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My Gaming ABC's : Z is for Zork

12/31/13 2:40pm

I dug deep for my last letter. There weren’t too many choices for me to pick from, so I had to go out of my comfort zone. I recently picked up Zork on GOG.com solely for the purpose of this article, or at least I thought. I had a hidden interest in these famous text-adventure games. I’ll detail later, but now, let’s see your guesses.

Puppet Master IX’s guess : Zelda II - The Adventures of Link

The less underrated underrated game in existence. Since the first time people started complaining about it on the internet, there have been an impressive amount of people to defend it. I can’t say I’m one of them, but I do enjoy what they tried to do with this game. It’s different and not really a format that works as well on the NES, but I do enjoy the difficulty and the design. With Nintendo giving some love to the lesser appreciated Mario 2 lately, could we have a Zelda II follow-up? I hope so. Move over Majora fanboys.

vinicius fatality’s guess : Zoo Tycoon
Ah, the tycoon games. I have but very little experience with Roller Coaster Tycoon as I was more on the Sid Meier’s side of “sim” games, but you have to appreciate a good formula when you see one. Though, in games like this, I tend to go for the evil side for a while and then get bored. Managing a park is fun and all, but it takes up a lot of time. Wait? There’s a dinosaur expansion pack? SOLD!
Have you ever wanted to test your limits? See how far you’d go for video game entertainment? Especially when you start to enjoy retro games, you wonder: How much is linked to nostalgia? I found out, as I mentioned in my very first entry, that I was somewhat of a retro gamer when I realized that Asteroids brought me as much fun as any other game. But that doesn’t really push the limit too far, does it?

Looks good to me.

Then I bought an Atari, released before I was born. I had never played one, but managed to enjoy quite a few titles, despite the badly aged graphics on some of them. That’s why, looking at Zork, I wondered: Could I enjoy a game with no graphics at all? And thus the adventure began. I will spare you the stories of my mundane attempt at discovering the underground empire. I tried, I really did, multiple times. As I explored the 3 x 3 tile forest where every path seemed block by very dense forest, I couldn’t find anything. When I explored the house, I found a crapload of junk. After looking around a bit more, I gave up. I checked the walkthrough… I’m not proud of it, but I did. Why have I succumbed to this modern gaming trope of the player that can’t figure stuff out for himself?

An open field? A mailbox? WHAT DO I DO?

There’s a simple reason, I was bored. I have a little over 500 games over at my place not counting the number of games I heard about throughout this blog series. Within THIS context, I don’t have time to lose with Zork. There’s just no valid reason for me to bother. In Zork, you input actions via text, but you can’t really know if he’ll understand what you’re trying to do. Basically, when you don’t know what to do, it takes more time than checking every wall in Zelda or Metroid. 

I have had better attempts at puzzle solving...

Does that mean Zork is a bad game? Of course not. I’ve learned a long time ago that, when enough hype is generated by a fanbase, it usually has good reasons. It might be a shock for you to know, but most people aren’t idiots. We just idolize and remember idiots for some reason. Anyhoo, Zork boasts a tremendous sense of humor on many occasions responding with a perfect level of wittiness to my idiotic endeavors. Of course, being a very limited game, most of the actions you’ll try won’t work. However, the developers always seemed to think of the stupidest thing you could do, recognize that action and let you know how stupid it was to try this. They even managed to incorporate vague statements when they “feel” an action doesn’t make sense. 

Oh! I see what you did there!

Thankfully, humor is not the only thing Zork has to offer. With the absence of graphics, a good script was mandatory. Zork definitely delivers in that department from what I could see. The description of each location feel unique and really helps your sense of direction. The enemies and other creatures are also very well portrayed.

Wow! 69 different colors?

I can’t say much more about the game since I didn’t get that far, but I did discover a hidden passageway, got robbed by a thief and attacked by a troll, jumped off a canyon, get hypnotized by running water and stuck in the door to Hades. In my short time span with this game, I have to say it’s pretty good, I just have better or a lot worse things to play. I didn’t get bored, per se, but I figured I might have a better chance at enjoying the genre with the most recent entries. When I look back, it’s probably the same with Asteroids. I have way more fun on a well done Game Boy Color version or an arcade than on the Atari. It’s fun to see where a game originated, but why stop yourself from playing the best version of something? I definitely would’ve enjoyed Zork more with some old DOS images at every location and a bit of music in the background. See Organ Trail for example.

Then again, maybe I'm just being a child

In the end, I’ll take my time with this genre of game. Come to think of it, I will probably have more time once this blog series is done, though. What do you know? It is done! Safe from a retrospective blog at the beginning of the year. And since you don’t have to guess any more letters, how about I finish this blog and this year by linking you to my stream of Yoshi’s Island for letter Y?

They say the webcam adds 20 pounds.


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