Ever since the Atari Flashback was upgraded to "2" iteration and beyond, Secret Quest has been included in the libraries in each Flashback. The game gets really tricky from Level 5 and so forth. When you use a key in a padlock (which look like hamburgers with stacked yellow "beef" and pink "bread,") the staircases leading up or down warp you to a room without one. In Level 7, for instance, the games shames you for being "greedy" when you clear every room of monsters. Instead of directing you to the station detonation code-breaker condole, it keeps you going around in circles between the last two floors! It's like the saying "You can't have everything!" Level 8, naturally, as the number implies, has 8 floors. Each level therefore has one floor for every numeric value of the Level in the game you advance to. This "palace" is bound to be even more twisted than Level 7!
Here is another flaw I found in Secret Quest. Normally when you walk away from one room you start at the opposite side of the play screen when you enter the other. When you enter another room to the right you start play in the next room on the left of the screen. When you enter a room below you go from the bottom of the previous room on the screen to the top of the screen at the next room. Now this is how it's supposed to be, right? When you enter into a stair case you are supposed to start in the corresponding room little away from the stair case you come from. Secret Quest puts your player character in the center of the screen. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But what infuriates me to the point of pulling my hair off my scalp is that the enemies spawn right on top of you! (Ugh!!!) Your energy bar drains when you try to hit an enemy with your weapon when you touch one. When you use the sonic blaster on a stronger foe the beam immobilizes the adversary but you have to keep your distance or you will lose energy count. And I don't like it that your oxygen supply declines when you are at a standstill on the screen. It's like it's telling you that you're standing on one spot for too long. So naturally you have to stay on your toes.
In Secret Quest you only have one life - another poo-poo pot. And when you see an image of a text that reads "Extra," that is not an extra life but a portal to a secret room. It beats me you get items for bonus points or upgrade your weapon arsenal. And another problem with your progress is that the re-entry code in each level changes for every room you enter. (Ugh!!!) A website offers maps of the layouts of each level and the entry code but you don't know which two-letter initials work with the 12-place code presented to start the game at that level. However, if you do restart the game from the current level you were according to your initials you used throughout the game, you even retain your current points score!
To hold all that data, including the randomly-generated re-entry 12-digit codes, the Secret Quest cartridge ROM likely has 16K of ROM for the Levels (like CBS' Tunnel Runner game) and Atari 2600 RAM expanded to about 16K from the cartridge.
I don't know yet if Secret Quest has an ending or you simply restart from the first Level but once you get the hang of it you could become addicted to it.
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