[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Beyond Zork

November 14th, 2011 by Benj Edwards

Atari 400/800 BASIC Reference Manual Cover - 1979That spot in the upper left is actually mold that grew on the paper.

When is a text adventure game not a text adventure game? When it’s Beyond Zork: The Coconut of Quendor.

Infocom’s fourth entry in the Zork series (actually the 8th if you count the related Enchanter series and Wishbringer) combined interactive fiction with light RPG elements such as equipment, stat sheets, an on-screen map, and character leveling to create a unique game that may be best compared to a single player MUD (a SUD?).

Beyond Zork sports procedurally generated maps in some areas, so replay value is theoretically infinite. But randomness is a double-edged sword in this case: its magic items move around between saves and loads, and that can frustratingly break the suspension of disbelief (i.e. you see it, you die, you come back, and it’s gone). Still, Beyond Zork is an amazing game that deserves more attention than it usually gets.

[ From Family and Home Office Computing, November 1987, p.89 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What’s your favorite entry in the Zork series? Every Zork-related game counts.

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

  1. jepflast Says:

    That’s funny–I was just thinking about playing this again. I would probably vote Beyond Zork as the best in the series. Although, it shouldn’t count because of the extra features not normally found in text adventures. Of those, Sorcerer is my favorite, but it’s close between all of them.

  2. Judith Says:

    Oh, Zork 1, without a doubt. I played it with my son (he was – 3,4?) and I still have the map we made. It was his first adventure game and started him on his path to becoming a professional game developer. I loved it, and really, you never forget your first, do you? 😉

  3. Benj Edwards Says:

    Does this date the VC&G audience — that so few of you have played (or at least liked) the Zork series?

  4. idisjunction Says:

    Probably. I wasn’t even born until 1988.

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