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From the Database of Home of the Underdogs




Copyright 1989, Paul Deal

One of the most unique text-only games ever made, Fallthru is a fun parser-based RPG that can be played by up to 3 players on the same computer. The game is turn-based: each player has X number of moves before his/her turn ends. Here is the official description on how the game is structured as a competitive multiplayer title: “…[The] goal of Fallthru is to find your way ‘home’. A competition may be agreed upon by players in advance, with possible objectives being to see who gets home first or who acquires the most wealth or the greatest ‘strength’. But the game is principally intended to be cooperative. Each player may seek different sub goals which can assist all in getting home. There is no formal scoring because the accumulation of ‘points’ would be largely meaningless in the context of the simulation. However, if a player is ‘killed’ and elects to continue with a new life, the number of ‘lives’ used is recorded and displayed at the end of the game. This number can serve as an informal score with the object being to keep this number as low as possible. The use of the ‘REDO’ or ‘RESTORE’ commands during play will also have the effect of using a ‘life’. It should be noted that if more than one player is involved, the use of ‘RESTORE’ will cause all players to return to the last saved position. As a consequence, the circumstances under which the command ‘RESTORE’ is permitted must be agreed upon by all players. The total cumulative playing time for each player is also recorded and displayed at the end of the game.”

Although this may sound complicated, the game is actually quite easy to learn and play, mainly because it has a much more limited vocabulary than your typical interactive fiction title. The description for each scene is sparse but adequate, and you can perform simple tasks like READ SIGN or TAKE objects but not EXAMINE anything in detail. The game is extremely large – with 1,500+ screens, this might very well be the largest text adventure ever made (in terms of the number of unique locations). You can travel very far without finding anything interesting, but fortunately it is possible to complete the game without exploring the whole gameworld (and solving optional sidequests in between). The game also features other RPG-style elements, such as character stats (you have to make sure your fatique points don’t fall too low, for example), and the time of day/night.

Fallthru is quite fun to play. It is obviously more fun if you can get 2 other friends to play with, but it’s still fun if you play alone. There are many things to discover (including some nice ASCII artwork), people to talk to, and enemies to fight. The game is definitely meant for very patient gamers only, since you need a lot of patience to carefully map the huge gameworld to keep yourself from getting lost. But if you have both patience and time, Fallthru comes highly recommended.

Note: The game was marketed as shareware, but this freely-distributable version is not crippled in any way – paying $10 registration fee just entitles you to get a “strategy guide” from the author. In 2002, the designer Paul Deal informed one of newsgroup reader that he has lost this strategy guide. But the good news is that he plans to recreate this guide and release it into the public domain, so hopefully we will be able to add the strategy guide to this download at some point :)

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