Scorpion's Tale #4 (Zork I)
Feature by Scorpia
Computer Gaming World Volume 4 Number 1 (February 1984)
Well, the holidays are over, and the long, cold nights of winter are here. But don't let that get you down! Just settle in close to the fireplace, mug in hand, and we'll get started with that classic adventure, Zork 1.
A white house in the woods. How simply this epic adventure game begins! However, as you might expect, there is more here than meets the eye, much more. So, wander around for a bit, mapping carefully as you go, and see what you can discover in the great outdoors.
When you've finished with that, it's time to make your way behind the house and (grunt) into the kitchen. Upstairs is the (dark) attic, and off to the west is the Living Room. Useful items can be found in all three rooms, although you won't be needing all the items at the same time.
Now, a quick tour shows you there aren't any other places in the house, and you've already been around outside, so where can you go from here? Well, examine everything in the house carefully, and don't be afraid to look under things or move them around. You should be able to find your way underground soon enough. I do suggest, though, that you bring along the sword and lamp, because you will certainly be needing them...and quite soon!
By the way, from time to time a certain light-fingered gentleman (?) will wander by, anxious to relieve you of any goodies you may be carrying. He is the infamous Thief, and it's best to try and get out of the room as soon as he appears, or anything worthwhile in your inventory will disappear. However, at this time, it's wise not to try and kill him; you do need him for something, but more about that later.
Once you've made it down below, you will find you have only two directions in which to move; one brings you to the Gallery, and a treasure, the other brings you to the Troll Room, and possible death. Now you know why you need the sword! Only one will survive the encounter; I certainly hope it's you! But if not, there's always the restore game option (whew!).
Once the troll has been dispatched, the rest of the Great Underground Empire is open to you. Some parts will be less pleasant than others. For example, to the west of the Troll Room is (sigh) a maze. You might want to leave this part of the game for later, because the mapping is tricky, and the adventure has only just begun (there's a lot to see out there!). But in any case, the best thing to do here is bring plenty of items to drop so you can map it out. Take your time, because this is a mean one. Remember also that there are more than four directions!!
Your travels are just beginning. There is a dam to visit, which will give you a rather spectacular view, and provide an interesting little diversion: getting the sluice gates open. Best to check out that Maintenance Room; too bad you can't read EBCDIC! Ah well, just be careful, and remember that what you do here could have an effect somewhere else ("Bubble, bubble ...").
Once the gates are open, you might want to explore around the Reservoir, as well as around the base of the dam. That pile of plastic just might be important, what could it be? Hmmm, there's the Frigid River next door, perhaps there's a connection?
However, before you go floating along the river, there's something else to be done first. You'll need to visit the Temple and its environs, and more than once, too (this game is famous for having to run back and forth between locations many times!). Finding the place shouldn't be too hard; just look aROUND for it. ..and you might want to bring a rope for this one.
After you find the Temple, and the gold coffin in the Egyptian Room, it may dawn on you that you can't get back out the way you came in. And there doesn't seem to be any other way out, except a small hole in the floor of the Altar Room. But that sure is a small hole; you'll never get through it carrying that coffin! What can you do? Well, try doing the most likely thing you can think of doing in an Altar Room, and see what happens. Oh yes, you might want to look inside the coffin when you get a chance.
What you find inside should remind you of something you have already seen (or, something that you should have seen if you bothered to explore the outdoors at the beginning of the game!). Experiment a little bit. ..this is a golden opportunity you shouldn't pass up! Then tuck everything away in the trophy case.
At this point, you can either go back to the Frigid River, or you can go back to Hades first; it doesn't make much difference. Supposing that you opt for Hades, you should' come across some interesting items, such as a bell, a book, and a candle, along the way (you probably saw these things when you were here before; now is the time to pick them up).
This may sound familiar to some of you; indeed, these three items are standard in the use of exorcism (by the way, I hope you have something with which to light the candles; I *don't* recommend the torch!).
The sequence of actions is very important here; if you don't do things in the right order, you won't be able to get rid of the evil spirits and enter Hades. So, think about this: First, you have to get their attention. Once you've done that, the rest should come naturally. Read any Good Books lately?
Once you've banished the evil spirits and obtained the treasure in Hades, you should be able to find your way out and back to the house without too much of a problem (as long as you've been mapping along the way!). Now you might be in the mood for a little jaunt on the river.
When you do finally make your way down the River, be alert! For one thing, you certainly don't want to find yourself going over the Aragain Falls (definitely a one-way trip!), and for another, you don't want to miss anything important! However, you will soon realize that, once again, you can't return the way you came (mean game, this Zork!).
But don't despair! You should be on dry land, very near to the Aragain Falls. (In fact, this should be the same area as the Sandy Beach). If you make your way to the Falls, you might just find a way of getting home again.
Ok, after you get the goodies stored away, it's time for more explorations. Investigating the area north of the Reservoir will bring you, eventually, to the coal mine. It can be a fun place .......IF you're careful!
First, there's a pesky little bat, which will try to pick you up and deposit you randomly somewhere within the depths of the mine. If you keep in mind that this is a VAMPIRE bat, you might be able to figure out what you need to get past him safely (spicy stuff!).
Beyond him is the Shaft Room, which has perplexed many an adventurer! What could that basket possibly be used for? Well, it's at the end of a long chain, perhaps it's meant to be lowered. Have you looked inside it? Empty? Might that be a clue?
Still, there is much to see here yet, so let's leave this mysterious basket for now while you make your way to the coal mine proper. This is, alas, another maze. It's much smaller than the one in the cellar, but still quite confusing. As with the other one, it's best to drop various items so you can map it out.
Eventually, you will make your way to the Ladder Top, which leads, naturally enough, to the Ladder Bottom, and from there to the Timber Room. In here is a VERY narrow passage. You'll have to drop just about everything you're carrying to get through that crack. Too bad you can't bring any light with you.
But there is a way to get light into this room, of course. Just think about how far DOWN you are, and what might be UP above you! Once you've figured out how to get a light source in he1'e, you can investigate the Machine Room, and its strange-looking machine.
Taking a peek inside it, you find some glassy sludge. Or, something that looks like glass. Since this is a treasure hunt what might look like glass, but isn't? Right! Now you know what to put in the machine.. all you have to do is figure out how to turn it on.
Hmmmm, that sure is a pretty small switch. Tiny, in fact. About the size of, no, not a nail, but something pretty similar. It would be a dam shame if you didn't have the right thing with you here!
Once you're finished with the Machine Room, and have your latest treasures stowed away (or possibly stolen!), you might want to pay a visit to everyone's favorite place, the Loud Roomroom. Actually, while this room gives many people a hard time, it's really quite easy to get the bar: just consider the room's outstanding quality, and make an order of it.
About now, you've collected most of the goodies in the game, but there are still a few things left to do, most of them connected with the maze in the cellar. Careful mapping, as mentioned earlier, will help you through it. When you get to the Cyclops Room, keep in mind your Greek mythology. You won't have to be violent; it's simply a matter of saying the right thing.
The thief, however, is another matter entirely! There's no way around it, you'll have to kill him (by this time, of course, you're probably happy to do it!). Be warned he won't be easy to put away, so it's best to save the game before making the attempt. One thing to be aware of is that, before he's killed, he has to do something for you. A thief has both the tools and the expertise to open all sort of items. Keep that in mind!
You're just about finished now; most likely only one treasure remains to be found and placed in the trophy case. What could it be? Well, when you find out what's inside the egg, that might give you a hint. If you still can't figure it out, try doing something with it. Tweet, tweet!
Finally, all the items will be in the case, and you will receive a message; that message will lead you to the barrow that is the gateway to Zork II.
Whew, finished at last! Quite a set of adventures, those Zorks! But you've seen it through, and it's time for something completely (well, almost!) different: next time, we'll leave the dank and dusty dungeons for the dark and deep reaches of outer space in Starcross. See you then!
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