Written by Joe Pranevich
Last month, we completed the third game in our Zork
marathon: Zork II
. After exploring the prehistory of Infocom, we have finally reached the point where they are starting to fire on all cylinders. They even had a new office in beautiful Cambridge, Massachusetts! Zork II may not have been as solid a game as its predecessor, but it was very good and the company was banking on many sequels. As 1981 turned into 1982, they had three games in the pipeline under pre-production titles: Zork III
, Zork: The Mystery
, and Zorks in Space
. These games would not only continue in the Zork tradition, but also prove that Infocom’s text adventures had legs far beyond their initial fantasy romps.
The mystery was released as Infocom’s third game, Deadline
, preceding Zork III
(the space adventure) by several months. Despite the early title, Deadline
does not have any connections to the Zork
universe and so will not be covered directly in this marathon. Ilmari already wrote an excellent review
of that game almost exactly a year ago, but I wanted to experience that game for myself before continuing on to Zork III
. I have put together my own review of Deadline
as a special bonus post which you can find here
. Please check it out! Zork III
were released simultaneously several months later. We will cover Starcross
as the next stop on the marathon thanks to a pointer that it may have a connection to the Zork universe after all.
As in the previous Zork
games, this one is credited to both Marc Blank and Dave Liebling. Also as before, there is no mention of their mainframe collaborators in the credits. It is generally believed that this was Marc’s primary focus while Dave was working on Starcross
. As Marc was also the lone developer on Deadline
, this must have been a busy year! Beyond that, there’s not much history to tell. While Deadline
had feelies, the original 1982 edition of Zork III
did not have the extra manuals that many readers remember so well. We’ll cover all three of the expanded Zork manuals at some point down the line. Full disclosure: I booted up this game as a kid but am fairly sure I didn’t play more than a handful of turns. In any event, I can remember nothing about it now.