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Video Game / Beyond the Titanic

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Titanic sinking is only the start of your problems...
Beyond the Titanic is a text adventure game written by Scott Miller for DOS. No images accompany the game's textual descriptions, but a variety of colors are employed to enhance the layout of the game's text. A panel near the top of the screen continuously displays the player's score and number of moves thus far. Also included is the ability to save the game and restore a previously saved game. The game begins on the sinking ship Titanic from which an escape must be sought. Upon doing so the player character is swept away into a mysterious underground complex. The objective of the game is to escape these predicaments and find a way to return home to San Francisco.

Originally released in 1986 before Miller founded Apogee, the game was later branded and advertised as an Apogee product. Both it and Supernova are the only two games published by Apogee as traditional shareware. Miller permitted the full game to be freely copied and distributed by its users, but they were encouraged to "register" it by sending him a cash donation to compensate him for his effort, to "encourage the author to make new and better games" and to qualify for "telephone support and clues". Although he had hoped that donations accompanying user registrations would become a significant source of revenue, this expectation failed to be realized as most users did not register the game. He concluded that this strategy "was not the way to go." It seemed to him that gamers were "more apt to simply take what they could get for free" and that he needed to introduce a greater incentive to get users to register his games. Miller's experience with Beyond the Titanic and Supernova led him to develop the Apogee model which would become Apogee's standard method of marketing future releases.

Beyond the Titanic was re-released as freeware by Apogee on March 10, 1998. The source code for the game was released under GPL on March 20, 2009.

This Video Game contains examples of:

  • Auto Doc: Activated by a green button, but can't be reached from inside the vat.
  • Cap: Score is capped at 1000, but the cap is only checked at the end.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: The shipwreck and subsequent whirlpool in which your lifeboat is caught seem to be just a pretext to get you Trapped in Another World.
  • Escape Rope: The black box has a switch, which teleports you back to the chair in the time chamber. It's not as great escaping danger, as it teleports a hostile creature with you, and doesn't have a chance to use if you time travel to a wrong location.
  • Food Pills: There is one food pill in the game, which is considered to be as filling as a six course meal plus dessert.
  • Freeware Games: This game became freeware on March 10, 1998.
  • Hazmat Suit: Found on the dead alien in the ship, and used to protect against radiation in the engine room.
  • Mind Screw: It starts out straightforward enough with the player character escaping the Titanic. Once you get into the lifeboat...things become a little strange.
  • No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: At least aboard the ship, that is. During the early stage of the game, your player character is said to take zero interest in the casino, parties, and other goings on aboard the ship. You are not allowed to interact with the other passengers and every time you enter the crowded party room, you are given a description of the activities and then (after being told that this is not your scene) automatically leave to return to the outside deck. This is an incentive to go to the lifeboats and hang out there until you need to abandon ship, especially since the game gives you no time to do anything else.
  • Permanently Missable Content: There's only a few moves to collect the items in the survival kit.
  • The Maze: The office basically has identical room descriptions, with the exception of 2 having something unique.
  • Timed Mission:
    • Must escape the titanic before move 17. That is, if the move counter is 16, the next move must escape the ship.
    • Must be wearing the safety harness, and retrieved the survival kit items by move 24. (Note: The move counter gets reset to 16 after escaping the Titanic.)
    • Eat the banana by move 93. Optionally, kill the banana for extra points and just rely on the food pills.
    • Flashlight runs out on move 153. This can be parried by turning off the flashlight for a few turns, or by entering the UFO before then.
    • Must eat food pills before move 181.
    • Maximum time limit of 607 moves.
  • Time Travel: There's a time chamber in the ship, which can be set to a year and day. Consequently, knowing the correct year allows skipping to the end.
  • Trivial Title: The fact that this takes place in 1912 aboard the RMS Titanic isn't really crucial to the plot or your character. Once you escape the sinking ship, the game story becomes like most other early Zork style adventure games of The '80s.
  • Unending End Card: Even though the game can either exit or restart, finishing the game required rebooting the computer to regain control of the system. As a bonus, the source code shows the victory procedure written just after the "dead" procedure, which also allows restarting the game or exiting.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Nasty grade, requires saving frequently before doing certain actions. You need to get items in the survival kit before the lifeboat crashes. Additionally, your flashlight can run out, although there's a few turns warning. The creature can be encountered without prior warning, and requires wearing the suit by the time you encounter it.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: There is a food timer. Two sources of food exist, a banana, and the Food Pill. When the food pill starts wearing off, it also starts dehydration, which was not present in the game.