The Zork series have generally been regarded
as THE text adventures for some time now and have been
personal favourites of mine for just as long. Unfortunately,
due an initial high price, non-availability, and the
fact that they are on disk only, these classics have
been overlooked by many an intrepid adventurer.
Infocom adventures are text only but do not suffer because
of this, as the quality and depth of the location descriptions
are so good and convincing that you don't need graphics.
Something else that puts Infocom adventures head and
shoulders above other text adventures is the brilliant
interpreter used and the incredible array of responses.
Combined, these mean you can almost have a full-blown
conversation with an Infocom adventure! You can type
in a complete sentence and still receive a coherent
and sensible reply or result, or both.
three Zorks are all interlinked adventures in
as much as the end of Zork leads to the beginning
of Zork II and then on to III, but each
can be played as a separate game without losing any
allows you to explore the Great Underground Empire
of Zork and all its secrets. You start outside an old,
dilapidated house next to a forest. Getting into, and
exploring, the rather small house leads to more than
a lantern and a sword, for it is the gateway to the
Underground Empire itself!
ground you will encounter a rather nasty troll, an even
nastier thief, and Hades itself with its foul inhabitants!
There is a tricky, twisty maze holding several secrets
within its multitude of passages. Then there's the great
dam, needing careful attention -- but does it still
are many magical things in Zork, all manufactured
by a legendary company known as Frobozz. These devices
are all extremely useful and it's necessary to figure
out their uses to complete the game. A wealth of other
objects and treasures are to be found, amongst them
the jewel encrusted egg whose secret has been the breaking
point of many a fearless explorer. All treasures must
be taken back to the house and places in the trophy
cabinet therein. Collecting all twenty treasures and
successfully returning them to the case will earn you
maximum points and finish the game . . . Or will it?
Zork is packed full of excellent and atmospheric
descriptions, some superb fight sequences, responses
and, above all, a very wide vocabulary. Puzzles are
numerous, tough and sometimes humourous, and overall
make this a difficult and enjoyable adventure to crack.
II, as stated previously, starts off where Zork
finished and lying at your feet are to be found
a strangely familiar sword and lamp. Any major similarities,
however, stop there, since Zork II deals more
with magic and has less locations but more depth. Again,
location descriptions are lengthy and detailed, and
unsurpassed by any other brand of adventure, as is the
case with the massive and impressive vocabulary. As
with Zork, there are numerous objects to be found
and manipulated, but there are less treasures to collect
and the way that they are used to finish the game is
locations range from a gazebo in a beautiful garden
(complete with an elusive unicorn), to mist-filled rooms
and a rather volatile volcano. Once a small problem
involving a large bucket is solved, some interesting
and dynamic cakes are to be found along with a very
useful, but servile, robot (manufactured by Frobozz
of course). An extremely bored dragon lurks below ground,
who takes a bit of persuading to move. This leads to
the discovery of many other items, amongst them a beautiful
princess, some more treasures, and more trouble. There
is a strange maze to figure out, the solution to which
is in fact not that obvious due to Americanisms on the
part of the programmers (well, they do come from
the United States of America).
the Wizard of Frobozz (a very dear friend of mine) makes
an appearance and casts a spell upon you, which always
begins with an 'F'. This usually affects you in some
way, so it's best to wait around for a while until eventually
it wears off. The tables turn though, when later you
acquire the self same wand and put it to good use. Finishing
Zork II is quite a bit trickier than Zork
I, but follows the pattern with a similar sort of
humour, quality, and excellent atmosphere.
III is the finale of the trio and starts effectively
where Zork II ends and its quite a bit different
from its predecessors in both scoring and play. The
object of Zork III is to become the dungeon master
and rule Frobozz Enterprises Unlimited. This requires
considerably more skill than the other Zorks,
and you can't buy your way to the top here! Whereas
before scoring was into hundreds of points, in Zork
III you can only get a maximum of seven points because
they are only awarded for certain events.
III combines a few of the locations and objects
from the first two with a totally new and original scenario.
The lamp is here as well as the sword, which you can't
take at the start since it has become embedded in rock
and so are several other objects. There is a bit more
magic involved, and in general the puzzles are a lot
harder and, in some cases, more obscure than before.
The locations number fewer than Zork II but are
as highly detailed and atmospheric, as usual blending
well with Infocom's excellent parser and responses.
is a lot harder to complete than the other two Zorks,
but is by no means less fun to play. All three adventures
offer such exceptionally high quality at such ridiculously
low price (for disk games), and should be snapped up
instantly by those amongst you who have yet to sample
such exquisite delights. The White Wizard highly recommends
any of the Infocom range, especially the Zorks,
and I feel I cannot do justice to these excellent examples
of adventure in this small space. If you don't own a
disk drive and you get bitten by an Infocom adventure
you won't want to play anything else, as the bug that
is in many people's blood will have finally found its
way into yours.
If you want a walkthrough, visit
Jacob Gunness' Classic
Adventures Solution Archive or
C64 Adventure Game Solutions Site
later re-releases of all three Zorks under the
more advanced 'gray' interpreter, (c) 1984 Infocom,
are also worthy of your attention.
Gold Edition of Zork I, (c) 1986 Infocom, is
also worthy of your attention. It features an online
tape version of Zork I, Mini-Zork I, (c)
1988 Infocom, is also worthy of your attention. Watch
out, however: it contains some notorious bugs!
The Undiscovered Underground, (c) 1997 Activision,
is also worthy of your attention. It was a nostalgic
effort by the creators of Zork, sponsored by
Activision. It is meant to be a prequel of the PC CD-ROM
multimedia title Zork: The Grand Inquisitor.
Kiminas (6 April 2002)
There were no screenshots in the original review.
"Games of the Week!"