Best text-based adventure games

I’m trying to help a nine year old boy with his English skills. He is incredibly reluctant to read or write anything, so I thought a good way to get his interest would be using some of the old (or new) text-based games.

I’m ideally looking for those which are shareware or abandonware so I can compile a few on a disk for him. They don’t necessarily have to be 100% text based, but ideally he should have to read at least the dialogue, and having to type instructions would be a bonus.

He is extremely good at figuring things out; he is logical and able to analyse how things work, so the games don’t necessarily have to be easy.

Any suggestions for something fun?

Gateway 1 & 2 are both excellent text based adventure games, but a nine year old might have trouble with the harder puzzles. Eric the unready by the same makers is also excellent, and one of the funniest games ever.

Now this is an easy one for you. The Interactive Fiction Archive. Piles and piles of great stuff, all free. I especially recommend the works of Adam Cadre since he tends to make simple games that use the medium differently.

You could fit a few thousand of those on a disk.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, online version.


The one word you’ll ever need to know for IF.

It’s not even really a “game”. The few “puzzles” have obvious solutions.

But it won the competition the year it came out, and rightfully so.

I used to lurve the Zork games. When I started playing them I was only a couple of years older then he is now. And these are true text games of the “go east,” and “kill troll with sword” variety. Man, those bring back some memories.

Your torch has gone out. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

I’m very glad someone else knows and loves Photopia. I think it deserves a thread of its own, to introduce others to it. One of these days…

(although I don’t expect a nine year old boy would find it that compelling)

I also loved me some Zork. Return to Zork made me pee myself. Zork with fancy graphics!

As for graphical text adventure games, I loved the Dark Crystal game (Gelfling Adventure is a dumbed-down version of it for younger minds). And Transylvania, which was a fantastically fun graphical text adventure game for the Apple II (and a few other systems, IIRC). “Sabrina dies at dawn!”

I don’t know. Considering the character everything centers around is a teenage girl, I think a nine-year old might be able to relate to some of the concepts. Granted, the game deals with dark subject matter that most 9 year olds haven’t directly had to encounter, but judging by the popularity of Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket, I doubt it’s something he wouldn’t be able to handle. Might make for an interesting discussion of the what transpires after the fact.

But I guess it depends on the kid.

But out of all the Cadre IF games, this one is probably the one that would be most appropriate for youth. Varicella involves sexual abuse and violence; I-0 makes jokes about masturbation and has one branch that can lead to the main character to being raped and killed among other things; and Shrapnel involves alcoholism, child abuse, split personalities, and violent themes. The good thing is none of it is gratuitious. It’s all done for a reason and fits with the overall purpose of the games. But I wouldn’t recommend them for children. The mature subject matter in Photopia is something that a nine-year-old would likely be aware of since it’s an unfortunately more common event than it should be.

Lock and Key might work, since that’s an entertaining (if rather difficult) trial and error game. Nothing really violent there.

You don’t have to look far…

One of my all-time favorites is Heroes:

It’s the same goal (retrieve the semi-generic mystic artifact) as pursued by 5 very different characters. The setup is always the same, but which character you use greatly affects your perception of the world, the puzzles you face, and the abilities you have.

There’s an app called “Frotz” where you can put text games on an iPhone or iTouch. Zork, Hitchhikers, all seem to be available free.

The OP is trying to get a nine year old to play. We don’t allow posters under the age of 13.

:dubious: :smiley:

Frotz is an inform interpreter that has been ported to all kinds of platforms, but I didn’t realize until now that somebody had done the iphone port. Out of curiosity, was it allowed into the iphone app store? (I know that they’re generally unfriendly to apps that interpret ‘foreign code’)

I found it in the App Store. Took some searching, as it wasn’t in any Top 25 lists. I just typed Zork on a lark, and there it was.

Ah, right you are. Thanks.

Seconded Gateway. I discovered it years and years ago and it still hold a fond place in my memories.

Eric the Unready is good, but I seem to remember the time pressure being rather harsh.

From the old Infocom archives, the other one besides the original Zork trilogy and HHGG that stands out in my memory is Enchanter. :slight_smile:

Leather Goddesses of Phobos, without a doubt. I loved that game when I was 9.

You lied on the question about your age when activating “lewd” mode didn’t you? :slight_smile: