Posts Tagged CPC

The Trap Door Bits


The multi-purpose trap door.

The Trap Door is an old claymation TV series that also got a videogame treatment. It’s particularly noteworthy because it came at a time when videogame genres were not that well defined. This resulted in some unique mechanics transplanted directly from the show.

The highlights:

  • The game contains only basic movement, and the ability to raise/pick-up or lower/drop-down various objects.
  • There’s no inventory or in-game menus of any kind.
  • The game is split into multiple missions, each one involving creating a different meal for “the thing upstairs.” Making these meals involves navigating a handful of screens that comprise the castle and utilizing the various bizarre items and monsters at hand.
  • Only a single item can be carried at any one time, but items can also be flipped upside-down. This often results in other items falling out, which can themselves also serve as containers for other items, and so on.
  • Raising/lowering a lever opens/closes the titular trap door. You have to open it to let certain monsters out, and quickly close it to keep others in. If something is standing on the door while you open it, it gets launched into the air.


    Your overlord has the oddest cravings...

  • Although the monsters that come out of the trap door directly relate to your current quest, they’re still randomized and give off a feeling of wonder — you never quite know what to expect next.
  • Part of the HUD is a constantly growing meter that represents your overlord’s impatience. When it reaches the top in easy mode, the mission is switched (each mission requires making a different dish), but on the hardest difficulty you simply get the game over screen.
  • Certain objects are too big to be picked up, but they can be pushed around the environment. Properly positioning them is part of numerous puzzles and goes hand-in-hand with the context-sensitive process of dropping items (they can be placed back on shelves, dropped into other items, thrown into the trap door, etc.).
  • Jumping down the trap door kills you.
  • Picking up the talking skull will cycle through a series of clues dealing with the current mission.
  • Monsters can travel from screen to screen and even interact with one another, i.e., the ghosts — for some reason — will hunt down the worms that you use as ingredients.


    Sending up a finished meal.

  • One of the trap door creatures hops around and is used to squeeze juice from a vat full of eyeballs. Another one breathes fire and can be tricked into boiling a cauldron of slugs. Another one still will fly around and will need to be stunned by launching something at it using the trap door. Once hit, it will become stunned and will lay an egg onto a frying pan, a key component of one of the dishes.
  • A drop-weight in one of the rooms can be used by manipulating a lever — this allows the player to crush objects and kill rampaging monsters.
  • Once all the dishes are done, you have tidy up. This actually involves throwing every item in the game into the trap door and getting rid of all the creatures! Your skull buddy is not exempt from this either, screaming “wheee” as he gets catapulted into the air and “owww” on his way down.
  • At the end of The Trap Door, you’re paid by having “the thing upstairs” lower (using the same dumbwaiter you used to send up food) a safe. To open the safe, you need to crush it with the drop-weight, adding a nice element of interaction to the game’s conclusion. Raising it all the way up, though, will destroy the safe and its contents!

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