late '82, was ''Swordquest: Earthworld''. You play a FeaturelessProtagonist, who doesn't look anything like Torr or Tarra, just a guy in a blue shirt. He wanders around 12 rooms, one for each of the signs of the Zodiac. You've got some StandardRPGItems; a Dagger, a Grappling Hook, Rope, a Short Sword, Leather Armor, a Lamp, Shoes of Stealth, a Cloak of Invisibility, an Amulet, a Ring, a Necklace, a Talisman, Food and Drink, a Pitcher of Water, and a Key. And you've got some {{Mini Game}}s, mostly based on ''{{Frogger}}''. But the items [[PlotCoupon don't do anything]] except allow you to skip some of the minigames. There are no enemies, no chasms to cross, nothing to feed, and nothing to sneak past. The only thing you actually do is carry the objects from room to room. With trial and error, you eventually find the combinations of objects in rooms that reveal clues. If you get all 10 clues, then you get to [[AWinnerIsYou see the title screen again]], and you're given the completely useless Warrior's Sword. A clue hidden in the manual tells you how to assemble the clues into the correct sentence. So it works as a contest tool, but not as a game in itself.
* The second game, ''Swordquest: Fireworld'', is an ObviousBeta. Some of the minigames are virtually {{Unwinnable}}. If you hit a wall just right, you warp through it or get stuck. And the clues aren't even there, just numbers from 00 to 09, [[PermanentPlaceholder placeholders]] for clues that were never coded.
* ''Swordquest: Waterworld'' is considered the best of the three. It doesn't have ''Fireworld'''s bugs, and it gives you clues to the item/room combinations. But gameplay is still just a matter of hauling stuff from room to room. UsefulNotes/TheGreatVideoGameCrashOf1983 had hit by this time, so ''Waterworld'' saw only a limited release.
* ''Swordquest: Airworld'' never got past the design stage, due to the Crash.

Due to UsefulNotes/TheGreatVideoGameCrashOf1983, only competitions for ''Earthworld'' and ''Fireworld'' were ever held, and the Talisman and Chalice awarded. It was heavily rumored and/or joked that the Crown, Stone, and Sword were [[UrbanLegend in the possession of Jack Tramiel, who bought Atari in 1984]], but in 2015 a [[https://www.facebook.com/groups/105586892805903/permalink/1022951551069428/?comment_id=1023115711053012&reply_comment_id=1023596304338286&total_comments=2&comment_tracking={%22tn%22%3A%22R6%22} Facebook conversation]] confirmed that they were returned to the Franklin Mint and melted down. Only the Chalice still exists in full; most of the Talisman was melted down by the winner.

WebVideo/TheAngryVideoGameNerd did a [[AddedAlliterativeAppeal rather respectful review]] (contrary to [[CausticCritic his]] [[ClusterFBomb usual]] [[AccentuateTheNegative style]]) of the series, [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWltQ9UN5vE which can be seen here]].

Details about the ComicBook series can be found [[ComicBook/{{Swordquest}} here.]]

!!The ''Swordquest'' video games provide examples of:

* AllThereInTheManual: Almost everything. The plot, characters, enemies, and what the items are supposed to do, are only in the manual and comic book.
* {{Backtracking}}: Practically endless. And when combined with having to play the {{Mini Game}}s over and over, it makes for a very annoying experience.
* {{Cutscene}}: Every time you go from room to room, there is a short first-person animation of you walking to the next room.
* CutShort: Airworld and its accompanying comic book were never released (or, more accurately, they were barely started) due to the Crash.
* EventFlag: The objective is to trigger these.
* FeaturelessProtagonist
* FictionalMysteryRealPrize: Five prizes worth a total of $150,000, one for each game plus a fifth prize in a bonus round.
* MiniGame: Some easy, some frustrating, all very simple, and you have to play them over and over.
* MundaneMadeAwesome: One of the few snarks the AVGN did was that ''Earthworld'' had a loud, ambitious noise ''just for opening a door''.
* NamedworldAndNamedland: Earthworld, Fireworld, Waterworld, and Airworld.
* ObviousBeta: ''Fireworld'', as noted in the description up top.
* PlotCoupon: All the items.
* PlotCouponThatDoesSomething: Some of the items make the minigames easier, or allow you to skip them. In RealLife, [[http://www.atarihq.com/2678/swordqst.html the talisman winner had his prize melted down and went to college with the resell value of the gold.]] Good on him.
* RPGElements: The items look like StandardRPGItems, but they're just {{Plot Coupon}}s.
* AWinnerIsYou: Except for the two guys who won the prizes.