Prodigy Lives! Play MadMaze On the Web

August 4th, 2006 by Benj Edwards

Prodigy Login ScreenWhen I was but a wee lad, I begged my father to sign me up for Prodigy. I loved BBSes and wanted to try Prodigy so badly. On Christmas 1992, I finally got my wish: an orange cardboard box emblazoned with a blue star appeared under the Christmas tree. One hour (and one father's credit card charge) later, I was online. Overall, I was mostly underwhelmed with the service and my subscription didn't last long, but there was one thing I really liked about it: the games.

Madmaze Title ScreenMany of you probably know of Prodigy, a pre-"popular Internet" era commercial dial-up online service that utilized copious amounts of NAPLPS graphics in its client interface. And one of the best applications of this rarely used, bandwidth- friendly graphics protocol was Eric Goldberg and Greg Costikyan's very popular Prodigy adventure game, MadMaze.

MadmazeThanks to the hard work of Russ Brown, nostalgiaphiles like me can relive their glory days with MadMaze-II, a meticulous recreation of the original MadMaze game on the web via HTML. It's been online since 2001, but I just stumbled across it recently and thought I'd share it with you. MadMaze-II plays almost exactly like the original; the only down side is that it requires Internet Explorer to play. Still, if there was ever a reason to dust off IE (for those of you who have gone on to greener pastures), this is it.

I love the innocent graphical style of MadMaze so much that I've even created a desktop background based on the MadMaze artwork. It's available in two sizes: 1024×768 | 1280×1024.

Here are some more screenshots from the game:

MadMaze-II
This is the first screen you see while beginning the game. You are about to enter the MadMaze.
MadMaze-II
This shot is typical of what you'll see during most of the game. You're presented with a Bard's Tale-like first-person view of a maze that you navigate through by issuing directions like "Ahead," "Back," "Left," and "Right." Mapping on paper as you progress through the maze is extremely helpful, if not necessary.
MadMaze-II
During the game you'll stumble across "Places of Power," which are graphically-rich events that drive the game's plot forward. You're presented with a number of choices and have to pick the right ones to proceed. If you fail, you die and have to start over from the beginning! And believe me, it's a bummer.

Luckily, you can save your progress on the maze screen at any time. You only get one "save slot" though, so use it carefully.

MadMaze-II
Here's a shot of another "Place of Power" graphic, this time of Crone Matilda's house. She'll help you defeat the troll on the first level of the maze. After that, you proceed to level two and onward until you reach the end. I personally have never made it that far, but if you do, you'll end up on the legendary "Scroll of Heroes." Good luck!

Play MadMaze-II online here (Requires Internet Explorer).

[Update - 07/31/2011: I changed the links pointing to MadMaze II from "http://pages.prodigy.net/rdbrownmsb/MadMaze2/" to its new location. AT&T shut down the "Prodigy Personal Web Pages" service that hosted MadMaze II as of June 1st, 2011.]

[Update - 02/19/2013: The author of MadMaze-II, Russell D. Brown, passed away on July 1st, 2012. In 2011, I asked Russell to send me the code to MadMaze-II in case the game ever went down. Well, it has, so I have set up a mirror of the game on vintagecomputing.com at this address: http://www.vintagecomputing.com/madmaze/. As far as I can tell, it seems to be working fine. I have updated the links in the article above to this new location. I also wrote a larger post about this update.]



59 Responses to “Prodigy Lives! Play MadMaze On the Web”

  1. Bjorn Nitmo Says:

    Prodigy is gone but Quantum Link is back. No, seriously. Check out http://www.quantum-link.org/ for all the details including a way to access Q-Link with your modern PC (just in case your retro computer is in the attic).

  2. MegaKitsune Says:

    Wow, that's hella awesome RedWolf! I've never seen this before!

    Any chance you could do an article on the only OTHER reason to dust off IE, virtualapple.org?

  3. RedWolf Says:

    Bjorn, thanks for mentioning that. I've actually been working on a piece about Quantum Link Reloaded. I'm working on actually connecting through a real C64. Stay tuned!

  4. MattG Says:

    Wow, this takes me back! I spent too much time in 1994 playing this game. I'm actually nostalgic for the old DOS Prodigy software.

  5. Press The Buttons Says:

    Before Internet Games There Was Only… MadMaze!

    My first exposure to the online world came in 1993 when my parents gave me a 14.4Kbps modem. In the days before modern Internet access there were online services such as Prodigy, the original iteration of America Online, CompuServe, GEnie,

  6. Bjorn Nitmo Says:

    A great place to go for information about Quantum Link Reloaded, including assistance on getting connected with a real 64 or with an emulator like VICE, check out the message forums at:

    http://jledger.proboards19.com/index.cgi?board=qlink

  7. merz’s blog » Blog Archive » Keywords: Prodigy, Maze, Chickenhouse Says:

    […] Fast forward to this morning. I was browsing through some of my less news feeds, when an article entitled “Prodigy Lives! Play MadMaze On the Web” on VintageComputing.com. Could this be the very game that has inexplicably risen out of my subconscious? And better yet, could I play it via the web right now? Tantalizing, indeed, but was this in fact the same game I remember from yesteryear?  It did match 2 of the 3 keywords - “Prodigy” and “Maze”, but was there a Chickenhouse? […]

  8. Leslie Says:

    do you know where i can find any of the other games that were on Prodigy?

  9. RedWolf Says:

    Leslie,

    No, sorry. The best I can help you is to point you towards Google. But if you find any more, please let us know!

  10. Jennifer Marie Says:

    Hi, I used to play madmaze when I was a kid. i naver forgave my dad for canceling our prodigy service, because I had gotten so far in the game, and lost it. My question is this,

    Can I buy a copy of the game to run on my computer? Where can I find it. I've been looking for years.
    Thank you.

  11. RedWolf Says:

    Jennifer,

    No, you can't run this game on your computer locally. The game originally resided on Prodigy's servers and was run exclusively through their client. The version of the game in the article above is a simulation of that game written to run over the web in Internet Explorer. The link to the simulation is in the 2nd to last paragraph of the article. Have fun!

  12. Ralph Moran Says:

    My dad is a retired Air Force officer, and he worked with computer since the 1970′s. Growing up, I had the opportunity to experiment a lot with computers, and innovated programs.

    The first game I ever played online was Mad Maze. My first experience online was with Prodigy. I remember playing this and not understanding why I had only a few minutes to play. Back then, internet charged by the minute. I think it was something like 2.99$ a minute. I was only 7 years old, and I think it was 1989, or 1990.

    I now know how lucky I was to be just 7 or 8 years old and using the internet back when most people, even those much older than me, hadn't had the same opportunity. I think it was the mid to late 90′s when most American kids had consistent access to the internet. Anyone before then was lucky, like myself.

  13. Krissy Says:

    I loved the maze game!! I also loved FITB and Prodigy's version of Carmen Sandiego.

  14. john Says:

    like Ralph said it was a different time. Mad Maze was my first online game as well, its amazing how entertaining something can be when you don't know any better. My whole family played this game when we had prodigy, even my dad who hates this kind of stuff!

  15. Ant Says:

    Hmm, MadMaze doesn't seem to work well. :(

  16. v Says:

    What was the name of the business simulation game on Prodigy that was about cars? Car Wars? Auto Wars? Has anyone re-done this game? Timely I'd say.

  17. Dan Zan 101 Says:

    I first got online with Prodigy with my 1200 kbs modem in my IBM286. Still love the classic garbled connect sound (but I can live without it with T1). Mad Maze was a classic…almost as good as the great gritty graphic games of the 90s (Lucas Arts….Tex Murphy…StoneKeep…the first "Theme Park"). They even topped Intellivision's classicsiity. I dont remember V's business sim.

  18. skweeds Says:

    Oh, the memories! Glad to find this online, appreciate your posting it :)

  19. Bret Says:

    Can I get this game to work on my mac? I downloaded IE 5.2 and it still won't load the game. Any help?

  20. pandaKrusher Says:

    I know I'm coming late to the conversation, but this is a great find. Really brings back memories of my top-of-the-line 2400bps and its blazing speed that winter of 1992. Never got past that damn minotaur, though.

    Sometimes I'll hear a fax machine connect and I'll have a Prodigy flashback…

  21. paleshelter Says:

    haha i used to sing along with the 14.4Kbps modem while signing on. i got hooked on madmaze but i never got past the minotaur either! i loved carmen sandiego and thinker (which was basically mastermind online), i LOVED police artist or police sketch artist or something, NOVA had a section with an interactive flash type animation, and i barely remember that car simulation….

    prodigy was the best!!!!

    were there mad libs or something on prodigy??

  22. willy Says:

    GUTS!!!!!

  23. me Says:

    @ z better late than never but that game was called "ceo" and i loved it :P

  24. angie Says:

    oh my god! i loved this game! and prodigy! internet memories - awesome.

  25. Josh Says:

    Ok what was the old helicopter game, i swear it was on prodigy as well. Maybe I am fuzzy from 20 years of no prodigy.

    Made maze was the best…

  26. anon Says:

    Symptoms include priaprism…

  27. DAISHI Says:

    THE LINK TO PLAY THE GAME IS DEAD!! I had just finished the first level!

  28. Russ of Weith Says:

    Not to worry - MadMaze lives on at:

    http://d1144651.mydomainwebhost.com/MadMaze2

  29. DAISHI Says:

    Oh thank you so much. I was totally into it after the first level!

  30. Mike Says:

    I was on the second maze when it kicked me out, I've been trying for 4 days to get back in.

  31. Russ of Weith Says:

    This is one of many creative MadMaze posts that could be found on the old Prodigy Classic Games BB:

    Announcer: "We here at K-Mad wish everyone a very happy Halloween … and to get our show started ………… H e e e e r e's Joanie!!!"

    (Joanie comes out from behind the curtain and sits on a stool.)

    Joanie: "Since Halloween is almost upon us..I have some MadMaze tips on how to have a safe and fun time trick or treating. First and foremost … NEVER take anything to eat or drink from Crone Matilda. I can't go into this more, as we here at K-Mad avoid gruesome details in our programming.

    Another tip … NEVER knock at the front gate of the Wicksmear Castle … as it will be your last stop if you do. Speaking of "nevers" this also applies to taking chocolate cake while on the moon.

    Other places to avoid are the village of the Tigeree, Mooko, and the Twisted Temple. In all these places, trick or treats means you give "them" something.

    On the positive side, the Merchant is giving out frozen yoghurt pops again this year … Remember also to take an ice chest to the Land of Snow and Ice, as Carange's treats quickly melt.

    Good places to trick or treat are Sage Tsoreen's place, any of the Vert's, the Bazaar, and the Oasis. It is also reported that the Floating City will be dropping wrapped treats from the sky as they pass over the various villages in the realms.

    I don't think I need to remind anyone not to wear an Insectidae costume if you will be trick or treating in the City of Caesauriasus, and vise versa if you are going to the Lair of the Prime Mother and the Pyramids.

    It has been reported that special traffic advisors will be in place in the Invisible Maze to help direct Halloween celebrators to the Moon. Residents of the Moon have been complaining for years that they rarely get any trick or treaters, so this year we are hoping the problem will be solved by the extra helpers.

    This should be one of the best Halloween's ever with gala parties planned throughout the Glade … so be sure to check them out after you finish trick or treating …"

  32. Jen G Says:

    Looks like the link is down again…sad as I was missing this game. I never did get to finish it as a kid…

  33. Mitchell Bandes Says:

    It's a shame that the game's gone down. I hope it returns soon. You know, we probably wouldn't have this problem if someone just converted this game into Flash - as in, screenshot everything and assemble it so it plays just like the original.

    Ah well, in the meantime, I've started a TVtropes page for it. I'm surprised there hasn't been one before now. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/MadMaze

  34. Benj Edwards Says:

    It hasn't gone down — it works for me. The game did move, though, and I changed the link in this article back in July 2011 (see note at the bottom of the post above).

    http://d1144651.mydomainwebhost.com/MadMaze2/

    In case it ever goes down permanently, the author sent me a mirror of MadMaze II that I can set up, but I won't make that live unless his version goes down.

  35. Mitchell Bandes Says:

    I've been using that link. However, a couple of days ago, right in front of Osmet Khan's palace, I got a message saying something about an overflow error in line 240 (I think), and from that point on, every time I go to that site on IE, it says the webpage cannot be found.

    The link seems to work on Firefox, though (the site - not the game itself).

  36. Benj Edwards Says:

    Hmm. Are you using a new version of IE like IE 9? The Mad Maze II code may not be compatible with newer versions of IE.

  37. Mitchell Bandes Says:

    It appears that the only version compatible with Windows 7 is IE9. I've been looking into finding alternatives, like emulators and such, but my search has proved fruitless. I tried downloading something called IEtester, which lets you view web pages in any version, but it still seems to fail.

    All in all, I'm a sad panda.

    Still, it would be some consolation if you and others would contribute to the TVTropes article I made. I'm sure the game would receive a massive popularity boost through it, besides.

  38. Mitchell Bandes Says:

    So.

    I'm a dumbass.

    Turns out all I had to do was clear my IE cookies to get it working again.

    Carry on.

  39. Mitchell Bandes Says:

    Okay, I think I figured out the problem. If you ever save in the double maze (after taking care of Aboud's whirlwind, where Osmet Khan's palace is), the next move you make will crash the game and render it unplayable until you delete your IE cookies. A frustrating bug indeed.

  40. aoiumi Says:

    After reaching the Edge of the World a second time, I ended up in the indoors maze on the Moon that only goes left and right with seemingly no end. Nothing seems to happen whether I click left or right. What's the best way to proceed?

  41. Robin Springer Says:

    I LOVED Prodigy! I went thru my routine…..
    0. BBS's (Although most were gone by then)
    1. Prodigy
    2. AOL
    3. Then the rest of the day/night with the Web, forgot what server. Zoom.com?
    It's all cool ass computer love. :)

    Robin in SF CA

  42. Geoff V. Says:

    It's working for me. Running on an old XP box with IE8 I had no errors.
    Thanks again Benj!

  43. Rebecca Says:

    I can't seem to play. I hae Windows 7,IE 9. Am I out of luck? I just get the error message whenever I try and open the site.

  44. kris Says:

    I can't seem to get it to work using IE6 on an old windows xp laptop i have either. It seems like the page isn't around anymore. Hopefully someone fixes this, I would love to have a stand alone copy of this game to nostalgia out anytime i felt like it.

  45. Joshua Says:

    I'm very upset to say this, but I suspect Russ, who maintained the web port of MadMaze, passed away last summer (2012), and the site will likely not come back up.

    His site was maintained out of a location near Rome, NY, which had posted an obituary for someone by his name in July. If my suspicion is correct, it's terribly unfortunate, but his contribution to our memory of this game does not go unappreciated.

  46. Benj Edwards Says:

    Joshua,

    Thanks for that information. If it's true, then I will work on putting up a mirror of the MadMaze II game. I obtained the code from Russ a few years ago just in case something happened. I'll let everybody know when the new version is up and running.

    Regards,
    Benj

  47. Jason Says:

    For what it's worth I've begun a Let's Play of Mad Maze for anyone that finds the time challenge daunting.
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrW9FaeJ55uztBrm5zPPZqAzhh9ukn1Ct&feature=view_all

    I love this game. Was my only real experience with Prodigy and one of my best memories.

  48. Danny Says:

    Where are all the other Prodigy games??? I can find neither list of names nor screenshots of anything but MadMaze. Really, internet? Nothing??

  49. Allen Says:

    Hi Benj,

    I'm interested in having this classic from my childhood on my site. If you are running into any technical issues let me know. I would love to help get this back online and working with modern browsers. (I currently just get a blue box)

  50. Kevin Says:

    Why can it only play in Internet Explorer? I disabled that and now I can't remember how to undo that.

  51. mike Says:

    Anyone thinking of trying this with an Oculus Rift?

  52. cynthia Says:

    I've been looking for mad maze for YEARS! it was my first game on my first computer, and I did accompanying mapping while I played it, and ended up with an incredible continuous maze that went on for pages and pages.
    HOW can we get this game on our 'modern' computers? I've tried and tried via IE, and it keeps telling me I need IE 5….i'm not very computer-savvy so am afraid to get rid of the IE 9 or whatever it is I have and go back to IE 5….
    anyone???????????????

  53. ken melvin Says:

    I miss the prodigy company on the computer.

  54. jon Says:

    Finally got it working on a program that emulates older browser (can't actually install them on Windows 8) but it crashed about halfway through the first maze.

  55. Jenny Says:

    Thank you SO much for bringing back one of my favorite games of all time from my childhood. I never completed the game back then and always wondered if it would resurface and give me the opportunity to complete it. Thank you also for correcting the bugs that made it impossible to save progress beyond a certain spot; that was invaluable to enabling me to continue making progress efficiently in spite of many wrong in-game decisions! I just spent the past few hours plowing through Level III and I *think* I may have completed it; I'm just not 100% sure because even though the ending was "happy" and I got the prompt to get into the Scroll of Heroes, I thought the "quest" was meant to go further, though it clearly said "The End" after that. Can anyone confirm for me whether there's anything beyond the "purple" battle? And again, thank you, for bringing back such a wonderful game. I am truly grateful for the many hours of satisfaction I was able to have reliving the fun of these puzzles and getting to what I believe is "the end"!

  56. Daniel Says:

    Has anyone had success with this game on Windows 7 with the most recent version of ie?

  57. Preston Samuel Says:

    Error message: Could not perform this operation because default mail client is not properly installed

  58. Berry Says:

    "The Mad Maze II code may not be compatible with newer versions of IE."

    It isn't, sadly. I'm using IE 11, and when I hit the site I get the error "MadMaze requires Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher."

    :(

  59. kmoser Says:

    You can find an online version of Square Off (a math game I wrote for Prodigy in the early 1990s) here: http://squareoff.kmoser.com

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