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Video Game / Plundered Hearts

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Plundered Hearts is an Interactive Fiction game, written by Amy Briggs and published by Infocom in 1987. It draws inspiration from historical romance novels and swashbuckling adventure movies.

The player takes the role of Lady Dimsford, who is traveling to join her father in the Caribbean (who she believes is stricken ill by a "wasting tropical disease") when her ship is attacked by pirates. All is not as it first appears, and she is obliged to become a Damsel out of Distress and thwart the schemes of Jean Lafond, the conniving Antagonistic Governor of St. Sinistra. The romantic interest is provided by Lovable Rogue Nicholas Jamison (who goes by the Nom de Guerre of "The Falcon"), who rescues the protagonist near the beginning and goes on to need rescuing himself on multiple occasions.

This is the only professionally-published interactive fiction game to be categorized in the Romance genre, to date. The game has 54 locations that you can explore. It is also the last game for the Atari 8-Bit Computers. By 1987, Infocom no longer rated its games on difficulty level. Some fans consider the game to be equivalent to the company's "Standard" level. More info on the game can be found in this link.


This work contains examples of:

  • All Men Are Rapists: A little downplayed, as there are only two of the pirates: Andy Crulley, who's trying to have his way with you at the very beginning, and Jean Lafond, who often admires your beauty while thinking up ways to get... dirty with you.
  • Altum Videtur: Examining both rings (the Tragic Keepsake memento of Nicholas' brother, whose corpse Lafond stole it from, and its cheap replica that Nick is wearing) gives you the same inscription that says "Sal sapit omnia." Doubles as a Bilingual Bonus when these Latin words mean "Salt seasons everything."
  • Babies Ever After: Discussed in the Golden Ending, when Nick asks you, "Together, shall we carve a kingdom blessed with fair children and freedom?"
  • Ballroom Blitz: Nicholas Jamison starts a Sword Fight with Jean Lafond to avenge his brother's murder at the ballroom. Lafond is getting the better of Nick, and it will be curtains for him unless you crash the party with a Chandelier Swing...
  • Bookends: Plundered Hearts starts with a daydream in which the female protagonist shoots a pirate with a pistol and drops it before he caresses and kisses her. The Golden Ending repeats this scenario: the same protagonist shoots Andy Crulley dead with the same pistol and drops it before Nicholas Jamison gratefully embraces and kisses her tenderly.
  • Copy Protection: The feelies in the game consist of facsimiles of the heroine's starting equipment, one of which is a banknote. The note shows the game's villain posing dramatically... but would you believe he's showing the solution to a puzzle? Grab his hat, try to grab the book he's carrying and press on the same part of the globe where he is and presto! Secret door!
  • Coup de Grâce: After a Ballroom Blitz, Lafond has Nick wounded and down for the count, and is about to perform a finishing move on him... unless you can turn it into a Thwarted Coup de Grâce.
  • Damsel in Distress: Lucy Jamison, the wife of Nick's brother, is imprisoned by Lafond, and only your father and Nick can free her... if you can help them first.
  • Dance of Romance: You have one with Nick in the ballroom if you showed an invitation to the butler. A little later on, you share the same dance with the villain Lafond.
  • Dances and Balls: At the beginning, you have an invitation to the ball from Captain Bartholomew Davis, tucked inside the coffer under the bed in the room of the Lafond Deux. Later on, you can dress up in a formal dress and head on to the Governor's Ballroom for a Dance of Romance. A very lovely scene, even if the game is text-only.
  • Date Rape: This is what Lafond's dinner date can turn into if you danced with him and get upstairs to his room. And if you can't find some way to stop him, then it won't be pretty...
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Toward the end of the game, if you fire the pistol into the air, Crulley fatally shoots you, and Nicholas desperately carries you in his arms and plants his Last Kiss before you succumb to your wounds, thus earning the title of "Love Transcends Death".
  • Distressed Dude: Your father has been captured by Lafond, and you have to go to great lengths to save him. Later on, Nick becomes one when he tries to save you from getting raped by Lafond.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The heroine is threatened with one on several occasions, with the traditional historical meaning of the phrase.
  • Flower in Her Hair: While in the Folly, Nicholas arrives, then takes a flower from the pot above and plants it into Lady Dimsford's hair.
  • French Jerk: Lafond seems to be this, simply because he's the Antagonistic Governor with a mild French accent.
  • Golden Ending: Apart from the various opportunities for failure and death along the way, there are four different endings that can result from the final confrontation, only one of which has the heroine, her father, and her love interest all survive to live happily ever after.
  • I Call It "Vera": The ship that you are safe in after Nick has rescued you is called the Helena Louise, which is named after your late mother, Helena Louise Dimsford.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: This will be Nick's fate if you don't save him from Lafond and his rapier.
  • Lady in Red: Lady Dimsford is depicted as wearing a red dress and holding a pistol in the box art.
  • Man of My Dreams: In the daydream sequence at the very beginning, the pirate that you encounter is none other than Captain Nicholas Jamison, the same pirate who would rescue you a little later on.
  • Master of Unlocking: When the protagonist rescues Jamison from the dungeon and is asked for a key to unlock his chains (which she doesn't have), she has another tool that can unlock the chains: the pin on her brooch.
  • Missing Mom: Trying a few certain tasks in some scenarios can trigger memories of your mother, who passed away years before the events of the game.
  • Multiple Endings: Apart from the various opportunities for failure and death along the way, there are four different endings that can result from the final confrontation, depending on what tactic you employ: one where the heroine flees from the final showdown (abandoning everyone else to presumably die), takes over Captain Jamison's vessel as "Pirate Queen", and vows revenge on the villains; another where the heroine thwarts an attempt on Captain Jamison's life by startling the attacker but is mortally wounded in the process; another where the heroine thwarts the attacker with a slingshot but her father dies in the process; and lastly, the best possible ending where the bad guys are defeated, the heroine's father reclaims ownership of the island from the now-deceased villain, and the heroine and Captain Jamison sail off together happily.
  • Never My Fault: The epilogue can be this if you chose to desert Nick and your father by rowing to safety:
    The tale you tell Jamison's crew, of rapine and blood, of your heroic attempt to save their captain, and of your own escape after his death in your arms, is not so far from the truth that you cannot appear sincere. Cannily, you take advantage of their temporary grief, select a private guard, and teach the rest the discipline of the whip. You have started on the ruthless road to revenge. You intend to meet Lafond again, and that time, you intend to win.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: There is a crocodile that is blocking the way to an underground dungeon where your father is held prisoner, and you have to find a few ways around it (one of them involving Slipping a Mickey into a slice of pork and feeding it to the croc).
  • Official Couple: You and Nick become one in the Golden Ending.
  • Peaceful in Death: If you fail to save Nick from getting killed by Jean Lafond, and then examine Nick's corpse, you get a message that may border on this trope:
  • Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: A non-fatal example: As you pour laudanum into one of the wine goblets while Lafond's back is turned, when he turns back to you, he thinks that you have drugged his green wine goblet, then switches goblets and forces you to drink from the green goblet while he hands the blue one for the butler to drink. But if you play the cards right, then what the villain doesn't know is that the green goblet is actually clean when you drink the wine from it (thus keeping you awake to fight him off), and that the drugged blue goblet is actually intended for the butler.
  • Powder Trail: While Nicholas is keeping company with you aboard the Helena Louise, Crulley has connected the gunpowder to its explosive keg and used it as a fuse by lighting it up, and you have a limited amount of time to douse the fuse before the ship gets blown to smithereens.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: This game has a scene in which you run the risk of being raped by Lafond. Doing nothing results in a Fate Worse than Death and a Nonstandard Game Over. Thwarting this attempt and escaping with your virtue still intact is the goal of that scene — and when Nick hears about the Attempted Rape, he's more determined to kill Lafond than ever. (Lafond had previously killed Captain Jamison's brother — but this clearly pushes Lafond over into monster territory.)
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Played straight early on if you dress up as a boy in order to avoid getting assaulted. However, it can be averted later on if you wear a ball gown and then save the day for the remainder of the game. Word of God states in an interview published in Infocom's The Status Line newsletter that "feminism does not rule out romance, and romance does not necessarily have to make women weak in the cliché sense of romance novels", pointing out that the protagonist must soon enough take responsibility for her own fate.
  • Shout-Out: Listening to the orchestra next to the ballroom has the musicians play "I Want to Kiss Your Hand", by J.S. Beatle (a parody reference to "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles).
  • Slipping a Mickey: You have two ways of doing this with laudanum: 1. by pouring it onto the pork to feed to the crocodile in order to prevent it from biting you; and 2. by pouring the same sedative into a wine goblet that is intended not for Lafond, but for the butler himself.
  • Taking the Bullet: Toward the end, when Lafond prepares to finish off Nick with a gunshot blast, Cookie jumps out in front of the captain as the shot fires straight into Cookie, fatally wounding him.
  • A Taste of the Lash: When you find Nicholas in the dungeon, he is suffering torture by being spread-eagled and whipped into unconsciousness, and only you can wake him up with smelling salts after defeating his attacker Crulley.
  • Thwarted Coup de Grâce: Happens twice in the game: once to Lafond via your Chandelier Swing, and once to Nick when he tries to kill the villain before he is stopped by your father.
  • Together in Death: Some events can evoke this trope if Nicholas dies before you do. One example is evoked if you swing down the rope after he dies by Lafond's blade:
    Startled, Lafond raises his sword and you fly onto the blade. You fall over your lover's body and expire, your lips on his in a kiss outlasting death.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: After you rescue Nick from Crulley, he moves on to spar with Lafond despite his terrible injuries. But as his injuries are only getting worse with every move he makes against the villain, you can't help but feel sorry for your poor lover and go out of your way to save him.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Sure, you can watch as Nick gets skewered to death by Lafond, but after waiting around you'll end up suffering a Fate Worse than Death.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When you save Nick, he gets this scolding from your dad when he tries to send the unconscious Lafond "to a 'better' world" despite being in no condition to fight whatsoever.
  • What the Hell, Player?: You can choose to make different paths for the ending, like the aforementioned desertion of your father and Nick, and shooting at the sky, but the game will scold you a bit upon "beating" the game:
    There are other, perhaps more satisfying, conclusions.
  • You Can't Get Ye Flask: There are some instances of this in the game, one of which, the cupboard scene, involves not "push cupboard" nor "squeeze through gap" nor "squeeze around cupboard", but "get in/out of cupboard".

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