Classic text game Zork

Nemesis was terrific. Inquisitor was fun, but not quite as good.

Did you ever play Return to Zork, their first attempt at a graphical game? Very fun and came with another CD containing most of the early Zork games.

I did, it was definitely a product of its time and looks really amateurish by today’s standards. But it was fun, I really enjoyed it. I played both it and Myst around the same time.

Zork Zero was always my favorite, and I think was the last true text adventure in the series, before they went FMV. Still had a lot of charming pixel art graphics, including a few visual puzzles, but was like 90% text.

I played the first FMV when it was released, and one of my friends and I still quote it when we talk about just absolutely shit video games. Never bothered with any of the subsequent entries after that one.

Text adventures were designed to royally screw you over and infuriate you every step of the way (unless it was an “easy” one like Wishbringer, in which cased it royally screwed you over at the very end. :rage:), they were full of ridiculous puzzles and problems which no one could’ve figured out in a million years, the main purpose of their existence was so the company could make hint books and charge twice for the same game, and we put up with all that crap because we had nothing better. That’s the long and short of it. Expecting something in a text adventure to be intuitive or fair is like expecting a boulder to start dispensing frozen yogurt. We don’t like to talk about them. Hell, the only reason anyone remembers Zork at all is because it has an Endlessly Repeated Insipid Nerd Catchphrase, computer games frequently being a dependable source of these.

Anyway, I have comprehensive walkthroughs for 1-3 and Zero (not bragging; I got a lot of help from GameFAQs), so anything you want a solution or just a hint, go ahead and ask.

One general tip I can give you about the first game is that the big decision is when to go to the Treasure Room to battle the thief (referred to as “a seedy looking character carrying a sack” when you meet him outside). If you do it at the first opportunity, you won’t be able to take much punishment; you can win, but it might take a while. If you wait until collecting and storing a lot of treasures, you’ll have much more staying power, but the thief will make your life miserable for a long time. I prefer the former, especially since I don’t have to manhandle a bunch of cumbersome and extremely vulnerable plastic squares anymore, but it’s your call.

Nemesis was my first exposure to all things Zork, so I was a little surprised when I found out it was largely a lighthearted comedic series and that one game was the dark and spooky one. I enjoyed Grand Inquisitor too, but it definitely felt easier - IIRC it took me less than a week to finish whereas some of the puzzles in Nemesis had me buffaloed for days at a time. (I’ll remember the combination to the safe in the Asylum for the rest of my life, though, because of how unique the way you find it out is.) The twist near the end of Nemesis blew my mind when I ran into it and remains one of the most memorable twists in any game I’ve played.

Thinking about it now makes me want to see where I can buy a digital copy of it these days and play it again.

Speaking of Colossal Cave, it’s got a remake, by Roberta Williams of King’s Quest fame, coming out this week!

I definitely remember the gruesome method for getting the safe solution. The entire Asylum section of the game was highly memorable to me.

The twist? Do you mean that:

The four bodies from the beginning of the game were evil people, not good?

Indeed. The alchemists being evil and Nemesis turning out to be the good guy, as was revealed when the resurrected four offer me their goblet and it turns out to be poison and they kill me, blew me away.

The twist is hinted at as you play through the histories, but they also try to distract you from noticing it.

Also, Nemesis was glitched in that you only ever got to see three of the “mission accomplished” videos at a time. Upon completing the fourth mission of each part (first chapter solving the tower puzzles, second chapter solving the realm puzzles), you immediately saw the transition video for the next chapter, rather than the completion video for the last individual element.

They might have patched it in later releases, but it wasn’t there originally. (Also, there were a few Easter Eggs hidden in the game. I recall that in the tower if you typed “Hello, sailor” on your keyboard you got a woman’s voice saying “Nothing happens here.”

ETA: Also there was another thing you could type on your keyboard that replaced the “Interview with a Grue” article in the tower with a picture of one of the developers, but I don’t remember what that was.

Oh, once you start playing the histories of the characters, it actually does become rather clear what was up.

In Zork 1 is there a difference between Up and Climb?

I don’t think so? The game recognizes a lot of sets of synonyms. But it might depend on the exact version and implementation.

In my defense I was 15 at the time, so my ability to pick up on subtle clues was not yet fully developed.

I remember in Zork III going to great lengths to see just how many words the game was programmed to understand when it came to attacking the hooded figure with my sword. Can you “cut” him? How about “slash”? Maybe you can “chop” him as well? I think I was having so much fun messing around with the verbiage that I never realized that I was screwing up that encounter every single time. I guess I should have wondered why the guy laughed at me as he died.

Zork III was unique compared to the other two in that your score was mostly meaningless. You got one point for overcoming each of the seven obstacles. But there were multiple ways to overcome each obstacle, but only one right way if you wanted to win the game.

And the whole hooded figure thing made me wonder if that scene was inspired by the Dagobah cave scene in The Empire Strikes Back. The theme of self-destruction plays strongly in both.