Zork: A white house

west(This is part of my journey playing through Zork.  You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lanes page.)

OK.  Here we go.  Zork.

Incidentally, I purchased this as part of the Zork anthology at GOG.com.  I didn’t realize until installing it just now that it not only has five Zork games but Planetfall as well.  I’ve never played Planetfall!  I’m excited!

Even I, a guy who’s never played this game, knows these opening lines by heart.  That’s how iconic Zork is (among other classic lines).  Time to start mapping and figuring out what’s what!

What’s notable here is that I am just dumped into the game without any introductory story.  I’m just… here.  In a field.  And lookthere’s something incredibly common nearby: a white house and a mailbox.  Hardly the high fantasy setting that I was expecting.  I’ll make do.

The mailbox contains a leaflet welcoming me to Zork: “ZORK is a game of adventure, danger, and low cunning.  In it you will explore some of the most amazing territory ever seen by mortals.  No computer should be without one!”

I know it’s silly, but I’m more than a little excited after reading this.

The white house is obviously the first place I’m meant to go, but it’s boarded up.  I walk around it, trying to map it out.  It’s a little tricky because sometimes you go one direction (like east) but the game is really putting you in another (like north-east).  Behind the house I spy a window cracked open.  According to video game law, if it’s open, then it’s legal to enter and take everything that isn’t nailed down!

In the kitchen I find a sack lunch and a bottle of water.  Did they have bottled water in 1980?  It’s a glass bottle, so I guess that’s more appropriate.  Something I’m quickly finding out is that this game has a snarky sense of humor.  Eating the garlic tells me that I won’t make friends that way, and drinking the water has the computer tell me that it was thirsty from all this talking.  I reload a save though, because I don’t want to eat my inventory just yet.

Upstairs it’s pitch black.  The game somberly informs me that I’m likely to be eaten by a grue.  Asking the game what a grue is does not help my peace of mind, as it’s favorite diet is adventurers.  Staying there more than a turn, yup, gets me eaten.  *Achievement: Grue Food*

Going west from the kitchen is the living room.  There’s a lot here: a trophy case, a rug, a sword, and a battery-powered lantern.  The trophy case is empty, but I snag the sword and lantern.  I also notice that there’s a bump under the rug, so I roll it up and find a trap door.  Score!

Armed with the lantern, I return to the attic and find some rope and a knife.  Man, I need to thank this home’s owner for considerately laying out everything I need for my future adventures.  It’s here that I discover that I can only hold so many things — 8, I think.  That’s going to suck.  I guess the days of unlimited inventories hadn’t happened yet.

I head down to the cellar and my sword starts glowing blue.  Shades of Frodo, perhaps?  I go north and find the aptly named Troll Room.  Because it has a troll, you see.  I try to kill it with my sword and knife, but all I end up doing is knocking it down temporarily.  It nicks me with its axe, and a diagnose later, the game tells me that one more light wound will kill me, but I’ll heal up in 30 moves.

I backtrack and go south instead.  There I follow the edge of a chasm until I find a vandalized art gallery (because where else do you keep your troll rooms and art galleries but the cellar of your house?).  There’s still a beautiful painting there.  I sense trap.  Gonna save and check it out.

Because I’m wounded, the game won’t let me take the painting.  I move between rooms for a bit until I heal up, then snatch the painting (which as gone from “unparalleled beauty” to “nothing special about it” according to the game.  Make up your mind!).  Then I go north to an artist’s studio and find the owner’s manual to the game.  Heh… totally meta.  In 1980.  Love it.

There’s a chimney leading back up to the kitchen, but I can’t go up with what I’m carrying.  Hm.

I swing back to the Troll Room and give combat another try.  A half-dozen “kill troll with sword” inputs later, and I take off its head.  Yay me!  With that victory under my belt, I call it a day.  Score 39, moves 157.


3 thoughts on “Zork: A white house

  1. rowan July 20, 2013 / 11:56 am

    They had bottled water in 1980, Perrier, for instance. I think the big jugs for water coolers count as bottled water, as well.

  2. sente July 21, 2013 / 1:37 am

    Nice, brings back some old memories 😉

    I never played all of the Zorks though, should perhaps have a go at that at some point. Planetfall is a great game also, definitely one to play.

  3. 00james July 22, 2013 / 12:58 pm

    While wandering around the canyon outside I got stuck.
    Too bad I can’t post screenshots here, my screen currently says:

    > west
    You can’t go that way.
    > east
    You can’t go that way.
    > north
    You can’t go that way.
    > south
    You can’t go that way.
    > up
    You can’t go that way.
    > down
    You can’t go that way.
    > cry
    I don’t understand that.

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