Back in the early eighties, a UK company called Dragon Data Ltd. came out with a PC called the Dragon 32 in 1982 for the European market. It was also a clone of the popular Tandy which meant that it had immediate access to a considerable library of programs right off the shelf. Games were also gaining in popularity, especially on other systems such as the Commodore 64, but its underpowered graphics and text capabilities eventually doomed it despite its initial promise.
One of those games that came out for the Dragon 32 was Everest from Salamander Software in 1983. Loaded from an actual cassette, it was a text-based simulator of mountain climbing that ran using hot key commands such as (D) for digging in when an avalanche was approaching or punching the letter of the first names of your climbing team to organize them onscreen.
Players had three peaks to choose from: Nuptse, Lhotse, and the almighty Everest. The first two peaks were recommended for practice, preferably during the (S)pring with (A)utumn runs reserved for climbers seeking a bigger challenge. A number of considerations also had to be made such as how much of each piece of equipment your team should have or how big a team you should plan on bringing with you. Only so much (1800 pounds worth) of gear can be carried, but planning poorly also meant that members may be forced to turn back or simply die on the way up.
All of this was text driven. There were no graphics of any kind of speak of leaving it up to the imagination of the player to fill in where the letters left off. Everything, including reports on your climbers to their names, were in simplified text or tables representing stripped down spreadsheets without the lines.
It’s probably why this ad, and a number of others in the early eighties, were so keen on being as creative as possible in portraying a game that had very little to say in the looks department. By going all out in making a text-based simulator seem as exciting as this – danger, adventure, an a ruthless rival with a strangely familiar accent – it hoped to draw in enough interest for players to let their imaginations paint the pixels for them. Even the logo had personality with a cartoon climber sporting the Union Jack giving them a little PR on the side.
Though Everest didn’t look to have anything close to the kind of high-wire act that this comic boasted, it’s another curious example from a forgotten period of ad making for games when it wasn’t unusual to see screen shots drawn by hand. Or faceless characters that exist only as capital letters on a screen come to thrilling life through paper and ink instead.