A list of text adventures I've either played or heard about.
I've put up the alphabetic list of game descriptions that I saved from eBay, with personal comments added as I get round to playing them. The Zork dungeon games and other older games can be played without consulting anything other than a hint book, but newer games need documentation in the form of maps and guides by way of copy protection.
A Mind Forever Voyaging (Infocom Treasures II)
"It is 2031 and you are PRISM, the world's first sentient machine. A government group has a plan to improve the world and you have been chosen to test it in a simulation of the future."
Arthur: The Quest For Excalibur (Infocom Treasures II)
"In the days before Camelot, when magic and evil ruled England, you are Arthur, the son and true heir of the High King. But the sword in the stone, Excalibur, has been stolen by the evil King Lot and you have only 3 days to get it back. Merlin the Enchanter will give you the power, but it's how you use it that will determine your success."
The sword has indeed been stolen, stone and all. The game uses small graphics in higher and lower (CGA) quality. Some historical research went into this, but it was obviously also influenced by The Once and Future King, as Arthur has to change into a number of different animals, as well as making sure he doesn't starve. The game manual is needed for a password which changes with every game.
Ballyhoo (Infocom Treasures I)
"You are a spectator who went to the circus, an outsider, and now you're trying to find a kidnapped girl you've never met, in a place you know nothing about, among bizarre people who want nothing to do with you."
BattleTech: Crescent Hawk's Inception
"The 31st century is a desperate time. Five Successor States are hopelessly locked in a mortal struggle for power. In this era of endless war, the powerful, death-dealing BattleMechs are valued higher than human life.
You are 18-year-old Jason Youngblood, and fate has given you a terrible gauntlet to run. Abruptly wrenched from the intense drilling of 'Mech warrior training, you are plunged into real battle with deadly Kurita warriors. Savage experience is now your unforgiving teacher, and the very survival of the Lyrian Commonwealth demands you learn the ruthless precision of battle strategy quickly.
Can you, the son of legendary 'Mech warrior Jeremiah Youngblood, steel yourself for the greatest challenge of your life?"
It's not in any of the game collections I've got, so I'll never be able to play it. But I doubt I mind.
Beyond Zork (Infocom Treasures I, The Zork Collection)
"Use your strong character to solve puzzles, avoid traps, and fight Zorkian monsters in your quest to claim the fabled treasure: the Coconut of Quendor."
See previous page. A text adventure with RPG elements, a kind of split screen where descriptions appear in a box, and a small map. Although the player is journeying through inhabited land, it has a medieval rather than Wild-West feel to it, as opposed to Zork: The Grand Inquisitor, where Y'Gael makes another and very different appearance. The character you choose or create determines how the game will be played. I recommend much "Endurance", because the game is full of weird and deadly monsters, and endurance, I discovered, means hit points. The most common commands (including UNDO) are given through F-keys, which saves typing, and nymphs of all types are happy to inform the player further.
Border Zone (Infocom Treasures II)
"Three chapters, each a story in itself. In each you play a different character who is involved in the assassination attempt of an American ambassador. Action and intrigue."
Bureaucracy (Infocom Treasures II)
"You moved, but the bank kept your old name and address. Now they say you have no money and your credit card won't work."
Cutthroats (Infocom Treasures II)
"You are a skilled diver trying to salvage a sunken treasure from one of four shipwrecks. But don't trust your fellow divers."
Deadline (Infocom Treasures I)
"A wealthy industrialist committed suicide. Or did he? You are Chief of Detectives and you have 12 hours to crack the case."
Enchanter (Infocom Treasures I)
"An evil Warlock has subjugated the land. You are a fledgling Enchanter who knows the basics, but you will have to learn more and use your wits to free the land."
The first game in the Enchanter trilogy. Sent by Belboz, you are an inexperienced mage whose only hope is to collect all the necessary scrolls to, among other things, survive being sacrificed. Time is short, as Krill's evil spreads further over the land with every passing day. Food and water are essentials, and the nights are best spent in a safe bed. My advice: don't bother going westward from the starting point, not even for the funny message. And don't read the scrolls, gnusto them (although that's not always possible).
"Players move around the "city" of Fooblitzky on sidewalk squares, much like you move tokens around a board game. Players can buy items at stores with "foobles" (the unit of currency) and sell items at pawn shops and work in restaurants to get more foobles. Players can also get smacked by cars at street crossings, or get flashed by the Chance Man and squashed by a falling piano. Through all this, each player tries to deduce and then obtain the 4 "correct" items needed to win. Since the 4 items change each time you play, no 2 games are alike."
Another game I don't have, which judging from the description is regrettable.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Infocom Treasures I)
"As the story begins, you are Arthur Dent, and a bulldozer is preparing to level your house even as an alien space fleet is preparing to level your planet. The incorrigible Mr. Adams has written new material and designed problems especially for this interactive story. So grab a pint of bitter and a couple for the road and join Ford Prefect, Trillian, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Marvin on a cosmic jaunt into the outer reaches where anything can - and does - happen. And don't forget your towel!"
Don't panic! Even if you seem to have lost all five senses and no command works! Based on the well-known book/TV series/radio play. The puzzles were a bit too hard for me, so I got stuck at the beginning and have since decided to just enjoy the radio play. A pure text adventure in appearance, that doesn't seem to rely on documentation.
Hollywood Hijinx (Infocom Treasures II)
"You will inherit a multimillion dollar estate if you can just spend one night in the house and find a treasure or two."
Infidel (Infocom Treasures I)
"Branded an Infidel, you are a small-time explorer, marooned by your crew, trying to find a great lost pyramid and its treasure in the desert."
Journey (Infocom Treasures II)
"You must take a journey to find the Wizard Astrix, to save your blighted land. But the last party that tried to hasn't been heard from since they left. Will you survive?"
Leather Goddesses of Phobos
"You are kidnapped by an alien Amazon civilization and must figure out how to get back to earth and save the world from the alien women."
I know about this one even though I don't own it and have never played it. I think it was bundled with the original Zork Zero, by the same writer. A classic text adventure and gender-bending comedy, as the main character has to blend in with the aliens.
Lurking Horror (Infocom Treasures I)
"You are a student at GUE Tech, trapped there late one night by a blizzard. But, fortunately, you are not alone. Or is that unfortunately?"
This looks like a precursor to Zork: The Grand Inquisitor. It's a solitary Zork spinoff.
Moonmist (Infocom Treasures I)
"You are a famous young American detective in England at Tresyllian Castle, at the request of a friend. Is that a real ghost? Or just someone who's trying to scare the others away from the treasure there?"
This game needs maps for the layouts of the old and new hall, as different rooms are connected by hidden underground passages. The player is given the choice of name, gender and bedroom colours in an amusing way, through the introduction at the gate. The game has an Agatha Christie feel to it, the player's first inventory item being a tweed suit, and it's important to be in the right place at the right time to catch clues.
Nord And Bert Couldn't Make Head Or Tail Of It (Infocom Treasures
"Various types of wordplay puzzles. See if you can 'cut the mustard' with idioms or 'hit the nail on the head' with the right cliche."
A wonderful pure text-game not relying on documentation. Each location has its own wordplay specialty. The shopping mall is for puns and sound-alikes, "Shake a Tower" is the realm of spoonerism, the farm is for proverbs and popular expressions, likewise the restaurant, the Manor of Speaking is for creative wordplay (niggles: the Red Room character should have been Lenin, not Marx, and how boring Nebraska is supposed to be, we foreigners can't tell), in "Act the Part" words make way for actions while an actor in a soap plays every silly joke imaginable on a co-actor, and "Play Jacks" investigates all the words and phrases mentioning "jack". This game doesn't need documentation but does need Infocom's ANSI driver loaded, meaning it won't work properly and legibly under Windows ME. It has handy in-built hints for the more unguessable (especially for non-Americans) phrases and expressions.
Planetfall (Infocom Treasures I, The Zork Collection)
"You are a native of the planet Gallium and your family has always served in the Stellar Patrol. Now it's your turn."
My first non-Zork text adventure, it was included with the original Zork III and again with the Zork Collection, where the space cadet's diary is printed out along with a hilarious test to see if you're ready to join the Space Force. While in the Zork dungeons, almost every item and location has a meaning, and the game lasts as long as the brass lantern does, in Planetfall, there are a number of dead ends and useless items, and the player has to remember to eat and sleep on time. And there's this stupid little robot that keeps following the main character around. The game does however have in-game hints and doesn't rely on documentation.
Plundered Hearts (Infocom Treasures II)
"You are a genteel young Englishwoman in the late 1600s, traveling to the West Indies to care for your ailing father, when you are abducted by a pirate captain."
Seastalker (Infocom Treasures II)
"You are a famous young scientist and inventor of a 2-person submarine. A huge sea monster is attacking outside and you have a traitor inside."
Sherlock (Infocom Treasures II)
"In 'The Riddle of the Crown Jewels', you are Dr. Watson and you have just received an urgent summons from Sherlock Holmes' landlady to come to his residence."
Sorcerer (Infocom Treasures I)
"You are a famous Enchanter now and your friend and mentor, the powerful Belboz has vanished. Is he being used by the forces of darkness?"
The second game in the Enchanter trilogy.
Spellbreaker (Infocom Treasures I)
"You are now a Mage, a leader in the Circle of Enchanters. But why won't the spells work anymore? Is magic itself failing?"
The third game in the Enchanter trilogy.
Starcross (Infocom Treasures I)
"You are a black hole miner searching for energy when you unexpectedly rendezvous with a gargantuan alien spaceship from the outer fringes of the galaxy."
Stationfall (Infocom Treasures I)
"You are now a Lieutenant First Class in the Stellar Patrol, but is it only going to be tedious paperwork forever?"
Suspect (Infocom Treasures I)
"You are a newspaper reporter at a fancy costume ball on Halloween when you are framed for a murder. Who really did it?"
Suspended (Infocom Treasures I)
"You are the Central Mentality on an advanced semi-automated planet with 6 robots at your disposal. But now the planet is in chaos."
Trinity (Infocom Treasures II)
"You are an American tourist on vacation in London when a bomb is dropped on it, but you escape to another dimension."
Wishbringer (Infocom Treasures II)
"Everyone is looking for the magic stone of dreams, the Wishbringer. But only you can find it and use its powers to make your town safe again."
The Witness (Infocom Treasures I)
"It is 1938 and you are a police detective working near Los Angeles. A frightened man asks for your protection, but too late. Can you find the killer?"
Zork I (Infocom Treasures I, The Zork Collection)
"You are a treasure hunter venturing into the ruins of an ancient underground empire in search of wealth and adventure."
See previous page. The next adventure follows logically from the end of this one.
Zork II (Infocom Treasures I, The Zork Collection)
"Reckon with a capricious sorcerer-on-the-verge-of-senility as you explore a hidden region of the Great Underground Empire on a quest to master the powers of the once-great Wizard of Frobozz."
See previous page. The ending implies what the goal of the third game will be: replace that senile old wizard and become the next Dungeon Master.
Zork III (Infocom Treasures I, The Zork Collection)
"Take the plunge into the heart of the Great Underground Empire to uncover the secret purpose of the enigmatic Dungeon Master for your ultimate triumph or destruction."
See previous page. Points are not so important in this game (there's only seven), the main thing is to gather all the necessary items. This one has the most complicated puzzles of the three.
Zork Zero (Infocom Treasures I, The Zork Collection)
"Megaboz's curse 90 years ago now threatens the Great Underground Empire itself! Only you know what must be done to stop it."
See previous page. This "text adventure" is plastered with graphics and even relies on them. The player is helped (or hindered) by a jester with a secret past, and if that isn't enough, there's the hints. Doesn't need documentation (as far as I recall).
Zork: The Undiscovered Underground
"The year is 1066. You are a Private, Seventh Class, in the Inquisition Guard. After being relieved by Earl at the Port Foozle Inquisition Gift Kiosk, you find yourself standing in the Headquarters of Frobozz Electric. Gesticulating in front of you is the Pastor of Disaster, the Minister of Sinister, the Grand Inquisitor. It appears he has a very special mission for you..."
This is the Zork-based short "demo" text adventure that came out at the same time as Zork: Grand Inquisitor.
Not remembering the book Alice in Wonderland that clearly, I don't know how accurately the game follows the story. Alice wanders through a hole in a hedge one warm afternoon. Room graphics, some animated (although the interpreter won't display them anymore, I don't know what I did wrong). Quite hard, actually. I didn't get past the room with the dancing chairs.
You're a spy vacationing in a fish's body until the boss tells you to carry out a mission for which you're zapped into several other bodies. Between body swaps, you swim around in a fishbowl. Interesting and somewhat hallucinatory.
Guild of Thieves
Never tried this one. Be a good thief and try to rise in criminal society, but be aware that the Guild will be making things harder as you progress.
Spellcasting 201: The Sorceror's Appliance:
Meet magical nerd/wizkid Ernie Eaglebeak at sorceror's university, starting with a modern rendition of the tale of the sorceror's apprentice. Vaguely Harry Potter, with a "nice" and "naughty" mode to show Ernie's more studious and sleazier sides. Campus humour and the choice of a graphical or text-only playing mode. Made by Legend Entertainment, a company started by ex-Infocom employees, as the second adventure in the Spellcasting series; the others being Spellcasting 101: Sorcerors Get All The Girls and Spellcasting 301: Spring Break. All available at Abandonia. (Nostalgic memory: I needed a new computer for this game as it used 3,5-inch floppy disks and required VGA. Yes, you may laugh!)
Ticket to Nowhere
Santhworld Interactive Games
A zipped fan-made text adventure which I downloaded one day, URL not recorded. So far: many treasures, few puzzles, and it may hang.
Another fan-made text adventure, made with the Adrift engine, which always gives me that familiar workaday sense of stress. The author's description: "In the race of life Colin never seems to even get on the starting blocks. Colin is a less than effective stationary salesman (pens, pencils etc). Broke Brothers, his last big customer (in fact his only customer) are about to move to the opposition, Super Stationary. Stuck in the railway station from hell you must help Colin keep his job." It is the railway station from hell, I can avow. A refreshing change from fantasy games.
This is fantasy, and fan-made, and has so much art that each game is being developed as fast as the artists can get the art done. It also has music playing in the background. However, it's still a text game! It's online (see the link) and when I played it using Firefox, a Santhworld button was added to the browser. There are two unfinished campaigns, one in the central hall which is all about gathering information (and do check out Geoffrey and his little friend) and one that has some D&D-style fighting with potions and hit points. The text suffers from the same problem as much fanfic and hack writer's fantasy - clash of register - but I've seen examples of that even in professional games like Morrowind. (Shortly after adding this entry I found that there were already four campaigns, some completed. Starting a different campaign will erase all savegames from the previous one, so I'll hold off trying the new ones until I've solved the old ones.) Quirky and oddly addictive! There is a huge fantasy-fan community behind this, so who knows how it will develop. I found out about this game/site in a truly strange way through the website of a reiki master who clearly couldn't keep reality (or should that be: mythology) and fiction apart. She mentioned various mythological characters, some of which I couldn't place, so I surfed for them; found only this site; and spent the next few days obsessively playing until I'd solved all the puzzles I could.
Presumably part of "bsdgames" installed as part of openSUSE. They didn't show up in the Gnome menu, of course, so I perused directories until I found some likely filenames in /usr/games. Some ("hangman") spoke for themselves, others I had to run to try them out. Typing "adventure" in the console produced the following screen output:
Welcome to Adventure!! Would you like instructions?
Somewhere nearby is Colossal Cave, where others have found fortunes in
treasure and gold, though it is rumored that some who enter are never
seen again. Magic is said to work in the cave. I will be your eyes
and hands. Direct me with commands of 1 or 2 words. I should warn
you that I look at only the first five letters of each word, so you'll
have to enter "northeast" as "ne" to distinguish it from "north".
(Should you get stuck, type "help" for some general hints. For
information on how to end your adventure, etc., type "info".)
- - -
This program was originally developed by Will Crowther. Most of the
features of the current program were added by Don Woods. Address
complaints about the UNIX version to Jim Gillogly (firstname.lastname@example.org).
You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building.
Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and
down a gully.
Could it be? Yes, it is! The original text adventure and kickstarter of the
adventure genre. This is as pure and nostalgic as it gets.
Ticket to Nowhere
Santhworld Interactive Games