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The Logical Choice

Title: Castles of Darkness Publisher: The Logical Choice
Type: Game Author: Michael Cashen

Year of release:

Platforms: Apple II
Copies sold: A few thousand

"For many days, we have suffered under the curse of the evil wizard Grimnacht. He was once banished from our land, but now he has gained control of two castles and, it is rumored, captured a princess. An evil spell is now cast upon us, hiding us from the sun. We live in total darkness. Unless the power behind Grimnacht's evil curse is discovered and destroyed, perpetual night will be our lot."

So begins Castles of Darkness, an early graphic adventure game, written by Michael Cashen for the Apple II. Michael explains: " Like a lot of small computer stores, back in those days, The Logical Choice had a meeting room where we fanatics gathered and discussed various problems. A big topic was how to maximize memory (64K RAM was huge then) and I figured out how to tap into the Apple II's graphics in ways I could get a lot of bang for the byte. Castles of Darkness grew out of those methods since I could now fit a lot of information on a 5" floppy disk. George, the owner of The Logical Choice, contracted to publish it and had to talk me out of writing a casette version: I felt sorry for the many who had not yet graduated to floppy disks (most owners of the first Apple II's transferred information with a standard audio cassette - and my Apple II Plus was one of the first: it had the serial number 00109).

The game was written using a crude assembly language program written by Apple's Steve Wozniak and part of the deal was that I had to rewrite enough of Apple's DOS so that the major copy programs of the day couldn't copy it.

There was no particular inspiration to the game, except the general Tolkien inspiration that seemed to permeate a lot of the early adventures. I wrote a similar game called Enchanted Islands, but I stretched the limits of graphic compression to far which resulted in unacceptable graphics. By that time, various companies were producing nice looking stuff. Shortly after, I decided to leave my job as an industrial research chemist to teach high school and coach varsity sports. By the time I took another look at Enchanted Islands, it was an antique and I didn't have time to upgrade it.

Castles - which took approximately 6 months to develop - was released in time for the 1981 Christmas season and got a second sales jolt when the old Softalk magazine - automatic subscriptions were available to Apple II owners - reviewed it in February '82 claiming that I had written the first adventure game that displayed animation. I got approximately $3.50/copy and I remember two surges of sales to wholesalers."


Apple II

Apple II

Apple II

Apple II


Ziploc bag


castles_of_darkness.nib (Apple II)
Castles of Darkness original disk (still copy protected)

Castles of Darkness

Castles of Darkness hints

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