Transylvania / Penguin (1982)

Cannon Fodder's Verdict: It's pretty easy to die in this game.

Hercules' Verdict: The black, white, magenta and cyan graphics for this game are quite pleasing to mine eyes.*

My Verdict: It holds up well after eighteen years.... kind of.

Game Information

Game Type: Penguin propriatery

Other Games By This Developer: Oo-Topos

Download Link:

The Review...

Members of my generation inevitably share some similar experiences. We were at the beginning of the computers-in-school craze. There wasn't a lot of educational software available, so teachers that today are under the impression that games cause kids to shoot people let us play Snooper Troops or Zork III. Some of us played Transylvania and thought, "yes, that's kind of interesting." Some of us played it and thought, "I really hope I don't end up next to some queer with AIDS in Queens." But nonetheless, like Underoos, Musical Youth and skidz, Transylvania is the kind of 80s icon you don't think nearly enough of until someone brings it to your attention with copious amounts of detail and context.

The game's free. The guys over at Penguin decided to release their games onto GMD. This is most uncommon. It definitely helps that they are still together as a functioning company, more so that they have common sense which eludes most developers and publishers. Rather than chuckle merrily up their sleeve at the thought of putting out a celebratory emulation CD, they just decided to give them to the community as a gift. Please give me ample space as the camera cuts to me in my black tuxedo and I melodramatically clap.


The game will run on NT 4.0 off the A:, that much I can tell you. I cannot get their seminal classic Oo-Topos to behave the same. Therefore, my tribute to Oo-Topos is left simply in cruising the different bars of Fort Collins, picking up a wonderfully attractive girl, telling her my name is Topos and having her lustily repeat the name of Penguin's game as the night consumes our wills, our bodies, our flesh. I have my peeps close at hand at all time. What?

Getting the game to run is no chore, then. Pressing "enter" on the command prompt will toggle graphics, so watch out there. Due to the constraints of the day, of course, having graphics severely limited the amount of text one could put in a game. Having good graphics didn't really affect the equation much but they were nonetheless rare. Transylvania has some nice CGA graphics. It's clear what is going on. True, the vampire looks like he's ready to prance about in some deranged Rocky Horror Picture Show tribute (is there any other kind), but 1982 was a rather quiet year for x86 graphic art anyway.

Transylvania does hold up a bit better than most games from its era. It's a trip down memory lane if you played it on a black-and-white Mac or at the local library when you were eight. It has a typical human-based fantasy setting, meaning there are not a multitude of swishy elves scurring about and you have to respect that. By all means, give it a download if you haven't seen it. The parser is surprisingly strong for its age; just remember to get the hell away when evil creatures threaten rather than reason with them. (A strong lesson applicable much later in life as well. No wonder it rated so high with school teachers.)



Simple Rating: 7.0 / 10

Complicated Rating:

Story: 6.5 / 10

Writing: 7.2 / 10

Playability: 7.8 / 10

Puzzle Quality: 6.5 / 10

Parser Responsiveness: 7.8 / 10


* Really beating that CGA color scheme horse to death, eh?

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