The Massive Classic Video and Computer Game Strategy and Solution Compendium (M-Z)

By Chris Federico

(Date Written)

MINER 2049'ER (Micro Fun: 8-bit computers)
1. In the Commodore 64 version, holding down the fire button for a few seconds will advance you to the next screen (from any screen). This is good to know if there happens to be that one board that you just can't seem to master, but after which you'd like to practice on higher screens. (In my opinion, high scores shouldn't count when this cheat is implemented.)

MISSILE COMMAND (Atari: several)
1. Don't keep the cursor in one spot. As soon as you launch an ABM, move to another target. Don't wait for an ABM to reach the cursor before moving on. After learning the range and duration of each detonation cloud (since they're all the same), you'll be able to aim an appropriate distance below each enemy missile; move to another target and trust the cloud to do its job at the old site. Briefly pause only at Smart Missiles, which require direct hits; but have your next target in mind at all times.

2. Constantly glance at the top border to see where the new batch of missiles is entering from. Stop missiles as high up as you can; try not to wait for them to drop through most of the sky first (or split up). That will just give subsequent new missiles more time to descend themselves.

3. It's tempting to create a "wall" of clouds to make sure you catch a missile, but in the VCS version, it's impractical; keep the three-ABM/cloud maximum in mind. A common way to lose a city is having to wait for an existing cloud to diminish before firing's possible.

4. In all other versions, fire ahead of a Bomber or Satellite, not directly at it. Any such vehicle should be destroyed as soon as you're aware of its entry; you then won't give it a chance to launch IPBMs (most likely splitting ones!).

5. Smart Missiles take priority over everything else (unless another missile's very close to hitting a city or base). When you hear the ringing sound, place your cursor about an inch below and wait for it to drop into your range. Score a direct hit by launching an ABM when the rascal's only slightly above your cursor. The distance between a Smart Missile and the cursor should grow as the waves go faster. Patience, not panic, destroys these things. If one does evade your cloud, fire again, just above the missile and then to the side toward which it's dodging.
     Firing one ABM below and one above a Smart Missile is a sure way to destroy it without all the waiting around -- once you get good at anticipating angled routes. If it manages to get out of the way, put the cursor right on it while it's off-course and blast it; it can't move again if it's already floating off-course. IT CAN ONLY MAKE ONE DEVIATION AT A TIME.

6. Don't give up if you see a missile about to hit a city. Place the cursor as far down as it will go and launch anyway. It's possible to destroy an enemy missile just before it touches down.

7. On the 2600, try to destroy all dangerously aimed IPBMs at once if they're falling in parallel. You don't want to have to return and finish the job. Launch an ABM under each missile and move on to another target. In faster waves, leave the clouds in a diagonally descending row, so that the last shot or two won't detonate after the targets have already passed. The easiest way to quickly discern whether or not they all have to be destroyed is to figure out where just one's heading, and then use the distance between them to judge the others' destinations. Don't bother with those aimed at unoccupied spots, unless it's an early, slow wave and you have enough time to care about your score.

8. Nail missiles resulting from a split as early in their new lives as possible; the whole group can be wiped out with just one or two clouds if you aim an inch or two below the center of the split.

9. It's usually practical to pass up a missile aimed for a city in order to destroy one that's threatening an ABM base. If you're low on ABMs and the current wave isn't close to ending, letting a whole base's worth of missiles get wiped out could mean the destruction of a lot more than one city in the near future. Running out of ABMs is the worst mistake the player can make; every shot has to count.

10. In versions with three ABM bases, simply launch from the closest base to your target -- unless you have only a split second to destroy a missile before it does harm, in which case you'll want to fire from the center. It's most useful to save that fastest-launching base for emergencies, sticking to the side bases for any higher IPBMs.

11. Also in those versions, do your best to shoot from one base at a time; it just wastes missiles to launch a barrage at one general spot in the sky from multiple bases.

12. If a Bomber or Satellite's about to exit the screen, don't be fooled into thinking that it can't launch more missiles. Unless it's already fired twice, it can do so at any time, even if it's almost completely off the screen. Keep at least a peripheral eye on it until it disappears altogether.
     You might even still have time to destroy it. In this case during an Atari 8-bit game, remember that ABMs exploding near the left or right border will form clouds that wrap around to the opposite edge. If a Bomber or Satellite's close to the border opposite the one near your cursor, don't put other priorities on hold to cross the entire screen. Wrap a cloud around and catch the bastard by surprise!

PAC-MAN (Namco & Bally/Midway: several)
1. Energizer (Power Pill) conservation is the ultimate rule when considering which area of the maze to clear next. You'll need the choice to become powerful in emergencies, or when Monsters are hanging out in the final area that needs clearing. At this point, you can head directly for the last Energizer and then take care of the remaining dots without worrying about bad guys, at least on boards where they remain blue long enough to matter. The best-case scenario involves dots remaining only in the corners near the four Energizers, giving you ample opportunity for some serious Monster-munching bonus points.

2. Avoid the row above the central pen if the pen's not empty. It's hard to predict when Monsters will exit; on medium to fast boards, they get through the little door very quickly.

3. If you can, clear away your current section of the maze before moving on. Board clearance is much more difficult if you must return to the center of a long tunnel or the corner of a loop to grab a mere few dots that you missed or neglected before.

4. When Pac-Man's being chased, take him around several turns in a row. He moves faster while changing direction in all versions but the 2600 one. Remember that it's always possible to lose a Monster, even if he's practically on top of the protagonist. Losing Blinky or Pinky in later mazes takes longer. Also keep in mind that Pac-Man goes faster when he's not eating, so he stands a better chance of outrunning a close pursuer if he can duck into a cleared corridor (the VCS adaptation again providing the exception). Outrunning Monsters on straight courses rather than losing them around turns only becomes necessary when the pursuers are in a condensed group behind Pac-Man, or when the uncleared sections of the maze lie across the screen from his current position. Monsters in a close group will always take short-cuts to sandwich our hero, so he shouldn't turn toward any of them, even when they're a couple of dividers away. Don't discount the wrapping tunnel in either of these cases, if an entry's nearby; just make sure to check the other end first!

5. Don't leave a section uncleared just to bolt for the bonus object if Pac-Man's far away from it. You'll be sorry later when you have to return to clear away the remaining dots. As always, longer survival scores higher than immediate point gains.

6. In the coin-op game, it's possible for Pac-Man to actually pass through a perpendicular-moving Monster if its eyes aren't looking at him. This very rarely occurs, but if you think the hero's trapped between two adversaries, don't give up until you glance at their eyes; if one isn't looking at Pac-Man, follow the oblivious meanie to safely leave the sandwich.

7. With any monster (but especially Inky, in appropriate versions), wiggling Pac-Man back and forth rapidly for a second or two will occasionally confuse the nearby antagonist and he'll lose his ability to track the gobbler. Also, for some reason, in the coin-op version, maneuvering Pac-Man above the center box occasionally causes the Monsters to briefly lose their homing abilities. They also never enter this spot from below, making it an occasional safe haven.

8. In all versions but the Atari 2600 one, try to clear the lowest corridor as soon as possible. Pac-Man's most susceptible to entrapment here, as it's the longest stretch with the fewest turnoffs.

9. If Pac-Man stays perfectly still in the coin-op version when resting under the T-shaped divider just above the central pen -- in the righthand crook of the divider -- no Monster will find him. An indefinite rest here is possible, as long as no enemy has seen Pac-Man enter this spot.

Q-BERT (Gottlieb: several)
1. If Coily's about to land on Q-Bert, don't give up; if a jump can be made to a free cube while the villain's in mid-air during his attack, there's a chance that the hero and his adversary will fly past each other without colliding. In the Atari 2600 version, you'll usually achieve this even if you make Q-Bert jump toward the bad guy, onto the cube he's leaping from.

2. Take the floating platforms and lure Coily to his death rather than saving them up for the bonus tally at wave's end. In all versions, you get a lot more points for killing the scoundrel than leaving the platforms.

3. In the Atari 2600 adaptation, luring Coily to the top cube and then leaping off to the right will not cost you a life, since the bonus count pre-empts the life-subtracting part of the program for some reason.

QIX (Taito America: several)
1. The most common mistake is to assume that the game requires high dexterity; players often zip around violently, trying to form shapes while dodging the Qix and Sparx as if playing a free-form Pac-Man. Save yourself the trouble; strategy and planning comprise most of this game. Once you've learned how to control the cursor with reasonable accuracy, ignore the panic in your natural reflexes and use your brain. Since nothing that moves is your friend, it's easy to dodge things if you're paying attention (and if you never start drawing close to the Qix).

2. The general pattern to follow in the interest of high scoring is to use fast-draw for really skinny rectangles that frame large but unfilled areas, and then complete each large area -- now simply a matter of moving the tiny distance necessary to complete the "frame" -- with slow-draw, which awards you twice the points. Fill as much over 75% of each screen (the minimal requisite for advancing to the next) as you can; every extra 1% earns you 1000 bonus points in all versions.

3. This particular pattern's called the Tree-Branch Strategy or Hangman's Strategy. Start out by drawing a very narrow rectangle, like a tree trunk, up the center of the playfield. This will require a few separate, shorter rectangles, connected at their short ends of course, if you want to ensure your survival. Leave only an inch or two between the top of the trunk and the upper screen border. In horizontally justified home versions, draw this corridor from the center of the left or right border, creating a horizontal trunk instead of a vertical one.
     Now backtrack along the trunk. As you travel toward your starting point, draw two or three L- or U-shaped paths that jut from the trunk like straight-angled branches. Do this on just one side of the trunk for now. The idea is to eventually create so many small, unfilled "frames" that the Qix will become momentarily trapped in one, giving you the chance to slow-draw him inside and thus fill up the entire remainder of the screen. Once you're back to the "roots" of your trunk, circle the playfield, adding new branches that extend from the borders.
     Once you come back to your trunk, head along the branchless side and draw a few more Ls or Us on your way to the far end. Wait somewhere on the trunk for the Qix to bounce into one of your little frames, then head over there quickly and suffocate the sucker with a short burst of slow-draw. You'll complete the screen and net well over 75%.

4. This technique works just as well but requires slightly more time. It's called the Triple-Arena Strategy. Use fast-draw to build two very narrow corridors like the trunk in the above tip. In vertically justified versions of the game (like the original), the first skinny rectangle should demarcate (but again not completely seal off) a vertical third of the screen, meaning that you're once again going from the bottom border to (almost) the top. It doesn't matter if it's the left or right third of the playfield that you frame first. The second corridor should of course evenly divide the remaining two thirds. In horizontally justified renditions of the game, divide the screen into horizontal thirds instead of vertical. Here's the important part, regarding your ultimate accessibility to any onscreen area: One vertical trunk should extend from the bottom and one from the top -- or on TV-shaped playfields, one from the left border and one from the right. As you draw each of your trunks, make little branches that jut outward at 90 degrees (but which don't receive added angles like in the strategy above -- you just want single, skinny rectangles, like teeth on a comb). A couple inches apiece in length is fine.
     If your gaps between the major trunk-ends and screen borders are small enough, the Qix has to choose one of the three areas. Now seal off one third at a time with slow-draw. When only one of the three areas remains unfilled, get yourself near the Qix and wait for the chance to trap him with slow-draw into as small a space as possible, allowing the branches to assist you.

5. In screens with the Twin Qix, split them as late as you can. It's not that exciting to get double the points for, say, 6% of the screen. A good method is to force both adversaries gradually toward the top of the screen (or toward one side, regarding horizontal playfields) by drawing any skinny shapes from the opposing long borders to almost the middle of the screen and then bridging them, sealing off a third or a quadrant of the screen at a time. Once both meanies are in the last narrow section that you've left open, inch toward the screen border, one little box at a time, until you can fast-draw them into separate areas and potentially claim over 70% of the screen, earning you a hell of a bonus.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (Atari: Atari 2600)
1. Here's the solution (and some interesting details about the game): Grab the whip. Go south to the Marketplace and get the grenade, key and Eyepiece to the Staff of Ra (the Staff itself is nowhere in the game; the Eyepiece can only be attained after you've been standing on either the grenade basket or key basket for a little while. Buy the flute to make this easier; you don't have to worry about moving away from the basket to avoid the snake if the flute's playing).
     Go back up to the Entrance Room and use the grenade to blow a hole in the eastern wall (make sure to exit to the south before it goes off!). Drop the flute if you have it, then exit through the hole. Grab the timepiece in the next room, the Temple Entrance. Exit to the southeast. There's no reason to venture into the Spider Room unless you've played for a long time and new walls have been built over the more practical doorways in the Temple Entrance.
     Whip your way out of the Dungeon cubicle and go east to the Treasure Room. What you want are two coin baskets and the Ankh (the blue item). Use the timepiece to help you figure out when the Ankh will appear; if the clock's pointing straight up or down, now's the time. Incidentally, the clock pointing straight left or right means that the Chai will appear (it's normally used to bribe the Black Sheik in the Marketplace to take you instantly to the Black Market, but this is unnecessary). When the clock points in any diagonal direction, the Hourglass will appear.
     The Hourglass is sort of like a manual Ankh -- you can make the grappling hook appear if you exit the Marketplace to the south (being sure to line yourself up so that you emerge onto a mesa instead of thin air) and then move the inventory's selector dot onto the Hourglass. The advantage it has over the Ankh is that you can de-select the Hourglass at any time, whereas the Ankh must be dropped if you want to get rid of the grappling hook and resume normal movement. The disadvantage is that you can't just press the fire button to reappear on a mesa if you fall off, as you can with the Ankh.
     Once you have the Ankh and two coin baskets (which means you've had to let the whip go), press the button while in the Room of the Shining Light (the screen with the Dungeon cubicles) while the selector dot's on the Ankh. You'll appear on the center mesa in the Mesa Field, grappling hook swinging around you. Make your way to the lowest centered mesa and drop the Ankh. Center yourself perfectly and walk south.
     You're now on a very thin strip of ground. Don't walk off or you'll die; just head south. Put the selector dot on the key; as you walk past a point just south of center-screen, parallel with one of the blocks of color to your right, the Map Room will illuminate. Once you've found this spot, keep the selector dot on the key and walk to the east. Center yourself perfectly under the map and then take the selector dot off the key (but don't drop it). Remember, if you're not perfectly centered (or you move), you'll fall to your death as soon as the selector dot's no longer on the key.
     Select the timepiece and watch the hand. When it's pointing straight up, drop the timepiece and put the selector dot on the Eyepiece. The sun will now come up. You don't actually require the Timepiece, but it helps make the wait a little more tolerable. As long as you've now selected the Eyepiece, a little dot will flash somewhere on the map. This is of course a map of the Mesa Field; note which mesa contains the flashing dot and then drop the Eyepiece, put the selector dot on the key and walk back onto the narrow vertical strip of ground.
     Keep the dot on the key as you walk south. You don't need it anymore, but you now have to dash through a room of thieves; if you accidentally touch one, all he'll get is your currently selected object. Head southward quickly, exiting through the southern border, a little to the east.
     Now that you're at the Black Market, you can drop the key. Use the two coin baskets to buy the shovel. Remember not to touch the merchant as you drop the money. Now exit to the east, just a little north of center. You'll appear back in the regular Marketplace.
     Return to the Treasure Room. Remember to grab the whip along the way so you can escape yet again from the Dungeon cubicle. Grab the timepiece to help out while you're trying to grab the Ankh again. What you want to leave the Treasure Room with this time is the Ankh and one coin basket. Return to the Marketplace and buy the parachute. Now use the Ankh to get to the Mesa Field again. Swing to the mesa that the dot was flashing on in the Map Room. Drop the Ankh, make sure the selector dot's on the parachute and then run off the side of the mesa.
     Press the button quickly to open the parachute. Swing into the opening by getting the parachute caught on the branch. Timing is everything.
     Once you're inside the mesa, drop the parachute and immediately run to the bottom of the screen, being careful not to let any of the thieves touch you and steal the shovel. Use it to dig through the small pile of dirt at the bottom: Move back and forth along the pile at wide paces, pressing the button to dig each time you cross. Dig up the Ark, and behold! The title screen!

RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX (Imagic: Atari 2600)
1. This solution (including extra details about the game) is for game 3, the hardest. The objects all pertain as the correct offerings to their respective structures in any variation, however, if you're just playing for score. (Speaking of which, remember that you can technically play forever, constantly offering the right things to the right structures).
     The very first thing you want to do is dig until you get the Sceptre, which will allow you to move really fast throughout the game no matter how thirsty or injured you are. If you're like me, you'll hit RESET if your first attempt at digging renders anything other than the Sceptre.
     Travel south until you reach the last oasis. Drink at it; you now have the Staff of Ra (it must be the absentee Staff from Raiders of the Lost Ark). You'll need this to give the Temple of Ra your remaining treasures at the far north end of the desert, sending your score into orbit and beating the game.
     Head north, with the Sceptre selected for fast movement (unless you're digging as you go). Don't touch a Thief or he'll steal it. Get a spade from one of the Nomads and dig for more treasures, giving up Sceptre-speed for now. If he gives you something other than a spade, just appeal to someone else, keeping the other thing. It'll come in handy later no matter what it is.
     As you walk, drink at every oasis you encounter. It'll help you move at a reasonable pace when you decide to dig for stuff, or if anyone steals your Sceptre and you have to dig for it again. Also, touch the goddess Isis (the blue humanoid) every time she shows up. Not only will she heal you, but she'll usually give you a treasure that you don't already have. Don't shoot her unless you want to lose points, and don't shoot or touch Anubis, the bad god (clearly defined by his black head!).
     Keep in mind that drinking from the Goblet relieves all of your thirst like the jug, except that it doesn't disappear when you use it. Utilizing the Disk of Ra (that nutty Ra had a bunch of neat stuff) heals all of your wounds, but doesn't disappear like the leaf does. The reason that said items don't disappear is that they're treasures, while the jug and leaf are regular objects. Another handy non-treasure is the shield (protecting you from the baddies' rocks). Too bad you can't use two things at the same time!
     Also keep in mind that no character but yours can move northward. Whenever you walk south, stay all the way to the west; this way, bad guys can't surprise you (or even shoot accurately as you pass).
     Ignore the first Pyramid when you encounter it. What you want by the time you approach the next structure, the Phoenix, is the leaf (to be allowed past) and scroll (for which the Phoenix will give you a key). Once you have the key, backtrack to the Pyramid you passed up earlier, open it and get one of the three Tablets (the game's major treasures).
     Walk north past the Phoenix. The next structure you'll encounter is the Temple of Isis, the rectangular blue building. Offer the jug (to pass by) and crown (for another key). Walk north to the next Pyramid and use the key to get another Tablet.
     The next place, the Temple of Anubis, is the rectangular, fire-colored structure. Offer the shield (to pass) and Ankh (for the final key). To the north is the last Pyramid and the third Tablet.
     Now you'll come upon the Sphinx. It wants one of the Tablets; it's always random, so try each until one's accepted. Walk north to the Temple of Ra, select the Staff from your inventory and touch the Temple. It will take every treasure you're carrying, leaving the regular objects. Treasures are always dug up or gifted by Isis (except for the Tablets, which can only be obtained from pyramids); Nomads give you only regular items. As we've seen, each structure needs one treasure and one regular object except the Phoenix, which wants two regular objects.
     Your score will increase for each treasure given to the Temple of Ra, and then the game will end. If you want a high score, just make sure you re-unearth whatever treasures you've given away. If you want a REALLY high score, move away from the Temple of Ra just before it takes your last treasure, then return to your southern starting point and effectively play the game again, re-offering all of the appropriate items to the structures. What I often do is withhold my last treasure from the final Temple and just hang around the top few screens' worth of desert, waiting for Isis to show up and give me stuff.

SOLARIS (Atari: Atari 2600)
1. There's a certain trail of quadrants (whole screens in map mode, in other words) that you have to follow to find Solaris. From your starting quadrant, go west, north, west, north, east, east, east or north, north, east, east and south. (This is based on a map by Scott Stilphen that appeared in 2600 Connection #8.)

2. Stop at each accessible enemy planet along the way. You'll get an extra life for rescuing all of the trapped good guys and blowing up the planet, and you need all the lives you can get for this trip.

3. Stop at every reachable friendly planet to refuel, even if you don't think you need to yet. You'll thank yourself later.

4. Remember that you leave your current quadrant if you enter a sector (individual square in map mode) next to the "doorway"; try not to get confused about why you've suddenly appeared in a new quadrant.

5. The nastier aliens (Cobras, for instance) in the outer-space battles are easier to kill if you keep your ship moving constantly upward, holding it all the way to the left or right. The aliens get confused and keep wrapping below you. If you suddenly stop this movement and shoot at one, you'll get him before he gets you. But whether you place a successful shot or not, start moving in that weird manner again or someone'll get a bead on you!

6. On any planet surface, dodging enemies is always easier than trying to shoot them. In a corridor, reserve your lone two simultaneously allowed shots for one bug-eyed baddie: The first shot can be timed to shoot his bullet, while the second will take out the alien himself. Of course, once you get to the key, the game's collision detection bug will probably cause you to fly right through it anyway, and you'll die when you hit the flashing wall. My only tip in this instance is to play a different game. (If I didn't hate this game, I'd probably be offering more strategies here.)

7. The planets that fly at you after a battle's been completed simply suck your fuel upon collision. To save time, use the extra joystick, simply pressing the fire button to return to the map screen instead of waiting for the program to return you there automatically.

SORCERER (Infocom: several)
1. Here's the solution that requires the least number of moves. Suggested saving positions follow their segments, making it easier to remedy chance-based delays or misfortunes.
     wait.get up.frotz me.w.w.lift hanging.take drawer.take journal. [0] [Remember or record the code word.]
     Drop key and journal.e.s.w.take scroll.gnusto gaspar.e.s.w.take matchbook and receptacle.put matchbook in receptacle.close vial.drink ochre potion.drop receptacle.take orange vial.e.take scroll.gnusto meef.w. [For an additional comment at the end of the game: n.n.w.learn meef.meef plant.e.s.s.] down. [Push the buttons in the following order, depending on the code word from earlier.]
     Grue - black, black, red, black, purple
     Dorn - gray, purple, black, gray, white
     Nabiz - purple, black, black, black, red
     Surmin - black, black, purple, red, black
     Kobold - red, purple, black, purple, red
     Yippie - gray, purple, white, purple, black
     Rotgrub - gray, red, gray, purple, red
     Bloodworm - white, gray, black, red, black
     Dryad - black, gray, white, red, red
     Hellhound - purple, white, gray, red, gray
     Orc - red, gray, purple, gray, red
     Brogmoid - red, purple, red, black, purple

     take scroll.aimfiz [1]
     learn scroll and guano.gnusto fweep.down.sw.down.w.sw.sw.w.learn izyuk.izyuk me.w.w.n.take zorkmid.s.e.learn izyuk.izyuk gnome.give zorkmid to gnome.e.e.e.sleep [waiting first if you're not tired yet].learn gaspar and fweep.drop all.gaspar me.w.n.n.e. [2]
     fweep.n.e.s.s.w.down.e.e.n.n.up.up.s.e. [If this doesn't get you to the Hollow in the version of Sorcerer you're playing, restore position 2 and try fweep.n.e.w.down.e.e.n.n.up.up.e.]
     take scroll [waiting first if the Fweep spell hasn't worn off].drop scroll down chimney.wait [until the Dorn Beast eats you. If you don't now appear in the Stone Hut, find your way there].take all.gnusto swanzo. [3]
     w.w.w.w.up.up.learn izyuk.w.w.izyuk flag.examine flag.take vial.e.put guano in cannon.take ordinary scroll.w.w.learn izyuk.izyuk me.nw.sw.w.down.down.s.s.sw.w.give zorkmid to aqua vial.take ball.drink aqua potion.throw ball at bunny.gnusto malyon.drop aqua vial. malyon.yonk malyon.malyon dragon.sleep [waiting first if you're not tired yet]. [4] vial.e.wait.drink orange potion.give book to twin. [Remember or record the combination number given by your twin.] drop vial.e.set dial to [number].open door.e.take rope.up.
     nw.take timber.nw.w. [If this doesn't get you to the top of the chute in the version of Sorcerer you're playing, try sw.take timber.nw.w.]
     tie rope to timber.drop timber.throw rope down chute.climb down rope.take scroll.golmac lamp.take smelly scroll.e.wait [until your past self gives you the spell book, if he hasn't already].twin, the combination is [number from above]. [5] meef.drop all.s.down.meef crate.take suit.n.sleep.take all.learn meef.n.meef vines.w.w.drop white door.vardik me.learn swanzo.swanzo belboz.

SPACE INVADERS (several [Note: Roklan's DELUXE INVADERS for the Atari 8-bits is much closer to the coin-op version than Atari's actual SPACE INVADERS for their own computers, although that latter adaptation is covered here as well.])
1. Destroying the left column of Invaders as they appear directly above you and move in tandem to the right is tempting but impractical, as it does nothing to slow their descent; since the aliens can't drop a row and change direction until they've hit the right edge of the playfield, your first action should be to move the cannon underneath all enemies until you reach the extreme right column, taking care to evade falling bullets along the way. Now destroy the right-hand column, postponing their row-drop. It's possible to destroy the group column by column from the right without letting them descend even once -- but this is an unlikely feat, since you have to avoid bullets as you destroy any column Invader by Invader.
     In Atari's 8-bit version, it's obviously practical to shoot entire columns as they enter the playfield from the big ship at left.

2. Shoot aliens in their outer edges, since they fire from their middles. This prevents the hindrance of their destruction due to accidentally shooting their bullets instead of their bodies. In the Atari 2600 version, bullets coming from opposite directions have no effect on each other -- but aiming for an alien's outer edge still keeps your cannon from being shot as you aim, an especially necessary preventive strategy in game variations that feature fast-shooting aliens.

3. Shooting the UFO should never take priority; send one shot up between columns (or past the edge of the group) and immediately turn your attention back to the aliens themselves, rather than waiting to see if your bullet meets its mark.

4. Don't ever stay still when you don't have to. Dart your eyes to the cannon when you can; it's easier to avoid bombs that way than to constantly rely on your peripheral vision.

5. Disregard this tip for Atari's 8-bit version: When the Invaders start out just one or two screen rows above the ground in later waves, abandon the column-by-column technique and slide along under the aliens, destroying the first row or two as you go. Use rapid-fire and learn the timing. Stop to let alien bullets pass rather than trying to scoot under them in time.

6. It's helpful to keep about half of your fairly wide cannon under one of the barriers (in versions that contain them), jutting out just enough to let your shots by.
     It's also possible to shoot a tunnel through the center of a shelter and fire at the Invaders from completely underneath, since their chances of getting bullets right through the center are low (but present nonetheless, especially in the Atari 2600 version). This second barrier technique's recommended if most of a barrier's middle is already gone anyway.

7. You shouldn't move while aiming at the final, quickest Invader; stay in one place and shoot as it marches overhead, briefly moving only to dodge its missiles.

8. Disregard this technique while playing Atari's 8-bit game. In screens with fast, hard-to-dodge enemy shots, shoot all aliens but the four rightmost columns and the top alien all the way to the left. This is a lot of trouble and does nothing to hinder the aliens' progress at first, but you'll now have a big safe spot lacking alien bullets (between the single alien and the larger group) that stays near the middle as it shifts. You're now able to clear away one of the longer columns at a time from the center outward, ducking into the safe spot when you see bullets. Once this job's done, the last alien -- the loner in the upper-left corner -- is usually still high enough to make three or four passes before it lands, since it was the highest in its now extinct column. If the aliens are getting too close to the ground before all of this can be carried out, you can just zap that lone baddie and greatly reduce the remaining columns' dropping frequency, since they now have to travel across the whole screen.
     The reason that you should leave the specified number of columns intact is that reducing the Invaders to eight or less (seven in the 2600 version) speeds up the group considerably; you want it marching more slowly as you begin to wipe out the second-to-last row. The Invaders will speed up as you do, but you now have plenty of time.
     Experienced players can follow a foolproof pattern after creating this hollowed alien formation, to be used in lieu of destroying the remaining Invaders column by column. After forming the safe spot (taking care not to destroy any bottom-row aliens in the surviving columns), stay under it and out of harm's way, moving with it when you have to, and shoot UFOs as they occasionally scroll along the top of the playfield (see below for a way to maximize the UFOs' values in the coin-op version). When the bottom row in the columns to the right have reached their lowest attainable screen row before touchdown -- often called Death Row by game veterans -- those lowest aliens can't shoot. (This part of the technique won't work in the Atari 2600 version, since aliens can shoot from the bottom screen position.) While your cannon's impervious to harm, slide it under the aliens, going right, without firing. Now come back to the left, toward your safe spot, destroying the Invaders on just the bottom row along the way. Instead of firing as you move, position your cannon under one Invader, shoot it, and then move and stop again under the next alien; this makes bullet evasion much easier, but you have to get the hang of it. One mistake and the aliens will probably reach the screen edge and land, ending the game. Once the bottom row's completely destroyed, the row above will reach its border limit and drop -- now IT'S in Death Row. Repeat the technique until the lone alien to the left is the only survivor; remain stationary and blast it as it speeds around overhead.
     In waves that start with the aliens positioned just one row above the ground, forget about the UFO-hunting; you have just enough time to create the safe spot before ducking under the bottom baddies as you move to the right.

9. In the coin-op version, the 23rd shot from your cannon, and every 15th afterwards, scores 300 points instead of the usual 50 for hitting the UFO. If you can keep count, your 5th shot, and every 11th afterward, scores 150 points for hitting the UFO.
     By destroying the eight possible UFOs for 300 points apiece during the first wave -- before clearing away all Invaders, of course -- it's possible to attain a score of 3390 before you even begin the second wave (as compared to 990 for just shooting all 55 aliens).

10. Turning on the 2600 while holding down the 'reset' switch increases your cannon's allowed number of simultaneous onscreen shots to two.

11. In Atari's 8-bit adaptation, there are spots at equal intervals along the width of the screen that can't be bombed by the Invaders. Situate your cannon so that you see a bomb scrape its left or right side without destroying it (this gets easier with practice). Now you can stay in this spot as long as you want, immune to enemy shots. This is especially recommended for wave nine onward, when the Invaders begin in the lowest possible screen row. Find a safe spot near the big rocket and shoot the lowest Invaders in every column as they enter and pass overhead.

SPELLBREAKER (Infocom: several)
1. Here's the solution that requires the least number of moves. Suggested saving positions follow their segments, making it easier to remedy chance-based delays or misfortunes.
     wait.wait.wait.wait.s.take fish.learn lesoch.s.lesoch cloud. [With this or any other casting, re-learn and re-cast the spell if it "feels wrong." If this isn't possible, restore the most recent saved position.] take cube.write "earth" on cube.learn blorple.blorple "earth".frotz me.
     down.down.wait [until you're caught by the Roc].wait.wait.wait.wait.take scroll.gnusto caskly.learn blorple.blorple "earth".e.s.take zipper.unzip hole.enter hole.take scroll.exit hole.put fish in hole.learn blorple.blorple "earth".
     s.take scroll.gnusto throck.up.move a rock [if the landslide hasn't already been triggered].wait [unless " will die!"].girgol.up.up.up.up.take coin.put coin in hole.w.learn caskly.caskly hut.take cube.write "life" on cube.learn blorple.blorple "life". [0]
     s.take weed.take weed.learn blorple.blorple "earth".w.learn throck.n.plant weed.throck weed.down.take scroll and box.take cube.write "water" on cube.put box in hole.gnusto espnis.learn blorple.blorple "water".
     learn blorple.put all in hole.take hole.s.drop fish.take cube.take bottle.blorple "water" bottle.take scroll.drop bottle.unzip hole.take book and "earth".gnusto liskon.learn blorple.n.blorple "earth". [1]
     e.n.learn liskon.liskon serpent.n.n.take burin.learn malyon and espnis.malyon idol.wait.espnis idol.wait.climb onto idol.take cube.write "air" on cube.take knife.pry opal with knife.take opal.put opal in hole.drop knife.learn blorple.blorple "air". [2]
     learn blorple.n.take scroll.blorple "air".gnusto tinsot.take coin.w.e.offer 100 for blue.offer 150 for blue.offer 200 for blue.offer 250 for blue.offer 500 for blue.give red to merchant.w.learn blorple.blorple "water".
     n.learn tinsot.learn tinsot.learn tinsot.put all in hole.tinsot water.tinsot water.tinsot water.board trap door.up. [3]
     unzip hole.take all from hole but opal and box.take cube.write "death" on cube.put "death" in hole.e.n.learn caskly.rezrov cabinet.take moldy book.caskly moldy book.gnusto snavig.s.w.up.drop carpet.sit on off carpet.take cube.sit on "connectivity" on cube.learn blorple.blorple "water".
     learn snavig.learn snavig.learn snavig.learn blorple.drop all.s.take cube.snavig grouper. [Try again if it doesn't work.] down.wait.wait.wait.wait.take all but nest.up.blorple "water".take all but bottle.write "light" on cube. [4]
     n.learn liskon.liskon me.put all in hole.enter outflow pipe.w.take cube.w.out.unzip hole.take book and burin.write "change" on cube.learn blorple.blorple "change".
     n.take rose.learn blorple.blorple "change".w.put rose in carving.take rose.n.touch rose to nw rune.nw.touch rose to w rune.w.touch rose to ne rose.rezrov plug.w.take cube.write "mind" on cube.take "light".learn blorple.blorple "light".sleep [waiting first if you're not tired yet]. [5]
     w.learn tinsot.tinsot fragment.put all in hole but book and "mind".take fragment.learn blorple.blorple "mind".
     s.give fragment to green.board,,,,, e. [If the brown-eyed rock isn't now mesmerized, restore position 5 and re-try the same moves.] jump to brown.take cube and burin.write "dark" on cube.learn blorple.blorple "dark".
     frotz burin.extinguish me.down.drop burin.learn snavig.down.snavig grue.down.climb onto pillar.take cube.down.up.up.take burin.write "fire" on cube.learn blorple.wait [until "You have become yourself again"].blorple "fire". [6]
     n.take box.put "fire" in box.take "fire".throw box to outcropping.learn blorple.blorple "fire".e.take cube.write "magic" on cube.learn blorple.take "connectivity".blorple "connectivity".
     s.belboz, help. [To answer Belboz's question at this point, use the list below. Each character's name is followed by his description and motto. Type the full name only; "say" etc. isn't necessary.]

Dimithio of Borphee:
Studied under Yooman
Animal lover
Despised by Holnac the Cynic
"Magic doesn't have to be..."

Gustar Woomax:
Born 880
G.U.E. Tech
Favorite author is Bizboz
No skills known
"If history can teach..."

Royal magician
Creative accounting
Guild membership revoked
Last read Magic With Mirrors
"The hardest trick..."

Barbel of Gurth:
Son of Delbor; Flathead's advisor
Invented Golmac spell
Gurth City Guildmaster; G.A.C. President
Spoke in tongues
High enchantment dues
"When I was a boy..."

Forburn the Wily:
Never formally studied magic
Won a spell book
"The Encyclopedia..."

Out-relived 39 grandchildren
Assists historical biographers
Makes & collects antiques
Afraid of swords and powdered milk
Vegetarian; adapted Nitfol spell
"No one weeps..."

     learn blorple.blorple "mind".learn jindak.learn jindak.learn jindak.learn blorple.e.put all in hole.rezrov door.n.take x1, x2, x7 and x8.jindak.
[Lit unevenly: Skip to C, below.]
take x3 and x4.put x1 and x2 in first pile.jindak.
[Even: A. Uneven: B.]
[Skip ahead, save position 7 and proceed from there once you're in the Sand Room.]

A. take x1.put x7 in first pile.jindak.
[Even: blorple x8. Uneven: take x7.blorple x7.]

B. take x1.put x7 in first pile.jindak.
[Even: blorple x1. Uneven: take x2.blorple x2.]

C. put x1, x2 and x7 in second pile.take x9, x10, x11 and x12.put x9 in first pile.take x6.put x6 in second pile.jindak.
[Even: D.
Uneven, same as upon very first Jindak: E.
Uneven, opposite of that: F.]

D. [Now take all the cubes. For this action at any time, four cubes first have to be stored in the zipper hole. To ensure this, first look to see what cubes you're not holding, then take the first four and put them in the hole. Now take the remaining cubes one at a time. Finally, put these in the hole.] put x10 in first pile.put x11 in second pile.jindak.
[Even: take x12.blorple x12.
Uneven, same as very first jindak: take x11.blorple x11.
Uneven, opposite of that: take x10.blorple x10.]

E. [Now take all the cubes; see D.] put x3 in first pile.put x4 in second pile.jindak.
[Even: take x5.blorple x5.
Uneven, same as very first jindak: take x3.blorple x3.
Uneven, opposite of that: take x4.blorple x4.]

F. [Now take all the cubes; see D.] put x6 in first pile.put x1 in second pile.jindak.
[Even: take x9.blorple x9. Uneven: take x6.blorple x6.]

     [7] take burin and book.learn blorple.learn blorple.learn blorple.down.write "time" on [x cube].unlock cabinet with key. [If Belboz appears and kills you, his earlier question was answered inaccurately.] open cabinet.take scroll.put book in cabinet.close cabinet.lock cabinet with key.rezrov door.blorple "time".
     drop sack.take flimsy scroll.empty hole into sack.take sack.copy flimsy scroll onto vellum scroll.put flimsy scroll in hole.drop zipper.take "magic".blorple "magic". [8]
     e.wait.wait.take opal.wait [until the Figure "prepares to jump into the hypercube!"].girgol.take "magic".put opal in hypercube.

SUPERMAN (Atari: Atari 2600)
1. Here's an extremely useful habit into which you can fall after just a little conditioning: Use your X-Ray Vision to glimpse the next screen for just a fraction of a second, tapping the button so quickly that a blink would cause a spectator to miss it. Do this while you're flying; just quickly hit and release the button as if you were firing a bullet. This allows you to peep at the longitude of any upcoming Kryptonite Satellite and still have time to adjust your own altitude to miss it. It also works great for adjusting your course to meet an imminent bad guy. After a few tries, you'll develop the visual sensitivity necessary to pick out the Kryptonite or crook with a micro-second screen-peek.

2. If you leave the button held down while rotating the joystick, you can quickly glance at all four surrounding areas while you hover. This works really well when you're searching for crooks. If you're in the subway (or Daily Planet) and spot someone while you're already carrying a bridge piece or baddie, just make a mental note of the color of the screen in which your future target lurks and the direction in which he seems to be headed. You can quickly return and grab him or follow him from the screen on which you saw him.

3. A good first screen to check is the one to the right of the jail; a few bad guys usually hang out there after the bridge blows. While you're there, use X-Ray Vision to glance at the screen above. Lex usually starts out up there. After this general area's cleaned up, immediately collect the bridge pieces (they're always on the same screens, which are all quickly attainable from the jail) before the helicopter displaces them. Now go to the screen below the jail and enter the subway. You'll quickly find someone to nab.

4. One screen to the left of the pink subway room is the jail. One screen to the left of the yellow subway room is the Daily Planet. The jail's one screen to the right of the bridge and one up.

ZORK I (Infocom: several)
1. Here's the solution that requires the least number of moves. Suggested saving positions follow their segments, making it easier to remedy trouble with the Troll or the Thief.
     n.n.up.take case.drop nest.
     take sword and lamp.e.up.turn on lamp.take rope.down.turn off lamp.w.drop rope and sack.move trap.down.turn on lamp. [0]
     n.kill troll with sword [until it works].drop sword.s.s.e.take painting.n.up.turn off lamp.w.put painting in case.
     take trap.down.turn on lamp.n.e.e.e.echo.take bar.up.e.n.
     take matches.n.take tube and wrench.push red.push yellow.push tube.glue leak with material.drop tube.
     s.s.turn bolt with wrench.drop rope to coffin.take sceptre and coffin.up.s.pray.turn off [1]
     put coffin and bar in trap.down.turn on bell.s.take book and candles.down.down.ring bell.take candles.light a match.light candles with book.blow out candles.drop candles, book and matches.s.take skull.n.up.n.n.n.w.w.s.up.turn off lamp.put skull in case. [2]
     take egg.down.turn on lamp.n.e.e.drop trunk.n.take pump.s.s.sw.sw.w.s.
     turn off lamp.up.put trunk in case.down.turn on off lamp.inflate plastic with pump.drop pump.put sceptre in boat.get in boat.take sceptre.launch.turn on lamp.
     wait [until buoy is seen].take buoy.e.get out of buoy.take emerald.drop buoy.take [until scarab is found].drop shovel.take scarab.sw.s.s.
     wave sceptre.w.turn off lamp.w.take sceptre, gold, scarab and emerald in case.take garlic.down.turn on lamp. [3]
     n.e.e.e.up.e.n.n.take screwdriver [if it hasn't been encountered yet].s.s.s.down.w.[or retrace steps to Round Room if screwdriver was found earlier than noted.]
     se.e.down.turn off lamp.take torch.down.s.down.n.touch mirror.e.s.take trident.up.n.n.w.n.w.n.take jade.e.put torch in basket.n.turn on lamp.down.take bracelet. coal.n.up.up.n.e.s.n.up.s.put coal and screwdriver in
     down.down.w.drop all.w.take torch, coal and lid.put coal in machine.close lid.turn switch with lid.drop screwdriver.take diamond.
     n.put diamond and torch in basket.e.take all but timber.e.up.up.n.e.s.n.up.s.raise basket.drop lamp.take torch and diamond.w.s.e.s.down.up.put diamond, bracelet, jade and trident in case.drop garlic.e.up.take knife.down.w.down. [4]
     n.w.w.w.up.take [or odysseus].e.e.put coins in case.w.w.up.kill thief with knife [until it works].take egg and chalice [and any other treasures he's stolen].down.e.e.
     take canary.close egg.put egg and chalice in case.drop knife.e.out.e.s.wind canary.take bauble, canary and torch in case.
     take map.close map.e.out.n.w.sw.w.

ZORK II (Infocom: several)
1. Here's the solution that requires the least number of moves. Suggested saving positions follow their segments, making it easier to remedy trouble with the Wizard.
     take sword and lamp.s.s.s.sw.s.turn on pot.s.sw.sw.drop all but lamp and [keep trying se from the Carousel Room until you reach the Riddle Room].say "a well."
     e.e.get in bucket.pour water.get out.e.take all cakes but green.e.throw red into pool.take blue.nw.
     tell robot "go e." e.tell robot "push triangle." tell robot "go s." s. take sphere.tell robot "lift cage." take [if the Low Room now forces you in the wrong direction, just continue trying to get to the Tea Room, se from the Low Room].
     e.get in bucket.fill pot.get out.drop pot.w.take pearls.w.nw.drop pearls and box.take violin.drop violin.take opener and mat. [0]
     n.n.n.up.slide mat under lid.insert opener into keyhole.take opener.drop opener.pull mat.take key.unlock door with key.drop door.n.take sphere.s.down.s.s.take brick.s.drop sphere.sw.drop package.take sword, paper and matches.
     nw.n.n.hit dragon with sword.s.hit dragon with sword.s.hit dragon with sword.w.drop sword.w.s. [1]
     get in receptacle.put paper in receptacle.light a match.light paper with match.wait [until Near Small Ledge].land.
     tie wire to hook.get out.s.take purple.take stamp.drop purple.n.take coin.get in basket.untie wire.wait [until Near Wide Ledge].land.
     tie wire to hook.get string in brick in hole.light a match.light string with match.n.drop matches.s.take crown.n.get in basket.close receptacle.untie wire.wait [until balloon lands].get out.n.take ruby, crown, coin and stamp. [2] chest.take statue.kiss princess [if she isn't already awake].follow princess [until you're in the Gazebo; if she leaves the Dragon's Lair too quickly, her first three directions are s, e and e -- it's easy to catch up].out.s.s.w.drop key and statue. [3] portrait.n.drop portrait.enter curtain.enter south wall.enter curtain.take bills.enter north wall.drop bills.w.w.take bills and portrait.enter bills and portrait. [4]
     s.s.down.w [keep trying until you can actually go w; try going w until club appears].take [or w if e isn't working].up.n.n.take key, red and blue.sw.take package.sw.feed candy to lizard.unlock door with door. [5]
     s.w.w.throw club at aquarium.take clear.e.put red sphere on ruby stand.put blue sphere on sapphire stand.put clear sphere on diamond stand.take black sphere.s.
     Put black sphere on circle.give key to demon. [Now keep going to the Carousel Room -- -- and taking as many treasures as you can hold (the violin is also one), returning with them to the Pentagram Room -- sw.sw.s.w.s. -- and giving them to the Demon until he says, "It will suffice." It should only take two trips.] [6]
     tell demon "kill wizard." take wand at menhir and say "float." sw.take collar on dog. door.s.turn off secret door.s.

2. If the Wizard casts the "Filch" spell at you and you lose any treasures: If you don't feel like restoring your most recently saved position, just make a detour to the Wizard's Trophy Room (south of the Workshop) after he's been disposed-of (the Demon's fee excludes Filched treasures), wave the wand at the item(s) individually and say "Filch." You'll get your stolen thing(s) back this way, but the only reason to even bother is that if you're concerned about your score or complete victory, you'll need to keep giving treasures to the Demon until he has them all to wind up with the maximum 400 points at the end.

ZORK III (Infocom: several)
1. Here's the solution that requires the least number of moves. Suggested saving positions follow their segments, making it easier to remedy an early earthquake, trouble with the Hooded Figure or other chance-based delays or misfortunes.
     take lamp.s.turn on lamp.w.w.take bread.down.take chest.wait.tie rope to chest.wait [until man returns].take rope.down.down.s.
     [The paragraph below is provided for fun and/or your possible concern with the solution's completeness; if you wish, everything therein can be skipped. The vial can be used later to get past the Guardians of Zork -- inside is a potion that renders you invisible for two moves if you drink it -- but since the Mirror Box solution is included, this is unnecessary.]
     Wait [until the ship arrives, unless it's already here; restart if you have to wait more than four times, since the adventure has to be hurried-through before the Aqueduct segment below].hello sailor.take vial.
     e.[Wander around the Land of Shadow until the Hooded Figure appears; a good first two directions are another e, then n.] [0]
     kill figure with sword [until he's "badly hurt and defenseless"; don't kill him, since you need his clothes. If the battle seems to be taking forever, restore position 0].
     take hood and cloak.e [until you reach the Creepy Crawl].s.s. [1]
     turn off lamp.drop all.enter lake.w.s.take torch.wait [until the indicator reads "II," if it doesn't already].rub table.take can.wait.wait [making sure the indicator reads "III"].rub table.drop torch.wait. [2]
     n.enter lake.down.take can [until it works].up.s.spray me with repellant.s.s.e.take key.lift cover.down.n.[Restore position 1 if the earthquake has already taken place, blocking northward movement from here.] n.down.drop can.take torch.
     w.s.s.s.drop torch and key.enter lake.down.take object [until it works].up [unless shortness of breath has already forced you to resurface].n.take all but
     [Now re-enter the Engravings Room repeatedly -- -- until the Old Man appears, unless he's already here.] shake man.give bread to door.
     sw.w.s.e.e.s.s.wait [until earthquake occurs, if there isn't already a cleft in the eastern wall].e.n.push gold to east door.push gold to east.sit in chair.set dial to 776.push button.take ring.wait [until you hear the voices fade].open north door.n.put ring under chair.sit in chair.set dial to 948.push button.look under chair.get east door.e.take all.w. [3]
     s.down.push s wall.n.push e wall.s.s.e.e.n.n.push e wall.w.s.s.w.w.n.n.push e wall.again.
     s.s.push s wall.take book.push s wall.push w wall.again.e.s.push e wall.n.e.e.n.n.n.push w wall.e.s.s.s.w.w.n.push e wall.w.w.w.n.n.n.
     e.e.push s wall.again.again.e.s.push w wall.s.w.push n wall.again.e.n.push w wall.s.w.push n wall.again.w.n.up.n. [4] beam with lamp.s.push button.n.n.n.raise short pole.push red.again.lower short pole.push mahogany.again [until the box won't move any further].raise short pole.push red.again.again.again.push pine.n. [5]
     knock on door.tell dungeon master "follow me." n.e.n.n.set dial to 4.push cell door.s.tell dungeon master "go north." tell dungeon master "set dial to 1." tell dungeon master "push button." unlock bronze door with bronze door.s.

ZORRO (Datasoft: 8-bit computers)
1. On the chandelier screen, the man to force off the balcony is the one who walks all the way across from the right doorway to the left (although you obviously want to accost him before he enters the latter).

2. Here's the route to follow through Hades: middle-left exit, lower-right, 2nd up from lr, ur, lr and 2nd up from ll.