[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Zork

May 18th, 2015 by Benj Edwards

Personal Software Infocom Zork advertisement - 1981A scene from “Zork: Brick Collector”

This is it, folks: an early ad (maybe the first) for the original commercial release of Zork, the famous Infocom text adventure, published by Personal Software ca. 1980 for the TRS-80 Model I and III home computers.

(This site has some wonderful background history on this release.)

I love the artwork featured in this ad. It is excised from the full cover art for the Personal Software version, which captures a great deal of the majesty and wonder of the seminal adventure title — plus a hefty dose of out-of-place machismo.

The mere mention of Zork takes me back to the mid-1980s when my older brother delved into the Great Underground Empire with the aid of photocopied maps and worn out InvisiClues on our family’s Atari 800. Warm, fuzzy memories. Of course, by then, Infocom published the title directly.

[ From Byte, February 1981, p.31]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What’s your favorite text adventure game of all time? (Modern ones count.)

10 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Zork”

  1. Kouban Says:

    My favorite is the Hitchhiker’s Guide game. The best part of it was the insanely complicated babel fish sequence.

  2. Rowan Lipkovits Says:

    which captures a great deal of the majesty and wonder of the seminal adventure title รขโ‚ฌโ€ plus a hefty dose of out-of-place machismo.

    I’ve always felt it as a kind of testament that it doesn’t matter how many relevant little references you include in the game’s cover artwork: if you fundamentally misread the game’s tone the art will come across as a mismatch. This is the kind of adventurer who solves puzzles with the business end of a sword, a popular approach in video gaming — but one pretty consistently at odds with Infocom’s.

  3. Benj Edwards Says:

    Very, very true, Rowan.

  4. Philip Says:

    My favorite would be Adventure International’s Mission: Impossible.
    It’s probably not the best text adventure I played, but I played right when I was discovering the old Mission: Impossible tv series in reruns. Very memorable combination.

  5. John Says:

    I think I really enjoyed Planetfall the best. I still have a copy of it on my laptop. I really enjoyed Zork too and have it on my desktop. The first time I saw Zork (and The Bard’s Tale) was at a friend’s house on his Apple ][

  6. Nick Says:

    Colossal Cave by Crowther and Woods! My friend’s dad worked for AT&T in the 70’s and brought home a Teletype terminal with a 110 baud modem. Once we discovered the game, we ran out of paper pretty quickly and had to constantly re-feed it so that the new responses printed in between the previous session’s text. Good times, don’t think we ever finished the adventure, but probably consumed quite a bit of mainframe time.

  7. xyzzy Says:

    It’s tough (since each game had very different strengths), but as a writer I think that “A Mind Forever Voyaging” has to be my favorite. It’s the only IF game I think that I encountered where the protagonist is a fully fleshed-out character whose life (past and in-game) we have a reasonable chance of responding to emotionally. I never quite finished it, but in playing games, I’m usually much more interested in the chance to explore a totally different world than in ‘beating’ the game. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Alexander Says:

    Thy Dungeonman I, II, & III (parody text adventures).

  9. Harold Says:

    Not an adventure game, but the Star Trek text game was FANTASTIC. Apparently it has been resurrected:


  10. BillyM Says:

    The first Leisure Suit Larry.

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