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Contains T-ZERO.EXE
MS-DOS Application (Compressed with ZIP. Free Unzip tools are available for most systems at www.info-zip.org.)
T-Zero Online
Play T-Zero at Archive.​org
MS-DOS Application
Present Time Map
Trizbort map of Present Time in T-Zero
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by Dennis Cunningham

Time Travel/Surreal/Wordplay/Fantasy

(based on 5 ratings)
2 member reviews

About the Story


A dream came to you as you tossed uneasily upon an unfamiliar bed. In your dream, a time-worn figure waved a scythe in slow arcs across your sky-blue field of vision and picked, out of thin air, letters from a runic alphabet. The sky-writing from the scythe crystallized in icy trails as a new letter materialized with each sleeping breath your dream encompassed. When the message was complete, the entire sky was slivered with shining icicles that spelled in full:

"Somewhere scattered across ages and landscapes are six enticingly round objects that you must locate and somehow transport to progressively future time zones where they can be manipulated in a fashion that will right the troubled times."

As you deciphered the message, the icicles shattered in a brittle and sparkling avalanche. You tossed some more and awaited your awakening . . .

River Bed.
You are on the bed of a swiftly moving river.
You have in your possession:
A Compass.
A Journal Page.
A Pink Slip.
You cut a dashing figure in:
Khaki Fatigues.
Red Suspenders.

>>read pink slip
In dark pink script, the light pink slip officiously reads:

"Our project is too near completion to allow us to keep in our
employment a custodian who is prone to sweep subatomic particles
under the carpet along with the dust. Also, after repeated
warnings, you have approached the restricted areas once too
often. You may not enter the museum again--your personal
effects will be delivered to you."

The missive closes with "Counting down from ten" and is signed
with the name Count Zero followed by a flourish and a slashed zero.
In addition, a single word has been faintly outlined in bold
capital letters by an impression from light blue carbon paper.
However, with all that red upon red, the word is not readable in
the current light

>>read journal page
On the journal page you've scribbled the following cryptic

Shadow the sun . . .

A spire to the sky at noon.
Into no man's land at nine.

Read in the red light at noon.
Transcribe from the violet light at nine.

Game Details

Language: English (en)
Current Version: 1.04
License: Shareware
Development System: Pascal
Baf's Guide ID: 205
IFID: Unknown
TUID: u8qqrwutdugkexpr

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide

A peculiar game of wordplay and paradox, kind of like Nord and Bert crossed with Trinity under the direction of Douglas Hofstadter. The setting is a surreal land, dominated by a black obelisk that houses Count Zero's machinery of oppression. You must to put an end to his schemes through time travel. Many of the puzzles are more associative than logical, and in many cases rely on literary allusion. Lots of freedom, lots of good puzzles, one novel but mappable maze, a T. S. Eliot scene, a couple of drug references, and an approximate average of three or four puns per sentence (which, oddly, enhances the atmosphere). An irritating beep fanfare plays when your score increases. Allegedly, it can be disabled by the SOUND command, which, on my system, simply causes the program to break.

Notable nonstandard features include the commands "WHERE", which tells you the last location whre you saw an object or character, and "FIND", which puts you on autopilot bound for that location. These commands are not available from the beginning, but must be activated within the plot of the game. Normally, I would frown on such confusion of form and content, but it actually fits the self-referential tone of the work.

-- Carl Muckenhoupt

T-Zero is an anomaly of IF. Released in 1991, after the heady Infocom days but before Inform and the renaissance of IF, T-Zero is a surprisingly modern game. Dennis Cunningham's puzzle-based work evokes a rich atmosphere in a land familiar and yet unknown. (Neil Yorke-Smith)

The plot goes from the mundane, to the prehistoric, to an Orwellian nightmare with landscapes that are as evocative as So Far's surreal worlds but held together more succinctly, with the common thread of slightly familiar settings that change notably over different time periods. (Francesco Bova)
See the full review

The standard of writing is exquisite and the author has a turn of phrase which many text adventure writers would kill for. For example; if you try to cross the river in the wrong place you don't just get wet feet or drown or, worse, simply get the response, "You can't do that!" What does Cunningham come up with? "The rushing river runs in that direction, uncrossable, a rubicon of dreams." And, to describe a flock of terns flying above your head, how about, "They tirelessly twirl in a circular swirl."? Marvellous!
See the full review


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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 2
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A literary buff's IF game, July 31, 2009
by Dark-Star (Nebraska)
Mixing references to pop culture ("goo goo gjoob"), classic literature and adding a time-travel element on top of it all, T-Zero is a very difficult work of IF to classify. It's about what you might expect to get if you were to combine a well-schooled English teacher, a mad scientist, and a professional comedian.

The puzzles in T-Zero shine like polished gems - which is a good thing as they are the mainstay of the game. "Nord and Bert" aficionados will have a definite head-start over other players, as will serious bookworms and those who paid attention in their English classes.

Nuttiness aside, the game can also be great 'serious fun' for the thinking man (or woman) with the occasional action sequence to spruce things up. Waiting patiently for the right time to come at certain places will bring great rewards...as will outrunning a giant boulder Indiana Jones-style.

From the ingenious use of certain mirrors to navigating the fiendishly nasty topiary maze (which took me over a year to beat), this game is anything but a zero!

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
My favorite IF text adventure ever., August 10, 2015
by speters33w (Western Pennsylvania)
This game is full of literary allusion mixed with snark.

I play it every two years or so.

I actually registered it back in the day.

It's full of delightful word-play mixed with time travel.

It will work only under non-windozed DOS, it works fine in an emulator under FreeDOS.

It has the coolest maze (the Topiary) ever! Not your standard: "You are in a maze of twisty passages...."

There is an easter-egg type extra score awarded at one of the puzzles if your system thinks it is a leap year. Just sayin'

If you enjoyed T-Zero...

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This is version 41 of this page, edited by speters33w on 8 February 2016 at 12:40am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item