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Video Game / Escape from the MindMaster

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Escape from the MindMaster is a Faux First Person 3D Maze and Puzzle Game for the Atari 2600, and considered one of the best 2600 games ever made. It was released in 1982 by Starpath for their Supercharger. Written by Dennis Caswell.

An alien being called the MindMaster has kidnapped you and put you in a maze to test your intelligence and reflexes. On some of the walls of the maze are objects called "puzzle pegs", that fit into holes on other walls. You have to put each peg in its hole before the door to the next level unlocks. At some point, while searching the walls, you will encounter a Mini-Game that tests your memory or reflexes. There are six mazes.

The mazes are divided into a main hall and rooms. The puzzle pegs and minigames are in the rooms. There is a monster wandering around the main hall of the first five mazes, and if he bumps into you, you'll lose a chance. You'll also lose a chance if you bump into one of the force fields that slide from wall to wall in the rooms in mazes 2-5. You have either five or nine chances, depending on how you set the left difficulty switch. There is a constant beeping that tells you how far away the monster is, even if you're in a room. The rooms in mazes 4-6 have one-way doors. The last maze has no monster or minigame. It's an eight by eight grid of identical rooms, connected by doors, some one-way, some two-way.

Finishing a level before a counter runs out adds to your score. The minigames also add to your score. Whether you win or not, your score is tallied and you get a rating from the MindMaster. If you win, you get a screen that says "A Winner!", with music and fireworks.

Escape from the MindMaster provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: The MindMaster kidnaps other beings and forces them to go through his maze, but only to test their intelligence, and he lets you go when you pass.
  • A Winner Is You: If You Win, you get a screen says "a Winner!" with music and fireworks
  • Backtracking: You'll do a lot of this to put the pegs in their holes.
  • Beast in the Maze: Monsters wandering around the first five mazes. They're just trying to find their way out just like you, but if you bump into one, you lose a chance.
  • Checkpoint: The Supercharger loads the game in four sections: Levels 1&2, 3&4, 5&6, and the ending. This means that if you die on levels 3 or 4, you can reset to level 3, and if you die on level 5, you can restart there.
  • Collision Damage: Colliding with the monster or the force fields will take away one of your chances.
  • Cutscene: You walking up stairs to the next level.
  • Empty Room Psych: The pegs and holes are positioned randomly, so some rooms are going to be empty.
  • Event Flag: Putting all the pegs in their holes unlocks the door to the next level.
  • Faux First Person 3D: The game uses 2D graphics to represent a 3D view of the inside of a maze. You can only look north, south, east, and west, no diagonal views. The mazes are 8x8 squares, and you can only move from square to square.
  • Game Levels: There are six mazes. Each maze is a self-contained world.
  • Gameplay Grading: At the end of the game, however it ends, the MindMaster will give you a rating based on your score.
  • Level Goal: A doorway and stairs to to the next level.
  • Loading Screen: The Starpath Supercharger displays two blue bars coming together to fill the screen as the game loads.
  • The Maze: Three asymmetrical mazes.
  • Maze Game: The game is about navigating six mazes, finding pegs, and putting them in their holes.
  • Mini-Game: One in each of the first five levels, appearing randomly on an empty wall. You run into them as you search for pegs, and they add to your score. There's a reflex game, a memory game, two dodge-the-bricks games, and a Lunar Lander game.
  • Multiple Endings: You get an ending whether you win or lose. If you win, you get fireworks!
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The monsters wandering mazes 1-5 aren't evil, they're just other species kidnapped by the MindMaster and trying to find their way out just like you.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: You can only advance through the game if you find all the pegs and put them in their holes.
  • Puzzle Game: The game is all about puzzles, there is no combat. Navigate mazes, find pegs, find their holes, complete minigames, and dodge moving force fields and a wandering monster.
  • Scoring Points: Points are awarded based on difficulty level, minigame scores, time left when you complete each level, and number of chances used.
  • Video-Game Lives: 5 or 9, depending on the left difficulty switch. Though they aren't "lives", they're "chances". If you run out, you still get a rating from the MindMaster.
  • The Voice: The MindMaster, whose only in-game appearance is to give you your rating at the end.