Rated as a Class 5 (Expert) adventure, Masquerade was probably Phoenix's most polished game. The player is a detective looking for a notorious criminal called Mr. Topp.|
Masquerade is likely one of the most difficult adventure games written for the Apple II, or any computer. This is mainly due to the fact that the game can only be won by using items in the one correct sequence, yet these items can be used (consumed) in multiple ways. Furthermore, an incorrect use of an item often opens up new locations, and the player is able to play on without ever knowing that the item has been used incorrectly (other than being frustrated later on!). In some cases, the game requires double actions (where the player has to perform the same action twice to fully solve a puzzle), which only compounds its difficulty.
The game was in fact considered so difficult that Phoenix ran a contest in which anyone completing the game had the chance to win a $1000 prize.
Some inspiration for the name and contest may have come from British author Kit Williams' book of the same name, which concealed clues to the location of a jeweled golden hare, created and hidden somewhere in the British Isles by Williams, and which had recently been solved. I can't confirm this as I've been unable to track down the author, Dale Johnson.
The game may have been known as "Mission in Madness" during its development - I have a disk of Dale Johnson adventures which includes a game by that name, and which looks like an early version of Masquerade. I haven't explored the entire game (which is text-only), but there are some noticeable differences between it and what was released as Masquerade. I've imaged the disk and it is included below for download.
|-> ||Phoenix Software was sold before the Masquerade contest ended. According to the information I have, the prize was paid out by American Eagle, to a lady in New York.|
|-> ||The game is certainly not without humour, sending the adventurer to the "Corridors of Filthmouth" for swearing... and requiring the player to say "Sorry" to leave! |