At the dawn of 1987, Infocom wasn’t the company that it once was. A scrappy gaggle of cutting-edge game developers had grown too large, made some bad choices, and was struggling to survive. The new bosses at Activision wanted to profit off their investment and since Infocom games weren’t selling like in the good old days, they just asked Infocom to make more of them-- with the same resources-- to make up for it. Simple, right? The result was a year that was their most prolific as well as the nadir of their commercial success. Even as commercialism failed them, 1987 will see innovations such as the first romance game (Plundered Hearts), the first horror game (Lurking Horror), the first weird wordplay game (Nord and Bert), plus reinventing what a Zork game could be. None of those were commercially successful, but I haven’t played more than a few minutes of any to say how good they really were. At least Infocom was still out there doing interesting things.
That brings us to Hollywood Hijinx, the first of this mad rush of games. Developed by a new pair of Implementors, Dave Anderson and Liz Cyr-Jones, the game appears to be a throwback to the Zork games of yesteryear, with a “puzzle house” to explore and treasures to collect. For reasons that may (or may not) become apparent later, this is Anderson and Cyr-Jones’s only released game. How will it work out? I’ll have to play it to see.