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Video Game / Transylvania

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Sabrina dies at dawn!

In 1982, Antonio Antiochia and Penguin Software released Transylvania, an Interactive Fiction game which tasked the player with traveling to Transylvania to rescue the princess Sabrina, who had been abducted by a vampire and was being held in his castle. The story was very bare-bones, but the game itself grew to be popular enough to become one of the best-selling titles of the Apple ][ computer.

The Crimson Crown followed in 1985, with Penguin Software now rebranded as Polarware. The vampire has risen again to threaten the land from his fortress of Karel Thurg, and the player, Sabrina, and newcomer Prince Erik must journey to end his threat once again.

Finally, Transylvania III: Vanquish the Night completed the trilogy in 1990. True to the title, you're now on a quest to kill the vampire once and for all as he threatens the neighboring country of Slavaria.

For a while, the original game was available on iPhone as Transylvania Adventure, although it has since been removed from the store. However, the Polarware Archives has made a large portion of the Polarware library, including the entire Transylvania trilogy, publicly available as freeware.

The Transylvania series provides examples of:

  • Bag of Holding: Among the early items you find in The Crimson Crown is a burlap sack which you can use to get around the game's rather strict three item inventory limit. Erik refuses to put his sword in it, though, and you lose it among other items after the Vampire imprisons you.
  • Balancing Death's Books: In later prints of The Crimson Crown and in the third game, Death himself asks you to take out the vampire, because his undead nature affects his numbers.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Each game has at least one. Karel Thurg is especially fancy, being at the top of a rocky peak emblazoned with a skull.
  • Big Fancy House: A large abandoned house numbered 13 is a recurring location in the first two games.
  • Bookcase Passage: A log cabin has a deer's head on a wall. Pulling on an antler makes the wall rotate around, putting you in a secret annex.
  • The Cavalry: Fury is instrumental to taking out the vampire in the second and third games. In the third, he even brings along some of his friends.
  • Copy Protection: A gryphon in The Crimson Crown asks you three riddles. Or rather, he directs you to break the seal on a parchment which was physically included with the game and tell him the answers to the riddles written on it.
  • Cryptic Conversation: A spectral sage will occasionally appear to you in The Crimson Crown to divulge some advice in the form of a rhyme before disappearing on the wind.
  • Crystal Ball: Finding one to look into is a fairly important part of the first game for a puzzle solution, and you even get to look into the same one in the sequel before it's destroyed by the power of the vampire.
  • The Darkness Gazes Back: A particular screen in the first two games shows a bare tree poised in front of a cave with some mean eyes peering out at you from within. After looking into the crystal ball in The Crimson Crown, one of the resulting images is filled with nothing but the vampire's red eyes.
  • Drowning Pit: You're thrown into a pit with a draining water source in The Crimson Crown once you get to Karel Thurg. Invoking this trope helps you to escape, as long as you have a means of floating to the top.
  • Forced Transformation: Erik occasionally steals sips of a witch's brew which results in him briefly turning into a frog. Also, Fury the dragon was once a human. He's transformed back at the end of the third game.
  • Get Out!: One of the random events that can occur when you change screens is this being shouted at you.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: You're asked to enter your name, as well as that of your next of kin, when starting the game. Furthermore, your gravestone in The Crimson Crown is merely labeled "INTRUDER".
  • In-Universe Game Clock: You have six hours to save Sabrina, which is tracked by a distant clock striking the tops of hours as you go through the game.
  • Kill It with Fire: You ward off a zombie by waving a lit candle in its direction.
  • Magical Accessory: The first two games both feature magic rings with various powers. The Crimson Crown itself is a very potent Anti-Magic artifact.
  • Magical Flutist: You play a flute to force a snake out of your path inside a cave.
  • Magical Incantation: The word "Windmill" brings you to a subterranean crypt in the second game, as well as opening the doors located inside. The word "Ijnid" may or may not qualify in the first game, depending on what its effect on the goblin exactly was.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: As can be expected from the genre.
    • The entire deal with freeing an alien from a statue and then entering his flying saucer to receive a required item to free the princess.
    • Having Erik be turned into a frog so that he can swim into a lake and retrieve a silver coin.
    • Digging up a random beach to find a murex shell which turns into a shield.
  • Named Weapons: Erik names his sword Fury in honor of Fury's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Nostalgia Level: Several areas of The Crimson Crown are direct (albeit recolored) lifts from the first game. You actually begin the game at the same shoreline where Transylvania ended, just south of the stump where Transylvania began.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: Only Erik is able to pull a sword intended for the heir to the throne from a cairn of stones. In a lesser example, a spell scroll inside Zin's castle will avoid your attempts to take it until Zin gives you permission, and even then, only Sabrina can pick it up.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: You're routinely stalked by a werewolf while outdoors in the first game, and shooting him with a silver bullet is the only way to get rid of him. Oddly, he looks like he's wearing a dress unless you're playing the double-res version of the game.
  • Owls Ask "Who?": Another random screen-changing event is the hooting of an owl, which the narrator mistakes for someone asking "Who?"
  • Rain of Blood: In the double-res version, the title screen itself bleeds from the T, making a pool of blood.
  • Rescue Romance: Sabrina kisses you at the end of III if you're male.
  • Retcon: Using the cross on the vampire in the first game literally kills him, vaporizing his body into dust. He later returns to become the villain of the sequels, and later prints of the first game instead just have him warded off and fleeing the castle at the sight of the cross.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Sabrina and Erik are just as committed as you are to saving the land, joining you on your quest in The Crimson Crown. You travel alone in the third game, but both are still willing to help you.
  • Staff of Authority: A scepter is an important item in The Crimson Crown, representing your homeland. You need it to recruit Fury.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Yes, really. An alien in a flying saucer provides you with a special box used to open the coffin Sabrina is trapped inside, and he later provides you with a shield that transforms from the shape of a murex shell.
  • Taken for Granite: The alien has been imprisoned inside of a statue. The rerelease changes the statue's graphic to more accurately resemble an astronaut of some sort.
  • Teleportation: Knocking on the stump in the first game teleports you to a cavern; trying to take the spellbook in the cavern teleports you back. Interestingly, knocking on the stump in the second game instead summons tongues of flame which drag you backwards and down a trap door.
  • Updated Re-release: Transylvania was remade with the Comprehend engine used in The Crimson Crown, also adding in some extra puzzles and locations to explore.
  • Useless Item: If you wear the ring on The Crimson Crown and explore the cave, you can find a purple diamond, which does nothing. Although you can get an early glimpse of the vampire's underlings if you look into it.
  • Vampire Monarch: Your nemesis, naturally. He has a werewolf, various demons, a centaur, and a dragon at his disposal to lead against you. The dragon is not serving him by his own choice.
  • Witch Classic: You briefly meet one who has stolen a magic tablet from Zin.
  • Wizard Classic: Zin, the owner of the castle which the vampire has appropriated.
  • You Are Already Dead: The Crimson Crown allows you to be attacked by a zombie and a cobra if you dawdle in their presence for too long. After the initial strike, you can move through a couple more screens before succumbing to the wound, getting a game over.