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Planetfall

by Steve Meretzky

Episode 1 of Planetfall series
Science Fiction
1983

(based on 88 ratings)
5 member reviews

About the Story

"Join the Patrol, and see the Galaxy!" You took the poster's advice, bait and all, and marched right over to the recruitment station near your home on the backwater planet of Gallium. Images of exotic worlds, strange and colorful aliens, and Deep Space heroism had danced in your head as you signed the dotted line. And since that day the closest you've come to Deep Space heroism was scrubbing down the radioactive leper colony on Ishmael-3.

But suppose that jumbo fortune cookie you got at Qwang's Take-Out Asteroid last shore leave was right. Maybe you will indeed narrowly escape disaster. It's even possible that you'll actually travel to an unknown corner of the Universe, where you'll save a doomed planet - or die in the attempt. In fact, we'll guarantee it - every crumb of it - because that's just the way the cosmic cookie crumbles.

Difficulty: Standard

Game Details

Language: English (en)
Current Version: Unknown
License: Commercial
Development System: ZIL
IFIDs:  ZCODE-20-830708
ZCODE-29-840118
ZCODE-37-851003
ZCODE-10-880531
TUID: xe6kb3cuqwie2q38

Spoofed by Coke Is It!, by Lucian P. Smith, Adam Thornton, J. Robinson Wheeler, Michael Fessler, Dan Shiovitz, and David Dyte

Awards

34th Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of all time (2011 edition)

Editorial Reviews

Adventure Classic Gaming

The game's greatest strength is its plot. Although relatively simple in itself, it is developed with control that rivals a novel. The details are revealed slowly. The goal becomes clearer to the careful reader as clues hidden in locations come together to paint a picture of what has happened and what must happen in order for you to return heroically to Stellar Patrol. In contrast, the game's greatest weakness is its inventory management. Inventory juggling has always been a problem in adventures. Most adventure gamers accept the fact that there is a limit to how much the player can carry. In most games, an item is included which allows the player to carry more without destroying the delicate limits of belief. Unfortunately, no such item exists in Planetfall. Worse is the fact that I try to pick up an item but only to find it tumbling to the ground along with some other items of importance. This happens a lot, sometimes in almost endless successions. Moreover, there is a lack of challenging puzzles. Beyond inserting objects in slots most puzzles can be easily solved by dying, working out what has gone wrong, and then trying something different. Floyd is integral to a couple of challenges and should have been used to much greater effect.
-- John Campbell
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Gaming Enthusiast
At least two things makes Planetfall memorable. The first one is certainly our sidekick, Floyd. He is the main source of humour in the game (for instance, when we make a save around him he says: “Oh boy, are we gonna try something dangerous now?”) but he’s not just a comic relief, we grow really attached to him over the course of the adventure.
-- Toddziak
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SPAG
Planetfall was the first Infocom game I played, and still my favourite. Often billed as a science-fiction comedy, it really is not. There are many amusing sidelights and funny responses from the author to your failed actions, [...] but it is not at all a straight comedy in the same sense that Leather Goddesses of Phobos, or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy would be. It merely feels like one because the game is constantly charming you in one way or another.
-- Graeme Cree

Overall, Planetfall is easily one of the best adventure games I've ever played because of the balanced and logical puzzles throughout the game, the humorous writing, and the amusing characters. My only complaint about the game is that the laser wasn't described well enough, making two puzzles difficult.
-- Alex Freeman
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Member Reviews

5 star:
(55)
4 star:
(22)
3 star:
(8)
2 star:
(3)
1 star:
(0)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
A true classic from the Golden Age, February 27, 2008
"Planetfall" is undoubtedly one of the finest games in the history of interactive fiction; it may be my favorite Infocom game, to boot.

If you ask someone who played "Planetfall" back in the 80s, it is certainly Floyd, the player's bubbly omnipresent robot sidekick, that will be mentioned first. Floyd was, quite simply, a quantum leap in the category of NPCs, presenting an unforgettable comic personality that played perfect counterpoint to the otherwise dark and foreboding tone.

Beyond Floyd, the game is built on a well-constructed story, having taken enough care in the creation of the game universe to be solidly convincing, and offering as its premise a steadily mounting series of challenges that intertwine the player's fate with that of a seemingly-abandoned planet in a natural and game-appropriate way. As the plot moves from survival to exploration to the intense climax, the reader can't help but be impressed every step of the way.

As a side note, this is the only work of IF I've ever played where eating, drinking, and sleeping are implemented in a manner that not only avoids being annoying, but which is ultimately essential to driving the plot. You must reach the end before your supplies run out, and some of your dreams are hints for solving the tougher puzzles.

If "Planetfall" lacks anything, it is the literary quality that marks the finest works from the new school of IF-writing. I can't hold that against it, since nothing like that existed when this game was released. Indeed, this game may be among the first steps in that direction -- if the prose was a little more flowery, there would be no doubt.

"Planetfall" remains a landmark achievement that is in many ways unequaled today. If you can find a copy, don't give in to the impulse to look at hints. This one should be savored over days or weeks as the rare treat it is.

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Not just a classic - A Legend, June 2, 2012
by starfire (Just beyond Pluto)
This game was everything that an interactive fiction game could be. It was an adventure, and this meant the player would have fun exploring an amazing fictional world, and would plan strategies for the next game session instead of listening to the teacher during class. It was fun, laughable fun, like most of the Infocom classics, so even the thirty or fortieth play through weren't old. And, most important, it touched your emotions. The antics of Floyd, your robot friend and adventuring companion, brought this character to life in the same way that characters in a well written book come alive. You, the real you, not just the you in the story, cared about Floyd. And Floyd cared about you. That is what made this game not just a classic, but a legend. That is what turned game players into fans. That is why we have the IFDB and the competitions and the thousands of games today, because games like this touch our hearts and live in our minds forever. Planetfall was everything an interactive fiction game could be, which means it's more than a playing experience, it's an emotional treasure.

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Doesn't hold up, January 4, 2016
As I write this, Planetfall is #7 on the IFDB top 100, narrowly beating out Trinity and Blue Lacuna. No doubt it was one of Infocom's best, but now it has to be judged against the best games of the 21st century; it just doesn't hold up.

The sprawling map full of empty rooms with nothing interesting in them, the simplistic NPC conversation mechanism (wouldn't it be cool if you could "ask floyd about achilles"?), but above all the gotcha-game cruelty, where you're never sure if you just permanently locked yourself out of solving a puzzle.

We used to think this was just part of what IF had to be like. This game was an important historical milestone, but now, we've moved beyond it.

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Recommended Lists

Planetfall appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Explore-the-Structure Genre by Jim Kaplan
Lengthy games where the PC's express purpose is the exploration of a single complex structure, such as a museum or mansion. Progress in the game is usually measured by the segments of the structure the player has rendered accessible....

IFDB Top 100 by Pegbiter
An automatically updated list utilizing an IMDb style Bayes estimator to calculate weighted ratings based on all IFDB ratings. Questions and comments can be placed here....

Best Infocom Games by Xervosh
The ones I personally enjoyed, and on that admittedly flawed basis, extrapolate you might enjoy the most as well. Presented in chronological order of release.

See all lists mentioning this game

Polls

The following polls include votes for Planetfall:

Influential Games by Rose
As a historical exercise, I've begun compiling a list of IF games that have either done something ground breaking with the medium or otherwise influenced it; and I've turned it into a poll so everyone can have input on the expansion....

Multi-Part Games by Bloodsong
I was wondering just how many games out there, either completely text based, or text-adventure hybrids, are out there that involve a story line over the course of several games. I know for sure of the Sorcerer trilogy from Infocom...any...

Solved without Hints by joncgoodwin
I'm very interested in hearing truthful accounts of at least somewhat difficult games (or games that don't solve themselves at least) solved completely without recourse to hints, walkthroughs, etc.

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This is version 5 of this page, edited by pwiecz on 27 November 2015 at 10:35am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item